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When Do I Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2018 there were 319,146 crashes involving motor vehicles in Illinois. In the United States, there are approximately 37,000 car accidents deaths that occur each year. These accidents often occur on busy streets such as highways, interstates, and other major roads. They also can occur in parking lots, side streets, and neighborhoods.

However, these accidents don’t always involve two cars. They can also involve commercial trucks, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists. In 2014,there were 19,945 accidents involving large commercial trucks in the state of Illinois. Truck accidents are often more severe than car accidents simply because of the size of trucks in comparison to the size of vehicles.

So, after you’ve been injured in a car accident, what is your next step? What are you supposed to do and when are you supposed to hire an attorney?

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer Immediately After my Accident?

If you choose not to hire an attorney right away, you may be jeopardizing your legal rights when it comes to your case. Without the guidance of an attorney, you may sign the wrong form or accept a deal that is way worse than what a talented attorney could have gotten you.

In general, it’s the best idea to hire an attorney as soon as you can. After you’ve received immediate medical treatment you should start looking for representation. If you choose not to hire an attorney from the get go, it’s important to not sign any documents or offer a recorded statement to the insurance company of the at-fault party. The sooner your attorney can start building your case, the better. And it is highly recommended that you retain counsel before contacting any auto insurance carriers.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Hiring a lawyer is one of the best things that you can do for your car accident case. An experienced attorney will investigate your case, determine liability, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Getting you a good settlement is often the best part of having an attorney, and if not that, then winning your case in court. But very few cases make it all the way to trial.

After a thorough review of the facts of your case and your medical records and bills, your attorney will submit a settlement demand on your behalf. The insurance company of the at-fault party will then return with a first offer. This will continue back and forth until you’ve received the adjuster’s top settlement offer. If you do not reach a settlement offer that you’re happy with, your case will go to court. In trial, your attorney will argue on your behalf, presenting your case to the judge and jury.

There are people who have tried representing themselves in court, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s not a good idea. Court without a lawyer typically doesn’t go well.

Most attorneys don’t take a payment up front and will only charge you if you obtain a settlement or you win your case at trial, so you have nothing to lose by hiring an attorney. They’ll also check up with you while you’re receiving medical treatment and generally help to keep the weight off of your shoulders while you’re recovering.

What Settlement Can a Car Accident Lawyer Get Me?

Your settlement depends on your attorney’s negotiations with the insurance company. When choosing an attorney, you’ll want to pick one with a known track record. When it comes to your settlement, there are two values, your settlement value and your case value. If your case (a combination of your economic and non-economic damages) has a value of $300,000 dollars, you can find your settlement value by looking at your chance at winning the case.

If you have a 75% chance of winning the case, your settlement value will be an estimated 75% of your trial value, $300,000 dollars. This would mean that your settlement value would be $225,000 dollars. If you had a lower chance of winning, your settlement would be lower. Your attorney can also help to advise you on whether or not you should take the settlement or allow your case to go to trial.

Case value can vary, depending on a combination of liability, insurance policy limits, and the severity of your injuries and other damages.

How Will My Lawyer Prove Liability?

Negligence is used to prove liability in personal injury cases. Most accidents occur because a party drives negligently. This means that they failed to act responsibly and reasonably to another human being, and in doing so, caused another person harm. There are four legal elements to liability that need to be proven to hold a party liable:

  • Duty of Care. Your attorney must be able to prove that there was a specific duty of care that the driver had to abide by. In the case of a car accident, this could mean following the rules of the road, not texting while driving, drinking, or driving recklessly.
  • Breach of Duty. They then have to prove that there was a breach in this duty. For example, that they were acting carelessly in some way.
  • Causation. You have to prove that the defendant’s carelessness directly caused your injuries.
  • Actual Damages. Finally, there must be actual monetary damages that occurred because of the incident.

What Compensation Can my Attorney Help me Receive?

Your attorney can help you receive both economic and non-economic compensation for your injuries. Economic compensation refers to any monetary damages you incurred because of the accident. This includes hospital bills, surgery costs, ambulance rides, therapy costs, in-home care, and lost wages.

Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and any compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement. Because these aren’t based on a specific number, the insurance company (or judge/jury if your case goes to trial) will look at how much your quality of life has changed before and after the accident occurred. The greater the change, the higher the compensation.

Speak with a Chicago Car Accident Attorney

If you or your family member sustains injuries in a car accident, hiring an experienced attorney is your best bet at a settlement offer you’re happy with. Our experienced attorneys at Abels & Annes have years of experience working on car accident cases, and are ready to help you get the compensation that you deserve. For more information or a free case evaluation, please contact us online or at (312) 924-7575.

How much is my truck accident case worth?

Getting into a truck accident can result in expensive medical bills and a lot of stress. These accidents often result in damages greater than the average car accident case, as these accidents have a tendency to leave people with more severe injuries.

A passenger car weighs about 4,000 pounds on average, while the average commercial truck weighs about 80,000 pounds. That makes for a huge difference in terms of force. Commercial trucks are harder to stop quickly and can impact cars more severely than another passenger vehicle would.

Large trucks accounted for 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2018, according to Injury Facts. In 2018 there were 4,862 large trucks that were involved in fatal crashes. When truck accidents occur, the injuries or deaths most often occur within the smaller vehicle. Most truck accident drivers walk away without any serious injuries.

Truck accidents can cause severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, or even death. After getting into an accident, the last thing you want to do is think about money. But you’re probably worried about the medical bills you’ll have to pay. An experienced truck attorney, such as the aggressive lawyers of Abels & Annes, will be able to help unload that stress off of your back and allow you to continue recovering from your injuries.

