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Was Your Child Injured at Daycare?

Thousands of parents in the Chicago area drop their child off at daycare in the mornings before work. While they are away, parents trust their chosen daycare facility with their child’s safety and well-being. Few things can be as frightening as a call from a daycare informing you that you child has been injured.

While daycares must abide by strict regulations in order to be licensed in Illinois and should be monitored by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), accidents and injuries still happen at daycare facilities on a regular basis in the Chicago area. If your child has been injured, do not wait to call our dedicated personal injury law firm for help today.

Common Daycare Accidents and Injuries

Children can be involved in many types of accidents or incidents that cause serious injuries at daycare. Some common accidents include the following:

  • Falls
  • Being dropped
  • Playground accidents
  • Fights with other children
  • Choking on toys or food
  • Wandering outside the daycare—possibly near a street
  • Abuse by daycare providers
  • Abuse or injuries caused by outside parties
  • Swimming pool or other drowning accidents

Some of the above accidents may result in cuts, bruises, or relatively minor injuries. Others, however, can cause severe physical and emotional damage to your child. In any event, daycare injuries cost money to treat properly and many parents want to know whether they can hold a daycare liable for their child’s injuries. In addition, many parents are understandably angry when a daycare is negligent and want to seek justice for the harm done to their child.

Who Is Responsible for Your Child’s Injury?

Every parent knows that children can be clumsy and precocious. Even the most vigilant and responsible parents still have dealt with accidents and injuries to their child at home. Sometimes, when a child is injured at daycare, it is not anyone else’s fault and is simply a result of a child’s own behavior.

However, in other situations, children are injured because the daycare was negligent in some manner. To prove negligence, you must demonstrate that the daycare breached the duty of care it owed to your child and that the breach caused your child’s injuries. Some examples of daycare negligence are as follows:

  • Not properly supervising a child when needed
  • Allowing access to toys or objects that are inappropriate for a child’s age
  • Having conditions at the facility that do not meet minimum standards for health and safety
  • Having inadequate security to keep out potentially harmful adults
  • Having staff who abuse or assault children
  • Having dangerous pools, playgrounds, or other equipment
  • Improperly storing food, causing illness
  • Maintaining unsanitary conditions

Contact Our Chicago Premises Liability Attorneys for Help Today

If you believe your child’s daycare was negligent and your child was injured as a result, your first call should be to the law firm of Abels & Annes. If you have a case, we will fight for your right to hold the daycare liable for its negligence and your losses, so please call our Chicago personal injury lawyers at 312-924-7575 for more information.

How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

When you have been injured in an accident and the other person is at fault, you should retain a personal injury attorney to represent you ASAP. Illinois uses a tort system to legally determine fault when an accident causes injuries. After an accident, you can file a claim with your own insurance company or the defendant’s insurance company. However, you should always keep in mind that any insurance company, even your own, is in business to make money. The insurance company is going to pay the least amount possible to get you to settle. For that reason, it is always best to retain a personal injury lawyer to help you navigate the claims process.

Before You Contact an Attorney

Illinois has many personal injury lawyers ready to help you. So, how do you choose the right lawyer? Before you contact an attorney, you should do some due diligence to make sure you pick the right attorney for your case. Most importantly, you should try to figure out whether the attorney has experience representing people who have had similar accidents or injuries, and whether they have a good reputation and track record.

Types of Cases

Make sure you view a personal injury firm’s practice areas to see if they have experience representing people who have had accidents or injuries that are similar to yours. For example, if you were bitten by a dog, you should not hire an attorney who only represents people who have been involved in vehicle accidents.

Experience

Always look into an attorney’s experience before you reach out to them. In most cases, their experience will be outlined on their firm’s website. You can find additional information about the lawyer on websites such as Avvo and Super Lawyers.

When you call or come in for a consultation, feel free to ask about successful cases and the amounts an attorney has won for previous clients.

Narrowing Your Choice Down

Once you have done some online research, you might want to narrow your choices down to a couple personal injury firms with good track records. Once you do that, you should schedule a consultation with one or more of the firms to see how you “mesh” with the firm’s attorneys and support staff. No matter how good an attorney is at practicing law, your relationship with them will be an important part of working together for the best results in your case. You will be sharing personal information with the law firm and you should feel comfortable with the attorneys and their staff. The attorney you choose should be friendly and professional and should be at ease explaining the law as it applies to your case.

Attorneys’ Fees and Costs

You should ask an attorney what the firm charges. In most cases, personal injury firms will take their fees and costs out of your winnings and you will not need to pay anything up front. But you might want to inquire as to what percentage they charge. Most injury lawyers take one-third of the gross amount collected, but some firms increase their fees once a lawsuit has been filed.

Your prospective attorneys should discuss any potential costs that may arise in your case, including expert witness fees if they are needed. An expert witness can testify on your behalf in court. Expert witnesses could include medical doctors, medical billing experts, architects, and accident reconstruction professionals, just to name a few.

What a Firm Should Promise

A good law firm will not promise that they will recover a high dollar amount in your case. What the firm should promise is to represent your interests in such a way that they will get you the highest amount possible for your case. If an insurance company refuses to settle for a fair and reasonable amount, the firm should be willing and able to take your case to court, and should be as adept at trying your case in front of a judge and jury as they are at settling cases. In fact, the firm you choose should have a good number of settlements and trials under its belt. Never choose a firm that does not have a good amount of experience going to trial.

A firm should also promise to investigate your case thoroughly. In some cases, the firm may be able to investigate the case themselves, while in others they may need to bring in experts. For example, if you were injured in a trip and fall accident due to defective stairs and you are being blamed for the accident when you know it was not your fault, the firm may bring in an architect to look and the stairs and determine if there were building code violations or other hazards. Or if you have a medical malpractice case, the firm would bring in an expert to determine if a medical professional was negligent and violated the standard of care. These expert witnesses should also be adept at testifying before a judge or jury.

