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New Illinois Law Allows Plaintiffs to Collect Pretrial Interest

When an injured victim files a personal injury claim, their hope is that the case will be resolved quickly and they’ll get the money they need as soon as possible. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, if the case has to go to trial, it can take several years for a verdict to be reached, and for the plaintiff (the injured party) to receive their money. In situations like this, pretrial interest can be requested.

When a client has been injured in an accident and their case has to go to court, it’s rare for the timeline of the injury case to move quickly. Because of this, some states allow the injured victim’s attorney to seek additional compensation for the undesirable waiting period that was out of the control of the client.

This is known as pre-judgment interest (or pretrial interest), and in most states, it amounts to 6% interest on the money awarded by the court during the waiting period.

Illinois Joins Other States in Allowing Pretrial Interest in Personal Injury Cases

In late May 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law that allows for plaintiffs (the injured party) to collect pretrial interest on money awarded in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

This signing comes after Pritzker vetoed a previous version of the law earlier this year because it allowed for 9% interest instead of the now allowed 6%.

The new amendment (Senate Bill 72) grants plaintiffs 6% pretrial interest on money awarded to them in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

Before this new law was passed, Illinois already had a law regarding interest on verdicts. But that law only allowed plaintiffs to receive 9% interest from the time the court awarded the money to the time the payment was received. This new law allows plaintiffs to receive interest on their money from the time the lawsuit is filed to the time the court awards them their verdict.

To put it into simpler language, an injured victim can now collect 6% interest on the money they win in court, starting from the time they are injured or find out they are injured until the time they get paid. So if it takes 2 years to get their money because of delay tactics by the opposing attorneys, the injured person will also be awarded interest for those 2 years on any money they were awarded.

A Few Things to Know About Illinois’ Pretrial Interest Law

  • It should be noted that the pre-judgment interest only applies to cases that go to verdict. So if your case takes a long time but is settled before it goes to trial, you are not entitled to any interest.
  • The new law goes into effect on June 21, 2021.
  • The prejudgment interest would begin to accrue on the date the lawsuit is filed and would continue to accrue for up to 5 years on all damages including future lost wages, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering. It does not include punitive damages, sanctions, attorney fees, and costs.
  • This law does not apply to local public entities, which includes lawsuits against a county, city, village, township, school district, district, authority, municipal corporation, or any other political subdivision.
  • For lawsuits filed before the law goes into effect, interest will start to accrue on the bill’s effective date.

What Proponents and Critics Have to Say About the New Law

Proponents of the pretrial interest law say that it will encourage insurance companies, defendants, and their attorneys to settle with plaintiffs out of court or to settle as soon as possible. Every moment that they purposefully drag their feet, it’ll be costing the defendant money. One of the bill’s supporters—the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association—says the bill will protect the injured and expedite the resolution of cases by encouraging defendants to settle early or litigate fast. This means victims with serious injuries will have to wait less time to get the money they so desperately need to rebuild their lives

Critics say that the new law will dramatically increase litigation costs on manufacturers, hospitals, and doctors, who are usually defendants in these types of cases. They also claim that the bill will inflate settlements which will get passed on to consumers. However, if they paid or offered what was fair within a reasonable amount of time, they could avoid the extra costs of going to court and the interest penalties after verdict.

For the latest up-to-date legal news, helpful articles, and insights into personal injury topics, visit Abels & Annes’ blog.

Tips for Staying Safe on the Roads

In the United States, accidents—like car collisions and motorcycle wrecks—are the third leading cause of death. Motor vehicle collisions are also a major cause of injuries. Every time you get into a vehicle, there are countless factors that determine whether you get to your destination safely or not.

Unfortunately, many of these factors are out of your control. Since you cannot necessarily prevent an accident, you can do some things to limit injuries and death if it does happen.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 77% of drivers have reported being involved in a car accident at least once in their life. With that level of occurrence, it’s worth exploring how you can keep yourself and your family safe while you’re on the road.

Here are some safe driving tips to keep in mind when operating a motor vehicle that can help prevent car accidents and injury if you are in an accident. These tips will even help you to stay safe on the road overall.

Wear Your Seatbelt

Wear Your Seatbelt- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Motor vehicle accidents are extremely dangerous by nature. Wearing a seatbelt while driving or riding in a vehicle is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent injury or death if a collision occurs.

Seat belts reduce the risk of death for drivers and passengers by 45%. They also cut the risk of serious injury by 50%, according to the CDC. That is a compelling reason to always buckle up.

Under Illinois law, all drivers and passengers (in front and back seats) who are 8 years of age and older are required to wear seat belts in a motor vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle is responsible for all occupants to be properly secured in their seats while in operation. If a driver has ever told you, “put on your seatbelt or I could get a ticket,” they were right.

According to the National Safety Council, seat belt usage has gone up in recent years. On average, 90% of people in the United States wear a seatbelt, depending on the state.

The impact seat belts have on preventing accident injuries and fatalities is clear. In 2017 alone, nearly 15,000 lives were saved simply because of seat belt usage.

Quick Take Away: Wearing a seat belt is one of the best ways to prevent injury or death during a car accident.

Adjust Your Vehicle to Your Needs

Adjust Your Vehicle to Your Needs- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Every time you drive, adjust your seat, steering wheel, mirrors, music, and climate before putting the car in motion. Making these adjustments before you begin your trip can go far in preventing an accident in the first place or minimizing the risk of a serious injury if you are in an accident.

Adjusting music and A/C or heat before you drive will limit distractions while on the road. Likewise, adjusting your mirror can prevent an accident by ensuring that you have the best view possible of the car around you.

Your seat and steering wheel positions can help save your life or prevent serious injuries. Adjusting your car’s seat so that it’s in the proper position will help to prevent an injury or death by making sure that the car’s safety features function correctly in the event of an accident. The same goes for a steering wheel.

When you are sitting too far back in a seat, not sitting upright, or sitting too far forward, the airbags and seatbelt cannot work properly. Plus, an upright position is how they test literally every safety feature. So, you can’t be certain that seat and steering wheel positions that aren’t tested are safe.

If the steering wheel is the appropriate distance from you, airbags will properly inflate. That will make all the difference between suffering a minor or a catastrophic injury.

Quick Take Away: Adjust everything before you move to limit distractions while driving. And sit in your car the way it was meant to be sat in.

Perform Regular Maintenance on Your Vehicle

Perform Regular Maintenance On Your Vehicle- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Routine maintenance of your vehicle not only prevents costly repairs later. It can also help to prevent accidents that could result in injuries or death.

Take your car to your local mechanic or dealership and make sure they perform a safety inspection on your vehicle at least every year. When you get your oil changed is a good time to ask for a simple visual inspection. Every two years, you should get a comprehensive safety inspection done.

For example, a motorist takes a leased vehicle in for its 2-year required maintenance. A few days later she notices the tires are wobbling and assumes they balanced them wrong. But the tires were actually falling apart because of a manufacturer’s defect. The dealership then fails to notice the issue while the car was in their shop for 2 days specifically for a safety check.

If that driver or another person is seriously injured, you can bet that the manufacturer and the dealership could be held responsible.

So routine maintenance may not be foolproof. But it’s an important and effective way to prevent any serious incidents or injuries from occurring.

Quick Take Away: Get routine maintenance and safety checks done on your vehicle.

Use Your Car’s Safety Features

Use Your Cars Safety Features- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Safety features in vehicles have come a long way since their inception. From adaptive headlights to side airbags to lane sensors, cars just keep getting safer.

In order for these features to do their job, you need to be using them. This may sound obvious. However, many features can either be turned off or else unnoticed by drivers who don’t know about them or how to work them.

For example, some cars have small lights that flash when you put on your turn signal when the destination lane is occupied. Knowing about the feature and its purpose is the only way it can keep you and your family safe. Likewise, some airbags can be turned off for one reason or another. If you do turn off an airbag, make sure it is turned back on as soon as possible.