Factors Considered when Calculating Your Injury Claim

There are many different factors that come into play when determining how much your claim is worth. No two claims are worth the same amount. While a judge and jury will be the ones to decide your claim’s worth if you go to trial, your attorney will keep you in the know on how much you should expect once he or she has fully evaluated your case.

Medical Bills

The more medical bills you have, the higher your claim is often going to be worth. An accident that caused you serious injuries will leave you in much more medical debt than an accident that caused you only a few minor injuries. Your treatment time and the amount of overall medical attention you need will play a part in determining your case’s value. The compensation that you receive should be enough to cover any past or future medical costs related to the injuries you incurred because of the accident.

Lost Wages and Income

Any wages that you lost because of your injuries will be included in your claim’s value. If you had to take time off to recover, you are eligible to receive that money back. You may also receive compensation for any wages you will continue to lose because of your injuries. You can also receive compensation for the loss of earning capacity. If you’re no longer able to do the job you were doing, you may receive additional compensation to cover for those losses.

Property Damage

In a truck accident case, property damage refers to the damage done to your vehicle. Your own insurance may cover some of these costs, but you can claim any costs not covered by your insurance, such as your deductible.

Other Economic Damages

Other economic damages can include things like in-home care, such as a personal grocery shopper, childcare, or travel fees to and from medical appointments.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering compensation is different based on each individual case. If you settle, your lawyer will demonstrate to the insurance company your quality of life before the accident, and how it’s changed since the accident occured. The greater the change, the more compensation they’re likely to offer you. The same is true if your case is brought to trial, except the decision will be made by the judge and jury instead.

Permanent Disability or Disfigurement

If your accident has left you permanently disabled or disfigured, your case will have a higher value. These disabilities can greatly change someone’s life, so that’s why they’re awarded further compensation.

Should I Settle my Truck Accident Claim?

Settling your truck accident claim can be a huge decision to make. Your decision to settle should be based on three factors: your case’s trial value, settlement value, and chance of winning. If your case has a trial value of $100,000 and you only have a 50% chance of winning, your settlement value is going to typically be well less than full value.

Many insurance companies will try to get victims to settle in order to avoid going to trial. It’s really up to you whether you want to settle or not, but your attorney can help you make the decision. If you have a high chance of winning your case, taking a low settlement is often a bad idea. If you have a low chance of winning your case, you may want to start to think about accepting a settlement offer.

Negligence and Your Claim

Negligence also plays a huge factor in your claim. If your accident occured because of gross negligence, you may be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are given to the victim as a punishment to the negligent party in order to keep the same party (or different parties) from committing a similar act in the future. Punitive damages are rare but can occur if a party was grossly negligent or if the court is trying to deter the accident from reoccurring.

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, our experienced truck accident attorneys here at Abels & Annes are ready to help you win your case. Getting into an accident can be stressful, but a good attorney can help to take the weight off of your shoulders. For more information, or a free case evaluation, please contact us online or at 312-924-7575.

Timeline of a Personal Injury Case

What Classifies as Personal Injury

Personal injury refers to the type of a case in which a person’s body or mind has been injured. This can include injuries because of:

In 2016, there were 39.5 million physician office visits for unintentional injuries. Unintentional injuries occur every day and can be incredibly dangerous if not cared for properly. In the same year, accident injury became the number 3 cause of death for the first time ever in the United States.

Personal injury cases are filed by the person who was injured in the accident, or by a spouse, child, or parent in a wrongful death lawsuit. The case is filed against the negligent party, and their insurance company, who are both responsible for paying if they lose the case.

Accidents can cause severe injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones. The medical debt that one incurs due to an injury (whether mild or severe) can sometimes be overwhelming. Hiring a good lawyer can help you collect the most compensation possible for your injuries.

The Process of a Personal Injury Case

If you’ve never had to file a personal injury lawsuit before, you may be unsure of exactly how the process works. It can be a long process, sometimes taking years on end, especially if the treatment of your injuries takes a long time as well. So it’s good to know what you’re heading into when you decide you want to file a claim.

Medical Treatment

After your accident occurs, you want to make sure that you receive medical treatment as soon as possible. Delaying your medical treatment can raise red flags in your case, so it’s best to get checked out as soon as you possibly can. If your injuries are severe, it’s likely that you’ll be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. If you aren’t, you should see a doctor right away, or take a trip to the emergency room. Make sure to let your doctor know that your injuries occured because of an accident so they can document it in their notes. Keep a record of your doctor visits so you can keep track of medical expenses incurred due to your injury.

Hiring an Attorney

Hiring the right attorney for your case can save you a lot of headache in the long run. A good attorney will investigate your case, check in on you to make sure you’re following your treatment plan, and eventually settle your case or take it to trial. When making your selection, make sure to look at online reviews, ratings and past results. Further, talk directly with the potential attorney before signing up. Most attorneys will offer a free case evaluation and don’t require payment unless you win your case. Hiring an attorney will benefit you since insurance companies often try to low-ball you when privately settling an injury claim. Don’t settle with an insurance company before speaking to your attorney.

Investigation

Your attorney will begin their investigation of your case. This will consist of them gathering all evidence necessary, including your medical records and bills, and any statements made to the police, and the police report. They’ll also use any evidence you may have collected, like photos you may have taken at the scene of the accident or any statements or communications you received from witnesses to the accident.

Negotiation

Your lawyer eventually handle settlement negotiations with the at-fault party and their insurance company. Your attorney will make a settlement demand and the insurance company will soon return with their initial offer. A settlement may take time, reaching weeks, months, or in some cases, years. Your attorney won’t want to accept a settlement that is less than you deserve, but they’ll be honest with you about any trial risks and what they believe is the best option for your case.

