Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers
Chicago Attorneys Advocating Aggressively for Accident Victims
Many of us live according to routines and take for granted our ability to conduct the daily business of our lives. Unfortunately, an accident can throw everything off balance. Whether it is a car accident, a truck crash, a slip and fall, or an injury on the job, accidents can make it challenging to do even the smallest tasks. Sometimes injuries are catastrophic or even fatal. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes have helped hundreds of accident victims recover compensation after suffering injuries due to the negligence or misconduct of other people or entities.
Most personal injury lawsuits are pursued under a theory of negligence. You will need to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant failed to act safely in the situation, avoiding unnecessary risks of harm. This duty of care depends on the circumstances. If you can establish liability, you can obtain damages such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses. While it is most common that accidents are caused by negligence, it may be possible to recover damages under theories of intentional misconduct or recklessness under certain circumstances. You must bring a claim within a certain time period, known as the statute of limitations.
Once you leave your Chicagoland home, anyone can compromise your safety. Someone you never met before may make a wrong choice or fail to pay attention, and you can suffer an injury.
At Abels & Annes, we help people who have suffered an injury in accidents. We will work for you to receive full compensation when someone else was to blame for your accident. When you need legal help, our Chicago personal injury attorneys are here to help.
Accident and Injury Risks in Chicago
Wherever you go in the Windy City, you might be in an accident that causes injuries.
Some common accidents might include:
- Rear-end collisions on the Dan Ryan Expressway
- Slip and falls while shopping Jewel-Osco
- Falling on an icy parking lot
- Boating accidents on Lake Michigan
- Pedestrian accident while crossing the six-way intersection of N. Milwaukee, W. North Avenue, and N. Damen Avenue
Common Factors in Personal Injury Cases
All personal injury cases have two things in common, even when the actual ways the injuries happened are starkly different:
- The legal standard for determining responsibility in personal injury cases is the same
- You may recover total compensation if you prove that someone else injured you
Personal Injury Cases that We Handle
Numerous types of accidents and carelessness can fall under the personal injury umbrella.
Personal injury cases that we handle at Abels & Annes include:
- Car accidents
- Rideshare accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accident
- Premises liability
- Medical malpractice
- Sexual abuse
For almost all of these cases, an insurance company or jury will use the same test to determine whether someone else should pay for your injuries. Whether you slipped on a wet spot in a store or were injured in a T-bone crash by a car that ran a red light, the legal test is always negligence.
Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Case
There is no one law on the books that says what negligence is. Instead, Illinois’s negligence case law and statutes have evolved.
Still, all courts across the country use the same four elements to determine negligence:
- The other party owes you a duty of care – someone does not need to know you to owe you a duty to use reasonable care. A driver who passes by you on the highway you will never meet in your entire life owes you a duty of care because you are close to them on the road. When a commercial business opens its doors, it must provide a reasonably safe premises.
- The defendant breached the duty of care – the defendant is expected to act reasonably under the circumstances. They do not have to be perfect. However, they must act as an ordinary person would. For example, a driver should not speed, text, or make illegal turns, and a premises owner should take security measures when there has been crime in the past.
- You suffered an injury – in a personal injury case, the word “injury” covers a wide variety of harms. Of course, it includes physical injuries. It may also include property damage and harm to your reputation.
- The defendant was the proximate cause of your injury – this is the element known as causation. You must show you would not have suffered an injury had it not been for the acts or omissions of the defendant.
How to Prove a Personal Injury Case
In any personal injury case, it is one thing for you to say what you believe happened. If all you have is your word, you may not get far when filing a claim or lawsuit. The key to any successful personal injury claim is the proof that you have of what happened.
Gathering evidence after a personal injury is not always easy. You have limited time before this evidence disappears. At the same time, you are dealing with physical injuries that may limit what you can do alone.
How Our Personal Injury Lawyers Work for You
When you hire a personal injury lawyer, we will immediately work to collect evidence and build the proof you need to win your case.
Lawyers prove personal injury cases with:
- Witness testimony from people who saw what happened
- Expert witnesses who can testify that the defendant breached their duty of care
- Pictures from the scene of the accident
- Wreckage from the accident
- Security camera footage that captured what happened
Once your attorney has the necessary evidence, you must still meet the burden of proof, which rests squarely on you. In a personal injury lawsuit, you must show that your side of the story was more likely than not to have happened.
Numerically, if you can show that your story was 51 percent likely to have occurred, you should win. This is a lower standard than a criminal case, where the prosecutor has to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Your Options in a Personal Injury Case
When you have suffered a personal injury, you have several legal options for how to proceed. In many cases, you deal with a defendant with an insurance policy. Whether it is auto insurance, commercial liability insurance, or a homeowners insurance policy, the common element is that you are dealing with an insurance company.
