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New Illinois Law Allows Plaintiffs to Collect Pretrial Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Few Things to Know About Illinois’ Pretrial Interest Law

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

What Proponents and Critics Have to Say About the New Law

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

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

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

How Social Media Can Impact Your Personal Injury Case

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

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

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

Are Social Media Posts Admissible in Illinois Courts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even Innocent Posts May Contradict Your Claim

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

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

These simple posts can be seriously misconstrued.

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

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

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

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

Comments From Others Can Hurt Your Case

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

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

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

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

Making Your Profile Private and Not Posting

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

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

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

Ask Family and Friends Not to Post About You

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

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

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

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

Find a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer You Trust

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

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

Defining Basic Personal Injury Terms

Click to Jump to Section: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWX

A

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

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

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

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

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

B

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

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

C

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

E

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

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

F

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

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

G

General Damages – See Damages

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

H

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

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

I

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

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

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

Insured – The individual protected under an insurance policy.

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

J

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

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

K

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

L

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

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

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

Litigation – The process of taking legal action in court.

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

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

M

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

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

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

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

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

N

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

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

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

O

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

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

P

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Punitive Damages – See Damages

Q

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

R

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

S

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

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

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

Special Damages – See Damages

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

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

T

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

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

Trip and Fall – See Slip and Fall

U

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

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

V

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

W

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

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

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

X

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

How Video Wins Personal Injury Cases

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

Video Evidence Wins Personal Injury Claims

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

Car Accidents

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

Truck Accidents

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

Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents

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

Slip and Fall Claims

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

Nursing Home Abuse

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

Dog Bite Injuries

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

Workplace Accidents

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

Bus Accidents

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

Types of Video Footage

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

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

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

Dash Cam Footage

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

Law Enforcement Video Recordings

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

Indoor Security Cameras

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

Outdoor Security Cameras

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

Traffic Cameras

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

Phone Camera Footage

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

Video Evidence Could Be Erased

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

Your attorney can:

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

Contact a Chicago Attorney to Help Preserve Video Evidence

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

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

 

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

Explaining Lost Wages After You Were Injured

Personal injuries cause accident victims to be faced with a myriad of bills, including the costs of surgeries, hospital stays, rehabilitation, and various other medical appointments. The healing process itself is a major financial burden. But that burden can get even heavier when you’re no longer able to work because of your injuries and find yourself without your usual paycheck.

Thankfully, a personal injury claim allows injury victims to seek compensation for lost wages caused by another person’s negligence. After an injury due to negligence, you should not have to suffer financially for an accident that was not your fault. Lost wages compensation is a common type of financial recovery for people facing financial hardships after a personal injury, but it does require that the injured party file a personal injury claim.

What’s Considered Lost Wages?

Lost wages compensation is meant to cover the money you would have earned if your injuries had not prevented you from working. Lost wages can be caused by missed work due to medical appointments, time spent in the hospital, or time spent recovering at home.

Lost wages can also include what is known as lost earning potential. Lost earning potential (or lost earning capacity) refers to the loss of a person’s ability to earn a certain amount of income due to their personal injury. This situation usually occurs when a person’s injury is severe and causes them to become disabled or to have to go into a different line of work because of their injury.

For example, a person with severe back injuries due to a car accident may not be able to deliver packages anymore because of the demands of the job. This may require them to make a career change and take a lesser paying job somewhere else.

How Do You Prove Lost Wages?

You can prove lost wages through documentation of your income. One example of documentation is a letter from your employer. The letter should include the amount of income you lost and the dates and times you were absent from work.

Additionally, your previous pay stubs and prior tax returns will show how much you typically earned before the personal injury occurred.

Medical records are crucial in proving future lost wages. Based on your injury, medical experts can project how long your recovery will last. This will show the length of time you’ll have to recover wages for. For example, if your case is going to settle before you have an important surgery, you will need compensation for the time you will have to miss from work in the future due to that surgery.

If possible, don’t make the decision to miss work on your own. Talk to your doctor about your employment situation. Based on the severity of your injuries and your type of job, a physician may decide to order you off work. Further, an insurance company may contest the reasonableness of missed time from work without a doctor’s order.

How Do You Get Lost Wages If You’re Self-Employed?

A personal injury victim who is self-employed may have a more difficult time proving lost wages. If he or she is taking a salary from his or her own company, demonstrating lost wages can be straightforward. However, in the absence of a formal salary, the company’s earnings may have to be considered instead. If the company’s profits have diminished, that may serve as proof of lost wages. This is more common than you might think since plenty of people own small businesses providing services in their communities.