Lawsuit is Filed

If the other party refuses to meet your settlement expectations, a lawsuit can be filed against them. If a settlement offer is received that meets your expectations, the claim will resolve. A lawsuit is necessary when an appropriate settlement for your damages cannot be reached.

Discovery

The discovery process allows both parties to investigate the claims they’ve made against one another. This process can last for months to years, but it gives both sides adequate time to gather all evidence needed to move forward.

Mediation

A mediation can be used to try to settle a lawsuit before it goes to trial. It’s a settlement negotiation with the assistance of a mediator. If a settlement is not achieved at this point, the case can move forward to trial. Ideally, your personal injury attorney will be able to get you the compensation you need during this phase to avoid further lengthy and costly litigation.

Trial

If your personal injury case goes to trial, a judge or jury will decide the outcome of your case and the amount of compensation that is owed to you by the opposing party if you do win. That compensation will be based on proving liability and damages an injury victim has sustained. Trial allows both sides to tell their stories and also allows both sides to further question witnesses, and each other. Trials can last anywhere from a day to weeks. If it’s a complicated case, your trial may last even longer.

Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

There’s a lot that goes into a personal injury case, and it’s in your best interest to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to help you along the way. If you or someone you love has been injured in a person injury accident, please contact our aggressive attorneys at Abels & Annes. We have years of experience collecting significant settlements for our clients. You can contact us online or at 312-924-7575.

Drunk Uber Drivers – Who Can Be Held Responsible?

Drunk Uber Drivers – Who Can Be Held ResponsibleWere You Injured by a Drunk Uber Driver?

Under Illinois law, it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more. In fact, it is against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol generally, so it is possible to face DUI charges with a BAC of less than .08. Of course, these limits apply to everyone on the road – including people who drive others for money.

What is Uber and Lyft and How Are They Affecting Society?

Uber and Lyft are two of the most popular ridesharing companies around. These companies virtually have the whole market when it comes to inexpensive, reliable, and safe transportation. This is especially true for individuals who are traveling to and from airports, train stations, and other transportation centers.

Uber riders can download an app onto their iPhones and other smart devices. Further, when using the Uber app a rider can request and pay for rides and keep track of a driver’s physical location at all times. Riders are also told the amount of their fare and can store their payment information online for added convenience.

Despite the advantages and convenience that ridesharing companies like Uber have offered consumers, there are always risks associated with getting from place to place. For example, drunk or drugged drivers. Impaired drivers are at an increased risk of involvement in motor vehicle accidents. Further, serious injuries and damages may result to everyone in the vehicle(s).

In these cases, several individuals, companies, and/or insurance carriers may share in the potential liability to the injured passenger or passengers. This is known as a third-party injury claim.

If you sustain injuries as a result of an Uber drunk driving accident, you may be eligible to pursue monetary compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can investigate your case. If necessary, we can name all necessary (and potentially responsible) parties in a claim or lawsuit. By working with a rideshare accident lawyer, you will maximize your chances of recovering monetary compensation for your injuries in the accident.

Are Rideshare Drivers in Chicago Employees or Independent Contractors?

To drive for Uber, the company requires all prospective drivers to complete a background check. Drivers are also responsible for maintaining and paying their own motor vehicle insurance when they are not on the clock. While en route to a far or transporting a far, Uber provides the active insurance.

Even though drivers work for Uber, there is a debate over whether they are employees in the strictest sense. Uber tries to argue that they are independent contractors. Chicago Uber accident lawyers argue that they are employees due to all the rideshare rules and regulations that drivers must follow, and the way Uber controls the payments.

When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, the distinction between employees and independent contractors becomes very important. In prior years, Uber has tried to distance itself from problem drivers who cause accidents. They attempt to avoid being considered an employer to avoid responsibility for larger cases with values in excess of $1 million.

Uber’s Company Policies

Uber tries to claim their drivers are independent contractors, rather than company employees. However, these companies still have considerable control over their drivers’ activities. When it comes to drunk driving, Uber has a zero–tolerance policy. Uber does not permit alcohol or drug use by individuals who use the Uber app and who drive under the Uber name.

Uber’s company website even encourages riders to share their experiences publicly online. They do this in order to keep the ridesharing community safe. Specifically, the Uber site states that if you believe your driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should immediately terminate your trip.

Moreover, you should report any feedback in the app by clicking on the Help Menu and selecting your issue. The website also encourages riders to email Uber’s customer complaint department at customercomplaints@uber.com.

Liability for Drunk Uber Drivers

If you have injuries from an Uber accident, several individuals or entities may share in the potential liability. The most obvious at-fault party is the drunk or negligent Uber driver.

As a prerequisite to driving with Uber, applicants must have and maintain their own motor vehicle insurance. Generally speaking, insurance coverage follows a vehicle, rather than the driver. Consequently, if a drunk Uber driver causes an accident while on the clock, Uber’s insurance policy will be available to provide some or all of the necessary insurance coverage.

Taking Legal Action Against Uber

Taking legal action against Uber directly can be complicated. In many cases, ridesharing companies like Uber will try and make you sign an agreement which limits your settlement or which precludes you from filing a claim or lawsuit directly against the company. You should never sign one of these agreements – under any circumstances – without first consulting with a personal injury lawyer. By signing one of these agreements, you can potentially lose out on recovering a large amount of compensation.