The same is true for every safety feature your car has. If you aren’t using it, it’s not a safety feature.

Quick Take Away: Use all safety features to their fullest extent.

Drive Sober, Don’t Drink and Drive

Drive Sober Dont Drink and Drive- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Driving under the influence of any mind-altering substances is both highly illegal and extremely irresponsible. The NHTSA states that drunk driving claims the lives of 10,000 people every year. That means that nearly 30 people die every day because of drunk driving.

Alcohol can cause impaired thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination. These are sensory abilities that are necessary for safely operating a vehicle.

As a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises, it becomes far more likely for them to cause an auto accident.

In the simplest terms, it is not worth it to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Not only is it extremely dangerous for drivers and their passengers, but it’s also risky for other drivers and pedestrians using the roads.

Quick Take Away: If you have to wonder if you’re intoxicated, you are too drunk to drive.

Don’t Speed

Dont speed- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Roughly 10,000 people die each year due to speeding. The risk of a car crash occurring increases as a driver’s speed goes up.

Driving at posted speed limits is important because it keeps you, your passengers, and others on the road safe. Accidents that happen when someone is speeding are more likely to cause injuries and deaths.

Quick Take Away: Drive the speed limit. Getting to your destination seconds faster isn’t worth risking your or someone else’s life.

Avoid Distractions

Avoid Distractions- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

We all have so many distractions in our lives. And those distractions are bleeding over into our driving. Whether it’s changing stations on Spotify, looking for a restaurant nearby on maps, or sending a text, all of these actions can lead to a serious auto accident.

Illinois law prohibits the use of any handheld cellular device while operating a motor vehicle. The best thing a driver can do to avoid accidents is to simply pay attention to the roadway and not drive while distracted.

Quick Take Away: If the vehicle is in motion, put the phone down.

Ensure Children Are Safe and Secured

Ensure Children are Safe and Secured - Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act states that any child under the age of 8 must be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system that will properly secure them in the event of an accident.

The use of booster seats in addition to lap/shoulder style safety belts is required for children under 40 pounds. For any child over 40 pounds, a booster seat is no longer required. But some studies have shown the booster seats can help prevent injuries and death well beyond toddler years.

Taking these steps is critical to ensuring the safety of a child while driving. Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children. So anything we can do to reduce that figure is worth it.

Quick Take Away: Restrain your child properly every time.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you were injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact the lawyers at Abels & Annes. We are ready to help you maneuver the legal process of personal injury claims. We offer compassionate, knowledgeable, and effective legal representation to people in Chicago and all across Illinois. For a free consultation, contact us today at (855) 529-2442 or fill out our online contact form.

How Social Media Can Impact Your Personal Injury Case

Those of us that use social media are so accustomed to posting details about our lives that many of us don’t consider how that information could be used against us. One of the most common situations in which your social media account use can backfire is when you are involved in a personal injury case.

Publicly venting about tough times and celebrating triumphs is a big part of how we stay connected to our loved ones. However, these posts aren’t necessarily being seen by just your family and friends. No matter how secure your social media account is, chances are there is plenty of information about you already out there on the internet.

If you were injured by another person’s negligence and decide to file a claim, anything you have posted in the past or during the claim’s process can be used by the insurance companies and other lawyers. Monitoring social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and LinkedIn is a common practice for attorneys and insurance companies. These social media sites often have loads of information that can be used against a claimant, either to undermine injuries, prove liability, or to misrepresent a person’s character.

Are Social Media Posts Admissible in Illinois Courts?

Illinois courts consider Electronically Stored Information (ESI) to be admissible in some circumstances.This could include emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram stories, and other forms of electronic communications and information.

In order for social media posts and other electronic communications to be considered admissible in Illinois courts, the content must meet four criteria. The evidence must be:

  • Relevant
  • Valuable to the Defendant’s Case
  • Not hearsay
  • Authentic, meaning created by or about the defendant.

So now we know that social media posts can be used against you in court and by insurance companies to discredit your personal injury claim. What can you do to prevent this information from harming your case?

Don’t Post About Your Accident or Case on Social Media

After something traumatic happens to you like an accident or injury, it’s natural to want to post about it on your social media. But it’s best not to share anything about your accident, injuries, or case. 

While it’s helpful to take photos and videos at the scene of your accident, you should only share that information with your personal injury lawyer. Do not use those images or videos to create an Instagram story, TikTok video, or Facebook post.

Sharing too many details about your accident online could be seen as trivializing your injuries. It would not take a big leap for an insurance company to twist your social media posts into an argument that is meant to undermine the compensation you need for your injuries.

Let’s consider the situation where someone is injured because of a slip and fall at a restaurant. If you had shared a selfie smiling with a cocktail before the accident, the insurance company could misrepresent this as your being drunk and therefore responsible for your injuries. You may have just had one glass of wine, but that may not stop an insurance company from twisting the details to serve their purpose. Instead, they will insinuate that your drinking contributed to your injuries.

As your case proceeds, your attorney will give you updates on your case’s development. You may be tempted to vent about setbacks or to post something that was supposed to be celebratory about all of the progress your attorney has made for you. In either situation, this information can serve as an advantage to the defense.

Depending on what you’ve shared, they can rethink their approach to the case and better prepare themselves.

Even Innocent Posts May Contradict Your Claim

The defense can frame even innocent posts to make them look like they contradict your personal injury claim.

When you use social media regularly, you probably tend to share photos of your life. You might share pictures of you out at dinner, videos of you engaging in your favorite hobby, or an occasional outing.

These simple posts can be seriously misconstrued.

If you decide to check in at a restaurant on Facebook, the jury won’t know you were driven there by your friend to pick up takeout because you were in too much pain to cook.

Or a photo of you by the pool won’t show that you were actually watching from a chair because you were too injured from your car accident to participate.

One situation could be an accident victim at a wedding. They may have had plans to go to the wedding for months. And it would devastate their family members if they weren’t there. Even if they had to sit in a chair the whole time and watch, photos of a claimant “out partying at a wedding” could still end up in court. Of course, this is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. But this type of evidence can be powerful for juries.

The point is, almost any post can be taken out of context and used as an excuse to deny or diminish your claim. For that reason, it is best to not post anything at all or else you may be accused of exaggerating or even faking your injuries.

Comments From Others Can Hurt Your Case

Comments from well-meaning friends and followers can hurt your case too.

For instance, those who know you were injured in a truck accident will want to check up on you. It’s a serious situation and people are naturally concerned. A comment asking you how you’re doing will encourage you to discuss your condition. Everyone who’s been seriously injured knows that the healing process is full of ups and downs.

A simple reply like “I’m feeling much better today” on one of your good days can be misconstrued as a sign of recovery or that your injury is insignificant.

You may also be tempted to reply to these kinds of questions with “white lies” or optimistic responses so that your friends and family don’t worry. Statements like “Oh don’t worry Aunt Kathy. I’m fine.” could seriously damage your case.

Making Your Profile Private and Not Posting

While your injury case is open, one thing you can do is keep your profile settings to private mode.

This will prevent your information from being readily visible to anyone who isn’t a friend or follower. However, this doesn’t make it impossible for a zealous attorney or insurance agent to access your profile. In some cases, a defense attorney may file a motion in court asking for access to social media.

That is why taking a break from social media altogether while your case is active is the best course of action. If you can avoid posting altogether, you won’t accidentally reveal details that can be used against you.

Ask Family and Friends Not to Post About You

Even if you are ardent about not posting anything to your social media, there are still lots of ways information about you can end up on social media.

If you are involved in a case, ask your family and friends to not post anything about you. Ask them not to ask you about your case online, tag you in photos, or leave comments referencing your situation.

Even if you’re not directly tagged in a photo that included you, insurance companies and lawyers can dig around your friends’ and family members’ accounts looking for photos of you doing something to undermine your injury claim.

They may look at your friend list and previous posts to find relatives and see who you interact with most. Then they can check other social media accounts accordingly for updates about you.