In these situations, it’s critical to show that the injured owner’s inability to work led to the company’s decreased profits. The opposing party could claim that the decrease is due to some other factor not related to the injury. If you’re an injured business owner, your personal injury attorney can evaluate your company’s track record and gather additional evidence to help you prove that your injuries are impacting your business income.

Loss of Earning Capacity

A serious injury can significantly limit your professional opportunities and completely change your career path. For example, if you work in construction or in another physically demanding industry, you rely heavily on your body to earn income. An accident like a slip and fall could rob you of your mobility, which in turn compromises your income. You may have no other choice but to accept a job that is out of your profession or that pays much less than what you’re used to making.

This situation could also arise in cases of brain injuries that cause people to develop cognitive issues. As mental capabilities are essential for work, you may have to settle for a less lucrative position due to no fault of your own.

When your earning capacity is reduced, you can pursue the lost earnings you would have most likely been making if you hadn’t been injured. When valuing your claim, your personal injury attorney will put together evidence to support your lost earning capacity, as well as any bonuses, promotions, pay raises, and other career advancements you could have reasonably expected.

Disability and Workers’ Compensation due to Personal Injuries

In the United States, 61 million adults live with a disability. Some of these disabilities leave them unable to work. Fortunately, there are resources like Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to keep Americans able to take care of their bills. SSDI is available to longtime members of the workforce. SSI is available even to those who don’t have an extensive work history. This often includes young people who become injured prior to starting their careers or shortly after they start working.

Both SSI and SSDI provide a great deal of financial relief for people living with a disability. However, the application process is detailed and lengthy. It can take over six months to begin receiving benefits, and not all applications are approved.

If you were injured due to a workplace injury, you can collect Workers’ Compensation benefits if you are eligible under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. When you are injured while on the clock, you may be able to collect temporary total disability pay (TTD). Your personal injury attorney can help you to get the proper benefits and walk you through what steps will be necessary to get you financially stable as quickly as possible.

In any situation involving lost wages or wage compensation, it is best to speak to an attorney as early as possible. Having a qualified personal injury attorney handle your injury claim from the start can help you to receive maximum compensation for your injuries much faster.

Get Help Recovering Lost Wages due to a Personal Injury

If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, speak to a personal injury attorney at Abels & Annes. Our attorneys will comprehensively review your case and work diligently to secure the most compensation possible for you. For a free initial case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online. We look forward to speaking with you.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

 

Accidental deaths are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Annually, more than 167,000 people die and another 39.5 million seek medical care because of unintentional injuries. Many of these deaths happen because of another person’s actions, whether deliberate, accidental, or due to negligent behaviors. When a loved one dies unexpectedly, you may suddenly find yourself facing a mountain of household expenses and medical bills. In instances of death caused by negligence, it is possible to recover these losses in a wrongful death claim.

What is a Wrongful Death Case?

A wrongful death claim is a civil action brought by the family or the estate of a person who died because of the negligence or intentional actions of another person. This type of claim can also be brought against parties like companies or organizations. The victim may die at the scene of the incident or at a later date as a result of their injuries. Once the injured party has passed away, his or her survivors can pursue compensation directly from the negligent party or from that party’s insurance company. This is the best way for surviving family members to recover damages caused by a wrongful death, including medical bills, funeral costs, loss of future wages, and pain and suffering.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

A representative of the accident victim or a representative of their estate can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of eligible survivors. According to the Wrongful Death Act, surviving children and spouses can recover compensation for their loss. If the deceased has no children and no spouse, a relative like a sibling or parent may be eligible to recover compensation. The lawsuit itself is filed in the name of a representative (known as the special administrator) of the decedent’s estate, although multiple family members can seek compensation simultaneously.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful deaths can be filed for any death that was caused by negligence or a wrongful act. They can also be filed for deaths resulting from a criminal act, but for the sake of this article, we will focus on claims that stem from personal injuries. Some of the most common reasons wrongful death claims are filed include:

  • motor vehicle accidents
  • medical malpractice
  • workplace incidents
  • injuries caused by products
  • injuries caused on someone’s property

Motor Vehicle Accidents

The U.S. experienced over 36,000 motor vehicle accident deaths in 2019 alone. And when you consider that human error is a contributing factor in 94% of serious collisions, it is clear why we are all required to carry auto insurance. Some of the most common negligent behaviors are texting and driving, speeding, and drunk driving. Accidents involving commercial vehicles like trucks can be especially deadly because of the size difference between trucks and passenger cars. Further, motorcyclists are at an even greater risk of death due to a collision for the same reasoning and because they have little or no protection. When a motor vehicle collision causes a fatal accident, the driver, business, or some other third party (like a manufacturer) may be held liable for the wrongful death. Sorting out liability in these situations can be a complicated task. And when money is involved, it is almost always disputed. An experienced attorney can help to sort out who is at-fault so that you can receive proper compensation for fatal injuries.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is another common reason that people need to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Some 80,000 deaths occur each year due to misdiagnosis in the United States. When you take into account other instances of malpractice, like birth injuries, botched surgeries, and prescription errors, it is clear how medical malpractice can lead to wrongful death lawsuits.