Uber’s liability policy limits for accidents which are caused by the driver of a ridesharing vehicle include:

  • $50,000/$100,000/$25,000 worth of contingent coverage by Uber in-between fares. Uber will only pay this amount if the Uber driver’s personal automobile insurance policy refuses to pay anything to satisfy an injured passenger’s damage claim.
  • $1,000,000 of liability coverage per accident when the Uber driver is on a ride or going to pick up a fare and is the cause of an accident.
  • $1,000,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits. This amount only provides insurance coverage for Uber passengers and drivers who sustain injury when another driver (i.e. not the Uber driver) causes the collision. Further, the at-fault driver must be uninsured or underinsured for the coverage to apply.
  • Finally, if the app is not in use at the time of the accident, Uber will not provide coverage. A party with injuries would have to pursue the at-fault driver’s personal auto policy.

Call a Chicago Uber Accident Lawyer to Discuss Your Case

If you suffer an injury in an Uber car accident where the driver was DUI, you may be able to recover monetary compensation. This money is for all of your damages from the accident, including:

  • medical and physical therapy bills
  • lost wages
  • pain and suffering
  • loss of enjoyment of life
  • emotional distress and mental anguish

The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can review your case and make the necessary legal claims against all potentially responsible parties. To schedule a free legal consultation and case evaluation with a Chicago, Illinois personal injury lawyer, please call us today at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online.

Chicago-Drunk Driving Accidents Lawyer

Who Is the Best Personal Injury Lawyer for Me?

After an accident, it’s natural to feel a wide range of emotions. Anger, fear, uncertainty: These are all normal. A personal injury attorney can help you navigate through these feelings and help you get the compensation you deserve. But where do you start? How do you find the attorney that’s right for you? If you are like most people, you likely have little to no experience working with an attorney. An online search for personal injury attorneys will bring up hundreds of results. So how do you weed through it all?

Below, we address some of the top things you should look for in a personal injury attorney.

Areas of Focus

First things first. If you suffer an injury during an accident, you need to hire a personal injury attorney. You probably shouldn’t just call up the attorney that helped you through your divorce or helped you start up your small business. Personal injury attorneys work with clients who have suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence. Within the field, there are several areas of focus. While many personal injury attorneys focus on a wide range of disciplines, you want someone who has worked a case like yours before so they can effectively litigate your case. Common focus areas include:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury cases. According to a recent report, accidents have increased by 11 percent in just one year.

Premises Liability

Premises liability covers accidents that happen on someone else’s property. This includes slip and fall accidents, dog bites, and swimming pool accidents. These accidents are very common. When you speak to an attorney, ask if they have direct experience working your type of case.

Wrongful Death

When a person dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, the victim’s family has the right to seek damages from the negligent party. While wrongful death suits technically fall under personal injury, they involve a completely different set of laws and only allow for certain damages.

Experience

Experience is one thing you should look for in an attorney. Experience shows that the attorney knows the legal system and has worked with various types of insurance companies, plaintiffs, and defendants. But it’s not just about how many years of experience an attorney has. Before you hire an attorney, you should do a little research to make sure you are comfortable with who you will work with.

Things you should look at include:

  • The attorney’s website: The first thing you should look at when you consider an attorney is their website. Is it professional? Does it share case results? Does it provide ample information about the attorneys? This information can tell you a lot about an attorney and their firm. But remember, these sites are designed to get you to contact the attorney. As such, they should not be your only source of information.
  • Disciplinary history: If you look at nothing else, look at the attorney’s disciplinary history. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission allows the public to search for an attorney and view their license status, contact information, and whether they have any disciplinary history.
  • Attorney reviews: One of the great things about the internet is you can find a review for anything, even lawyers. Websites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook have ratings for most law firms.
  • Online ratings: Websites like Super Lawyers and AVVO look at a variety of factors and rate lawyers. These ratings websites may look at trial and settlement history, reviews, endorsements from other attorneys, etc. For example, both David Abels and Gary Annes have 10.0 ratings from AVVO and they are both on the Illinois Super Lawyer Top 100 list (out of over 90,000 lawyers). Further, Abels & Annes is on the Three Best Rated list for Chicago injury lawyers, and David Abels is a lifetime member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Other Factors to Consider

Experience is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters.

When you have a list of qualified candidates, you can narrow it down by looking at a few basic factors, including:

  • Availability: This one is important. Does the attorney have enough time to take on your case? How can you tell? Ask. Talk to the attorney about their availability, the size of their team, and how much time they have to devote to your case.
  • Cost: Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means they take a certain percentage of your final settlement. However, this amount can vary from attorney to attorney. Know what you will have to pay before you sign on with an attorney. For example, Abels & Annes typically charges a fee of 1/3 of the settlement or verdict and, unlike many law firms, we do not increase our fees to 40% if a case goes to court.
  • Location: It doesn’t matter how qualified an attorney is if he or she is actually located out of state. Try to find someone who is close enough that you can meet face-to-face when necessary.
  • Comfort: When it all comes down to it, you want to work with someone you are comfortable with. Most of the time, this comes down to your gut. Does the person make you feel comfortable? Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation. If you don’t like one person, move on to the next.

Try to remember, this is your case and your future. Only you will know who is the right personal injury lawyer for you.

When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

Finding yourself the victim of a car accident is truly no fun. Not only can it ruin your day, but in the worst of cases, it has the potential to forever alter your life. Depending on the type of car accident you were in and the injuries you suffered, your life may never be the same. What’s more frustrating is that it did not have to be this way: Your life has changed because someone else did not act reasonably or responsibly.

When you suffer injuries in a car accident, the last thing you may think about is hiring a lawyer. In reality, that should be one of your first actions. Your first thought should center around your health and physical recovery. Then, you should not wait to hire a lawyer to help you recover damages against the at-fault driver.

