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Property Owner Liability for Vacation Rentals and Airbnbs

Vacation rentals from companies like AirBnB and VRBO appear picture perfect on their websites. As excited vacationers browse through all the listings, they imagine settling into a modern, spacious property for a fraction of what a comparable hotel would cost them. However, not all rental properties turn into the dream vacation. Some are operated by negligent property owners or have hidden dangers that could result in injuries to you and your family. In unfortunate situations like this, you may find yourself wondering who you can hold responsible for your damages.

I was injured at a vacation rental home. Can I get compensation for my injuries?

If you were injured at a vacation rental home, you can only receive compensation if your injuries were caused by the negligence of the owner or operator. This means that any injuries caused by unforeseeable incidents would not be eligible for a personal injury lawsuit.

However, if you believe that the property was unsafe or that the owner was negligent in some way, you can seek compensation by speaking with a personal injury attorney. In these circumstances, you may be able to recover compensation for damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

What responsibility does a vacation rental owner have to keep me safe?

In accordance with the Illinois Premises Liability Act, vacation rental owners have a responsibility to keep their properties free from avoidable hazards.

The owner of the property or the property manager must ensure that the rental is well-maintenanced, regularly cleaned, and properly secured.

One way this is supported is through the requirement to register with the City of Chicago in order to rent their properties through companies like AirBnB. This makes each rental unit subject to regulations, such as building inspections that can happen at any time.

What types of insurance do companies like AirBnB and VRBO have?

AirBnB and VRBO are two of the biggest vacation rental online marketplaces in the United States. These websites allow homeowners and property managers to rent out their furnished properties for lodging, vacations, and tourism activities as an alternative to hotels.

Since companies like AirBnB and VRBO handle so many tenants each year, they are required to have a certain amount of insurance to cover some of the property owner’s responsibilities.

For instance, AirBnB has Host Protection insurance to cover bodily injuries and property damage suffered by renters which covers claims of bodily injury and property damage up to $1 million.

Most standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover home-sharing services, which is why Airbnb offers its own host protection insurance program. However, some home insurance policies do cover these types of activities. Additionally, some property owners purchase supplemental insurance.

In almost all situations, these policies don’t apply if the property owner isn’t determined to be at-fault.

Don’t trust insurance companies to have your best interest in mind.

If you are injured at an Airbnb or VRBO and need to file an injury claim, you should be cautious of the insurance company’s intentions.

The insurance adjuster will likely want you to give a recorded statement and submit other information. Doing this without legal counsel can be risky.

The insurance adjuster could guide you into revealing information about your vacation that may make you look culpable. Without thinking about it, you could casually mention some detail that can be twisted to work against your injury claim.

That’s why it’s best to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after you sustain an injury so that they can guide you through the process.

Additionally, there are situations in which the property owner’s insurance is supposed to cover your damages. For instance, coverage for injuries that occur due to a break-in or assault may be included in the owner’s insurance policy but you would never know unless you speak to an attorney.

What are some common ways people are injured at vacation rental homes?

Poorly maintained rental properties can lead to a variety of injuries that may have lasting effects on victims and their families. These injuries can range in severity, but they almost always cause medical bills, lost wages from missed time off work, and other issues like pain and suffering.

Slip and Falls

Slip and falls are one of the most common causes of injuries at vacation rentals homes. Some of the most common causes of slip and falls at homes or apartments are loose flooring, hidden hazards, unsecured handrails, and poor lighting. While some falls can be laughed off, 20% of falls lead to serious injuries like broken bones or head injuries.

Swimming Pool Injuries

Even though Illinois requires pools to be enclosed and other safety features are recommended, that doesn’t mean all Chicago vacation rentals meet this criteria. This can leave young guests vulnerable to drowning. Drowning can of course be deadly, but in some instances a person may be saved but still suffer complications like brain damage, lung tissue damage, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), hypothermia, or a variety of other medical conditions.

Burn Injuries

Burns are another common cause of injuries in rental vacation homes, especially in cases where there is damage or negligence. Stoves, grills, and appliances that are old or damaged can cause burns caused by fires or explosions. Faulty electrical wiring in a rental property is also a major danger and can cause burns or electrocution.

