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What Happens if a Truck Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident?

truck accident lawyer in chicagoLeaving the scene of a traffic accident is a crime, especially when a crash causes injuries, fatalities, or significant property damage. Truck accidents commonly cause that level of harm; which means that a truck driver who leaves the scene of a crash faces serious consequences, and that victims of the crash often need skilled legal help to obtain the compensation they need for their injuries and losses.

Let’s take a closer look at what happens when a truck driver leaves the scene of an accident.

Why a Truck Driver Might Leave the Scene of an Accident

Truck drivers, in particular, know better than to leave the scene of an accident. To obtain their commercial driver’s licenses, truckers must pass written and on-the-road tests that emphasize safety and responsibility behind the wheel. To keep their licenses, truckers must also abide by strict state and federal regulations, and must pass periodic re-certifications and health screenings.

Still, sometimes truck drivers leave the scene of an accident in which their trucks were involved. Why would they do something so irresponsible?

Some potential explanations might include:

  • The driver’s CDL license had expired or had been revoked or suspended, exposing the driver to serious discipline;
  • The driver had consumed drugs or alcohol and had driven while impaired;
  • The driver knew the truck was unsafe and/or had not passed inspection; or
  • The driver simply did not realize that an accident had happened.

These are explanations, not excuses. Truck drivers must never leave the scene of a crash. Potential penalties for doing so can include loss of a commercial driver’s license, termination from employment, prosecution for a misdemeanor or felony, jail time, and fines.

What Happens After the Truck Driver Leaves

Victims of a truck accident in which a driver leaves the scene often fear that they will never get compensation for their injuries and losses. However, that is not the case. By following some simple steps, truck accident victims can protect their rights to payment for their injuries and losses.

A Search For the Driver Needs to Start Immediately, So Call 911

Always call first responders to the scene of any truck accident, especially one in which the truck driver leaves the scene.

Summoning the police and EMTs serves several important purposes:

  • It alerts the authorities to the fact that the truck driver has likely committed a crime by leaving the scene, allowing them to start their search for the driver as soon as possible;
  • It ensures that police will file an official report of the accident, which can help serve as valuable evidence of what happened and the fact that you reported the driver’s wrongful action; and
  • It safeguards your health by ensuring that emergency medical responders come to the scene and render aid to you and other victims.

Your Observations and Pictures/Video Are Important

A truck driver may leave the scene immediately, or may stop momentarily and then take off. If possible, act quickly while the truck driver is still at the scene to capture photos or video with your cell phone of the truck and any of its identifying markings. Take images of the other vehicles involved in the accident, too. This visual evidence could prove useful to the police in locating the truck driver, and in proving your case for compensation.

When the police arrive, tell them everything you observed about the truck and truck driver who left the scene. Share the information as soon as you can so that your memory is still fresh.

An Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Can Help

By calling 911, reporting what happened, and giving the police your best recollections (and any photos/videos) of the truck and its driver, you will have done your part to help the police find the truck driver. With luck, the police will track the driver down, and you will have the opportunity to hold the trucker and/or trucking company financially accountable for your accident injuries.

However, you do not need to rely only on the police to find the truck driver, and finding the truck driver is not necessarily the only way to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses. By working with an experienced truck accident injury lawyer, you can explore all of your options for obtaining the compensation you need and deserve.

An experienced truck accident lawyer can:

  • Investigate further to track down evidence that may identify the truck driver and/or owner of the truck involved in your accident;
  • Work with your auto insurance company to get you uninsured motorist benefits (if you carry that type of coverage);
  • Evaluate your accident and injuries to determine if someone other than the trucker may have a legal liability to you for your truck accident injuries.
  • Plan and execute a legal strategy for giving you the best possible chance of recovering compensation for your injuries and losses.
  • Take legal action against the trucker, trucking company, and others seeking damages.
  • Negotiate a settlement of your claim or take your case to trial to get you the money you deserve.

Truck Driver Left the Scene? Do Not Lose Hope.

Anyone would feel frightened and confused after a truck accident in which the truck driver left the scene. By leaving, the driver commits a crime and leaves accident victims wondering what they can do to obtain the compensation they need to regain their health and rebuild their lives.

However, we encourage you not to lose hope. By acting quickly to report the truck accident to the authorities, to communicate and preserve your observations, and to connect with an experienced truck accident injury lawyer, you can still hope to receive the compensation the law allows for your injuries and losses.

If you suffered injuries in a truck accident involving a truck driver who left the scene, you may have the right to significant financial compensation. Contact an experienced truck accident injury lawyer today for a free case consultation.

What Can I Sue for in a Truck Accident?

truck accident lawyer in chicagoA tractor trailer truck hauling a load can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. In a crash, all that weight inflicts massive damage on a smaller vehicle, often resulting in catastrophic and fatal injuries to the vehicle’s occupants.