Find a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer You Trust

If you’re unsure about whether a post can impact your case, don’t take the chance. An innocent post could end up jeopardizing your entire case and causing you to not get the compensation you need for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Instead, share the details about your accident and injuries with an experienced personal injury attorney who will have your best interests in mind. The attorneys at Abels and Annes have years of experience working to secure compensation for our injured clients. Our initial consultations are always free and are a perfect starting point for people who aren’t sure what to do next after they are injured due to someone’s negligence. Call Abels & Annes today at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

Herniated Disc: Causes, Symptoms, and Complications

Spinal discs play a crucial role in the human body, helping to absorb shock, support the upper body, and allow us to move in a wide range of directions. These discs are both extremely tough, but vulnerable to damage. Each spinal disc is made up of a delicate jelly-like interior with a tough rubbery exterior. If the outer layer is damaged and the inner material is able to leak or bulge out, it can lead to debilitating back and leg pain.

A herniated disc can be caused by everything from a severe car accident to a slip and fall at the grocery store. This injury is notorious for two reasons: it’s relatively common and the injury can wreak havoc on a person’s life.

If you’re suffering from a herniated disc, it’s likely that you never gave much thought to movements that have now become painful. A herniated disc can make it painful or impossible to work or take care of your household. Even just sitting can be painful when you are dealing with a spinal disc injury.

If you are currently suffering from a herniated disc, you’ve already had expensive and time-consuming treatments. Or you know you need them but have no idea how you’ll pay for them. If another party caused your herniated disc, you could get compensation for the damages caused by your injury. An experienced Chicago back and neck injury attorney can help you get the most for your injury claim. So you can heal and get on with your life.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

In the simplest of terms, a herniated disk refers to damage to one of the rubbery disks that sit between the individual vertebrae that stack to make up your spine. It develops when one of the cushioning discs between the vertebral bones is torn or ruptured.

Herniated Disc - Abels and Annes Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys

The thick, protective layer of a disc is known as the annulus. It encases a soft, gelatinous substance in the center known as the nucleus pulposus. When the annulus is torn, the soft part of the disc protrudes through the outer wall.

A herniated disc is sometimes referred to as a ‘slipped disc’ or a ‘ruptured disc’. It is also often confused with a bulging disc. While similar, a bulging disc only affects the outer layer, or annulus.

A herniated disc is painful because, as it protrudes outward, it aggravates nearby sensitive nerves. This pressure on the nerves can lead to swelling and all kinds of other problems.

Nerves communicate to every part of our bodies. So pain from a herniated disc can travel just about anywhere in the body. The most common place people with a herniated disc feel pain, other than their back, is in their arms and legs as it radiates outward through the nervous system.

Causes of Herniated Discs

A herniated disc can be caused by any type of trauma to the spine. If your spine sustains sudden impact or is twisted beyond its limits, the discs between the vertebrae can rupture.

Herniated discs are not only caused by devastating accidents. Even a relatively minor incident can force a disc out of place.

According to hospital surveys, some of the most common reasons people suffer a herniated disc include:

Symptoms of Herniated Disc

Herniated discs share symptoms with other neck and back injuries (like whiplash, sprains and strains, bulging disc, and fractured vertebra).

Herniated discs commonly cause general pain symptoms–pain, tingling, and numbness–which can be misdiagnosed as a lesser injury at first. Usually, herniated discs are discovered through further testing like an MRI, CT scan, or myelogram.

Herniated discs are most common in the lower spine. But they can occur to any part of the spine.

In cases of herniated discs in the lower back, pain tends to shoot through the legs and buttocks. Herniated discs in the neck or upper back usually affect the arms and shoulders.

Pain from a disc herniation is most often pronounced when you’re active. However, it can be persistent when you’re just sitting or standing still.

Muscle weakness is another common symptom of a herniated disc. This can cause your legs or arms to suddenly give out when you’re walking or carrying something heavy.

Despite these common symptoms, there is also a nearly endless list of ways a herniated disc can affect you. Because damage to a spinal disc can affect the spinal cord and surrounding nerves, almost any part of your body can feel pain or have an adverse reaction while you are dealing with the injury.

Chronic Pain May Limit Abilities and Enjoyment of Life

Herniated discs can potentially lead to more severe problems such as cauda equina syndrome. Cauda equina syndrome develops when nerve damage leads to the loss of control over bowel movements.

Chronic pain associated with a herniated disc can also stop you from doing the things you love, like playing with your children and doing your favorite hobby. Taking your children to the park or walking your dog can become obstacles rather than enjoyable activities.

Chronic pain from a herniated disc can also jeopardize your income. If your pain impacts your ability to perform your job, you could be forced to take time off or to take a lower-paying position that’s easier on your body. Since a herniated disc can cause pain both while you are engaging in physical activity or just sitting, it can hinder almost every type of career.

Treatments for a Herniated Disc

Pain Relievers

Herniated discs can be treated with prescription pain medication, over-the-counter drugs, or a combination of the two. Your doctor may suggest a common drug like ibuprofen to help control inflammation. Or you may need something stronger while the injury heals or is being repaired. Unfortunately, prescription pain killers come with their own set of risks. Patients who legitimately need prescription painkillers can become dependent in as little as 5 days. Up to 12% of patients taking pain killer medications develop a full addiction. For this reason, prescription pain medications should be closely monitored by your doctors and always taken as prescribed.

Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers can also provide pain relief for a herniated disc. Their most common use is to treat the muscle spasms and tension that come with a spinal injury. The downside to muscle relaxers is that they’re sedatives. This means that they can hinder your ability to drive or perform job-related tasks.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is another common treatment for herniated disks. Deep tissue massages are one form of therapy used to treat muscle spasms and nerve pressure associated with back pain. Cold therapy is also used to target muscle spasms, pain, and inflammation, while heat therapy encourages healthy blood flow.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

TENS is a form of therapy that uses electrical stimulation on the muscles to reduce spasms. The electrical impulses produced by TENS can reduce the pain signals going to the spinal cord and brain, which may help relieve pain and relax muscles.

Epidural Steroid Injections

These injections are delivered close to pinched nerves in the spine. Therapeutic injections can control pain, reduce inflammation, improve mobility, and allow a patient to participate in and make progress with their physical therapy and rehabilitation programs.

Surgical Intervention

Unfortunately, non-invasive treatments are not always enough. For many patients, surgery will eventually become a requirement to repair a herniated disc. Severe herniated discs can leave your back unstable and/or in an excruciating amount of pain. The type of surgery required will vary, but some common types include spinal fusion surgery, laminotomy, discectomy, and artificial disc surgery.

Get Compensation with the Help of a Chicago Back and Neck Injury Lawyer

If another person’s actions caused your herniated disc, you can pursue a claim against that party so that you can recover compensation for your damages. You may be eligible for compensation for any damages your injury causes. That includes medical treatment, surgeries, physical therapy, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

If you’re suffering from a back or neck injury that was caused by someone else’s negligent actions, Abels & Annes can help you to hold them accountable. We’ve secured maximum compensation for countless clients with herniated disc injuries. And we can help you too.

Let us use our experience and resources to help you get the money you need to move on with your life. For a free initial consultation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

Defining Basic Personal Injury Terms

Click to Jump to Section: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWX

A

Accident Report – An official record of an incident documented by a figure of authority, such as a police officer, at the scene of the incident. These often serve as important evidence in personal injury cases, including car accidents.

Alternative Dispute Resolution – Legal processes meant to help parties resolve a claim without going to trial. Examples of alternative dispute resolution include arbitration and mediation.

Arbitration – The hearing and resolution of a personal injury settlement dispute overseen by a neutral third party, often a lawyer or judge. The third party’s decision is final and legally binding.

At-Fault Party – A person or entity determined to be partially or fully responsible for an incident and its resulting injuries.

Attorney-Client Privilege – A legal benefit that protects confidentiality between attorneys and their clients. Neither a client nor their attorney can be forced to share their private conversations.