Using the services of a trusted car accident injury attorney can give you the peace of mind you need to know that even if the accident alters your life, you will not bear any financial burden as a result.

Lawyers Can Increase Your Recovery

Hiring a seasoned car accident injury attorney after you suffer injuries is important to ensuring you recover every dollar you deserve for your injuries.

Many car accident victims do not even realize all the damages to which they may be entitled, including:

Each of these damages can help to increase the amount of money you eventually receive. While no amount of money will bring your old life back or make your pain and suffering disappear, it will help to make sure you do not end up in financial hardship because of an accident you did not cause. Medical expenses can reach astronomical amounts. The biggest reason people file bankruptcy in the United States? Medical bills.

The best way to avoid this scenario for yourself is by speaking with a skilled car accident injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. With every day that passes, witness memories fade and evidence is lost. Further, critical mistakes often get made by those without counsel. Give yourself the best chance of making a complete recovery by speaking with a lawyer today.

Proving Liability Presents Challenges

In just one recent year, more than 1,000 people died in Illinois car accidents. While not every car accident results in death, it shows the severity with which your life can change in an instant. To combat that change, as a car accident injury victim, seek compensation from the at-fault driver so you can live your life as best as possible without worrying about your medical expenses.

To prove the other driver was at fault, however, requires more than simply saying so. You need to show:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care to drive safely.
  • The other driver breached that duty of care by driving in an unsafe manner.
  • The other driver’s unsafe driving caused an accident where you suffered injuries.

Again, this might seem simple to you, but nothing in the law generally is so simple. Proving this will require a full investigation by your lawyer. They will speak with witnesses, possibly expert witnesses, review medical records and police reports, and make sure your case is filed timely.

To give yourself and your lawyer the best chance of proving the other driver is to blame for your injuries, get a lawyer on the case soon. The more time your car accident injury attorney has to review and investigate your case, the better your chances of making a full recovery.

Insurance Companies are Not on Your Side

We all pay our insurance premiums every month. We expect that, when we need that insurance money, we will get it. We also expect that if someone else causes us harm, their insurance will cover our needs, just like after a car accident.

Unfortunately, insurance companies do not like to pay out claims. In fact, insurance companies’ usual goal is to make you go away for as little as possible. They attempt to do this by offering you a quick, lowball settlement offer. They hope you get excited by the quick sum of money and do not have a lawyer at your side to tell you that the settlement funds are not enough to cover all of your medical bills.

When insurance companies do this, they hope you take the money and run. When that happens, months or even years later, you may realize the settlement funds have run out, but you still have more medical bills and lost wages to cover. By then, it’s too late. When you signed off on the insufficient settlement offer, you waived your right to bring any future claims against the insurance company for this accident.

Give yourself the best chance of avoiding this tragic situation by speaking with a knowledgeable car accident attorney who can negotiate with the big insurance companies for you. Your job is to get better. Let your lawyer deal with the insurance companies; but, the only way to do that is to pick up the phone quickly after your accident.

Insurance companies love it when accident victims forgo retaining counsel. This is because they believe they will be able to settle the case for much less money. You will want to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to avoid getting taken advantage of.

You Must Meet Strict Deadlines

The most important deadline for you to understand is the time you have to start your lawsuit. In Illinois, in most cases, you only have two years from the date of your accident to file a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Further, you only have one year to file a lawsuit against certain defendants (municipalities, CTA, for example).

We do not expect you to understand all the nuances and strict guidelines that you must follow when filing a car accident claim. That’s what your car accident lawyer is for—to help manage the legal complexities. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries after a car accident, you deserve legal representation that has your best interests at heart.

What Is a Contingency Fee?

After being seriously injured in an accident, getting back to normal can be an arduous journey. You’re dealing with physical pain, mental and emotional trauma, medical bills, and maybe even job loss. The situation may be even more dire if you have a family.

Facing so many challenges at once might be overwhelming; you may not know where to turn or who to ask for help. It’s important to know you’re not alone. If your injuries were the result of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can lay out your options and chart a path forward for you and your family.

For some people, merely the word attorney evokes images of enormous bills and surprise fees. After all, the average billing rate for an attorney is between $100 to $300 per hour, but often much higher in a big city like Chicago. Considering this is a common perception, it may come as a surprise that most personal injury attorneys will take a case with no retainer, primarily through the use of a contingency fee.

The Definition of Contingency Fee?

Although it sounds like impenetrable legalese, contingency fees are fairly straightforward. The client only pays their attorney if they’re awarded damages or reach a settlement agreement with the defendant. The lawyer’s fee is taken as a percentage of the damages or settlement agreement, and the client is left with no out of pocket attorney fees.

Pros of Contingency Fees

As already mentioned, the cost is one pro. Hiring a lawyer on a contingency fee basis can drastically reduce the cost—especially the out of pocket cost—of legal representation.

Additionally, working on contingency provides certain incentives to the lawyer that may also benefit the client.

For one, because the lawyer is working at zero cost until a settlement is reached or damages are awarded by the court, he has an incentive to achieve a payday for his client as soon as possible, when it makes financial sense for the client.

Relatedly, because the size of the lawyer’s paycheck is determined by how much he earns for his client, he has an incentive to earn the largest possible compensation for the person he is representing.

Finally, contingency fees make the cost more predictable, because the lawyer’s fee is guaranteed to be a fixed percentage of the client’s award. In a traditional fee arrangement, if a lawsuit runs longer than expected, the client can expect a corresponding rise in the attorney’s bill. Additionally, with an hourly rate a lawyer has more opportunities to saddle the client with surprise fees and costs. Thus, a contingency fee can potentially earn the client more money in a shorter amount of time than a traditional fee arrangement. Additionally, it makes the legal fees from a lawsuit more predictable for the client.