Workplace Accidents

Both federal and state laws require Illinois employers to maintain a safe work environment for employees to avoid injuries on-the-job. This can include keeping the workplace clean, providing the right equipment, training staff, and hiring qualified personnel. Even when all of these safety measures are provided, accidents still happen and there are often negligent third parties involved. Proving liability of a third party when an employee dies on the job often requires a detailed investigation. That’s why attorneys are instrumental in navigating these cases.

Product Liability Cases

Defective products place unsuspecting consumers in harm’s way. Some especially hazardous defective products include faulty car parts, unsafe medical devices and medications, and unsafe household appliances and batteries. Even products that are well made can be deadly if the manufacturer fails to warn the consumer about potential dangers. If a manufacturer knowingly allows an inadequate product to go to market or fails to warn the public about a known issue, they may be held responsible for any deaths that results.

Premise Liability Incidents

Property owners must exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries from happening. When they fail to fulfill this responsibility, accidents like a slip and fall could lead to a visitor’s death. To some, this may sound extreme, but a fall can easily lead to death for vulnerable populations. This is why laws exist that require property owners take reasonable care to prevent injury on their premises. A wrongful death attorney can help to demonstrate that the property owner was responsible for your loved one’s death and help you to seek compensation.

What Damages Can Be Recovered from a Wrongful Death?

Economic Damages

Economic damages are monetary losses associated with a death or injury. One example is the medical expenses your loved one accrued prior to their passing away. This often includes the cost of hospitalization, diagnostic testing, surgeries, rehabilitation, and medications.

Economic damages can also include funeral expenses and the loss of support that the accident victim provided. As a survivor, you can pursue compensation for the financial contributions that your deceased loved one provided before their death. This is most common in situations in which a spouse loses their only source of income.

Non-Economic Damages

Coming to terms with a wrongful death is not easy. In fact, 25% of surviving spouses develop depression and anxiety within the first year of the loss. Spouses also endure loss of consortium, the loss of the intimate relationship shared with the deceased. Deaths certainly take an emotional toll on children as well, whether they are minors or adults. Because of this, Illinois courts have outlined a way for spouses and children to seek compensation for both direct financial losses and damages for emotional distress, loss of earning capacity, and loss of consortium.

Punitive Damages

As the name suggests, punitive damages are meant as a punishment against the at-fault party. They are meant to dissuade the same party or similar parties from committing similar negligent acts in the future. Punitive damages are reserved for situations in which the liable person’s behavior is exceedingly reckless.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney

If you’ve lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence, Abels & Annes can help you to seek compensation for their death. We will review the facts of the wrongful death in detail to make sure all of your damages are accounted for so that you can receive the maximum available compensation for your loss. While no amount of money will suffice for the loss of a loved one, wrongful death claim compensation will help you and your family grieve and cover the costs related to your relative’s death. For a free initial case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

How Insurance Companies Try to Avoid Paying Personal Injury Claims

The Three D’s: Delay, Deny, Defend

Insurance is a very profitable business. And it stays that way by taking in much more money than they payout. A single health insurance company can make billions a year in profits. The auto insurance industry as a whole brings in tens of billions of dollars in profits each year. And most insurance companies, no matter what type of coverage they sell, are seeing profits rise even more due to the 2020 pandemic.

These profits often come off the backs of people that pay their premiums faithfully for years and now really need their insurance carrier to carry out their end of the deal. In order to maintain these profits, specifically in the auto insurance sector, three common tactics are used by insurance companies: delay claims, deny claims, and defend against claims.

Insurance Tactic #1: Delaying Injury Claims

The first tactic insurance companies use is to try delaying the injury claim as much as possible. Delaying the claim makes it frustrating for the claimant and it allows evidence to deteriorate.

Frustrating the Victim into Quitting

Receiving compensation is rarely straightforward. Insurance companies sometimes ask for complex forms and details they don’t actually need to process your claim. They know you’re unlikely to have this information readily available. Consequently, you’ll end up wasting time and energy tracking it down. Once submitted, they might make another request or say your documents are incomplete. Insurance companies may also keep you tied up on the phone for what seems like an eternity. Some may pass you around from department to department in search of an answer to a simple question.

These exhausting tactics are designed specifically to delay your claim long enough that you abandon your claim or settle for pennies on the dollar.