B

Bodily Injury – Physical damage to a person’s body caused by an accident, negligence, or criminal intent. 

Burden of Proof – The claimant’s obligation to demonstrate that the other party is at-fault in a personal injury claim.

C

Causation – The cause-and-effect relationship between the at-fault party’s behavior and the resulting injuries. It has to be proved that the other party’s negligence or intent directly caused the injuries.

Claim (personal injury) – A request made to an insurance company in an effort to recover compensation for damages. A complaint against another party that is filed with the court by an injured victim.

Claims Adjuster – An agent of an insurance company who investigates and evaluates property damage and bodily injuries in order to assign a value to a claim. A claim adjuster works directly for the insurance company and negotiates with the attorney.

Comparative Negligence – A legal doctrine that assigns percentages of fault to multiple parties depending on how much they contributed to an incident. For example, an injury victim may be considered 20% at fault for their own injuries. The available compensation is then reduced by the amount the injured victim is found to be at fault.

Compensation – Money that is awarded to a plaintiff or claimant meant to remedy the injuries or illness that resulted from another party’s negligent actions. Compensation is meant to make the injured victim “whole” again.

Complaint – The initial document or lawsuit that one party files with a court to establish a legal dispute against another party. A complaint alleges what the accused party did wrong. 

Concussion – A traumatic brain injury that develops when a person’s head sustains a bump, blow, or jolt that violently throws their head and brain back-and-forth. A concussion disrupts brain function and can cause headaches, nausea, and disorientation. Sustaining multiple concussions has serious medical consequences and can be fatal.

Contingency Fee – A predetermined percentage that a client must pay a lawyer only when the lawyer recovers compensation on the client’s behalf. This allows clients with limited financial resources to hire representation since no money is required upfront. 

Contusion – A bruise. Contusions develop when blood capillaries rupture, leaking blood to local skin and tissue. Contusions can also occur internally, like on the brain.

CT Scan – A diagnostic tool that medical professionals use to detect internal damage to bones, tissue, and organs. CT Scans are often used to prove the extent of a personal injury. Short for Computed Tomography, this creates images similar to 3D x-rays.

D

Damages – Payment that is awarded to a plaintiff for physical, mental, and/or bodily injuries. Damages are paid by or on behalf of the at-fault party. There are multiple types of damages in a personal injury case, including:

  • General Damages – Damages that do not have a specific value, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment in life. A dollar amount will be assigned to these losses within a personal injury case. 
  • Special Damages – Damages associated with a specific dollar amount, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property repair expenses. 
  • Punitive Damages – Damages designed to punish an at-fault party, usually for an egregious act. Punitive damages are meant to dissuade other parties from doing something similar. Usually awarded for major offenses. 

Deductible – The amount an insurance policyholder has to pay toward a claim before the insurance company will begin to cover the remaining costs.

Defective Medication – Prescription or over-the-counter drugs that are harmful to users. This includes harm due to undisclosed side effects, manufacturing errors, or insufficient warning labels.

Defendant – A party who is being sued. In a personal injury case, this term typically refers to the person or entity accused of causing an injury.

Demand Letter – A formal letter from one party to another that requests payment or action to address a legal dispute. The recipient sometimes has a limited amount of time to respond to a demand letter.

Deposition – An out-of-court testimony given by a party based on questions asked by the opposing lawyer. Depositions are official, recorded accounts given under oath. The person answering the questions will usually have their lawyer present and the deposing attorney will bring a court reporter.

Discovery – The legal process during which opposing parties request and exchange evidence with each other. Evidence may include witness statements, depositions, interrogatories, photos of the accident scene, etc.

Disability – A physical or mental impairment that significantly limits what a person is able to do.

Distracted Driving – Operating a vehicle while negligently not paying attention. Texting, grooming, eating, and using one’s phone are common forms of distracted driving.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – Operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. In Illinois and most other states, driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher is illegal.

Duty of Care – A person or entity’s responsibility to take reasonable actions to prevent others from becoming harmed. For instance, drivers have a duty of care to obey traffic laws and landowners have a duty of care to provide a safe premises for invitees.

E

Exhaustion of Benefits – The full use of all available funds from an insurance policy or other resource, leaving no remaining assistance.

Expert Witness – A person who provides a testimony using their professional knowledge on a subject. For example, a licensed semi-truck mechanic may serve as an expert witness in a truck accident case.

F

Fault – Failure to uphold a duty of care or failure to act reasonably to prevent injuring another person.

First-Party Claims – An insurance claim against one’s own insurance company. For example, making a claim against your auto insurance company to use your uninsured motorist benefits.

G

General Damages – See Damages

Gross Negligence – Excessive recklessness or intentional disregard for the safety of others. For example, a manufacturer knowingly allowing a defective product to be distributed may be held grossly negligent. 

H

Hazard – A danger that increases the chances of an injury occurring. For example, loose handrails in a staircase pose a greater risk of someone slipping and falling. 

HIPAA Act – A law created to protect patient privacy by requiring a patient’s consent to disclose medical records. Stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

I

Independent Medical Examination – A third party’s evaluation of an injured person to provide an unbiased interpretation of a plaintiff’s injuries. These are most common for workers’ compensation cases and aren’t usually unbiased since insurance companies and employers pick the evaluator.

Insurance – An agreement between a company and an individual that provides a guarantee of compensation for certain loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a monthly premium.

Insurer – The company or entity who provides coverage through an insurance policy.

Insured – The individual protected under an insurance policy.

Interrogatories – Written questions created by one party’s attorney for the opposing party to answer. 

J

Judgment – A final decision that determines the outcome of a legal dispute. 

Jury – A selection of people who listen to both sides of a court case in order to impartially determine the case’s outcome. Members of a jury are selected by both sides’ attorneys. In an injury case, juries can decide the amount of fault and the amount that should be awarded.

K

Known Loss Rule – A rule that prohibits a person or entity from obtaining insurance coverage for a pre-existing loss or injury.

L

Lawsuit – A claim or dispute that is lodged against an accused party and is overseen in a court of law. This step occurs in the personal injury claim process when a settlement cannot be reached out of court.

Letter of Protection – Written communication between an attorney and a healthcare provider allowing a patient to receive medical care they need now with the agreement that the services will be paid for in the future when the patient is awarded compensation for their injury claim or lawsuit. These are not common in Illinois.

Liability – A legal obligation that holds a person or entity responsible for their actions.

Litigation – The process of taking legal action in court.

Loss of consortium – The deprivation of affection, intimacy, or sexual relations resulting from the death or injury of a partner.

Lost Income – The wages a personal injury victim would have earned had they not been injured or made ill.

M

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) – The stage at which an injured party has recovered as much as possible after receiving medical treatment. At this point, further treatment will not help to improve the condition. 

Mediation – A process during which a neutral party meets with both sides of a personal injury claim in an attempt to resolve a dispute out of court. 

Medical Malpractice – A healthcare provider’s failure to provide a proper standard of care, leading to the injury or death of a patient.

Motion – A formal request that a judge make a ruling or take some action. The judge will either deny or grant the request.

MRI – A medical diagnostic tool used to detect various illnesses and injuries like spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Short for magnetic resonance imaging.

N

Named Insured – A person whose name is on an insurance policy. As opposed to an individual who may only be covered by that policy.

Negligence – Failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another person.

Negotiation – Back and forth communication between an injured party or their personal injury attorney and an insurance adjuster with the goal of coming to an agreement on a settlement amount without a lawsuit.

O

Occupational Disease – A health condition that develops due to a work environment or working conditions. 

Out-of-Pocket Expenses – Money that an injured party spends to cover injury-related costs such as doctors’ fees, the cost of replacement services, and travel expenses. 

P

Paralegal – A certified professional who assists an attorney with legal duties such as research, investigations, and recordkeeping.

Parties – An individual, business, or other entity who initiates a lawsuit or has a lawsuit filed against them.