Victims of truck crashes have the right to take legal action seeking compensation from individuals, companies, and government entities whose unreasonably dangerous decisions and actions contributed to the cause of the crash. In this blog post, we examine the types and amounts of damages those victims can often sue for, to get the compensation they need to rebuild their lives.

Liability for Truck Accidents

To sue for damages after suffering injuries in a truck accident, victims need to have evidence to prove that someone else’s dangerous decisions and actions caused the crash and their injuries. Every truck accident has unique facts and circumstances that determine who has a legal liability to the crash victims.

In general, however, in many truck accidents one or more of the following parties has at least some legal and financial responsibility to the victims:

  • Truck drivers who make mistakes behind the wheel that cause a crash;
  • Truck driver employers who have a legal responsibility to answer for the truck driver’s actions, and may have a liability of their own for careless driver hiring or truck maintenance practices;
  • Truck owners who fail to maintain trucks in safe working condition, leading to a crash;
  • Truck contractors, like mechanics or shipping depot operators, who perform trucking related services improperly and contribute to the cause of a wreck;
  • Truck manufacturers, if they produce defective trucks or truck parts that fail, causing an accident;
  • Anyone else whose dangerous decisions and actions contributed to the cause of a truck accident that caused damage and injuries.

Most of these parties will typically carry some amount of liability insurance that covers them against the costs of accidents their actions cause. Sometimes, these parties also have assets that courts can force them to use to pay damages to accident victims.

What Truck Crash Victims Can Sue For

When one or more parties like the ones listed have legal liability for a truck crash, injured victims and families of deceased victims can often file a lawsuit seeking damages. The particular facts and circumstances of the truck accident determine the types of damages a lawsuit might obtain for a victim.

However, generally speaking, truck accident plaintiffs can sue to recover compensation for:

  • Medical expenses related to their injuries, including the cost of hospitalizations, long-term care, doctor visits, therapy appointments, medication, and medical equipment.
  • Non-medical expenses that they incur because of their injuries, such as the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property, and of hiring services to help out with daily needs;
  • Past and future lost income, resulting from victims missing work while recuperating, or suffering disabling injuries that prevent them from returning to work;
  • Pain, suffering, harm to personal relationships, and diminished quality of life stemming from the injuries they suffered in a truck accident; and
  • In some cases, punitive damages that aim to punish and deter extremely wrongful conduct that caused the truck accident.

There is no guarantee that all truck accident victims can recover all—or any—of these categories of damages. You will want to work with a skilled truck accident injury attorney to find out what damages you may have the right to recover after a truck crash disrupts your life.

How Much Truck Accident Victims Can Sue For

The amount of money damages represented by each of the categories above varies from crash-to-crash and victim-to-victim, and depends on factors that include:

  • The type of injury the victim suffered;
  • The severity of the victim’s injuries;
  • The victim’s prognosis for making a full recovery;
  • The impact of the injury on the victim’s current and future day-to-day life;
  • The victim’s age, income, and general state of health at the time of the accident; and
  • The actions that led to the accident and injuries.

The amount of money a truck crash victim has the right to sue for can differ, however, from the amount of money the victim might actually receive by taking legal action.

That is because the outcome of a lawsuit also depends on factors such as:

  • The degree of dispute between the parties about what happened and who was at fault;
  • The financial resources available to pay damages to the victim, either through insurance coverage or the liable party’s assets;
  • The willingness of the parties to reach a settlement of the victim’s claims; and
  • The victim’s personal priorities and needs.

How to Sue for Truck Accident Injuries

If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, then you need skilled, experienced legal representation to obtain the maximum compensation available. Do not trust just any attorney with your claim. Truck accidents frequently involve complicated factual and legal issues that challenge the abilities of even the most seasoned attorneys. Trust only an attorney who has represented truck accident victims and has a track record of success in truck accident cases.

The steps an attorney takes on your behalf to obtain compensation for you will depend on your particular needs and the specific circumstances of your accident and injuries.

In general, however, an experienced truck accident attorney can:

  • Conduct a thorough investigation of the truck accident to identify the parties with liability who have the ability to pay damages;
  • Evaluate your injuries to determine the amount of compensation you need and deserve to address the full scope of harm you suffered;
  • Negotiate with defense lawyers and insurance companies to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement of your claim, if possible; and
  • Prepare, file, and litigate your claim in court, taking it to a trial in front of a judge and jury if necessary to get you the money you need and deserve.

For a free consultation about your legal rights after suffering injuries or losing a loved one in a truck accident, contact a skilled, experienced truck accident injury attorney today.

Semi-Truck Accident Lawsuits: How Long Does It Take to Settle?

semi-truck accident lawyer in chicagoTrucks are a vital part of commerce; in fact, our economy would come to a standstill without them. Many of the goods and products necessary for modern life are delivered by trucks. The trucking industry also employs thousands of workers.