Allowing Evidence to Deteriorate

Sometimes, insurance companies will delay a claim in the hopes that some of the evidence will become murky or deteriorate. This doesn’t mean that the evidence actually becomes broken or degraded. Instead, it means that the evidence becomes harder to find. Take for example somebody who witnessed the case. If they were to be contacted one week after the accident, they would probably be more than happy to give a statement about what they saw. If that person is contacted six months later, not only have they probably forgotten most of the details, but they probably aren’t interested in dealing with it anymore.

[Read: What To Do After a Car Accident]

Statute of Limitations

Over the years, our law firm has been contacted by many accident victims who unknowingly allowed the statute of limitations to expire. They thought they were protected by setting up the claim with the insurance carrier and did not realize that a lawsuit needed to be timely filed. The insurance adjuster, who kept delaying and delaying, never informed the claimant of the statute date, which is 2 years in most cases in Illinois. However, there are shorter time limits for certain defendants, so it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately.

Insurance Tactic #2: Denying the Claim

Contesting Liability

It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to dispute or deny liability, even when their driver obviously is at fault. Or, they may only admit partial liability when it’s unreasonable to do so. This tactic is more common with substandard insurance carriers.

For example, our office recently received a denial letter from an insurance carrier. The accident occurred when the defendant failed to yield coming out of a stop sign. Our client had no stop sign and had the right-of-way. At the scene, the defendant admitted fault to the police and was ticketed. At a later date, the defendant changed her story and is now claiming that our client was speeding and failed to keep a proper lookout.

The insurance carrier is now denying the claim due to their insured changing her story. The adjuster knows they are going to have to pay on the claim later in court. However, they are using the defendant’s obvious lie as an excuse to delay paying on the claim.

Minimizing Injuries

Insurance adjusters are always looking for ways to downplay your injuries, make them sound less severe, or even make it look like the injury is non-existent.

One tactic of denying a claim by downplaying an injury. This can involve tricky questions that make it seem like you are not as injured as you say you are. They may also involve a medical expert who claims that your medical records do not reflect the amount of pain that you claim on your end.

Insurance companies will often use pre-existing conditions to deny claims as well. They may acknowledge that you were in a car accident and received injuries. But they may try to minimize those injuries by pointing to a pre-existing condition or an injury that happened in the past. In some cases, this past injury has nothing to do with the new injuries. Nonetheless, insurance carriers know that they can use this tactic to deny claims.

These tactics allow them to deny that their client caused your injury. If they can’t fully deny your claim, they’ll downplay the costs associated with your injury. For instance, they may only offer enough to cover your immediate expenses. In reality, lots of injuries will have costs associated with them long after the first few medical bills are paid. Some injuries will require rehabilitation appointments, while others might require another surgery a few years later. These future medical events should be accounted for when calculating a proper settlement amount. To protect the value of your claim, it’s best to have a personal injury attorney representing your best interests.

Your Own Actions

Another way insurance companies deny claims is by saying your injuries aren’t serious because you didn’t seek immediate medical attention. Insurance companies know that there are many reasons why claimants do not seek medical attention right away. Yet they still use this as a common way to deny personal injury claims. This is why it is so important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you are unsure of the severity of any injuries. Not only does immediate treatment prevent injuries from worsening, but it also prevents insurance carriers from using their common tactic to deny your claim.

Similarly, insurance companies will point to a claimant’s failure to file a police report right away as another reason to deny a claim. Although it does make it harder to prove another party caused your injuries, it is not a reason to completely deny a claim.

These tactics have no end. In fact, it is very common for insurance companies to go to a claimant’s social media page in order to find proof that they are not injured. A simple photo of you at a wedding or a family vacation at the beach can be used against you to argue that your injuries are not that serious.

Insurance Tactic #3: Defend Against the Claim

Once all the delaying and denying tactics have been exhausted and it is clear that the insurance company will have to pay on the claim, their next tactic is to defend against the claim as much as possible. Again, the idea is to keep any potential settlement or verdict very low. Insurance companies are mega-corporations and have millions of dollars to pay lawyers to defend their claims. Because of this, everyday individuals are often at a huge disadvantage when they face insurance companies in negotiations or court.

Using Their Power

Insurance companies have lawyers on staff and contract with outside law firms and investigators. These lawyers and investigators have only one responsibility. They will try to exploit every legal loophole to help the insurance company defend their position and pay little to nothing for your claim. Insurance companies know that many accident victims will accept these results without question. However, you don’t have to accept a lowball offer. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you to challenge the insurance carrier.

Shifting Fault

Insurance companies often try to shift blame so that they can claim that you are at-fault for the accident and the cause of your own injuries. This is one of many reasons why it is critical to have an attorney representing you and working on your case from the very beginning. Even if you do share some responsibly, that does not necessarily invalidate your claim. As long as you are no more than 50% at-fault, you can still collect from the other side’s insurance company.