Cons of Contingency Fees

Most plaintiffs see no disadvantages to a contingency fee arrangement. If the client doesn’t prevail, the client owes nothing to the personal injury lawyer. The attorney, on the other hand, who has invested hours in a case that pays him or her nothing. Should the client obtain compensation from the lawyer’s efforts, those damages almost always exceed what the client could have obtained on his or her own.

What Are Damages?

Because contingency fees are inextricably linked with how plaintiffs recover compensation, at least a brief discussion of damages is necessary. Damages are meant to compensate the client for their losses, to put it simply. In the common parlance of the court, they attempt to make the victim whole.

Courts generally consider a few different factors to determine how much compensation a plaintiff deserves. They will look at pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of income, and even cost of care if the plaintiff sustains permanent disabilities.

Coping with the effects of a serious injury is never easy, especially if you’re dealing with financial difficulties, such as medical bills, at the same time. Knowing that your injuries were the result of wrongdoing only adds frustration. Thankfully, you don’t have to suffer in silence.

The law allows victims of negligence to obtain financial compensation through the court system. A successful personal injury lawsuit can achieve the support that both you and your family need and deserve.

The first step in vindicating your rights is consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can evaluate your case, determine your options, and give you a sense of direction in an otherwise turbulent moment.

Furthermore, most personal injury lawyers will handle cases at no upfront cost to the client by working on contingency. The lawyer is paid only if the lawsuit is successful. If the court awards the client a monetary reward, the lawyer will collect a certain percentage of that reward to cover the cost of his services. This should eliminate any amount of money the client is required to pay out of pocket for a fee.

Further, most personal injury lawyers will advance any costs to prosecute a case. For example, the cost of obtaining the police report, copies of medical records, or expert opinion fees. You would have to pay these costs on your own if you were representing yourself. The expenses a lawyer advances typically get reimbursed at the time of settlement or verdict.

Contact an attorney right away if you believe you’ve suffered injuries because of another party’s wrongdoing. Personal injury lawsuits are often complex, and may require an extensive investigation. Additionally, many jurisdictions impose a statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits, requiring that you file claims within a certain time after the accident. Call a personal injury lawyer now to make sure that deadline doesn’t pass before you file your claim.

What Happens When a Truck Driver Has a Fatal Car Accident

Our economy depends on large trucks to transport goods. If you recently bought something from a grocery or appliance store, it likely got there via truck. In fact, trucks move 71 percent of all freight in the United States, per trucking.org. Indeed, our society couldn’t function without trucks on the road.

However, the prevalence of these large vehicles has negative consequences as well—serious traffic accidents. Fatal truck accidents are part of the reality in which we live. According, to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over 4,000 people were killed in truck accidents in just one recent year. Most of these fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants.

These fatal accidents not only end a life prematurely, they often leave the bereaved with a litany of problems, including emotional trauma, medical bills, loss of income, and an unsure financial future. Of course, many people will explore legal avenues to obtain relief for themselves and their families.

A lot happens before a legal claim is even filed and being informed of the process is critical to making the right decisions after such a life-changing event. Furthermore, many laws, regulations, and customs govern fatal truck accidents and their aftermath, whether or not they were followed correctly may be relevant to your legal strategy.

At the Scene

In most jurisdictions, the law requires that all vehicles remain at the scene of the accident. A driver caught fleeing an accident, especially one where a fatality occurred, could end up with serious fines and even prison time.

The police and emergency medical personnel will arrive at the scene to treat the injured and ask questions. The police will gather information about the accident by analyzing the scene and talking to witnesses. The evidence gathered by the officer, in addition to his opinion on what caused the accident, will be compiled in an accident report. This report may prove very valuable later on in the event of a lawsuit. The officer’s report is also valuable as a means of proving fault for an insurance claim. Additionally, both police officers and medical personnel can testify in a trial proceeding if need be.

The Investigation

An investigation will follow any serious accident. Local law enforcement will likely investigate whether there was criminal wrongdoing. Additionally, federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) may become involved, especially if the accident took place on the interstate.

The NTSB could deploy a team of experts known as a go team. The go team will analyze the scene of the accident and its aftermath, talk to witnesses, and gather other important information. The go teams, and the NTSB generally, are particularly interested in why serious accidents occur and what can be done to prevent them.

The Carrier’s Obligations

The carrier is required to take certain steps after the accident. Firstly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires the carrier to register any accidents involving their vehicles within one year. To register, the carrier must describe the accident and where it took place and give the name of the driver and the truck number.

The Lawsuit

The family of the deceased may wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In this context, a wrongful death lawsuit claims that the accident, and the decedent’s death, were caused by the wrongdoing of another party.

Wrongful death lawsuits are often brought under a theory of negligence. To prove negligence, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care, the defendant violated that duty, the death occurred, and the death was caused by the defendant violating its duty of care. For example, if the accident occurred because the truck driver ran a red light, he could be sued for negligence.

Many different parties can be sued as part of a negligence claim. If the truck driver made a serious mistake that could have been avoided by better training, the trucking company could be liable. If the local government failed to properly maintain the roads and that contributed to the accident, they could be liable as well.

Obtaining enough evidence to bring a successful wrongful death lawsuit may require an extensive investigation. The plaintiff’s lawyer may talk to witnesses, take sworn statements, and consult experts.

A successful wrongful death lawsuit will result in an award of damages. Damages are a monetary sum awarded by the court to compensate the plaintiffs for their losses. In legal vernacular, damages are often described as intending to make the victims whole again.