Make a Decision

Once you have had initial free consultations, you are ready to make a decision about which firm to hire. If all factors are equal, choose the firm you feel most comfortable with or the firm with the most experience in your type of claim.

How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

When you suffer injuries due to someone else’s negligence, bills may quickly become a serious concern. You may have medical bills pile up. You might miss time at work, leaving you without the income you need to take care of your regular expenses, much less any extra bills related to your injuries. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you might not even know when you will be able to return to work.

With all those other financial burdens, hiring a personal injury attorney may seem completely out of reach, especially if you had an accident that resulted in a serious injury like spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury, or amputation. Hiring a personal injury lawyer, however, typically costs nothing up front. They only get paid if a financial recovery is made on your behalf.

Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer: Determining the Cost

Each personal injury case is unique. Regardless of the circumstances of your case, however, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis—they get paid a percentage of what they recover for you through a negotiated settlement or court verdict. If no money recovered for you, their services are free. Most injury lawyers charge a fee of one third of the gross amount collected, and his or her costs are reimbursed.

Start with a free consultation. During that free consultation, you can get a great deal of information that can help you as you move forward with your claim, including:

  • The attorney’s assessment of the likelihood of your claim’s success, and whether you should continue to pursue a legal case
  • How much it will cost to file and fight for your claim (attorneys get their costs reimbursed at the time of settlement)
  • What services the attorney will perform
  • What evidence you will need to gather to help support your claim

Since a free consultation costs you nothing—you have nothing to lose. At that free consultation, the lawyer can help you break down the potential cost of pursuing your claim.

 

The Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Abels & Annes, PCMany people assume that when they hire a personal injury attorney, they get someone to file the paperwork on their behalf and speak for them in court—and if money is a serious concern, they may wonder whether they can handle those tasks for themselves. An experienced personal injury attorney, however, does more than simply file the paperwork. In many cases, a personal injury attorney can do a lot to increase your chances of winning your personal injury claim.

  • The attorney can help increase the amount you receive. No one wants to leave money sitting on the table, especially after a serious injury. When you work with a personal injury lawyer, you can often substantially increase the funds you receive. Most clients find that even after they pay the lawyer’s fees, they still take home much more money than if they had attempted to handle the case on their own. In my experience, insurance companies typically offer lawyers more money to settle than an individuals because an attorney better understands what a case is worth and further that he or she will file a lawsuit when needed to obtain a proper result.
  • A lawyer can help free up your time. Recovering from an injury may leave you with a tight schedule and a great deal of stress. You have appointments with your doctor, physical therapy appointments, and consultations with specialists to schedule. You may still need to try to keep up with your job, especially if your company allows you to work from home. You have family obligations. Dealing with insurance companies takes up time you may need to take care of other responsibilities. If you hire a lawyer, they will take on that responsibility for you.
  • A lawyer can provide valuable legal advice that may prevent you from making a costly mistake. When you deal with an insurance company following an injury, you must exercise care so that you don’t do or say something that could jeopardize your claim. Everything from what you say on the phone with an insurance representative, to the activities you choose to enjoy, to what you post on social media can impact your claim. An attorney can provide valuable legal advice that will prevent you from making errors that could ultimately decrease your compensation for your injuries.
  • A lawyer can get the compensation you need in your hands faster. When you suffer serious injuries in an accident, you need money: money to seek medical treatment, to modify your home or vehicle to account for your disabilities, or to allow you to pay for your normal expenses in spite of your inability to work. While you wait for a settlement, you may have creditors calling. You need money fast. While an attorney cannot guarantee a timeline for your claim, you may find that working with an attorney can speed up the process.
  • A personal injury attorney can help you better understand the details of your claim. Who really bears responsibility for your injuries? Should you file a claim against more than one party or with more than one insurance company? By working with an attorney, you can get a better idea of exactly who owes you compensation for your injuries. Often, this increases the damages you receive for your injuries.

 

  • An experienced injury lawyer knows how to find the money. Often injury victims don’t know where to look for additional compensation after a serious injury. Lawyers are always on the lookout for additional responsible defendants, excess insurance policies, uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage, medical payment provisions, etc. Often unrepresented plaintiffs leave significant amounts of money on the table because they didn’t know it was available.
  • Medical bills and liens can be negotiated. Once a settlement is reached, an injury lawyers job is not done. The reduction of medical bills through negotiations can put much more money in a client’s pocket. Sometimes when an individual settles a case without the benefit of counsel, they can be in for a big surprise as to where the money is actually going. There can be significant medical and health insurance liens to satisfy that the accident victim was unaware of. An experienced lawyer looks into lien issues and attempts to negotiate bills at the time of settlement.

 

If you suffered serious injuries in an accident, contacting a personal injury attorney can help you get the full compensation you deserve. The goal is to maximize your settlement or verdict. It’s not so much what a personal injury lawyer costs, but the high price of not hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. The longer you wait, the longer it will take to recover damages from your accident, and the more likely it is that you will damage your own claim—so don’t wait to contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

What Questions Should I Ask a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you were injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you have probably been told that you should speak to a personal injury attorney about your case. You may have even conducted some research and found a lawyer or two with whom you’d like to schedule an initial consultation. Now that you’re preparing for your consultation, you’re likely wondering what will happen at that consultation and what questions you should ask.