Before you have a lawyer, an experienced insurance adjuster might tell you that you have to give them a recorded statement. And if you comply, they often ask unfair questions. For example, instead of asking how the accident happened, they might ask what you could have done to avoid the accident. A statement is not required, so don’t give one without the advice of your lawyer.

Cases can also become complicated when insurance companies shift blame to a completely different party. For example, insurance companies may say that a parts manufacturer is responsible for the car accident or that the company who loaded the semi truck’s trailer is actually the responsible party. This tactic of shifting fault can be pulled out late in the game. And it often confuses those who are not represented by a qualified personal injury attorney.

Why Don’t Insurance Companies Want to Pay?

When insurance companies avoid paying, they make more money for themselves. Their business model may partially rely on delaying, denying, and defending claims. Denying a claim means the company doesn’t have to immediately pay out what could be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Likewise, minimizing valid claims means they still pay some, but are saving money compared to if they had paid fair value. When companies know they have to pay a sizable settlement, they may resort to expensive law firms to defend them in court. They do this not because they truly believe that their company holds no responsibility for the accident. They take this approach because a good legal team–though expensive–is sometimes less expensive than immediately paying a settlement. Further, it allows the carrier to hold on to their money for as long as possible.

The point is, insurance companies are not on your side. Despite the jingles, in our opinion you are not always in good hands, you might not get treated like a good neighbor. Based on our experience, insurance adjusters have one job and one job only. They try to keep their employer’s profits high and costs low. This is why it is imperative that you hire a qualified personal injury attorney to advocate for maximum compensation for your injuries.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Attorney to Fight for You

If you or a loved one has been injured because of someone else’s negligence, speak with an attorney at Abels & Annes today. Do not fall victim to the delay, deny, and defend tactics of insurance companies. Instead, let our experienced attorneys fight insurance companies for you and get you the compensation you deserve. Our initial evaluations are always free. Contact us online or by phone at 312-924-7575.

Damages in a Personal Injury Case Explained

Learn about the types of damages that you can be compensated for in a personal injury case.

If you were injured due to another person’s negligence, you can seek compensation from whoever caused or contributed to your losses. These losses are referred to as “damages” in a personal injury claim.

Damages can be divided into two basic categories: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate a person for a financial or personal loss. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and hopefully prevent them from doing something similar again. Compensatory damages can further be divided into economic and non-economic damages.

These types of compensation are extremely important after an injury because medical treatment and other costs can be expensive. If another person or company decided to disregard your safety or health, you should not be left to deal with the consequences on your own.

Most Americans cannot afford an unforeseen expense of even $1,000. This is problematic, considering the average cost of a single emergency room visit exceeds $1,300. The amount most people have in savings and the cost of medical care in the US is miles apart. Once you consider other financial costs an injury creates, like doctors’ visits, rehabilitation, and lost wages while you’re unable to work, things can get gloomy.

When you are the victim of someone else’s negligence, there are legal resources available to help get you back on track. The attorneys at Abels & Annes can explain your potential options and how you can seek compensation after you were injured in an accident.

Compensatory Damages: Economic and Non-Economic

Compensatory damages are broken down into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. They are also referred to in the legal industry as special (economic) and general (non-economic) damages. These two types of damages seek to reimburse or compensate an injured person for the harm they have suffered due to an auto accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice, wrongful death, or some other type of personal injury claim.

Economic Damages (Special Damages)

Special damages, also known as economic damages are losses that can easily have a monetary value placed on them. Some common examples would be medical bills, lost income, and property damage.

Medical Treatment

Personal injuries contribute to the 530,000 annual bankruptcies caused by medical debt each year. Medical treatment following a personal injury typically costs thousands of dollars. However, our law firm often works on injury cases with medical bills well into the six-figure range. The amount of debt can quickly become overwhelming.

Medical expenses that can result from a car accident injury include:

  • Hospital bills
  • Physical therapy
  • Ambulance fees
  • Medical appointments
  • In-home medical services
  • Prescriptions
  • Diagnostic testing, such as an MRI or CT scan
  • Surgical costs

Your attorney may also need to calculate future medical expenses, especially if you will need additional medical treatment at the time your claim is settled. Sometimes, injuries require ongoing medical care, like multiple surgeries, ongoing physical therapy, and treatment to manage chronic pain. In these situations, compensation for future medical expenses may be necessary.