The court will look at a variety of factors to determine how much damages a plaintiff is owed, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Medical bills
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of financial support (especially if the decedent was the breadwinner)
  • Loss of consortium

In rare cases, the court will award what are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages go beyond what’s necessary to compensate the victim to punish the defendant. The court only grants an award of punitive damages for especially reckless conduct. The judge wants to make it clear to the defendant and society that such conduct is not acceptable. For example, if a truck driver was going 100 miles per hour in a school zone at the time of the accident, this conduct may warrant punitive damages.

When a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You

Every fatal truck accident is tragic, but some are made more heart-wrenching by the fact that they were both preventable and the result of wrongdoing. So much attention is given to the victim, and rightly so, but those they leave behind are often left to pick up the pieces.

Exorbitant hospital bills, spiraling debt, loss of income, and an unsure financial future are dropped in the lap of the decedent’s loved ones, all while they’re still grieving. Returning to anything resembling normal may seem implausible.

However, there’s no need to suffer in silence. If you lost a loved one to a fatal truck accident because another party was irresponsible, you have rights under the law. With the help of an experienced truck accident attorney, you may obtain financial compensation through the court system.

Meet with an attorney right away. Fatal truck accident lawsuits are often complex and may require extensive investigation. Additionally, many jurisdictions impose a statute of limitations requiring you to file a truck accident claim within a certain time after the accident, those who fail to do so forever forfeit their right to legal recourse—so call a truck accident lawyer today.

TBI Definition: What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Living with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be a painful and lonely experience. Those who have suffered a brain injury may feel alone in their struggle, but they are not. Someone in the U.S. suffers a brain injury every 9 seconds, and one out of every 60 people live with the effects of a brain injury. According to the CDC, just one year saw about 2.5 million TBI-related emergency department visits, 288,000 hospitalizations, and nearly 57,000 TBI related deaths.

According to a report from the Illinois Department of Public Health, 108,101 people in Illinois sustained a TBI in just one year. Among those injured, 1,699 died, another 9,746 were hospitalized, and an additional 96,656 received emergency room treatment.

There are many causes of traumatic brain injuries, such as sports-related activities, falls, and workplace accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of brain injuries. They are the most frequent cause of traumatic brain injury among individuals aged 15 to 34, according to a report from the

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

CDC defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” The injury damages the skull or causes the brain to move inside the skull, resulting in brain damage. A TBI is a complex brain injury that has a broad range of symptoms. Because no two brain injuries are alike, the effects will be different in each case. Additionally, symptoms may present themselves immediately or may not appear for days or weeks after the accident. A traumatic brain injury may affect a person’s thinking, memory, personality, and behavior.

Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Many of the brain injuries suffered in car accidents are difficult to detect.

Common causes of head trauma from a motor vehicle crash include:

  • Contact with a stationary object. In a car accident, victims’ heads often hit steering wheels, airbags, or other objects. This is especially common in motorcycle accidents, due to the motorcyclist’s limited protection.
  • Forward momentum in an accident. In a car accident, a vehicle slows suddenly and dramatically. The car may stop, but an occupant’s body and brain keep going forward because of the momentum. Therefore, even if the brain does not strike a stationary object, it may strike the front or back of the skull.
  • Striking the ground. Drivers are often thrown from their vehicles or pedestrians are hit and land on the ground, resulting in brain injuries.

Types of Brain Injuries

Several types of brain injuries may affect one or more functional areas of the brain.

People injured in motor vehicle accidents often suffer one of the following types of traumatic brain injuries:

  • Concussion. A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. Both closed and open head injuries can produce a concussion.
  • Contusion. A contusion is a bruise or bleeding on the brain. A direct impact to the head may cause a contusion.
  • Coup-Contrecoup. These are contusions that occur both at the site of the impact and on the complete opposite side of the brain. They are associated with cerebral contusions or bruising of the brain.
  • Diffuse Axonal. When the brain is injured as it shifts and rotates inside the skull, resulting in shearing of the brain’s long connective nerve fibers. Victims of shaken baby syndrome often suffer these serious injuries.
  • Penetration. Penetrating injury to the brain includes both high-velocity penetrations, such as bullets or shell fragments, or low-velocity penetration, such as a knife. Penetration forces hair, skin, bones, and fragments from the object into the brain. Firearms are the single largest cause of death from traumatic brain injury. Although less common than closed head trauma, PBI carries a worse prognosis.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Victims suffering from a traumatic brain injury may face different symptoms depending on the severity of their injury. After the first impact occurs, the brain may swell and push against the skull, causing a secondary injury.

Physical Symptoms

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Dizziness and balance problems
  • Problems sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Feeling weak or numb
  • Losing consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Vision impairment or dilated pupils
  • Hearing problems
  • Altered sensations of smell or taste

Mental or Cognitive Symptoms

  • Memory or concentration issues
  • Changes in mood
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Agitation and combativeness
  • Slurred words

The Financial Costs of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The direct medical costs for the treatment of patients with TBI are extremely high, but there are also indirect costs. Studies also indicate that those with a brain injury who have failed to return to work have a lower sense of wellbeing. Studies show that 52 percent of brain injury survivors were still moderately to severely disabled one year after the injury. Many never recover full social independence. They may feel a loss of self-esteem and reduced quality of life. Four years after the injury, most survivors lived with their families and did not work or attend school. Mood disorders are common.