Plaintiff – The party in a lawsuit who has lodged a dispute against another party (the defendant). 

Precedent – An outcome of a previous case that influences how similar cases are decided in the future. 

Premises Liability – The laws and regulations that hold landowners, landlords, and tenants responsible for maintaining reasonably safe conditions to protect those who enter a property. 

Product Liability – The responsibility that a manufacturer, service provider, or retailer has if someone is injured as a result of their products or services (including defective tires or defective medical devices).

Prognosis – A medical professional’s calculated prediction about a patient’s expected level of recovery.

Punitive Damages – See Damages

Q

Quality of Life – The standard of health and well-being a person previously had or would’ve likely achieved had they not become injured or ill.

R

Reasonable Care – A level of care and caution that a reasonable person would expect from an individual, business, professional, or other entity.

S

Settlement – A financial amount that opposing parties agree upon before a court determines the outcome.

Sexual Assault Claim – A claim filed against a party who is accused of initiating sexual contact or behavior without the claimant’s express consent.

Slip and Fall – A type of personal injury accident in which a person slips or trips on someone else’s property due to the property owner’s or manager’s negligence. 

Special Damages – See Damages

Standard of Care – The level of quality that the average, reasonable medical provider would deliver in a given situation. 

Statute of Limitations – A law that imposes time constraints on when a personal injury lawsuit can be filed. In most cases, injured parties have two years from the date they became injured to file a personal injury lawsuit. 

T

Third-Party Claims – Claims that injured parties file with an insured party’s insurance company. 

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – An injury to the head that disrupts brain function. TBIs are caused by a jolt or blow to the head. They can also develop when an object penetrates the skull.

Trip and Fall – See Slip and Fall

U

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM) – Insurance that a policyholder obtains to protect themselves if the other driver’s coverage is not enough to cover the cost of injuries.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) – Insurance that a policyholder obtains to protect themselves if the other driver does not have insurance or if a driver is not identified after a hit and run accident.

V

Verdict – A court’s final decision about the outcome of a case.

W

Whiplash – A neck injury that develops from quick, forceful movement. Whiplash is common in car accidents.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits – Coverage provided to employees for injuries or illnesses that occur in the workplace.

Wrongful Death – A claim made by a deceased person’s surviving relatives for compensation of damages that resulted from the decedent’s untimely death. Damages may include medical expenses before death, funeral expenses, loss of income relatives relied on, loss of consortium, and loss of parental guidance.

X

X-ray – A medical diagnostic tool that produces images of the inside of the body to discover, treat, and monitor injuries and diseases.

Concussions from Personal Injury Accidents: Causes, Symptoms, and Complications

The after-effects of a brain injury can be extremely difficult to manage. Even though concussions are common, they affect everyone differently. Brain injuries like concussions can leave sufferers with long-term challenges and changes that can create all types of difficulties for the rest of their lives.

Brain injuries can be caused by a wide range of different accidents. The first thing many people think of when they hear the word “concussion” is sporting injuries. But there are many cases where people experience a concussion due to no fault of their own.

In everyday life, people experience events where they are left concussed and have to deal with the life-altering symptoms that follow. An unexpected concussion can be caused by a slip and fall accident while out shopping or from a rear-end car accident while waiting at a red light.

When it comes to concussions caused by negligence, or for any reason, it’s important to know the common causes of concussions, symptoms to look out for, and complications you should be aware of so that you can understand and manage the head trauma.

If you suffer a concussion because of someone’s negligence, one of the first things you should do is contact an experienced personal injury attorney who has the resources to handle a brain injury case.

Overview of a Concussion

A concussion is a clinical syndrome classified as a traumatic brain injury that alters normal brain functions. Concussion brain injuries usually occur as a result of a violent jolt or force to the head. This causes the brain to forcefully rattle or slam against the inner walls of the skull.

Once a concussion has occurred, a person will usually suffer from short-term side effects such as:

  • problems concentrating
  • impaired coordination
  • lack of balance
  • headaches

In some instances, a concussion may cause a person to lose consciousness. However, unlike the way popular culture portrays it, losing consciousness is not a required symptom of a concussion.

Concussions are divided into 3 main categories which are graded by severity:

  • Grade I: No loss of consciousness occurs and amnesia is absent or present for less than 30 minutes.
  • Grade II: Loss of consciousness occurs for less than five minutes. And/or amnesia occurs for between 30 minutes and 24 hours.
  • Grade III: Loss of consciousness occurs for more than five minutes, and/or amnesia occurs for more than 24 hours.

In the case of Grade III concussions, where a person is unconscious for a longer period of time and has significant amnesia, more serious brain damage is almost guaranteed. In Grade I and Grade II concussions, other types of brain damage are still possible.

Causes of a Concussion

Let’s now look at what causes concussions and other brain injuries. In everyday life, you’re protected from minor bumps to the head by fluid in the skull surrounding the brain that acts as a cushion.

Sudden acceleration and deceleration can cause the brain to slide around, knocking into the walls of the skull. The brain is highly susceptible to damage from sudden jolts and movements.

When the brain experiences extreme situations that cause it to thrust around, it can result in various injuries.

According to Mayo Clinic, the leading cause of concussions are falls. In the event of a violent blow to the head, the brain is at risk of injury. Concussions are not uncommon in situations where someone falls and hits their head against the ground. Or someone may fall from a ladder, stairs, or a tall height.

Brain injuries can also be caused by a wide range of other incidents and activities, including sports, motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, and even physical abuse like assault and domestic violence.

These situations are not just possible circumstances. They occur on a daily basis. And in a lot of cases, concussion sufferers don’t seek the necessary medical treatment that could help them to make a physical recovery and help them with a future financial claim if necessary.

With that being said, most people who experience a concussion make a full recovery after following their doctor’s orders and getting plenty of rest to allow the healing process to take place. In these instances, people are often still left with thousands of dollars in medical bill debt and lost wages that they in no way deserve to be on the hook for. And if things are serious or get worse, those financial struggles can only multiply from there.

Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

Signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary widely from case to case. All people respond differently to injuries. What might take one person two days to heal from could take another person two months. The same is true for how long it takes for symptoms to appear and how long those symptoms last.

The symptoms of a concussion could appear immediately. Or they could take days or weeks to appear.

Concussion symptoms can also last for days or weeks. In some cases, symptoms may last for much longer than that. It all depends on the person and the severity of the injury.

Some common physical symptoms that may point to a concussion are:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Blurry vision

Other symptoms that can be observed include headaches, dizziness, and confusion. Amnesia is also a common symptom of a concussion, which can often lead to the concussed person forgetting the events surrounding the head injury.

Obvious amnesia presents some problems when it comes to an injured victim being able to provide testimony evidence in their personal injury claim. However, an experienced personal injury attorney can assist with your case to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Complications from a Concussion

Concussions can cause all kinds of lasting and inconvenient problems for a sufferer. Concussions also come with unique risks that some people may not know about. This includes debilitating headaches, vertigo, post-concussion syndrome, and second impact syndrome.

Headaches

After a concussion, sufferers can experience headaches for weeks, months, or even a lifetime after their injury, which can be debilitating. These serious headaches can make everything from parenting to working to hobbies nearly impossible to do on a regular basis.

Vertigo

Vertigo is a spinning or dizzy sensation experienced by some brain injury victims. It may last for a short period of time or indefinitely following an injury. Vertigo can cause all kinds of unexpected consequences. For example, it may prevent a person from working because of how dizzy they can get and how quickly the vertigo symptoms can set in. If someone operated a forklift or drove an ambulance before they suffered a concussion that led to vertigo, they would need to find another profession.

Post-concussion Syndrome

Some people find themselves still experiencing headaches, dizziness, and difficulty thinking for more than three months after a concussion. Symptoms persisting for longer than three months are considered post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Post-concussion syndromes can cause victims to experience memory and cognitive problems, depression, and anxiety which can hinder their lives in countless ways.