Lost Income

More than likely, an injury will force you to take time off from work to receive treatment and recuperate at home. Your doctor may order you off work for a period of time to recover. The income you lost due to time off can be included in your personal injury claim. Similarly, an injury can significantly change your ability to earn money in the future. For example, chronic pain could make it impossible for you to go back to work as a mechanic. This may force you into a lower-paying job, or worse, permanently disable you. A personal injury attorney can demonstrate these long-term effects on your income in order to successfully pursue sufficient compensation.

Property Damage

The final main category of compensatory damages has to do with property damage incurred because of the accident. Whether your property (like your car or motorcycle) is damaged or completely destroyed, this is part of your claim against the defendant. This can include the cost of repairs or the cost to replace your vehicle. Property damage is typically resolved early on and separately from your bodily injury claim.

Non-Economic Damages (General Damages)

General damages are meant to compensate an injured person for non-monetary damages due to an injury. They are called general damages because they are the opposite of “specific” damages. They are also referred to as non-economic damages. Most personal injury victims incur some type of non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of consortium or companionship.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is probably the most well-known because it is usually the biggest component of non-economic damages. There’s no universal definition for pain and suffering, which makes both the overall concept and how you calculate the amount of pain and suffering subjective. However, they typically include:

  • Physical pain caused by an injury
  • Disfigurements, such as a scar from a laceration or burn
  • A physical impairment, such as an injury that makes it difficult to move around
  • Physical discomfort caused by necessary medical treatment (like surgery)
  • Mental anguish over the trauma or loss
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Other reasonable physical or psychological effects caused by the accident or injury

You may have noticed that the last item on the list includes the word “reasonable”. This is because pain and suffering damages can be a slippery slope. Everyone realizes that a serious injury will cause some amount of pain and suffering, but if this concept is taken too far it can backfire. For this reason, it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. Your attorney will help determine how much pain and suffering compensation you should ask for based on their experience, past settlements and verdicts from similar cases, and the severity of your injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney will have a history of negotiating damages for their clients and can help advise you as an appropriate settlement demand amount.

Emotional Distress

Serious cases can include mental and emotional anguish suffered by the plaintiff. This type of compensation is usually reserved for cases involving birth injury, wrongful death, or some other similar type of serious incident. Emotional distress compensation is not something that is usually awarded in your average car accident claim.

Loss of Consortium or Companionship

Loss of consortium (also known as loss of companionship) is the deprivation of intimacy and companionship due to a death or injury. This may include the loss of affection, partnership, and intimacy. This type of compensation is very specific to certain types of claims and is often awarded in cases involving a death. In Illinois, both spouses can seek compensation for loss of consortium.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are their own category of damages and are only awarded when the wrongful behavior of the defendant was fraudulent, intentional, or willful and wanton. They are meant to punish the at-fault party and to deter them and others from doing something similar in the future. They are not awarded often. In Illinois, your lawyer would have to bring a pretrial motion and ask the court for leave to file an amended complaint that includes a count for punitive damages under 735 ILCS 5/2-604.1.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury of any kind due to the negligence of another person or company, contact Abels & Annes. We will be happy to discuss what damages you could potentially be compensated for and your legal options. Our attorneys have decades of experience in all areas of personal injury and will use that experience to secure you the most compensation possible. For a free case evaluation, call us at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online.

 

How COVID-19 Has Affected Some Injury Patterns

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some unexpected changes in injuries, trauma volumes, and unique injury types, according to reports from hospitals around the country. Most hospitals and healthcare clinics have seen an overall reduction in injuries as a result of work closures and stay-at-home orders. However, some unique patterns have emerged. Some of the changes that have been reported include an increase in domestic violence injuries, more recreational vehicle injuries, and an increase in pediatric trauma.

If you’ve been injured due to negligence, the experienced attorneys at Abels and Annes can review your case and discuss your rights and options with you. Going through a personal injury claim during a pandemic is stressful, but we’re here to help.

Decrease in Car Accidents during COVID-19 Pandemic

Motor vehicle crashes have declined by one-third since the coronavirus pandemic began. Because of closures to schools and businesses, there are fewer people on the roads to get into accidents. During initial closures, some highways were nearly deserted. More people have been staying home and having their groceries and other necessities delivered. Those that are leaving their house tend to do so less often.

While car accidents have become less common during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have not stopped entirely. Further, due to less traffic, vehicles are moving at higher speeds. This means that when an accident does occur, there can be more significant injuries.

Serious accidents are still occurring. And it is still your right to pursue compensation if you were injured due to negligence. If you suffered an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, contact an attorney to review your case.

Increase in Burns and Electrical Shock Injuries

With everyone at home, whether they’re working or not, there seems to be an endless amount of time to kill. While many people are taking up new hobbies or tackling DIY projects, some might not be doing it safely or may be inexperienced working around the house.