However, there are negative consequences to having so many enormous vehicles on our roads and highways. Large trucks are responsible for many serious accidents in the United States every year.

For victims of these accidents, life may never be the same. In many instances, the injured party may be left with permanent disabilities requiring lifelong care and treatment. Physical hardship often coincides with financial difficulties, often caused by medical debt and job loss. For many truck accident victims, imagining a stable future for both themselves and their families is nearly impossible.

Although the outlook may seem grim, victims are not without options. If a semi-truck accident was caused by the negligence of another party, the injured person may seek financial compensation through the legal system. The first step is filing a truck accident lawsuit that seeks to recoup damages for the hardships suffered by the injured party and their family. A successful suit can provide critical assistance in a time of critical need.

A prospective plaintiff may ponder various questions before filing a lawsuit. Oftentimes, of utmost importance is how much money they stand to win. Relatedly, many plaintiffs want to know how long it will take to be awarded that money. In the context of semi-truck accidents, this can be reduced to the simplified question of “How long will it take to settle?” since almost all semi-truck cases never make it to trial.

Even an experienced lawyer can rarely predict with any certainty how long the settlement process will take; there are simply too many variables at play. However, the following factors may influence the settlement timeline, pushing it either longer or shorter.

How Long Did Your Injuries Take to Heal?

The nature of the injuries suffered could impact the time it takes to settle. If your injuries are severe you may spend considerable time in the hospital. Oftentimes, it may take days, weeks or months for a doctor to determine the full extent of your injuries. Your lawyer may not want to proceed with your lawsuit before knowing with certainty just how badly you are injured and how much care is going to cost; the reasoning being that your desired settlement amount will largely be based on these two factors.

Additionally, in some instances, you may not appreciate the extent of your injuries until significant time has passed from the time of the accident. Some injuries cause degenerative conditions, for example, that take years to worsen. For this reason, it’s important to be examined by medical experts as soon as possible following the accident. Again, the longer it takes to grasp the ramifications of the accident the longer it may take to settle.

When Did You See a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Lawsuits and settlement negotiations involving semi-truck accidents are often complex and require extensive investigation. For this reason, it’s important to meet with an experienced truck accident attorney right away. The right lawyer understands the contours of the law and how they fit your case, can get an idea of how much your case is worth, and knows what evidence is needed to prove that value.

Schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer as soon as possible after a semi-truck accident, even if you think your injuries were not that serious. This will give your attorney ample time to assess your legal options and plan a strategy that has the best chance of achieving a favorable settlement. Waiting too long to see a lawyer could cost you considerable time and money.

What Damages Are You Seeking?

The compensation that you seek for your semi-truck accident injuries will largely depend on the unique characteristics of your injuries and losses. The difficulty of proving those damages, and the amount you claim, can affect the timeline for achieving a settlement.

Simple, economic losses are generally easy to prove. Medical debt, for example, can be proven with billing records; property damage can be proven with an actuary’s statement.

On the other hand, claims for more abstract losses usually require a more extensive investigation, these often fall under the category of non-economic damages. The Center for Justice and Democracy defines non-economic damages as “the loss of the enjoyment of life, the pleasure, the satisfaction or the utility that human beings derive from life, separate and apart from earnings.”

For example, if you seek damages for emotional distress, then your lawyer may want to rely on the testimony of an expert (such as a psychiatrist) to bolster your case. Obtaining that expert’s opinion of your condition can take time and lengthen the timeline for a settlement.

In other words, the complexity of your semi-truck accident lawsuit can impact how long it takes to settle. If your case requires extensive investigation and fact-finding, you may need to wait a little longer to settle. Your truck accident lawyer, however, will try to resolve your claim as quickly as possible without sacrificing the compensation you need to overcome your injuries and pay your medical bills.

An Experienced Semi-Truck Accident Attorney Keeps Your Case on Track

A serious semi-truck accident can turn your world upside down. The things you took for granted may now be a thing of the past. It can affect your life on so many different levels, from your physical health to your finances, to your career prospects, to your family life. A semi-truck accident is truly a life-altering experience—and not just for you. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 500,000 truck-related accidents occur in the U.S. annually, resulting in more than 87,000 injuries.

If you were in one of those traumatic events, returning to anything resembling normal may seem impossible. However, victims and their families should know that they don’t have to suffer in silence. An experienced semi-truck accident injury attorney can help them obtain the compensation they need and deserve to recover as fully as possible.

To learn how long it may take to settle your semi-truck accident claims, contact a skilled, experienced semi-truck accident attorney today for a free case evaluation.