Don’t Fear the Initial Consultation

Before we get into the questions you should ask the lawyer at your initial consultation, let’s take a look at the initial consultation process, because many people are intimidated by the prospect of actually going to talk to a lawyer about their situation. The initial consultation is simply time that the lawyer will provide, typically for free, to evaluate your case and discuss your legal options. At the same time, it is a chance for you to speak to the lawyer, find out more about their experience with cases like yours, and to decide if this is a person that you feel confident about hiring to pursue your case throughout the legal process.

While experienced attorneys will often provide answers to commonly asked questions even if you don’t ask them during the initial consultation, it is good to write your questions down before the meeting so that you can be sure you get them all answered.

Questions About Experience

Lawyers can specialize in many different areas of the law. Personal injury lawyers specialize in just one area: helping accident victims to obtain compensation for their injuries. However, because there are so many ways that accidents can happen, the world of personal injury law is also vast. You want to be sure that the attorney you hire to represent you has the experience to understand your case, your injuries, and the potential sources of compensation that are available to you. Some questions you may ask to get an idea about your attorney’s experience include:

  • How long have you practiced personal injury law?
  • How much experience do you have with cases like mine?
  • What are some examples of settlements you’ve obtained for clients who have suffered similar accidents or injuries?
  • What is the statute of limitations in my case?
  • What is the likelihood that my case will settle out of court?
  • If you’re unable to negotiate a fair settlement in my case, are you comfortable with representing me in court?

Questions About How Invested the Lawyer Will Be in Your Case

While a personal injury lawyer may have the experience you’re looking for, the next set of questions you need to ask pertain to how involved this attorney will actually be with your case. These questions might include:

  • Are you the only attorney I will be working with?
  • Who else will be working on my case?
  • Do you have experts available to assist with the investigation and provide testimony on my behalf, such as accident reconstruction experts or medical professionals?
  • Who is my point of contact?
  • How can I receive updates on the progress of my case?
  • How will you handle communication with me? (Email, phone call, text, etc.)
  • How many clients do you represent simultaneously?

Questions About Paying Your Attorney

One of the most common questions that personal injury lawyers get is: How much do you charge for your services? Most personal injury lawyers do not work on an hourly basis, but rather on a contingent fee basis, meaning that they do not charge fees to their clients until they successfully negotiate a settlement or win a court award, at which point they keep a percentage of that award. However, it is important to ask your lawyer how they expect to be paid. Here are some questions to ask at the initial consultation about fees:

  • How do you expect to be paid?
  • If you’re working on a contingent fee basis, what percentage of my settlement or award will you keep? And do the percentage fees increase if the case goes to court?
  • How will the costs involved with my case, such as copy fees, payment to experts, and other incidentals be handled?
  • Is there anything I can do to help with the case?

Questions About the Strength of Your Case

While no lawyer has a crystal ball that will tell them what the outcome of your case will be, your lawyer should be able to give you an idea of how likely it is that you will succeed in your claim based on their experience, the details of your accident, the severity of your injuries, and the expenses you’ve incurred. Some questions to ask about the strength of your case can include:

  • What damages am I eligible to recover?
  • What is the value of my case?
  • Who are the potentially liable parties in my case?
  • Are there any weaknesses in my case, and how can we address those weaknesses?

References?

Just as an employer would want to check references for a potential employee to ensure that the employee is qualified for the position, it is understandable that you may want references for the attorney you are considering hiring to represent you in your case. The attorney you’re meeting with is not going to be offended by you asking if you can speak to past clients who they have represented in similar cases.

Questions About the Contract

Once you’ve chosen an attorney that you’d like to represent you and the attorney has agreed to take the case, the attorney will give you documents to sign, including a contract that outlines the details of their working relationship with you. You must read these documents carefully and understand everything that you are signing. If you have any questions, be sure to ask them and have them answered to your satisfaction before you sign.

How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

You’ve been hurt or you lost a loved one in an accident and you know that you should find a personal injury lawyer to make sure your rights are fully represented. But how do you pick the right lawyer? Will the lawyer be good enough to get you the full amount of compensation you deserve? Does this lawyer handle cases like yours? Doing some research before you hire an attorney helps you make better choices when it comes to finding the right personal injury attorney.

Ask for Recommendations

Start by asking friends, relatives, and coworkers for recommendations. This doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily use any of the attorneys they recommend, but it gives you a place to start. Because there are so many attorneys to choose from, you’ll drive yourself up the wall trying to start without having some names to begin with. Try to gather the names of at least three or four personal injury attorneys.

Do a Google Search

In addition to personal recommendations, you can start your search on the internet. However, not all personal injury attorneys practice in all areas. If you were bitten by a dog, you definitely do not want to hire an attorney who has never handled a dog bite case. When you search, make sure you include some description of your injury or accident: search for something like “personal injury lawyer in Chicago dog bite.” That will help narrow down which firms come up—but you’ll still have a ton to weed through!

Weeding out Firms

As you start to build your list of firms, make sure those firms handle cases like yours. Delete any others off your list. Then, check all the of the firms’ websites. You are looking for:

  • A list of cases the firm’s attorneys have won with the amounts they have won in those cases. While this type of list doesn’t predict what the attorney might be able to secure in your case, it can tell you what types of cases the firm handles, and let you know that the firm’s attorneys will fight to get you a fair and reasonable settlement.
  • Click on the firm’s practice areas page to make sure that your type of case is listed. Because attorneys may win hundreds of cases, they don’t always list every case they have won.
  • Check the contact information for the firm. The contact page should have a phone number, address and a web form for you to contact the firm via email. If the page does not use a form, the firm should provide an email address. Contact information is important as you want to be able to readily contact the attorney when you have questions.
  • Check each attorney’s profile. The attorneys should list their achievements and any awards they have won because of their work. An attorney who has won awards has been acknowledged by their peers or by an attorney rating website like AVVO or Millions Dollar Advocates Forum. For example, David Abels was given the Super Lawyer distinction for 2014-2019. This distinction is only given to the top 5 percent of attorneys in the state. More significantly, he was also named to the Illinois Super Lawyers Top 100 list for the years 2016-2019.
  • Check the Illinois ARDC website to make sure the firm’s attorneys are in good standing and are allowed to practice law in Illinois.
  • Finally, make sure your personalities are compatible. You will be working closely with the attorney and their staff for the duration of your case. Depending on the circumstances, your case could settle quickly or it could go to trial, which will take longer, especially if the attorney needs to schedule depositions and use expert witnesses.