Burns and electrical shock injuries have quadrupled during the pandemic according to hospital reporting, as more people attempt to handle projects at home either to cut costs or out of sheer boredom.

If you’re attempting a do-it-yourself project while you’re cooped up at home, especially anything that involves heated or electrical elements, make sure you do plenty of research ahead of time or hire a professional to avoid a burn or shock injury.

Increase in Injuries to Children from Car Accidents

Because lots of kids haven’t been in school during their usual times, more kids are out-and-about running errands with their parents while they would normally be in school. This means that there are a lot more opportunities for children to be involved in motor vehicle accidents.

Since the pandemic began, hospitals have reported an increase in pediatric motor vehicle injuries because of kids riding in cars when they would have been at school.

Injuries to children during car accidents can be devastating. These accidents can occur because of distracted driving, driving under the influence, speeding, reckless driving, and aggressive driving.

If you believe the driver that caused your accident was acting negligently, it is in your best interest to have an attorney review your situation as a potential personal injury case. And if you find that your child is spending a lot more time with you in the car, make sure they’re buckled up, since more than 35% of child car accident deaths involve a child not wearing a seat belt or not in a proper safety seat.

Increase in Injuries to Children from Risky Behavior at Home

With kids at home, they’re more likely to be bored and looking for fun new ways to entertain themselves. This can lead to children participating in risky behavior, such as climbing trees, biking in the streets, and playing on the stairs, all of which have led to an increase in child injuries during the pandemic.

If a child sneaks off during the countless hours spent at home and finds themself not properly supervised, an accident is more likely to occur.

If your child was injured while under the supervision of a babysitter or other party, you may be able to file a personal injury claim because of their negligence in not protecting or supervising your child. Likewise, injuries caused by defective products can be remedied through a personal injury claim.

Increase in Recreational Vehicle Injuries

With people out of work and looking for things to fill their extra time, accidents on recreational vehicles have increased, according to hospital reporting. Emergency rooms have seen a spike in both boating and ATV accidents.

Like car accidents, recreational vehicle accidents can occur if another party is acting negligently. Boating while drinking can cause a collision with other people out on the water or other riders may be acting carelessly, so it’s important to be extra careful to avoid any unnecessary injuries. The best way to stay safe on recreational vehicles is to always be defensive and assume other parties may act negligently.

If you are injured because of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.

Increase in DUIs and Alcohol-related Injuries

Some reports have suggested that many people are drinking more because of the pandemic. With nothing else to do, and lots of stress on people’s mind, more alcoholic beverages are being consumed. This increase in drinking has led to more car accidents caused by drinking and driving. If someone is drunk, they might not have the common sense to not get behind the wheel.

If you sustain injuries because someone was drinking and driving, you should contact an attorney that has experience in handling motor vehicle injuries caused by DUIs to review your case.

Delayed Visits for Injuries

Hospitals have been prioritizing COVID-19 patients. And some people are afraid to get treatment for their injuries because of the risk of catching COVID at the hospital. This delay in receiving medical treatment can make injuries worse and could harm a potential personal injury case. It’s important to seek medical treatment immediately after an injury caused by a motor vehicle accident or other incident caused by negligence. It may be scary to go into a hospital at this time, but not getting treated for your injuries can be equally as dangerous. Be sure to wear a mask, socially distance, and wash your hands often while at the ER.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone you love has been injured because of a personal injury accident during the pandemic, the experienced attorneys at Abels & Annes are here to help. We know you’re stressed because of COVID-19, so you shouldn’t have to be stressed about your lawsuit too. We’ll help to take the stress off of your plate by dealing with the insurance companies and by making sure you’re getting the proper amount of compensation necessary to rebuild your life after your injury.

For more information or for a free consultation, please contact us online, by using our chat option below, or by calling us at (312) 924-7575.

Why Getting Medical Treatment after an Injury is So Crucial

Getting into a car accident that causes injuries is always stressful and confusing. For some people, their injuries are minor and require little to no recovery time. For others, they are not so lucky. Some car accidents cause serious injuries, like brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and crushing injuries. These injuries can leave victims with permanent disabilities and a lifetime of trauma.

Finding out that you’ve been severely injured because of a car accident can be scary. But it can be just as scary to be seriously injured and not know it. Some people question how it’s possible to be seriously injured from a car accident and not know it, but this happens all the time. Vehicle collisions are often sudden, jarring, and shocking. This leads to a massive amount of adrenaline being pumped to the brain that can easily mask all types of injuries. Of course, this shock eventually wears off and injuries are revealed. But it’s crucial to get medical treatment shortly after an accident for this very reason.

When Should I get Medical Treatment after a Car Accident?