“Mild” Concussion Symptoms

concussion lawyer in chicagoConcussions are a type of brain injury. Doctors sometimes refer to them as a “mild” traumatic brain injury, but the truth is there is nothing mild about them. They are serious injuries that can cause long-term health and life consequences.

Concussions can cause a wide variety of symptoms, but some symptoms are more common than others. We discuss the symptoms of a supposedly “mild” concussion below.

Common Symptoms of a “Mild” Concussion

To repeat, there is nothing “mild” about a concussion. It is a traumatic brain injury with potentially life-changing consequences.

If you suffer any sort of blow or jolt to your head or body and experience any of the following common signs of a “mild“ concussion, then seek immediate medical treatment:

  • Temporarily losing consciousness (for seconds) at the time of the concussion;
  • Headache;
  • Ringing in the ears;
  • Nausea or vomiting;
  • Drowsiness or fatigue;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Confusion;
  • Amnesia surrounding the time of the concussion or the event that caused it;
  • Delayed response to questions; and
  • Dazed appearance.

Doctors may diagnose a “mild” concussion if some of these symptoms resolve in a matter of days after the bump, jolt, or blow that caused them. Make no mistake, however, that does not necessarily mean the brain has healed, or that the victim will not continue to feel adverse effects from the concussion. Even a concussion diagnosed as “mild” can nevertheless lead to persistent headaches, confusion, fatigue, light sensitivity, and other symptoms for months or more.

Common Causes of “Mild” Concussions

A concussion, like any traumatic brain injury, typically results from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, which in turn causes the brain to shift inside the skull in a way that can damage brain tissue, blood vessels, and nerve cells. Those initial injuries, as well as any secondary injuries resulting from subsequent bleeding or swelling, cause the symptoms we associate with concussions and other brain trauma.

It is a common misconception that to suffer a concussion, you have to hit your head. In fact, although hitting your head can certainly lead to a concussion, any sharp movement of your head relative to your body can cause the brain damage associated with a concussion, even if your head is untouched. Never assume that just because you do not have a lump or cut on your head, that you cannot have sustained a concussion.

Common causes of concussions include any incident that can cause you to either hit your head or take a violent jolt, including:

Always seek medical attention immediately after any incident that inflicts a violent blow or jolt to your head or body. Although the symptoms above frequently appear soon after that sort of incident, that is not always the case. Plus, if you have suffered a concussion, then you cannot necessarily rely on your own judgment to assess your condition. A doctor can diagnose a concussion with simple tests, and by catching and treating a concussion early, you may avoid some of the more severe and long-lasting consequences of the injury.

Groups At-Risk for Concussions

Anyone can suffer a concussion. However, some groups face a higher-than-average risk:

  • Athletes, especially those who play contact sports in which the head and/or body sustain repeated, jarring blows.
  • Children, who tend to fall more often than adults and have an underdeveloped appreciation for risk; and
  • Older adults (65+) who are more likely to fall and hit their heads, and frequently take medications (such as blood thinners) that can increase brain injury complications.

In other words, the groups above tend to sustain more than their fair share of the types of blows to the head and body that can cause a concussion.

Unfortunately, all three groups also share another common characteristic: it can be difficult to spot concussion symptoms in them because:

  • They may downplay the severity of a collision or fall, or of their subsequent symptoms;
  • They may be too young to express their symptoms effectively, or may have other health conditions (such as age-related cognitive decline) that can mask concussion symptoms;
  • Others tend to assume that the incident that causes the concussion, or the symptoms that follow, are common and not a big deal.

If an athlete, child, or senior citizen you know exhibits the symptoms above, ask them about any recent incidents that could have caused a concussion.

How a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer Can Help

It may not occur to many people to speak with a lawyer after suffering a concussion. However, the fact is that many concussions occur because someone else failed to take necessary actions to keep the victim safe from harm. The concussion victim may have the right to seek compensation from that party, and may very well need compensation to treat long-lasting, debilitating, concussion symptoms.

An attorney experienced in representing brain injury victims can represent a concussion victim in seeking money damages from parties with legal liability. The public might think suffering a concussion is no big deal but lawyers for concussion victims know that there is nothing truly “mild” about a concussion. It can severely disrupt a person’s life, and it deserves meaningful compensation if it resulted from someone else’s unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions.

Every concussion case has unique characteristics that determine what a lawyer can do for the victim.

However, in general, a lawyer can:

  • Investigate the incident that led to the concussion and determine who faces legal liability for failing to take reasonable steps to keep the victim safe;
  • Evaluate the extent of the victim’s injuries and the ways they have impacted the victim’s life through review of medical records;
  • Negotiate with parties who have a legal liability to the victim, and their representatives, to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement of the victim’s legal claim; and
  • If necessary, litigate in court to achieve a fair resolution of the claim.