Practically all insurance companies operate the same way. They try to make your life as difficult as possible to make their own business profitable. You can count on having to fight to get a reasonable settlement of your case, and it will take time. Insurance companies look for any excuse possible to deny your claim. They will also make meager settlement offers, forcing you to reject them and make further demands.
Many people opt to file an insurance claim – despite its difficulties – because it is a quicker and less risky route to money than a lawsuit. However, you always have the option to file a lawsuit without even exploring the claims route. The choice is up to you, working with your lawyer.
Damages in a Personal Injury Case
The damages principle in a personal injury case is also the same, no matter what type of case it is. If you can prove that someone else was negligent, they must pay you for everything you have suffered.
Personal injury damages break down into:
- Economic damages – These pay you for your financial damages. These cover things like lost wages, property damages, and all of the costs of medical expenses. Even though these seem straightforward, there is room for significant disagreement when the insurance company tries to estimate what they think you deserve.
- Non-economic damages – These damages use the money to estimate how you have suffered and what you have lost in your life since your injury. The type of non-economic damage that everyone knows about is pain and suffering. In addition, you can recover damages for things like emotional trauma and loss of enjoyment of life. Non-economic damages are highly subjective, no matter how “objective” the insurance company tries to be about them.
- Punitive damages – These damages send a message and punish the defendant for atrocious conduct. Punitive damages are uncommon, and you should not expect them in every case. They are assessed by a jury when the defendant has been extraordinarily careless or reckless. Insurance companies will not pay punitive damages as part of a settlement.
Receiving Your Full Damages Almost Always Takes a Fight
You must also prove your damages, just like you need to prove liability. The challenge is that damages can lend themselves to multiple opinions. You can receive financial compensation for both past and future damages. However, an insurance company does not want to pay you what you are entitled to in full.
One of the critical parts of your personal injury claim happens before you even file it. Your attorney will review your damages and come up with an estimate of what you are seeking. Without knowing how much your claim is worth, you risk being tempted by a low offer from the insurance company because it is immediate cash. Hiring an attorney can help prevent this because an experienced lawyer will identify low-off offers and respond accordingly to the insurance company.
You Don’t Have to Hire an Attorney, But You Certainly Need One
There is no official legal requirement to hire an attorney in your personal injury case. However, you have every reason to do so, and you always should. When filing a compensation claim, you have suffered a physical injury. Your injuries mean that you are not in the best shape to handle a complex legal claim. Then, a lack of knowledge of the process will also handicap your ability to get full and fair compensation on your own.
An insurance company loves dealing with unrepresented claimants, and there is a perfect reason for that. On average, people who try to handle their claims receive far less in compensation than those who have lawyers. This calculation is even true after you account for the percentage of any settlement that a lawyer will get. Trying to deal with your own claim plays right into the hands of the insurance company. It is what they hope for with every claim.
What Happens After You Contact Abels & Annes
This generally happens after you contact an attorney in your personal injury case:
- The lawyer talks to you to learn more about your case, asking you questions to find out more about your situation.
- They work to prepare your claim or lawsuit, gathering evidence that can show that someone else was responsible for your injuries.
- The attorney negotiates with the defendant or their insurance company to get you total compensation for your injuries.
- If the insurance company denies your claim or will not offer you appropriate compensation, your attorney will file a lawsuit in court on your behalf.
The personal injury process is complicated enough. You need an experienced attorney who will compassionately deal with your case while fighting hard on your behalf. Insurance companies may take a different tone when they see that you have hired a lawyer.
They know personal injury lawyers by their reputation. When you retain an aggressive lawyer who will hold them accountable, you go from being an easy mark to someone they must take seriously. This transformation happens when you approach them with a lawyer.
Do Not Worry About the Cost of Hiring an Attorney
One worry you may have is how you will pay an attorney. After all, you are likely dealing with mounting bills and less money coming in after your injury. The good news is that paying a lawyer is something you do not have to worry about.
A personal injury lawyer works for you on a contingency basis. You do not have to pay them out of your pocket during your case. If you do not win your case, you will not be billed for their time afterward. If you do win your case, your attorney collects their payment from the proceeds of your settlement or jury award.
There is no risk to you. The only danger is that you try to handle matters on your own and end up being one in a long line of people on whom the insurance company has imposed their will in the name of profits.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer
If any accident injured you, contact the attorneys at Abels & Annes online or call us today at (312) 924-7575. We offer free consultations where we will learn about your case and explain how you may proceed. Your call to an attorney is one you cannot afford to delay.Learn More
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