Narrow your search down to three attorneys or law firms. Once you have a list of three attorneys or firms who fit the criteria above, set up a consultation with each of them. Meet the attorneys and their staff before you hire them to make sure your personalities mesh.

The Consultation

When you meet an attorney for the first time, you are there to get information about your case and to interview the attorney. Be ready to ask questions about your case and about the firm. If you are happy with the answers and the firm meets all your expectations, you have found the right attorney to represent you. Some questions you might ask include:

  • How many personal injury cases has your firm handled?
  • How many personal injury cases has the attorney I will be working with handled?
  • Of those, how many did you win?
  • How many cases have you handled like mine, and what percentage of those did you win?
  • Some information in the police report is not correct. How will you handle that?
  • Do you hire outside investigators?
  • How do you choose outside investigators?
  • How will I be able to contact you? How often can I obtain updates?
  • Do you handle cases on a contingency basis? Will you handle my case on a contingency basis?
  • How many legal assistants and paralegals do you have to help you?
  • When will you start negotiations with the insurance company?
  • What will you do if the insurance company counters with a low-ball settlement? (For example, the answer to this question could be that they will continue negotiations for a specific period of time, after which they will start preparing for a lawsuit).
  • How long will it take to file a lawsuit if the insurance company does not come to a fair and reasonable settlement?
  • If you win my case, how will I get my money? Will you pay the hospital and doctors’ bills out of my settlement for me or do I have to do that?
  • Any other questions related to your specific case that you want answers for.

Once you contact all three attorneys and some of their support staff and compare their answers, you will be ready to pick the attorney you feel is best suited to handle your case.

When to Get a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. But, as reported by the National Law Review, not every accident or injury requires the help of a personal injury lawyer. This blog post discusses some of the circumstances in which you should hire an attorney.

The Accident Was Caused by Someone Else’s Negligence

Personal injury claims hinge on the injured person’s ability to prove that the other party was negligent in causing their injury. Negligence is defined as the failure to behave with the level of care that an ordinary person would have exercised under the same circumstances. This failure is usually through taking some kind of negligent action, but can also sometimes be the person’s failure to act if they had a legal duty to do so. To establish negligence, the injured person must demonstrate that:

  • The at-fault party owed them a legal duty of care. For example, in a motor vehicle accident, all drivers owe a legal duty of care to others on the road to obey all traffic laws and safely operate their motor vehicle.
  • The at-fault person failed to comply with that duty of care.
  • This failure caused their injuries.

If someone else’s negligence caused your accident, then you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and the expenses related to those injuries. However, you must follow the appropriate process for obtaining that compensation and present your evidence in a particular way. This can be a difficult process, and a personal injury lawyer can help you navigate it so that you have the best chance to get the full amount of compensation you deserve.

You Suffered Severe Injuries

Your injuries don’t have to be catastrophic for you to have a right to file a personal injury claim or a personal injury lawsuit. If your injuries were severe enough to require medical treatment, including prescriptions, diagnostic tests, surgery, hospitalization, follow-up care, or rehabilitation, you have the right to pursue compensation to cover those expenses. Additionally, if your injuries were severe enough to cause you to miss time from work or they altered your quality of life, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer about your legal options.

Even if you feel like your injuries are minor, they could be worse than you initially believe. Wait until a doctor clears you of potential complications from your injuries before you decide that you don’t need an attorney.

An Insurance Company Is Pressuring You to Accept a Low Ball Settlement

Once you have accepted a settlement offer to cover your injuries after an accident, you cannot go back to request more money. You should never accept a quick settlement offer without having a good idea about how much follow-up care you will need, whether you will be able to return to work, or whether you will fully recover to the point that you will be able to work in the same capacity or participate in the same leisure activities as you did before the accident. Determining the value of your case depends on a formula that involves:

  • The severity of your injury
  • Whether your treatments will be invasive or long-term
  • If your injuries have caused disfigurement
  • Whether you can demonstrate that you are owed compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, or permanent disability

An insurance company will often contact you if they believe you have a potential case, and they may use anything you say against you to deny or reduce the value of your claim. If you hire a personal injury lawyer, your lawyer will speak to the insurance company’s representatives on your behalf and will know how to ensure that you don’t say anything that might inadvertently damage your case.

The Insurance Company Is Acting in Bad Faith or Disputing the Claim

There are many ways that insurance companies act in bad faith when negotiating with an accident victim, such as offering a low settlement, delaying processing their claim, or refusing to compensate the victim even if liability for their injuries is not in dispute.

If you believe an insurance company is acting in bad faith regarding your personal injury claim, you should enlist the aid of a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers know how to deal with bad faith insurance tactics and can work to help your case move forward despite the insurance company’s antics.

Likewise, you should contact a personal injury lawyer if an insurance company is disputing your claim or stating that their insured is not liable for your injuries. These cases can be extremely complicated and may even require you to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for your injuries.

There Are Multiple Potentially Liable Parties

The more potentially liable parties involved in your accident, the more complicated it will be to file insurance claims. Hiring a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible will help you to not only identify all of the liable parties, but your lawyer will also understand how to submit claims and negotiate a settlement with all parties involved.