According to Driver Knowledge, more than 90 people die in car accidents every single day. Additionally, some 3 million people are injured every year in car accidents. Of those, 2 million people experience permanent injuries because of their car accident. Serious injuries from car accidents are not rare. Millions of people experience it every year. And if it happens to you, you need to know what to do.

After you are involved in a serious car accident, getting medical attention should be your first priority. Personal injury attorneys recommend sticking around after your accident to collect evidence, but this only applies if you are able to. If you know or suspect that you are seriously injured, you should immediately go to the emergency room or to a primary care physician.

Make sure to tell the treating doctor that your injuries occurred because of a car accident so they can note this in your medical records. This is important for a multitude of reasons that involve insurance coverage and evidence for a potential car accident injury claim. Once you receive initial medical treatment, it is important to take your doctor’s advice and begin focusing on your health.

You Need to Take Care of Yourself and Your Health

bedrest - Why Getting Medical Treatment after an Injury is So Crucial - abels and annesTaking care of yourself should be your number one priority after your accident occurs. Car accidents can cause significant injuries, they may cause significant emotional damage, and they can lead to extensive medical treatment, lost income and huge medical bills.

With personal injuries, it is important that you make your health your main priority. Follow all your physician’s orders, like taking your medicines, getting bedrest, or attending physical therapy. Also, make sure that you are not rushing back into your daily routine and that you are taking the proper time to recover. This could mean following your doctor’s orders of not going back to work too soon.

Injuries from a car accident are already devastating enough. And failing to properly take care of yourself after the incident will only make things worse.

Avoid Giving Insurance Companies a Reason to Deny Your Claim

When you delay medical treatment after a personal injury incident, insurance companies may try to argue that your pain and injuries aren’t as valid since they weren’t severe enough for you to seek treatment right away. Because insurance companies want to settle your claim for the least amount of money as possible, they may use your delay in receiving treatment as an argument against your case.

For example, they might say you shouldn’t receive as much compensation because your injuries weren’t severe enough to warrant an immediate trip to the emergency room. Or they may use the argument that if you really had a severe injury, you would have known immediately. As we know, there are many reasons someone may delay their treatment or not notice an injury, but no matter how valid the reason is, the insurance companies will likely try to use it against you.

Delaying Treatment May Make It More Difficult to Link your Accident to Your Injuries

An insurance company may use your delay in treatment as an excuse to offer you a low settlement. They may attempt to push the narrative that there is a disconnect between your accident and your injuries.

Let’s consider if you were injured and then waited a week to receive medical treatment. In certain cases, this could make it more difficult to prove that the injury you are claiming occurred because of the car accident. If you delay treatment, insurance companies may try to cast doubt on your injuries by proposing that your injuries may have been caused by some other event that happened after the accident. This can be argued against by an experienced attorney using evidence like property damage photos and police reports. But if your injuries are internal or not clearly visible, it may become more challenging to argue. Seeking medical treatment as soon as practicable after an accident helps rule out any possibility of a “delay” being used against you.

Medical Treatment Establishes Critical Evidence for a Lawsuit

Thinking about how you are going to handle your potential injury claim isn’t usually at the forefront of a person’s mind immediately after an accident. But knowing what steps to take to protect your claim before the accident ever happens is important in making sure you can establish a strong case if and when an injury occurs. One of the elements that helps your claim is documentation of your injuries through medical treatment right after the accident. Medical treatment means medical records, which are an important piece of evidence later. Everything that happens to you medically–whether it be conversations with a specialist, physical therapy appointments, surgery, or a diagnosis–will all be documented in your medical records. These records will likely also include diagnostic imaging, doctor’s notes, treatments, prognosis, medications, and more.

This medical documentation will provide lots of evidence to support your injury claim. And it will make it much easier to create a timeline of your injuries.

Making Sure to Follow Up with Treatment Ensures Your Long-term Recovery

Not only is immediate medical attention incredibly important, but so is receiving necessary follow-up care. You should listen to any advice that your doctors give you and meet with any specialists they suggest. If your doctor asks you to return for follow-up treatment or a check-up, you should make it a priority not to miss these appointments. Not listening to their advice or not following up with your care might make insurance companies suspicious that your injury wasn’t as serious as you claim it to be. Of course, this follow-up care also helps to ensure that you have a smooth recovery.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Immediately After a Car Accident

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, it’s important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident. After you receive ER or immediate care medical treatment, and before you file an insurance claim, you should contact an attorney to discuss your rights and options. The lawyers at Abels & Annes have years of experience working on personal injury cases that result in catastrophic injuries. Further, we are ready to put that experience to work for you. For more information or for a free case evaluation, please contact us online, by using the chat feature below, or by calling 312-924-7575.