Dangerous Staircases

Loose handrails, torn carpeting, and insufficient lighting are some of the staircase hazards that can cause a serious fall in vacation homes. Neck and back injuries, brain damage, and broken bones are just some of the many serious injuries that can develop if you fall down an unsafe staircase.

Hidden Dangers

Rental properties that aren’t properly cleaned and maintained could have dangers lurking throughout the unit. There may be dangerous medicine in places where children can find them or lose items like unsecured bookshelves and mirrors that can fall and injure a guest. There may also be loose boards on the lake dock or unsecured banisters around the deck. The list of possible hidden dangers is long. In most scenarios, the responsibility is on the owner of the property to make sure that their property is safe and free from hazards.

Invasion of Privacy

Numerous AirBnB guests have found hidden cameras while staying in vacation rentals. Hosts have been caught surveilling bedrooms and bathrooms where guests expect the highest level of privacy. In these circumstances, guests have successfully sued the rental property owners and their management companies for negligence, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress to recover compensation for damages and attorney fees.

How can a Chicago premise liability lawyer help me?

A Chicago premise liability can help you to fully understand your circumstances, your rights, and what actions you should take to be able to recover compensation. They will also help you with gathering evidence and showing the extent of your injuries so that your claim won’t be undervalued or dismissed.

Abels & Annes has decades of experience handling premise liability claims. Let us use our experience to get you the highest possible compensation for your vacation rental injuries.

For a free initial case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

 

Nationwide Personal Injury Statistics

Every day, thousands of people are injured in auto accidents, slip and falls, workplace injuries, and many other types of dangerous incidents. But few of us expect to go through one ourselves. The reality is that personal injuries are more common than we’d like to imagine. Many of us will, at some point or another, have a reason to file a personal injury claim.

This article takes a look at injury statistics in order to understand the who, what, where, and how of personal injury incidents in America.

How many people are injured each year?

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 31 million Americans require medical treatment due to general injuries each year. This includes 2 million people whose injuries require hospitalization.

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that an estimated 5.5 million car accidents happen on an annual basis within the United States. These auto accidents result in roughly 3 million injuries and 40,000 fatalities.

The NHTSA also reports that accidents involving semi trucks cause 60,000 injuries annually with 5,000 resulting fatalities.

Another common cause of accident injuries is the workplace. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 4.6 million people require medical treatment for job-related injuries each year. One of the most dangerous workplaces is construction sites. Every year, they lead to an approximate 300,000 injuries and over 1,000 fatal injuries.

When discussing how many people are injured each year, many people are surprised to hear that the third leading cause of death in America is medical malpractice. Each year, medical errors cause as many as 250,000 fatalities.

How many people are killed from an injury or accident each year?

Each year, over 173,000 deaths result from unintentional injury. These accidents happen practically everywhere: on the road, in the workplace, retail stores, and any other location where people are going about their normal routines.

Auto accidents are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for all people under the age of 55. Each year, more than 38,000 people are killed in car crashes on U.S. roadways. This makes the United States the most deadly place to drive a car out of any high-income country. In fact, it’s about 50% higher than similar countries like Canada, Australia, and Japan.

Does a certain type of person get injured or killed more often than others?

Multiple studies have shown a link between socioeconomic status and the likelihood of becoming accidentally injured. For example, having a lower income can put you at greater risk for car accident injuries. Lower income individuals are more likely to walk or bike to get around which is much more dangerous than driving.

Additionally, the infrastructure of lower income areas isn’t maintained as well as higher income areas. Hazards like potholes across the city of Chicago are insufficiently patched or altogether overlooked in certain areas.

Housing in lower income neighborhoods also presents its own hazards. Many premise liability cases involve property owners who neglect to fix obvious hazards, electrical issues, damaged stair cases, and other dangers in their rental units.

Where you work impacts your risk of getting injured as well. Employees who work on or near heavy equipment are more likely to be involved in a workplace accident. Not surprisingly, construction, steel work, and trucking are among the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States.