You’re Not Comfortable With Navigating the Claims or Legal Process

If you’re well-versed in personal injury law and the statutes in your state that govern this area of the law, you might be able to negotiate a settlement on your own—however that’s unlikely in my opinion, and it’s even less likely that you’d reach a fair settlement. Personal injury law is a career field that requires extensive training.

If you don’t know how the process works and you’re not comfortable with the amount of research that you will need to do to understand it, it is a good idea to seek the services of a personal injury lawyer. In addition, personal injury lawyers often rely on medical or accident experts to work with them on their clients’ cases. If you’re not comfortable with finding these experts on your own, consult an attorney. Call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free consultation.

When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to pursue a personal injury claim. That claim can provide valuable funds that make it possible for you to pay your medical bills, take care of your living expenses, and move forward with your life in the wake of the accident. Do you need a personal injury lawyer to help you with your case? Read on to learn more about the factors you should consider when you are thinking about hiring a personal injury lawyer.

When Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you suffered serious injuries in an accident, a personal injury attorney can offer valuable advice about the compensation you should expect to receive based on the type of injury you suffered. Usually clients also find that a personal injury attorney can help them increase the compensation they receive for their injuries. Hiring a personal injury lawyer is more than just an added expense after an accident. An attorney is an advocate who can help the claims process move more smoothly.

Did you suffer injuries in an accident?

To file a personal injury claim, your accident must have resulted in injuries that have a cost or resulted in non-monetary but measurable damages. For example, if you slipped and fell in a store, but got up and walked away with nothing more than a little embarrassment, you do not have grounds for a personal injury claim. On the other hand, if you suffered serious injuries in a slip and fall like broken bones, traumatic brain injury, or spinal cord damage, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Other types of serious injuries that might be grounds for a personal injury claim include:

  • Organ damage
  • Amputation, including amputation due to crushing damage
  • Electrocution or severe electric shock
  • Burns
  • Severe lacerations
  • Death, if your loved one would have had a personal injury claim had they survived their injuries

Did someone else cause your injuries?

To file a personal injury claim, you may need to prove that another party’s negligence caused your injuries. In a product liability claim, for example, you might need to prove that the manufacturer put out a product with a serious defect, like the recent Ford Focus transmission fiasco. In the case of an auto accident, the other party may have caused the accident because they were distracted, or driving recklessly. If you suffered injuries due to medical malpractice, the doctor who misdiagnosed you or failed to treat you properly may bear responsibility for your injuries.

In some cases, more than one party may have contributed to your accident or injuries. In an auto accident, for example, the fault might lie with someone other than the other driver. Was the driver on the clock at the time of the accident? An employer may share responsibility. Did the driver choose to drink and drive? The bar or restaurant that over-served the driver with the knowledge that he needed to drive home may share responsibility for the accident. Talking with a personal injury lawyer can help you better determine who might share responsibility for your injuries.

Did the other party bear a duty of care to you?

The final factor you need to prove in a personal injury claim is that the other party had a legal duty of care to you and failed to fulfill that duty, leading to the accident and your injuries. In an auto accident, for example, each driver bears a duty of care to all other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists on the road and must drive in a way that helps protect their safety. In a product liability case, the manufacturers, designers, and distributors of a product bear a duty of care to consumers: they must produce safe products that do not have the potential to injure anyone when they are used appropriately. Determining whether the other party had a duty of care to you is vital to laying the foundation for your personal injury claim. An attorney can help you establish this important and sometimes confusing aspect of your case.

How Soon After an Accident Should You Speak to a Lawyer?

If you need an attorney after a personal injury case, you should speak with one as soon as possible to start the claims process and allow the attorney to start collecting evidence. In Illinois, you have two years to file a personal injury claim in most cases, however there are some shorter and longer exceptions. Some circumstances, including failing to discover a severe injury until well after the accident, can extend this deadline. However, the fact that you have two years to file a claim does not mean that you should wait that long. Consider:

  • The sooner you contact a lawyer, the fresher the evidence will be. From security tapes that might show the full circumstances of your accident to current employment records or copies of a business’ policies after a slip and fall, the sooner an attorney looks for that evidence, the greater the likelihood that they will find what they need to prove your case.
  • Witnesses’ memories become less clear with time. Even immediately following an accident, witnesses’ memories may vary. Some may have a crystal clear recollection, while others may struggle to describe what they saw. The longer it has been, however, the foggier many memories will grow—including your own. The sooner you contact an attorney after your accident, the more reliable the witness statements they collect will be.
  • The sooner you begin the claims process, the sooner you can get the funds you deserve for your injuries. After an accident, you may need funds to help pay your medical bills or to cover your living expenses while you recover. The sooner you file a personal injury claim, the sooner you can get the ball rolling—and the sooner you can get the funds you need in your hands.

If you suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence, contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can provide you with valuable advice about how to proceed, whether you have grounds for a claim, and what to expect throughout the claims process. Call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free consultation.

I Was Hurt in a Boating Accident in Illinois Waterways. Who’s Liable?

Commercial and private boat accidents are on the rise nationwide, and recent high-profile accidents have raised concerns about vessel safety, operator competence, and ultimately, liability for injuries and fatalities in the worst-case scenarios.

If you’ve survived a boating accident, you might have sustained traumatic physical or emotional injuries. Or, if you’re the family member of a victim who didn’t survive an accident, you may wonder who is responsible for your loss and how you can hold them accountable.

Many “accidents” aren’t accidents at all. Often, they may be the result of poor judgment or negligence. The top three causes of boating accidents are operator incompetence, alcohol, and hazardous water. Equipment failure is also a major contributor to safe boating, especially when water and weather conditions intercede. Most of these factors are within the control of the boat captain (or “operator”) though other hazards can cause serious injury or death in spite of the operator’s skill and best efforts.