Concussion, even so-called “mild” ones, are serious injuries. If you suffered a concussion because of someone else’s dangerous decisions or actions, then contact an experienced concussion injury attorney to learn about your rights to compensation.

How to Get Paid After a Car Accident

car accident settlement lawyer in chicagoIf you suffered injuries in a car accident, then you are probably already aware of how quickly expenses can start to pile up. Many car accident victims face a sudden and unexpected avalanche of medical bills and extra expenses, while also missing work to heal. Some find they cannot return to work at all because of a disabling injury, and must confront a lifetime of added costs of living.

Victims of car accidents caused by someone else’s unreasonably dangerous decisions and actions deserve to get paid for their damages. In this blog post, we briefly discuss how they can take steps to make sure that happens. If a car accident is making your life more difficult and expensive, contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer today for a free case evaluation.

Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible

This could be the single most important thing anyone can do after getting hurt in a car accident. Standing alone, just seeking immediate, necessary medical attention can go a long way to ensuring that a victim gets paid for injuries and losses.

Seeking immediate medical attention:

  • Protects your health, which is the most important priority;
  • Identifies the scope and nature of your injuries; and
  • Creates medical records that your lawyer can use later to prove those injuries the damages you deserve for them.

Seek medical attention even if you do not think you have suffered a serious injury. Many severe injuries do not necessarily show significant symptoms right away. By going to the doctor as soon as possible (preferably immediately, but hopefully no more than 24 hours after the crash), you protect yourself against an injury worsening and causing serious, even fatal, complications.

Make sure that you tell the physician about every pain or symptoms you’ve experienced since your car accident. Do not downplay what you have felt. Even a minor ache can signify a major health issue.

Follow Your Doctor’s Orders and Continue Treatment Until Fully Recovered.

This is also very important advice. Following your doctor’s treatment plan to-the-letter as much as possible:

  • Maximizes your chances of making a full recovery, and of spotting and treating any emerging complications;
  • Ensures that no one can ever say you made your injuries worse by failing to follow doctor’s orders; and
  • Helps your doctors testify more effectively if your lawyer needs to prove how your recovery progressed.

By getting and following medical care, car accident victims protect their own wellbeing and legal rights. If you take nothing else away from this blog post, remember these two, critically-important pieces of advice: see a doctor immediately, and do what the doctor tells you.

Follow the Rules at the Accident Scene.

The rules of the road tell you what you should do after getting into an accident.

At the scene of any accident that injured you or someone else, you should always:

  • Stop and stay there;
  • Call 911 and report the accident to the police and first responders;
  • Render reasonable first aid, if possible; and
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver.
  • Gather contact information from independent witnesses.

These rules exist for your and others’ protection, so follow them as closely as you can. By doing your part, you ensure that victims get emergency medical care, the police prepare a report (which may prove useful to your lawyer), and that no one can claim that your actions should prevent you from getting paid.

Take Pictures/Video at the Scene, if You Can Do so Safely.

This advice is not essential, but it can certainly help you get paid.

If injuries or other circumstances keep you from getting photographs and videos at the scene of your accident, that’s okay. Car accident lawyers have plenty of experience working with clients who couldn’t get that evidence.

If you can get pictures and/or videos, though, you should. They’re an extremely simple-to-capture form of evidence that capture the accident scene exactly as it was immediately after the crash. Your lawyer can often use that visual evidence to prove how the accident happened and who has a liability to you for your injuries.

Within reason, try to capture:

  • Points of impacts on any vehicles and nearby objects or structures;
  • Vehicles’ location after the crash;
  • The surrounding area;
  • Skid marks, damage, etc., nearby; and
  • Your own injuries (photographing others’ injuries could land you in hot water—don’t do it without their permission).

Remember, only do this if you can do so safely and without getting in the way of first responders. Safety first.

Keep Everything.

To get you paid, your lawyer needs evidence of your injuries and losses. Much of that evidence is probably already in your possession.

It consists of:

  • Medical bills from the treatment of accident injuries;
  • Insurance statements relating to covered expenses;
  • Invoices for services you needed after the accident;
  • Receipts for extra expenses your injuries caused you;
  • Police records from the accident scene;
  • Payroll information from your employer;
  • Physical objects big and small, from your damaged vehicle to personal items like broken eyeglasses.

Broadly speaking, you have the right to recover compensation for virtually any expense you incur, and any difficulty you encounter in your life, because of your accident and injuries. But you need to prove them. So keep everything. If you lose a bill or doctor’s report, let your car accident lawyer know about it, and he or she can obtain a copy for your legal claim.

Typically, your lawyer will want to order his or her own copy of your medical records and bills directly from the medical providers. That being said, we highly recommend that you send your lawyer a copy of anything you receive related to your accident claim.