How many people file personal injury claims each year?

Now that we have addressed how common it is for someone to be injured or killed by unnatural causes in the United States, let’s look at how they recover.

All 50 states offer some form of legal protection against negligence that results in injury. This allows injured victims to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party or parties to get compensation for their damages.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2005, 60% of property, contract, and tort cases involved a personal injury.

The exact number of personal injury claims that are filed each year is difficult to determine since they rarely make it to a courtroom. But we do know that only 5% of personal injury claims make it to a courtroom. Based on this data, it’s safe to estimate that there are somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 personal injury cases each year in the United States.

Additionally, the Department of Justice provided a breakdown of the various types of personal injury cases. They discovered that:

  • 52% result from Car Accidents
  • 15% result from Medical Malpractice
  • 5% result from Product Liability Issues
  • 28% result from Other Causes

How often do injury victims win their personal injury cases?

Saying that someone “won” their case is a loaded phrase in America. It’s usually used to mean that someone received financial compensation for their injuries. However, the most common way people get that compensation is through a settlement before a case ever goes to trial.

This means it is impossible to tell how many settlements are agreed to out of all the claims filed. However, we can look at the cases that go to trial but you have to keep in mind that these cases have unique circumstances so they cannot be used as an indicator.

A report on trial outcomes from the Department of Justice showed that roughly half of personal injury plaintiffs win their cases at trial. Success rates varied depending on the nature of the case.

Success rates for:

  • Car Accident Cases was roughly 61%
  • Dog Bite Cases was roughly 67%
  • Intentional Tort Trials was roughly 50%
  • Premise Liability Trials was roughly 39%
  • Product Liability Trials was roughly 38%
  • Medical Malpractice Trials was roughly 19%

These success rates vary because the type of incident varies greatly. What happens during an auto accident is very different from a medical error. Personal injury claims, no matter what the cause, require experience and expertise to navigate. Although you can file a claim without an attorney, it is not recommended since the insurance companies, lawyers, and negotiators will have exponentially more experience than you. You can level this playing field by attending a free consultation with an attorney.

How much do personal injury victims usually get in compensation?

When reviewing the amount of compensation that personal injury victims get as a whole, it’s important to remember that dollar amounts are hard to gather and are estimates. This data was gathered by using the largest 75 counties in America as a sample. The numbers below are medians, which is found by dividing the total amount of money received by how many people filed a claim. It is important to remember that some people received less and some people received more.

From the study, it was revealed that the median award amount was:

  • $27,000 for all torts
  • $16,000 for car accidents
  • $59,000 for premise liability and slip and falls
  • $18,000 for animal attacks and dog bites
  • $422,000 for medical malpractice
  • $450,000 for product liability cases
  • $37,000 for intentional injuries

How long do personal injury cases take?

There is no definitive amount of time for a personal injury case, but you can look at the experience of injury attorneys.

Based on anecdotal evidence, the average personal injury claim that settles without going to court is 9 to 18 months. When a personal injury claim goes to trial, it takes about 2 years.

If You Are Injured, You Should Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you were injured in a car accident, slip and fall, dog attack, or any other injury involving negligence, the attorneys at Abels & Annes are here to help. We are committed to handling your injury claim with experience and skill so that you can get the most amount of compensation possible. And if the insurance carrier refuses to treat the claim fairly, we will take your case to trial to get you the money you deserve.

If you’ve been injured as a result of negligence, contact Abels & Annes today to speak with an attorney at (855) 529-2442.

The Largest Settlements and Verdicts in U.S. History, and Why They Matter

When someone suffers a serious injury or illness because of the negligent actions—or inactions—of an individual or company, our civil justice system allows victims to seek financial compensation for their damages and losses. This is an extremely important part of our society since it serves as a safety net to prevent innocent injury victims from going broke or not getting the care they need.

The following list is an overview of some of the biggest personal injury settlements in American history.

Tobacco Settlement — $206 Billion

The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was filed in 1998 against the four largest tobacco companies in the United States. This included Philip Morris, R. J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard.