Operators of Involved Vessels

The boat’s owner is ultimately responsible for the safety of their passengers and crew, and for maintaining their vessel in safe working order. If the boat owner/operator is unprepared and negligent in their duties, you may be entitled to compensation when an accident occurs as a result.

Life Jacket Provisions

The vessel’s owner or operator is responsible for providing U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) for every passenger. These PFDs must be in good condition and checked annually for wear and damage. What’s more, PFDs should suitably fit each passenger, be they a small child or an oversized adult. Responsible boat owners can request their guests bring their own PFDs according to their own specific size requirements, providing guidelines set forth by the U.S.C.G. to ensure they’re properly equipped when they board the vessel.

The operator must know when PFDs are required by law. When conditions supersede basic legal requirements, boat operators must be willing and able to use good judgment in ordering passengers to use their assigned safety equipment. There is no excuse for injuries or loss of life that can be prevented or lessened with the aid of appropriate PFDs and, for vessels 16 feet and longer, the required Type IV throwable devices.

Sober Operation

Boating and alcohol don’t mix. People’s attitudes toward drinking and boating are often much more casual than those toward road vehicles and DUI concerns. When everyone is expecting a fun day on Illinois lakes or rivers, the boat owner must set aside fears of being a “buzzkill” by insisting that alcohol is checked at the dock.

It should go without saying that the same hindrances to judgment and reaction time attributed to alcohol consumption on land apply to activities on the water. Perhaps more so, given unpredictable conditions and the consequences of high-speed accidents and equipment failure in open water.

The vessel operator alone is responsible for making sure that any person who takes the helm or assists with sailing equipment is able to conduct their duties in a safe and sober manner.

Navigation Skills & Competence

Operators must understand how to safely navigate without the aid of GPS equipment and digital compasses. Power failures or shorts in open water, especially resulting from a weather event, shouldn’t leave the captain incapable of guiding their vessel and passengers back to shore.

Competent operators are able to read and understand local charts, buoy markers, and signals in order to avoid boat traffic conflicts and collisions with fixed objects. They need to know how to determine whether or not their vessel is on a collision course with another boat, and to maneuver the craft accordingly.

Here in the Chicago area, wave-generating wind is always a factor, and lightning storms are a common occurrence in the Great Lakes region. Operators need to know how to control their boats under varying conditions, maintaining safe speeds and maneuvering skills in all boating zones regardless of weather and wave chop. They should have a basic understanding of weather and know when to seek shelter well before a storm poses a threat.

Boat Maintenance & Equipment

Boat ownership is a big responsibility year round. Onboard and outboard engines require routine servicing. Hulls and propellers need to be inspected for cracks or other damage, and exhaust systems—especially in boats with cabins—require attention to prevent illness and compromise of cognitive function. Safety equipment, such as the following, needs to be appropriate to the boat’s size, properly stowed, and regularly inspected for damage and viability:

  • Navigation lights
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Throwlines
  • Flares
  • Bilge pumps or bailers
  • Flotation devices
  • First aid kits
  • Flag signals

Safe and responsible operators will take the time to perform a safety talk with their passengers, informing them of “man overboard” protocols and the location and safe use of emergency equipment. Boat captains and personal watercraft rentals or guides can save lives with a simple pre-launch safety briefing.

Unruly Passengers

Sometimes a passenger does not behave in a safe manner. Refusing to remain seated, failure to follow “captain’s orders”, or acting out of hand due to drug or alcohol consumption compromises the safety of everyone on board, and that of other boaters. Onboard distractions caused by non-compliant fellow passengers, their children, or their pets are as dangerous to boaters as they are to road vehicle passengers, airline passengers, and pedestrians.

Equipment Manufacturers

Well-maintained equipment isn’t immune to failure. Poor engineering, assembly, or substandard materials can leave boaters in precarious situations. Imagine the ramifications of the following equipment issues:

  • Cracked hull
  • Lost propeller
  • Compromised fuel or galley propane line
  • Faulty bilge pump
  • Electrical fire or short
  • Fire extinguisher failure
  • Navigation system failure
  • PFD failure
  • Cracked or broken keel
  • Substandard materials or engineering for winches, sails, masts, and other equipment on non-motorized sailing vessels

Design flaws are another contributing factor in serious boating accidents. Consider the tragic duck boat accident in Missouri that occurred in the summer of 2018: The boat’s design prevented passengers from safely exiting the boat, and these design flaws had been the subject of controversy in accidents involving other duck boat tourism companies.

Other factors, such as ignoring weather warnings and not requiring—and possibly discouraging—passenger use of PFDs, put the Missouri company in the spotlight as an example of extreme negligence. In the wake of the Branson tragedy, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the duck boat design contributed to more than 40 deaths since 1999. This indicates a precedent for design hazard. If the manufacturer or commercial operator of the boat (or boats) involved in your accident produced or used a dangerous design, they could be liable for your loss.

Waterway Management & Enforcement Agencies

Navigation markers designed and placed to prevent boat accidents and intrusions into swimming areas, fixed hazards, and boat traffic lanes are essential to water recreation safety. On Lake Michigan, the U.S. Coast Guard maintains most markers, but liability is sometimes unclear on inland waterways.

A boat vs. swimmer accident on the Fox River in 2018 raised the question of waterway liability. As reported by CBS Chicago, the boat operator wasn’t found liable after striking and injuring a young boy, as he was operating the boat in a safe manner. Local residents questioned the McHenry County Sheriff’s Marine Unit—the agency responsible for patrolling that part of the river—for not establishing more of a presence near popular swimming areas. The accident also uncovered gaps in responsibility for boater and swimmer safety.