Consult an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Right Away

Getting paid the full amount of your damages after a car accident requires the skill, experience, and resources of a car accident injury attorney. The sooner you meet with that type of attorney, the better your chances of obtaining every penny the law allows. Waiting to talk to an attorney puts your legal rights at risk and often makes your claim harder to prove.

Do not wait. If a car accident injury has caused you or a loved one expenses and losses, then you deserve to get paid. Contact an experienced car accident injury attorney as soon as possible for a free case consultation to discuss your rights.

How Much Does It Cost to Talk to a Lawyer?

personal injury lawyer in chicago free consultationA common reason people give for not calling a lawyer after they get hurt in an accident is cost. They worry that they simply can’t afford to talk to a lawyer, especially not when they have mounting medical bills to deal with, and have missed work and gone without a paycheck because of their injuries.

Those are understandable concerns. But we have good news: talking to a lawyer about your legal rights after suffering injuries in an accident does not cost you a dime. What’s more, hiring a lawyer to recover the compensation you deserve costs nothing up-front. You only pay the lawyer a fee at the time of settlement or verdict.

You’re probably thinking: What’s the catch?

There’s no catch. Personal injury lawyers know you face financial strain, so they make it easy to afford their services. Here’s how.

Lawyers Offer a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Case

Meeting with a personal injury lawyer for the first time should never cost you anything. All reputable personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

They do this to make it easy and risk-free for injured people to find out if they have legal rights to receive compensation for their injuries. After all, most people do not know much about how the law works when they get injured in an accident. If it cost them money to find out if they had a case, they would not bother to find out. By offering a free initial consultation, personal injury lawyers make it easy for anyone to learn about their rights.

The first meeting(s) between a personal injury lawyer and an injured person allows everyone to size each other up. The lawyer will want to know about how the individual got hurt. The injured person will want to learn about the lawyer’s experience, track record, and working style. After this session, the lawyer will typically give the individual a preliminary assessment of whether the lawyer thinks there is a viable case for damages to pursue, and whether the lawyer is interested in handling it. The individual gets to decide whether to hire the lawyer, of course.

All of this happens at no charge to the injured person. Not a penny changes hands between client and lawyer.

Personal Injury Lawyers Work on Contingency

If the injured person decides to hire the lawyer, then the lawyer and the client usually enter into an agreement that lays out the terms of the representation and how the lawyer will get paid. Lawyers refer to this agreement by various names, most commonly as a fee agreement or a representation agreement.

Virtually all personal injury lawyers (those who represent injured people in seeking compensation for an injury) work on a contingency fee basis. In this arrangement, the client pays no money to the lawyer upfront, and the lawyer does not charge for specific work or for the time the lawyer spends on the case.

Instead, in the fee agreement, the lawyer and client agree that the lawyer will keep, as a fee, a percentage of the money the lawyer recovers on the client’s behalf. The lawyer’s fee is contingent on the outcome of the case, in other words. The more money the lawyer can recover for the client, the more money the lawyer earns. Conversely, if the client gets nothing, the lawyer gets nothing.

These days, the agreed percentage can vary depending on the difficulty of the case, typically ranging from 33 1/3% – 40%. The fee agreement spells out the percentage a lawyer and client agree upon, so that the client understands the arrangement from the start.

A fee agreement also addresses the running expenses of a case; things like the fees charged by hospitals for copies of medical records and expert witness fees, for example. Lawyers typically agree to advance these expenses, or clients may agree to do it, or they may agree to split them in some manner. Our law firm always advances case costs. There are no up front legal fees or costs for our clients. The fee agreement spells out all of this, too, in clear language, so there are no surprises.

Personal injury lawyers represent clients on contingency to give all injured people access to justice, not just people who have enough money lying around to pay an expensive attorney by the hour. The arrangement allows anyone who has suffered an injury to obtain the services of a top-notch lawyer. It also lines up the lawyer’s interests with the client’s, so that they both have the same goal—securing the most money for the client as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Types of Work a Personal Injury Lawyer Does on Contingency

To be clear: Contingency fee arrangements affect only how the lawyer gets paid. In all other respects, the lawyer has the same duties to serve the client’s interests as if the client was paying a different type of lawyer by the hour. Lawyers who represent clients on contingency work just as hard, and have just as much (if not more) skill and know-how as any other attorneys.

Every personal injury case has unique facts and circumstances, of course, so the types of services the lawyer provides will vary from client-to-client.

However, generally speaking, a personal injury client can usually expect the lawyer to:

  • Investigate the case to identify the parties who have legal liability and the ability to pay money damages, and to establish the amount of harm the client has suffered;
  • Plan an effective legal strategy that serves the clients’ interests, needs, and priorities;
  • Communicate that plan to the client in language the client understands;
  • Update the client on developments and respond to the client’s questions;
  • Negotiate with defense lawyers and insurance companies to achieve a favorable settlement of the case, if possible; and
  • Litigate the case in court, including taking the case to trial in front of a judge and jury, if negotiation alone does not yield a favorable outcome.