Second Impact Syndrome

Experiencing a second concussion before the symptoms of the first have subsided can lead to a serious condition known as second impact syndrome (SIS). Second impact syndrome can cause more severe symptoms and complications. In some cases, the results can be fatal.

Getting the Compensation You Need After a Concussion

If you or someone you know has suffered a concussion or other brain injury, do not take it lightly. Even mild cases of concussion should be taken seriously. Although brain injury experts recognize that some concussions are less severe than others, there is no such thing as a ‘minor’ concussion.

All concussions should be met with the proper caution and medical care. Brain injuries that do not receive proper medical attention may lead to serious complications like internal bleeding, swelling, permanent cognitive impairment, lasting emotional problems, and death.

Contact Abels and Annes For Your Brain Injury Claim

If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, the lawyers at Abels & Annes are here to help you understand your legal options. A brain injury claim can be filed to help you receive compensation for any losses or damages you accrued as a result of another person or company’s negligence.

The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes are ready to help you navigate through these difficult times. Contact us today online or call us at 312-924-7575 for a free case consultation and to start getting your life back.

Who Am I Suing in an Illinois Car Accident Case? 

Over 319,000 car accidents happen annually in Illinois. Inevitably, most people will be involved in a collision at some point in their life. Sometimes these accidents are minor. At other times, they can result in injuries that can have serious consequences. When you are involved in an accident that causes injuries, expenses begin to add up fast.

You could need extensive medical care, including surgeries, hospital stays, outpatient care, and medications. You may also not be able to work for a long period of time or indefinitely due to permanent disability. Knowing where to turn for compensation can make a major difference. Filing a car accident injury claim can help to ease your financial worries. And it can give you peace of mind knowing that these costs don’t have to affect your personal budget. But who is going to pay for these costs? Who exactly am I suing when I file a car accident injury claim?

Am I Suing the Driver or Their Insurance?

First, the term “sue” is a bit of a misnomer. When you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and you intend to seek damages, you usually do this out of court resulting in what is known as a settlement. Nobody actually has a court case filed against them unless a reasonable compromise cannot be reached during negotiations.

However, generally speaking, you will most likely be pursuing the driver’s insurance company for compensation rather than the driver themselves.

The cost of your medical treatment, your lost wages, and other expenses related to the car accident (known as damages) are likely to exceed what most individuals can pay out of pocket. That is why we are all required to carry car insurance while operating a vehicle on Illinois roads.

Determining Car Accident Liability

The next step toward pursuing compensation and who will pay for that compensation is determining liability. When car accidents are settled out of court, generally insurance adjusters representing each driver’s insurance company will try to determine who is at-fault for the accident.

To make this determination, insurance agents review all available documentation related to an accident. This can include the police report, photos of the accident scene, witness statements, and the drivers’ own accounts of the accident.

It is important to note that the drivers’ own accounts of the accident is something all people who are involved in an auto accident should be weary of. It is best to avoid speaking to any auto insurance company directly, especially if you were injured in the accident and they may have to pay for the damage.

Insurance adjusters can twist your words in order to get out of having to pay for your damages. Their goal is to shift the liability to you or to at least diminish the severity of your injuries so they can pay out less and keep their company’s profits high.

This is where a car accident attorney comes in. Hiring a car accident attorney as soon as you are injured in a car accident is critical to getting the proper amount of compensation.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help Your Case

If you were not at-fault for the accident, your car accident attorney will gather and evaluate evidence to demonstrate the other driver’s liability. Your attorney will also analyze your medical records and various other expenses to prove the value of your injury claim to the insurance companies.

This is where your attorney will begin seeking compensation from either the other party’s insurance company, your own insurance company, or both. At this point, nobody has been sued.

If an agreeable settlement cannot be reached, then your attorney may have to file a civil lawsuit and your case may end up going to trial.

[Read: Timeline of a Personal Injury Case]

Beyond Negotiations to Trial

In this situation, you should know that you are actually suing the person who injured you. Their name will be on the court records. However, it is the insurance company who will end up paying for those damages.

When a car accident case goes to court, attorneys representing the injured driver and the insurance company present the evidence to a jury who will decide which party is at-fault and how much compensation will be awarded for any damages. In this situation, your attorney will compel the jury to side in your favor by refuting the other side’s claims, detailing factors that contributed to the accident, and painting a picture of how your injuries have affected your life both physically, mentally, and financially.

Whether a case is settled in or out of court, more than one party can be determined at fault for a car accident. That is because Illinois uses what is known as a modified comparative negligence system. Even if you contributed to an accident, in Illinois you’re still eligible to collect compensation if you are found to be less than 50% at fault for an accident.

What if the Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

Even though Illinois requires every vehicle owner to have car insurance, some drivers fail to maintain minimum coverage. If you’re injured by an uninsured driver, you still have the option to pursue a case against the at-fault driver. However, drivers who aren’t paying for the minimum required insurance rarely have the means to pay for any damages from a car accident out-of-pocket.

Your attorney can advise you about whether this is a logical course of action under your specific circumstances.

It may make more sense to file an uninsured motorist insurance claim with your own car insurance company. Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of auto coverage that helps you pay for damages caused by a driver who doesn’t have car insurance.

You can also rely on your own uninsured motorist coverage if the driver is unidentified or if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident.

Uninsured motorist coverage is a policy you purchase through your own insurance company. Therefore, if you have to pursue this route you would be seeking compensation from your insurer. In this case, it is not the at-fault driver paying for your damages.

This is not always an either-or situation. Sometimes both the other driver’s and your insurance company will pay.

Take for example if the at-fault driver’s coverage is not enough to cover all your damages. This is common in cases with catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. In this situation, you can both pursue compensation from the other driver’s insurance policy and turn to your own underinsured motorist policy for compensation.

What About Suing Additional Parties that Caused an Accident?

In some situations, an auto accident may be caused by something not related to a driver. For example, if a vehicle’s tire blows out when it is only six months old, the tire company, dealer, or mechanic may be liable.

Claims against third parties in addition to a defendant’s insurance are common in accidents involving commercial vehicles. This is because so many other parties are involved in commercial trucking besides the driver.

For instance, after a truck accident it may be discovered that the driver’s employer acted negligently by requiring the driver to be on the road for longer than they are legally allowed. In this case, the trucking company could be the one held liable for your damages.

Other examples of third parties that may be at-fault are:

  • rideshare companies
  • vehicle manufacturers
  • parts manufacturers
  • mechanics or maintenance companies

A car accident attorney can be particularly helpful in finding additional defendants. This is because proving that a person or party who was not even at the accident scene was responsible may require extensive research and evidence. And your lawyer may have experience from handling similar cases.

Let an Illinois Car Accident Attorney Help You Get Compensation

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, speak to Abels & Annes. Our attorneys have successfully represented thousands of car accident victims throughout the state of Illinois in claims against drivers, insurance companies, and other negligent third parties. We will advise you about all of your options. And help you to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries and other damages. Call us today at 312-924-7575 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Types of Car Insurance in Illinois

The average cost of car insurance is $199 a month in the United States. For many households, it is a major expense and one place that lots of people look to for savings. However, adequate car insurance can save you thousands of dollars when a car accident leads to unexpected damages. Auto insurance is an important protection for yourself and others when the unexpected happens. That’s why Illinois requires drivers within the state to have certain types of insurance coverage.

Drivers who are caught without the minimum required insurance face substantial fines and penalties. First time offenders may have to pay between $500 and $1,000. Additionally, their licenses could be suspended for three months and there are additional fees to have it reinstated. To protect yourself and others, it helps to review the types of car insurance coverage you have to ensure it meets Illinois requirements and your current needs. Too often we do not consider our car insurance coverage until it is too late.

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

Bodily injury liability coverage (BI) is designed to protect the other driver in the event of an accident. It’s one of two types of liability insurance. The other type is property damage liability coverage, which pays for any damage you cause to the other driver’s car.