The incident occurred just offshore of Picnic Grove Park, where there are no roped swim buoys. Area and state agencies are unclear about who is responsible for installing and maintaining safety features on the river and adjacent public beaches, and they’ve demonstrated reluctance to speak with Daily Herald reporters.

Imagine if you were a private citizen trying to find answers on your own when the local park and waterway agencies can’t agree on culpability?

Abels & Annes, P.C. Is Your Lifeline

When you’re a passenger on a boat, you trust your captain and the operators of nearby vessels to competently and responsibly maintain and operate seaworthy vessels. You have faith that you’ll have an enjoyable experience on Illinois’ waterways, returning safely to port. When a boating accident prevents your safe return, you have the right to recover your costs—whether you’re a passenger, the captain of a boat struck by another vessel, or a swimmer injured due to negligence. Contact Abels & Annes, P.C. online today to help chart your course as you pursue the compensation you deserve.

Broken Bones Can Result in Thousands of Dollars in Losses

Broken Bones are a Common Result of Accidents

Accidents, like slip and fall incidents or a motor vehicle collision, often result in many different types of injuries; one of the most common injuries caused in an accident are broken bones. Although broken bones are relatively common, especially among daredevil youth, they can be a very serious injury. Serious fractures can end up costing accident victims thousands of dollars in treatment and lost wages and should not be dismissed as minor injuries.

Symptoms of a Broken Bone

Broken bones commonly occur in traffic accidents, falls, or sports injuries. Symptoms of a broken bone can include:

  • Severe pain
  • Deformity, such as the broken limb appearing to be out of place
  • Swelling, bruising, tenderness, numbness, or a tingling sensation around the injury, or
  • Difficulty or pain when moving a limb.

Broken bones can range from stress fractures, which are tiny cracks in the bone, to more serious fractures where the bone is actually cracked and moves apart during an accident or fall. The worst bone breaks are known as compound fractures, where the bone breaks into two or more pieces and one or more of the pieces punctures the skin and is exposed. This poses a risk of infection, and also presents serious issues for reconstruction and setting of the break so that the bone can mend as closely as possible to its original position.

Any fracture requires immediate medical care. X-rays will determine whether you have broken a bone and whether you need a cast or a splint to treat the fracture. It is also possible that surgery will be necessary, depending upon the location and severity of the break. Pins, screws, or other measures might be required to stabilize the fracture. As a result, compound and other complex fractures are the most difficult and expensive to treat.

Broken Bones Are Common in Accidents

Fractures are among the most common of orthopedic injuries, with roughly seven million people suffering bone fractures in the United States every year. The average adult in the United States suffers two bone fractures in their lifetime. Extremity fractures are the most common, usually suffered by men under 45 years old, or women over 45 years old. For women, this is due to osteoporosis, a reduction in bone density commonly found in older women.

How much will a broken bone cost me?

Even if you have health insurance, a relatively simple procedure involving a broken bone can get pretty pricey. Adding up charges for an emergency room visit, doctor’s fees, lab fees, x-rays, fees for follow-up care, braces, slings, bandages, splints, casts, clinic visits, CT scans, and other procedures—can quickly push the costs over $10,000. Physical therapy, if necessary, can also add significant costs. Treatments for any nerve damage or other complications, such as muscle damage, also will escalate the cost. Depending upon your insurance policy, there is no guarantee that all—or even most—of these costs will be covered.

With medical costs constantly on the rise, any injury in an accident may wind up costing far more than you expect. Broken bones are no exception. Even with health insurance, a broken bone can be very expensive. Without health insurance, the costs of a broken leg can reach into many thousands of dollars

  • If you don’t have health insurance, treatment for a broken leg generally can be as much as $2,500 or more just for a break that calls for a cast. That can include an average of more than $200 for an x-ray – although that can cost as much as $1,000 – about $225 for a cast, and as much as $1,000 for the doctor’s fee, in addition to up to $200 for an office visit fee. Fees can vary depending upon where you are and what prevailing health-care costs are in your region.
  • If you suffer a broken leg that requires surgical treatment and you do not have health insurance, surgical treatment of a broken leg typically costs $17,000 to $35,000 or more.
  • If you have health insurance, a broken leg generally would be covered, but you remain responsible for copayments and coinsurance. These can amount to thousands of dollars, especially if your deductibles or yearly out-of-pocket maximums are high, as is common with many plans purchased on the Healthcare Exchange.

The Cost of a Broken Arm

A broken arm from an accident is no less expensive, even though out of all broken bone injuries, a broken arm is relatively common. Here’s what a broken arm costs in the United States:

  • If you have no health insurance, the diagnosis and treatment for a broken arm that does not require surgery generally runs up to $2,500 or more.
  • If surgery is required, without health insurance a broken arm generally costs about $16,000 or more.
  • While a broken arm normally would be covered by health insurance, for someone on a health insurance policy through the Healthcare Exchange, deductibles could be more than $5,000, meaning you will wind up being responsible for the full costs yourself.

In addition, whether a broken bone is a compound fracture and protrudes through the skin is a major factor in how much it costs to treat a fracture. Compound fractures can be considerably more expensive to treat.

Arms and Legs aren’t the Only Broken Bones

Broken Bones Can Result in Thousands of Dollars in LossesWhen we speak of a broken bone after an accident, the first thing that comes to mind is probably something like a person with their arm in a cast. But other bones in the human body can break too. In fact, if it’s a bone, it can probably break or fracture during a serious accident, like a car accident.

For example, a person may break a rib during an accident; or they may have their foot crushed, causing multiple bones in their foot to break or fracture at once. Someone may also break a bone in their back or neck, which causes its own unique issues and treatments, but nonetheless, is a broken bone.