Cost Is Not a Factor, so Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Do not delay speaking with a personal injury lawyer because you worry you cannot afford it. Talking to an experienced attorney about your injury and losses costs you nothing, and if you have a case, a lawyer will most likely agree to represent you on contingency so that you pay nothing to the lawyer unless and until the lawyer gets you paid first.

Contact an experienced, skilled personal injury lawyer today for your free case consultation.

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit for Dog Bite?

dog bite lawyer in chicagoIf you suffered injuries in a dog attack, whether or not the dog bit you, then one thing you need to know is how much time you have to take legal action against the dog owner (or someone else) for damages. The law refers to this window of opportunity to file a lawsuit as the statute of limitations. If you do not take legal action within the period the statute of limitations sets out, then you will likely lose your rights to receive compensation.

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for a dog bite-related lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the attack, in most cases. However, that time frame can vary depending on a variety of legal factors, so do not assume you always will have two years. You may have more time, or you may have less. Consulting an experienced dog bite injury attorney as soon as possible after a dog attack is the most reliable way to ensure that you do not miss out on your rights to receive money damages for dog bite injuries.

The Statute of Limitations Is an Expiration Date, Not a Target Date

The two-year window to take legal action for a dog bite injury set forth in Illinois law is an outside time limit for filing a lawsuit.

Do not wait one year and 11 months to talk to a lawyer about a dog attack that injured you or a loved one. Call as quickly as you can. The sooner you speak with an experienced dog bite injury lawyer after suffering an injury, the better your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.

Why? Here are just a few of the many reasons.

Your Lawyer Will Need to Preserve Evidence ASAP

Because the preservation of evidence is vitally important in a dog bite case. The fact is, the more time that elapses, the more likely it is that evidence will fade or get lost or misplaced.

Consider one potentially important element of evidence: the dog. The owner of a dog that attacks and inflicts injury may have it put down, or may give it away, potentially making it more difficult for your lawyer to prove ownership and/or legal responsibility for the dog’s actions.

Eyewitness testimony, too, can play an important role in proving a dog owner’s (or someone else’s) legal liability for a dog attack injury. Over time, memories fade and witnesses get more difficult to locate. The sooner a lawyer can start working to preserve evidence that may prove crucial to your case, the better your chances of getting the money you deserve for your injuries and losses.

Your Lawyer May Need to Investigate to Find Liable Parties

Investigating your dog bite case takes time. While you may have two years (or more, or less) to file a lawsuit for your dog bite injuries, your lawyer may need a chunk of that time to collect evidence, evaluate who has a legal liability to you, and plan an effective strategy for getting you the money you deserve. Waiting until the last minute only makes those tasks more difficult.

In conducting an investigation, your lawyer may discover that more than one party has a legal liability to you for the harm you suffered in a dog attack.

In any given Illinois dog attack, those parties could include:

  • The dog owner, who effectively faces automatic liability under Illinois law for any unprovoked dog attack against someone who is “peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be.”
  • The dog’s handler or custodian, if different from the owner, for failing to take reasonable steps to keep an individual safe from a dog attack;
  • The owner or occupant of the property where the dog attack occurred, for failing to fulfill duties to keep visitors to the property safe.

What Your Lawyer Finds Can Affect How Long You Have to File a Lawsuit

The circumstances of a dog attack injury can affect the amount of time you have to take legal action. As we mentioned above, the general statute of limitations in Illinois is two years, but that rule has exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions.

For example:

  • Dog attack victims who were minors when they suffered injuries typically have until two years after their 18th birthday to sue in their own capacity, but their parents or legal guardians can also take legal action on their behalf before then.
  • If you suffer an injury that you do not (and could not, with reasonable diligence) discover right away, then the statute of limitations period does not start to run until you do (or reasonably could) discover it. Please note, this is a highly unlikely scenario and very difficult to prove. For example, if a dog bite infects you with a viral disease that takes a long time to show symptoms, then you may have an extended time period. But again, it is a very bad idea to let the statute of limitations expire without a lawsuit on file.

These are just a few of the many potential complexities and complications that can affect how much time you have to file a lawsuit for a dog bite injury.

Seek Advice From an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer Right Away

Given the numerous considerations above, the best course of action for any dog bite victim (or parent of a dog bite victim) is virtually always to seek the advice of an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible after a dog attack. By seeking timely advice from a skilled lawyer, you give yourself and/or your loved one the best possible opportunity to take full advantage of your legal rights to compensation for your injuries and losses.

To learn more, contact an experienced dog bite injury attorney today.