The Personal Costs of Brain Injuries

After a traumatic brain injury, close relationships often break down. A brain injury changes the whole family, and the family system has to alter the way that it operates. Even after many years, living with a brain injury, or caring for an injured patient, may present significant hardships for the family. A brain injury can significantly change relationships, leaving spouses and friends feeling lonely and lost. Children living with a brain-injured parent may experience emotional problems and feel neglected. Usually, the person who assumes the role of primary caregiver faces many challenges. They may have to give up their career or other interests. Caregivers frequently suffer from serious depression, particularly during the first year of injury. It takes time and resources for a victim and their family to navigate the changes they face.

Damages

The consequences of a traumatic brain injury can be overwhelming. Damages may include lost income, and other financial losses, such as medical bills, therapy and rehabilitation, in-home care, adaptive equipment and modifications to the injured person’s home.

The injured person also deserves compensation for non-financial losses, such as pain and suffering, physical impairments, and diminished quality of life. The injured person’s spouse or partner may also seek compensation for loss of companionship and intimate relations. Proving damages usually requires detailed medical records and testimony from expert witnesses.

Illinois law also permits punitive damages (also known as exemplary damages) when the circumstances involve malice, oppression, and fraud.

Consult a Brain Injury Lawyer

The TBI may be the result of another’s negligence. Negligent behavior usually consists of actions, but it may also consist of omissions if there is a duty to act with reasonable care. Like all states, Illinois sets time limits for filing a brain injury lawsuit. If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, it is important to consult an experienced, compassionate traumatic brain injury attorney as soon as possible.

Road Rash

Far More Than Just Cuts and Scrapes

When you leave your home, you expect to return safely. Unfortunately, whether you are heading out on your motorcycle for a nice summer drive or just walking around the neighborhood, you could end up in a tragic situation if you encounter a driver who does not pay attention to the road.

Road rash injuries are common in motorcycle accidents, but they also occur frequently in pedestrian accidents. In both cases, you are provided little or no protection from the impact with the vehicle. This often results in your body getting tossed onto the pavement which could cause serious injuries, including road rash.

If you or a loved one has been injured by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or carelessness, Illinois law may entitle you to compensation for your injuries. To know for sure, speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney today.

Causes of Road Rash

Road rash is exactly what it sounds like—it’s an injury caused when your body rubs across the pavement and rips away a layer or more of skin. When you learned to ride a bike, you probably fell off a few times and skinned your knee. That is a mild form of road rash. These injuries often occur during warmer months when people wear clothing that covers less of their bodies and engages in more frequent activities outside.

Motorcycle accidents are the most common cause of road rash injuries. These accidents can happen when a motorcyclist is driving too fast and they fall off, causing them to slide across the pavement. However, most times, another driver is at fault.

The other driver may have:

  • Been distracted by a cell phone
  • Been driving too fast
  • Failed to yield right of way
  • Failed to stop at a light or stop sign
  • Caused a rear-end collision

Any of these situations could cause you, as a motorcycle rider, to fall off your motorcycle and slide across the pavement. Not only is this painful, it can cause serious injuries that you may have to deal with for the rest of your life.

Types of Road Rash

Caring for road rash injuries depends a great deal on what type of injury you suffered. There are three types of road rash: avulsion, compression, and open wound. Each of them requires slightly different medical assistance and may impact your return to your regular life.

Avulsion

An avulsion happens when the skin is scraped away from the body. Depending on the amount of skin removed by the pavement, this could reveal fat, muscle, and even bones. Depending on the severity, medical professionals can treat avulsion injuries at the accident scene if minor, or they may require hospitalization and surgery.

Compression

Compression injuries occur when your body gets trapped under your motorcycle or the other vehicle. Not only can this cause road rash but it can also cause muscle damage and broken bones.

Open Wound

An open wound injury happens when the road rash you suffer causes your skin to peel back and pull away. This leaves your body open to infection if not properly treated right away.

Collecting Damages

After you suffer road rash, whether from a motorcycle accident, pedestrian accident, or other accident, your only worry is getting back to your regular life. Unfortunately, that might not happen as quickly as you would hope and, in the worst-case scenario, may never occur.

That’s why it is so important to speak with a seasoned motorcycle accident lawyer who can help you recover every dollar you deserve from the at-fault driver.

To help you focus on your physical recovery, your lawyer may try to get you compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Present and future medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential

You know exactly what your medical bills are right now—you see them piling up on the kitchen table. What you do not know yet is the full value of your motorcycle accident claim. When you work with a knowledgeable road rash injury attorney, you can expect that your lawyer will help guide you on your path to recovery. This includes understanding the true value of your claim.

When necessary, we can help you create an accurate estimate of your future needs. This is the part most injury victims miss. They do not properly account for their future needs. It’s important to understand what you will need in the future so you do not fall prey to insurance company tactics. Many insurance companies will offer you a quick settlement, hoping that you do not have a lawyer to advise you that the settlement amount may not cover all of your future needs.

We do not want you to suffer financially by paying out of pocket for injuries you did not cause. But that’s what might happen if you take the insurance company’s lowball settlement offer without fully understanding the amount of money you need to get better.

Don’t Delay

In most Illinois cases, you only have two years from the date of your accident to file a claim against the at-fault party to recover damages for your injuries. Two years might seem like a long time but it will go by quickly. You may be in the hospital for a long time. You might need multiple surgeries. You may even lose work temporarily or even permanently, and if you can return to work, you may never again do so in the same capacity.

With all of this going on in your life, you will not have time to worry about how you recover damages against the at-fault party. That’s why you need an experienced motorcycle accident attorney fighting hard to protect your rights and get you every dollar you deserve while you focus completely on your physical recovery. Let go of the legal worry and stress and make your physical recovery your priority by calling a motorcycle accident lawyer today.