The point is, insurance companies don’t always take broken bones seriously, since a broken arm or leg can be quite common in daily life. But these types of injuries have the potential to be very serious, and should be treated as so.

Broken Bones are Serious, Contact an Experienced Chicago Injury Lawyer

If you suffer a broken bone in an accident involving another party, whether in a traffic accident or an accident on someone else’s property, the other party may be legally liable for your damages. Regardless of what your insurance does or does not cover, you might be able to recover damages from the other driver or property owner, or from that person’s insurance carrier.

It is important to explore your legal options to obtaining compensation for your injuries. There is no reason for you to bear all the expenses yourself if another party was responsible. In addition, the law imposes deadlines on the amount of time you have to bring a legal claim for compensation after an accident. Don’t delay—contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you don’t lose important legal rights.

If You Have Been Injured in an Accident in the Chicago area, Contact the Attorneys of Abels & Annes

If you have been injured in an accident, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights. The attorneys of Abels & Annes are here to help you following an accident. You can reach us at (312) 924-7575 or through our website.

Abels & Annes, PC

Bone xray image by Dave & Margie Hill

Coming to a Favorable Settlement Requires Tough Negotiation

No two personal injury cases are identical. While some personal injury cases may settle quickly, others take years before the parties reach an acceptable settlement agreement. At the very least, many personal injury cases require several rounds of tough negotiations before arriving at a satisfactory settlement.

Many complex factors determine how long it takes to reach a settlement agreement, including whether the at-fault party is disputing fault for the accident, the venue where the case is pending, the complexity of the case, the injuries involved, the medical treatment received, the permanency of the injuries suffered, and the need for further medical procedures.

While there is no such thing as a “perfect” settlement that fully restores an injured victim to their previous physical, emotional, and financial state, a “good” settlement is one that satisfactorily compensates the accident victim for his or her injuries. While this may be slightly less than the damages sought in a lawsuit, accepting a settlement eliminates the risk and uncertainty of going to trial and letting independent jurors decide the final outcome of the case.

In many instances a skilled personal injury lawyer can successfully negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company on your behalf and obtain a favorable settlement well before the trial date. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can discuss all of your legal options with you and work toward obtaining a fair and favorable settlement offer in your case.

Beginning Settlement Negotiations

The first step to beginning the settlement negotiation process is to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This puts the adverse insurance company on notice of a potential lawsuit. Prior to beginning settlement negotiations, the injured accident victim should finish all medical treatment and physical therapy – unless treatment will continue for months or years.

Once the accident victim has completed treatment, the accident victim’s attorney may prepare a demand package to the insurance company’s adjuster. The package includes a demand letter with an initial settlement demand, along with copies of the supporting medical records and bills. The demand package may also contain a victim impact statement, which explains the impact the accident and injuries have had on the victim’s life.

After the insurance company adjuster receives and reviews the settlement demand package, the adjuster may place an initial settlement offer on the table in an effort to try and dispose of the personal injury case quickly and cheaply. Insurance adjusters’ initial settlement offers are usually much less than what the case is actually worth.

Further settlement negotiations may ensue for weeks or months, with the injured accident victim’s lawyer working to get the insurance adjuster to incrementally increase the amount of the settlement offer. If the parties reach an agreement, the case will settle. If the parties do not reach an agreement, the injured accident victim’s attorney may file a lawsuit.

Filing a Lawsuit to Provoke a Reaction from the Insurance Company

In some cases, your lawyer may adopt a hardline approach and file a lawsuit against the at-fault party before attempting to negotiate settlement. This is typically done for two reasons. First, filing a lawsuit with the court begins the litigation process and places the case on the court’s radar, so to speak. Second, filing a lawsuit may encourage the adjuster to take the case more seriously.

In some instances, the insurance company may increase their settlement offer soon after the lawsuit is filed. In other instances, it may take several more rounds of negotiations—or completion of some initial discovery—before the adjuster places a better settlement offer on the table. In any case, filing a lawsuit is often an essential step in both the litigation and negotiation process.

It is important to keep in mind that filing a lawsuit does not guarantee that a personal injury case will go to trial. A personal injury case can settle right up to trial, or even during trial. However, once the trial is complete and the judge or jury enters a decision, the accident victim has to live with the result or consider filing an appeal. In some instances, a personal injury accident victim may prefer to accept a settlement because it puts the accident victim, instead of a judge or jury, in control of the outcome, and allows the victim to move forward with recovery.

Accepting or Rejecting a Pending Settlement Offer

The decision whether to accept or reject a pending settlement offer ultimately rests with the injured accident victim. A Chicago personal injury lawyer can help you decide whether a pending settlement offer is worth accepting.

When deciding whether to accept or reject a settlement offer, you should consider the following factors:

  • The venue where the personal injury case is pending and whether or not it is a “plaintiff friendly” venue
  • The amount of risk you are willing to take on the trial outcome
  • Whether the settlement offer can be taken off the table by the adjuster
  • The availability of alternative dispute resolution measures in your case, such as arbitration or mediation
  • The cost of your medical bills and any costs—such as medical liens—that must be paid out of your settlement proceeds
  • The increased costs associated with a jury trial

Call a Chicago, Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Legal Options

When it comes to personal injury settlements, accident victims should carefully review the options available with experienced legal counsel. If you have sustained injuries as a result of another person’s negligence, the Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can review your case with you and evaluate your options. Our team of attorneys can represent your interests during settlement negotiations with insurance companies and their adjusters. If taking your case to trial is necessary, our attorneys provide capable and results-oriented legal representation in the courtroom.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Chicago, Illinois personal injury lawyer, please call us today at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.