The lawsuit was brought by attorneys general from 46 states to get compensation for all the money tobacco illnesses cost the state healthcare system. The final settlement agreement required these companies to pay $206 billion dollars.

In addition to the financial sum, the tobacco companies involved also agreed to stop certain marketing practices, to pay states for future healthcare in perpetuity, and to fund anti-smoking campaigns like Truth.

This was an important case in America because it imposed major changes to the ways tobacco companies were able to market their products. Without this ruling, Big Tobacco marketing practices may have continued unchecked, including targeting young people. This settlement is thought to have prevented countless respiratory illnesses and cancers.

BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill — $20 Billion

After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that wreaked havoc on the gulf coast, BP faced a massive class action lawsuit. A New Orleans judge gave final approval on a payout nearing $20 billion dollars, which would be paid in both private and public settlements.

A major reason for the size of the payout was to cover the federal penalties for the massive amount of environmental damage directly caused by the spill. The remaining amount went to state and local governments for recovery efforts, as well as for private settlements for victims of illnesses like cancer.

Volkswagen Emissions Scandal — $14.7 Billion

The Volkswagen emissions scandal (referred to as Dieselgate by some) began when the EPA filed a violation of the Clean Air Act against Volkswagen. The automaker was intentionally programming some engines to only activate their emission controls while undergoing testing. This falsely allowed them to pass the tests. In real world driving, the cars produced 40 times the allowed amount of emissions.

The $14.7 billion dollar settlement funded a buy-back program and an additional cash payment to victims.

While this is one of the few cases on this list that does not directly deal with personal injury, it is worth noting that multiple studies estimated that the extra emissions created by VW led to 10 to 350 unnecessary deaths and thousands of cases of ​​asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.

General Motors Auto Defect Case — $4.9 Billion

Every year, millions of defective auto parts are recalled. In most cases, there are no serious issues. But an L.A. jury in 1999 ordered General Motors to pay a record $4.9 billion in damages after a family of six was trapped inside their car.

The vehicle was rear ended, and the faulty placement of the gas tank caused the vehicle to catch fire. The victims inside suffered severe burns. The verdict was stated to allow $107 million to compensate the family for pain and suffering and disfigurement. The additional $4.8 billion was for punitive damages after finding that GM acted out of fraud or malice.

A judge later reduced the award to $1.2 billion. However, this case exemplifies the kind of harm that negligent corporations can cause unsuspecting consumers. This verdict amount may be rare, but serious and life-altering injuries caused by defective auto parts are not.

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Case — $4.69 Billion

Baby powder is a staple in lots of people’s lives and is something most people remember from their childhood. This explains why it was so shocking when it was revealed that not only did talc-based body powder have cancer-causing asbestos in it, but Johnson & Johnson knew about it for years and hid the fact.

That’s why a jury awarded a $4.69 billion dollar payout to 22 women after they claimed the powder caused their ovarian cancer.

An appeals court rejected Johnson & Johnson’s appeal, but reduced the verdict to $2.12 billion.

This case was extremely important due to the huge number of people who have been using J&J’s products on a daily basis for years. Currently, there are over 19,000 active cases related to talc powder pending.

Fen-phen Diet Drugs Settlement— $3.75 Billion

In 2000, a federal judge approved a $3.75 billion settlement for victims of the diet drug known as fen-phen. The drug potentially caused fatal heart valve damage. Before the drug was removed from the market, it was used by millions of people as a weight loss aid.

The settlement provided funds for injury victims based on their injuries and the length of time they used the drug.

Defective drugs are not limited to diet pills, unfortunately. In recent years, popular medications like Zantac and Belviq have been found to be harmful.

Silicone Breast Implants — $3.4 Billion

In the 1990’s, a group of silicone breast implant manufacturers were sued when it was found that the implants caused autoimmune and connective tissue disorders. After one manufacturer went bankrupt from the number of cases filed against them, the victims ultimately got compensation in the form of a $3.4 billion dollar settlement.