If another driver causes a car accident that injures you, that driver’s bodily injury liability coverage can help to cover your medical expenses and lost wages that result from your injuries.

The minimum bodily injury coverage for Illinois drivers is $25,000/$50,000. 

This means that the coverage limits are up to $25,000 per injured person. And up to a maximum total of $50,000 for all injuries caused by the accident including multiple people in the vehicle. 

Keep in mind these are the policy limits, meaning this is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay. In an effort to cut their own costs, however, insurance companies will always try to keep their payout well below the policy limit. 

Having an attorney to evaluate your medical records to properly value your claim can protect you from accepting less than you need to cover all your damages.

Property Damage Liability Coverage

Illinois drivers must have a minimum of $20,000 in property damage liability coverage. 

Like bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability coverage (PD) is designed to pay for the other person’s property damage when you are at-fault for a car accident. 

An at-fault driver’s property damage liability coverage will help to pay for the cost of vehicle repairs or complete replacement when a car is totaled. 

It could also be used to cover other types of property damaged in a motor vehicle accident, like fences, bicycles, or property inside the vehicle.

How to Read Insurance Policy Limits in Documents

When you see three numbers divided by slashes on a car insurance policy or some other document, it is often referring to the coverage limits of liability insurance. 

For example, you might see 25/50/20 for a policy limit. The first two numbers refer to how many thousands of dollars in coverage you have for bodily injury coverage per person and per accident. The third number refers to the amount of property damage liability coverage.

Using Illinois’ minimum coverage requirements as an example, the 25/50 would represent $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. The third number represents the $20,000 in property damage coverage. 

Uninsured Motorist

It’s estimated that almost 14% of Illinois drivers are uninsured. If one of these drivers hit you, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to recover any of your expenses from them directly. After all, if they are unable to pay minimum insurance premiums, they are unlikely to have many assets to go after. 

That is one reason why Illinois requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage (UM). This coverage helps to pay for your injuries, rather than the other driver’s injuries. 

You can also turn to your uninsured motorist coverage if you are injured in a hit and run car accident.

Uninsured motorist coverage is required in Illinois, but it automatically comes with bodily injury coverage in equal amounts. For example, if you buy $25,000 in bodily injury insurance coverage, you automatically get $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage.

Underinsured Motorist

Severe injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and disfigurements cost a fortune to treat. Not only that, but their consequences can last a lifetime. These types of injuries can be so costly. So an at-fault driver’s policy limits aren’t always enough to cover these types of damages. This is why underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) exists. 

Underinsured motorist coverage is different from uninsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist insurance covers injuries to you and your passengers in the event that the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy is insufficient to cover all your expenses. In this case, your insurance company covers the expenses that exceed the limits of the other driver’s policy. 

Underinsured is grouped with uninsured motorist coverage in Illinois.

Medical Payments

Medical payment coverage is a type of insurance designed to pay for your own injury treatment in the event you are hurt in a car accident. Regardless of who caused the accident, your own medical payments coverage will help to pay for the cost of your medical expenses including hospital bills, doctors’ fees, and the cost of medication up to your policy limit amount. 

Medical payments coverage is not required in Illinois.

Collision

Collision insurance is a type of coverage that helps to pay for any repairs or the complete replacement of your car if it’s damaged in an accident with another vehicle or an object, like a fence or a tree. If your car is leased or financed, collision coverage may be required by the lender to protect their investment since they are the actual owners of the vehicle.

Collision coverage is not required in Illinois, although it may be required by your lender.

Comprehensive

Like collision coverage, comprehensive coverage also covers the cost of physical damage. It pays for repairs or replacement due to causes other than a collision. This would include theft, vandalism, fire, a falling branch, water, and hail. Comprehensive coverage is meant to bring the vehicle back to the value it held at the time of the accident. Or to provide for a replacement at the car’s current value. 

Comprehensive coverage is not required in Illinois.

Contact an Illinois Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, speak to an attorney at Abels & Annes. We know that handling insurance claims can be complicated, especially when multiple policies or parties are involved. Our experienced team will manage all communications with the insurance company to make sure you’re getting the best possible compensation. For a free initial case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online

Proving Negligence in a Chicago Car Accident

Every year, one-fifth of all car accidents in the United States leads to death or injury. For some people, these injuries are minor and will heal with time. For over 2 million of car accident victims, the injuries they receive are permanent. Whether car accident injuries leave a person with short or long-term repercussions, the unexpected financial strain can feel impossible to juggle with all of life’s other expenses. That is why US courts allow for injured drivers to recover these costs. Receiving compensation from the at-fault driver is essential to getting your life back on track. Proving the negligence of the at-fault driver is one of the first steps toward securing the compensation you deserve for your damages.

What is Negligence?

In order to understand how to prove negligence in a car accident claim, we must first understand what negligence is. Negligence, when referring to a car accident, is made up of four elements. These are duty of care, breach of that duty, causation, and damages.

Duty of Care

A driver’s duty of care is the legal responsibility they take on when they get behind the wheel. This duty includes avoiding any actions or behaviors that could lead to injury or death. Drivers must exhibit the same watchfulness, attention, caution, and judgment that a reasonable person would toward other drivers and the public.

Breach of Duty of Care

A driver is considered to have breached their duty of care when they fail to uphold this responsibility. Some examples of a driver breaching their legal duty of care include speeding, running a stop sign, drinking and driving, failing to yield, or driving while distracted.

Causation

The next step in the process of proving negligence is to show that the at-fault party’s breach of duty is what led to the car collision and the resulting injuries. This step is required because someone can be at-fault for a rear-end collision to your vehicle without being responsible for injuries. But if that collision is what caused your herniated disc, the driver would be liable.

Damages

The final step in proving negligence is to prove that the accident caused you some type of damages. Damages are the financial losses and personal losses you’ve suffered because of a car accident. This can include medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repair expenses, and your pain and suffering. Damages may also include wrongful death damages if your loved one was killed in the accident.

Determining Fault in a Car Accident

There are several types of evidence that help to show that a driver is at-fault. If a car accident causes death, injury, or property damage, the drivers are required to report the accident to the police. This is a critical first step that will officially document the collision with authorities.

In addition to a police report, other forms of evidence will also be collected to prove fault. This may include video from a dash cam or traffic cam, witness statements, photos of the accident scene, and vehicle inspections. These are all valuable types of evidence to support a case against a negligent driver.

[Read: What to Do After a Car Accident That Was Not Your Fault]

How Your Attorney Will Prove Negligence

Oftentimes, two drivers have vastly different accounts of how a motor vehicle accident happened. The finger pointing usually begins seconds after the impact.

If you were injured because of another driver’s negligence, hiring an experienced accident attorney can be instrumental in proving the other driver is liable for your damages. An attorney understands the civil laws that make up car accident claims and how to prove them effectively.

This means that they can use their experience to demonstrate how the other driver breached their duty of care, how that caused the accident, and how that led to your damages. Attorneys also understand how to utilize evidence and resources to prove their case. This might include filing a Freedom of Information Act request for traffic cam footage or hiring an accident reconstruction expert to analyze the scene. These elements can make all the difference between a lowball offer and an appropriate settlement amount.

For example, if the at-fault driver was speeding at the time of the collision, your attorney may present security camera footage from a nearby gas station. Or even eyewitness statements that prove the driver’s negligence.

If you were injured because of a drunk driver, your attorney might find information from the establishment that served the driver alcohol to strengthen your case. They may also look into a dram shop case against said establishment.

Sometimes a case will need to go all the way to trial. In this situation, a typical jury won’t necessarily have the background knowledge they need to understand physical evidence like the skid marks on the road. It’s your attorney’s job to explain in clear terms how this evidence proves the other driver was negligent and how that led to the collision.

Prove Causation and Applicable Damages

When policyholders are at-fault, their insurance companies will do anything in their power to distance themselves from paying for the car accident claim.