Back Injuries: How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

back injury lawyer in chicagoBack injuries can be debilitating. They can make the most mundane tasks excruciatingly painful, and many cause lingering discomfort and limitations that last a lifetime. What’s worse, the long-term costs of treating and living with a back injury frequently lead to massive medical debt, and keep victims out of work, unable to provide for their families.

Victims of back injuries caused by someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful actions may have legal rights to seek compensation for damages. One question those victims often ask their lawyer is: what is my claim worth? In this blog post, we explore some answers to that question. To discuss the specifics of a back injury that has disrupted your life, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free case evaluation.

A Simple Question With No Simple Answer

The answer experienced lawyers know to give to that question is always the same: It depends. Every back injury is different, and every claim for damages involving a back injury has unique characteristics. Also, a claim’s worth depends both on how much money the law allows the victim to recover, and also on how much money is available to pay the victim damages.

Generally speaking, victims of someone else’s wrongful actions have the right to take legal action seeking compensation for:

  • Medical expenses related to the back injury;
  • Non-medical expenses connected to living with the injury;
  • Past and future lost income caused by missing work because of the back injury (either temporarily or permanently); and
  • The victim’s pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life resulting from the back injury.

Factors Affecting the Amount of Damages You Can Claim

The amount of money reflected in each of the categories above varies from case-to-case, depending on various factors. Let’s take a look at some of them.

The Severity of Your Back Injury

Generally speaking, the more severe your back injury, the more medical and non-medical expenses you have, the more work you miss, and the greater your pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life. In other words, the severity of the injury roughly correlates to the amount of money you might have the right to recover.

The Cost of Medical Care

Back injuries cost Americans upwards of $50 billion every year in medical costs. However, those costs are not evenly distributed. The severity of an injury affects the costs any individual incurs, of course. However, even two identical injuries may cost vastly different amounts to treat depending upon the local cost of medical treatment where the victim lives and the quality of that treatment. These factors will affect the tally of medical costs the victim can claim.

Secondary Health Complications

Back injuries frequently lead to other, secondary health complications. For example, back injury sufferers may struggle to get quality sleep or withdraw from physical activity, both of which can lead to a host of health problems including coronary disease and diabetes. They may become dependent on prescription pain medications, leading to addictions and overdoses. Their chronic pain can also take a heavy emotional toll, causing them to suffer from depression and other mental health disturbances. The presence of any of these secondary conditions that can be tied to a back injury can increase the amount of money a person might claim as compensation.

Where You Live

While this doesn’t affect Illinois, currently, nine states limit the amount of so-called non-economic damages personal injury victims can recover in a lawsuit. These damages include pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and harm to personal relationships. The aim of laws that cap non-economic damages is, in theory, to reign-in juries and limit insurance premiums. In practice, those laws have fallen especially hard on injured people. An experienced lawyer can help back injury sufferers construct their claims to maximize their recoveries even if a law caps non-economic damages. These laws can unfortunately affect Illinois residents involved in out-of-state accidents.

Factors Affecting the Amount of Money You May Actually Obtain

There is a big difference between having a legal right to recover damages, and actually getting paid. The following factors can affect how much you get paid for your back injury.

Who Owes You Money (and Their Financial Resources)

To get you money for your back injury claim, your lawyer needs to prove that one or more individual, company, or government entity has a legal liability to you. Who your lawyer can prove liability against can have a huge impact on how much money you might receive.

Here’s why.

  • Different liable parties have different financial resources. You are much more likely to recover compensation from a well-insured liable party than you are from an uninsured liable party or a defendant with substandard insurance. Two victims with the same back injury might have different odds of getting paid, depending on who they can sue for damages.
  • Additional parties tend to mean additional money. In some cases, just one party has a legal liability to the victim. In others, multiple parties have a legal obligation to pay damages. Generally speaking, every additional party with liability increases the amount of money the victim has a shot at recovering.

The Degree of Dispute

Some back injury claims are a slam dunk to prove, and the parties with liability admit their wrongdoing and the insurance carrier pays for damages. Other claims pose challenges, and the parties you sue fight back. As a general matter, the more dispute a case involves, the more uncertainty there is about how much money the victim can expect to receive. That does not mean the victim will receive less for their back injury at the end-of-the-day, necessarily, but it does mean the victim may have to compromise more to settle a case.

The Quality, Experience, and Reputation of Your Lawyer

Back injury claims can get tricky to prove. An unfair stereotype portrays people claiming phony back injuries to obtain insurance payments and disability benefits.

To overcome that stereotype and get every penny your claim is worth, you need a lawyer who:

  • Takes back injuries seriously;
  • Has successfully represented back injury sufferers like you;
  • Understands the medical science behind back pain, and knows how to explain it in simple language;
  • Investigates your injury to connect it to secondary health conditions; and
  • Has a strong reputation for getting results in and out of the courtroom in back injury cases.

Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer with those qualities today for a free case consultation.