Settlements as in this defective medical device case put an end to a dangerous situation. But it also calls attention to current and future issues so that consumers are more informed.

Actos Diabetes Drugs — $2.4 Billion

Takeda Pharmaceutical agreed to a settlement of $2.4 billion dollars after it was found that the drug producer’s diabetes medication called Actos led to bladder cancer in some patients. It was also found that Takeda concealed the dangers of using their product.

Sometimes, exposing the malicious acts of a corporation is the only reason that changes are made. Without people standing up against them, they would continue producing harmful medications aware of the injuries they could cause.

Brain Injury Caused by Train Derailment — $60 Million

A gas station manager in Virginia had his life changed forever after a train derailed next to his gas station. The victim suffered from permanent injuries, including a serious traumatic brain injury, which required long-term medical care. Due to this, he was awarded $60 million dollars in total for the injuries he suffered.

Brain Injury Due to a Defective Seatbelt — $32.5 Million

A man from Orlando, Florida suffered a traumatic brain injury after his seatbelt failed during an auto accident. The seatbelt that was supposed to protect his life ended up being defective.

The victim filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company and Mazda Motor Company. The jury awarded $32.5 million in damages, agreeing that the seatbelt was defective.

Bus Accident Causes Leg Amputation — $27.5 Million

A woman was awarded $27.5 million by a New York jury after she was hit by a city bus and had to have her left leg amputated as a result. The trial took four years, but in the end, the victim got the compensation she needed to rebuild after such a horrific bus accident.

Pedestrian Accident Causes Brain Injury— $22 Million

In another case of a pedestrian accident, a woman suffered permanent brain damage and other bodily injuries after she was hit by a commercial truck while crossing a street in New York. A jury awarded the victim $22 million in financial restitution for medical bills, pain and suffering, and for a lifetime of in-home care.

Abels & Annes, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a person or company’s negligence, consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.

The attorneys at Abels & Annes are here to help. For a free case evaluation, call us at (312) 924-7575 or contact us using our online form.

 

Is My Landlord Responsible for Injuries on My Property?

It is important to keep in mind that not all injuries that occur at your residence are a landlord’s responsibility. In order for anyone to be responsible for another person’s injuries, there must be negligence. This applies to everything from a car accident to a slip and fall. However, landlords can be held liable if their actions (or inaction) caused a renter’s injuries or death. In some situations, a landlord may also be liable for injuries to guests or other visitors to the rental.

These cases fall under an area of law known as premises liability. An experienced attorney can help you to determine if your landlord is responsible for your injuries and what you can do to pursue compensation for your injuries.

When is an Illinois landlord legally responsible for an injury to a tenant or a visitor to the property?

In most situations, landlords are responsible for tenant injuries if they fail to maintain or repair hazardous conditions. For example, if a tenant is injured after falling on a broken staircase, the landlord is likely liable.

Landlords must also notify tenants if they are aware of dangerous conditions that aren’t obvious or may be hidden. A common example of this may be uneven flooring in common areas.

The court uses a standard of reasonableness when determining liability. Because of this, a landlord must take measures to prevent injuries that a reasonable person could have foreseen. This may be something as simple as a sign or email warning residents. The point is, they need to proactively protect the people they rent to and their visitors.

With all this being said, you should know that landlords can’t be held responsible for freak accidents. If someone falls off a perfectly safe pool deck, the landlord will usually not be found liable. However, if the pool deck had rotting wood or missing handrails, then that would be considered a reasonably foreseeable event and they may be held liable for damages.

What Kind of Incidents and Injuries are Landlords Responsible for?

Illinois holds landlords to what is known as an implied warranty of habitability. The implied warranty of habitability states that everyone is entitled to a suitable place to live, regardless of circumstances. The definition can vary, but it generally means that a landlord must keep their rental property compliant with building, housing, and health codes. If they fail to meet this standard, they may be held liable for injuries and harmful incidents that occur on their property.