One method they use is blaming your resulting injuries on a pre-existing condition or injury. This is common with ongoing conditions like chronic pain or nerve damage since these issues can arise from a variety of circumstances. An experienced personal injury attorney can help stop this denial tactic. Additionally, they will prove that your injuries were caused by the accident in question. Your attorney may utilize past medical records, statements from medical experts, and your treating doctors’ opinions to do this.

It is important to hire a lawyer who will explore all of the possible damages that apply in your case. Unfortunately, this is where many people that handle claims on their own fall short. Experienced attorneys are aware that certain conditions can require future medical treatment or may cause more time off from work than is initially apparent. So they will value your claim accordingly.

This just shows that there is more to consider than proving negligence. Hiring an attorney can help you to establish liability, prove the extent of your damages, and get the proper amount of compensation to cover all aspects of your damages.

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by another person, speak to a car accident attorney at Abels & Annes. We are dedicated to recovering maximum compensation for every one of our clients with our detailed accident investigations. We take a tough approach with insurance companies and are willing to take your case to trial if necessary. For a free case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

How Video Wins Personal Injury Cases

Video footage is one of the most compelling and reliable forms of evidence in a personal injury case. If the at-fault party denies their liability or the fact that an accident even happened, video proof can strongly back up your story. Luckily, there are cameras recording in practically all types of private and public spaces. This means that your accident may have been caught on video without you even realizing it. The one caveat to this is that even though something may be recorded, the footage can still be deleted. That’s why it’s critical to preserve video evidence quickly before it’s gone.

Video Evidence Wins Personal Injury Claims

Every type of personal injury case is strengthened by video evidence. That is because a successful case relies on showing that the other party acted negligently. When acts of negligence are caught on camera, they’re hard to deny.

Car Accidents

Video footage of a car accident clearly shows what factors contributed to the collision. It can show whether a motorist was speeding, running a red light, texting, or drifting into another driver’s lane. As cameras become more and more commonplace, the likelihood that a car accident is caught on camera is increasing.

Truck Accidents

Many companies trust and depend on semi trucks to transport thousands of dollars worth of their merchandise at a time. Because of this, it is common for semi trucks and other commercial vehicles to have dashcams. If you are hit by a semi truck, their own dash cam footage may reveal whether the truck driver acted negligently. In order for this video footage to be of any help, it must be preserved before the company has a chance to delete it.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents

Traffic cameras placed along busy roads and on top of stop lights can be helpful in proving a bicycle or pedestrian accident injury claim. Footage from these cameras can show if a car was violating any traffic laws or otherwise acting negligently when they hit you. For example, a driver may claim they came to a complete stop while footage shows that they didn’t. Or the footage may refute a defense claim that a cyclist or pedestrian darted into the road unexpectedly when they didn’t have the right of way. Video proves what really took place in a way that makes refuting the details more difficult.

Slip and Fall Claims

Most businesses have security cameras within the store, as well as around their buildings and parking lots. These video cameras can show how a pool of liquid got on the ground or how long a tripping hazard was present before a slip and fall accident happened. This can demonstrate that the property manager created or was aware of the danger but negligently failed to correct it. This type of footage can be critical in getting fair compensation for slip and falls that occur in grocery stores, big box stores, hair salons, and other retail spaces open to the public.

Nursing Home Abuse

Video cameras are one of the best deterrents of nursing home abuse. That is why Illinois allows nursing home residents to record video in their private rooms. Facilities also have their own surveillance cameras in common areas to capture the comings and goings of staff, visitors, and vendors. This footage can be instrumental in finding patterns to identify abusers, capturing questionable incidents, or proving your loved one’s condition before the injury or incident.

Dog Bite Injuries

It is not uncommon for pet owners and dog bite injury victims to have very different accounts about how an animal attack took place. The popularity of home security systems like Arlo and Ring is on the rise in residential areas. Security cameras have become more popular than traditional home security monitoring systems. Footage from these cameras can show whether a dog was leashed, whether a dog was provoked, and whether trespassing influenced an attack.

Workplace Accidents

Office security cameras and construction site cameras can completely make or break a workplace accident claim against a third party. Cameras in workplaces, construction sites, and office buildings are often recording in high quality and from many different angles. This makes them crucial for showing the circumstances leading to a person becoming injured at work.

Bus Accidents

The CTA has been protecting Chicago city bus riders with surveillance cameras since 2003. This footage isn’t just helpful in protecting against assaults, robberies, and other crimes, it can also be a great source of capturing collisions and other incidents involving a bus. If you slipped and fell on a bus, were hit by a bus, or were injured by a bus in any way, chances are it was captured on camera.

Types of Video Footage

It’s estimated that there are 85 million surveillance cameras in the United States.

When you combine that with the prevalence of smartphone cameras, the likelihood that something was caught on camera is high. We see this on social media when someone shares a video revealing someone’s actions in public. We see it on TV with “caught on camera” shows. And we see it in the courtroom when someone thinks they got away with something when it was actually recorded from two angles.

Naturally, this makes video footage an excellent piece of evidence in a personal injury case. There are various types of video footage your attorney may seek out when building your case, including:

Dash Cam Footage

The high image quality of the latest dash cams makes it easier than ever to see the details of a car accident. Some of the cameras on the market not only capture footage from the front but from the back and sides as well. Dash cams are generally simple to install And footage can automatically upload to a cloud. Some vehicles even come with built-in dash cams. If your accident was captured on your dashcam or someone else’s, it can dramatically help in building your case.

Law Enforcement Video Recordings

Chicago has one of the largest police camera programs in the country. There are over 30,000 cameras recording around Chicago at all times. The number of cameras in the city means that your injury or accident were likely recorded. This footage can be obtained by a personal injury lawyer to help prove your claim.

Indoor Security Cameras

Indoor security cameras have come a long way in the last few decades. Many modern security cameras are able to detect motion, identify faces, and record with night vision. Luckily, lots of businesses employ these high-definition cameras to protect their merchandise and customers. So even if your accident was not seen by anyone else, it’s possible it was caught by a retail shop’s cameras.

Outdoor Security Cameras

Whether it is monitoring a business or residence, an outdoor security camera can help to catch at-fault parties when they least suspect someone is watching. Outdoor cameras are especially helpful in capturing slip and falls, motor vehicle accidents, and hit and run collisions.

Traffic Cameras

Traffic cameras have become a very popular choice of surveillance technology for local governments. They’re on top of traffic signals, placed along roads, and at busy intersections. These cameras are excellent for studying traffic patterns, monitoring backups, and capturing vehicle collisions.

Phone Camera Footage

Many good samaritans (or nosy onlookers) begin recording on their phones as soon as they see something interesting happening. This often means that the original accident may not have been caught on camera but the aftermath was. This can show the severity of injuries, how the at-fault party behaved, and other crucial details your attorney can use to prove your case.

Video Evidence Could Be Erased

Oftentimes, video evidence is lost because there is only so much storage space available. The footage may be stored for a limited amount of time through a cloud service. Or new video is recorded over old footage that doesn’t have any apparent value. Before the video evidence you need is gone for good, speak to a lawyer about your personal injury incident. An experienced Chicago attorney will know what steps to take to gain access to the camera footage that may win your claim.

Your attorney can:

  • File a Freedom of Information Act Request
  • Request footage from city officials in adherence with the City of Chicago Video Release Policy
  • Contact business owners and witnesses and formally ask for their footage
  • File a subpoena to have footage released

Contact a Chicago Attorney to Help Preserve Video Evidence

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, video evidence goes a long way in holding that party accountable. It is critical to obtain video as soon as possible before it can be deleted. An experienced Chicago attorney can help you to locate and preserve the footage you need to strengthen your claim.

The attorneys of Abels & Annes are ready to take on your personal injury claim. We will quickly take action and fight to get you the best possible results and maximum compensation for your injuries. Call us today at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation or contact us online.

 

(Dash Cam Video by Extreme Crashes under CC license.)