A landlord can be held liable for incidents that cause injury or harm as long they meet the standards layout above. This may include:

  • Injuries from a fall or dangerous incident
  • Illness caused by mold or pathogens
  • Crush injuries caused by falling objects
  • Drowning injuries caused by unsafe pool areas
  • Harm or injuries caused by lack of security
  • Injuries caused by fire
  • Falls caused by dangerous staircases

Any resulting damage from a landlord’s failure to maintain a safe property may be considered their responsibility. This could include theft, damage to a tenant’s personal property, wrongful deaths, and a myriad of physical injuries like broken bones, severe burns, and head injuries.

There Must Be a Direct Link Between the Incident and Injury

In order for landlords or property managers to be held liable for these kinds of incidents, it must be demonstrated that there were actual resulting injuries. Sometimes an incident scares or worries a tenant and they think they can take action for “what could have happened”. This is not the case. Tenants must demonstrate that their injuries or illness directly resulted from the landlord’s carelessness and not for some other reason.

Sometimes, the link between the injury and the landlord’s actions is obvious, such as a severe burn caused by a broken water heater. But in other instances, the connection isn’t so clear. For example, if a person has mold in their apartment and develops an illness, they would have to prove that the mold in the residence directly caused them harm.

Is a Landlord Liable for a Slip and Fall on Their Rental Property?

In some situations, landlords are liable for slip and falls that happen on their rental properties. The hazard that caused the fall must be something the landlord knew about or should have known about; and failed to take steps to prevent. Just because you live in a rental property does not mean that your landlord is responsible for every injury.

For example, if you slip on your wet kitchen floor after mopping, your landlord is probably not responsible. However, if you slip in your kitchen because of a roof leak and you’ve brought this to your landlord’s attention, you’ll have a strong case.

Falls that happen outdoors could also be considered your landlord’s fault if they occur under the same principle of negligence. For example, if multiple people have reported that water collects in the stairwell and it causes a fall, the landlord may be found responsible.

Some common causes of slip and falls at rental properties include:

  • Loose handrails
  • Poor lighting
  • Torn carpets
  • Loose floorboards
  • Dangerous stairs
  • Leaking ceilings
  • Water in parking garages

Is a Landlord Liable for a Dog Bite That Happens on Their Property?

There are very few circumstances under which a landlord would be liable for a dog bite at a rental house or apartment. For the most part, the dog’s owner will be liable for any injuries caused by an attack. In limited situations, a landlord could share some of the fault if they knew about the aggressive dog but failed to do anything about it.

Is a Landlord Liable for Injuries or Death Caused by a Fire?

A landlord can be held liable for deaths and injuries caused by a fire if the reason for the fire was improper maintenance. For example, a neglected electrical system or malfunctioning appliances can lead to fires.

A landlord may also share some liability if the reason for the injuries was a lack of smoke detectors. The Illinois’ Smoke Detector Act outlines how many smoke detectors that each type of property needs and where they should be located. A landlord who violates this act, or any other fire safety code, leaves tenants vulnerable to potentially deadly conditions.

Fires can not only cause death in worst-case scenarios. They can also cause severe burns, smoke inhalation injuries, and exposure to toxic fumes. Tenants who survive a fire could have severe scars, disfigurement, and long-term breathing problems.

Are Landlords Responsible for Injuries Caused by Broken Staircases and Porches?

Landlords can be held responsible for injuries caused by a broken staircase or broken porch if they knew or should have known about the hazard. For the most part, these hazards are reasonably discoverable during an inspection. If a staircase or porch becomes broken at any time, a landlord who is given notice has a responsibility to fix the dangerous situation in a timely manner.

Can a Landlord Be Held Liable for Crimes on their Property?

Generally, Illinois Law does not require a landlord to protect a tenant from the criminal actions of third parties (i.e. strangers). The landlord is responsible for keeping their building safe, not for protecting their residents from criminals. However, in specific circumstances, landlords in Illinois can be held liable for injuries caused by crime.

For example, a landlord may be held legally responsible for injuries caused by crime if they failed to provide a promised security measure. For example, if your lease mentions some specific security feature and then neglects that feature, they may be held liable.

Another example is if the crime was foreseeable. This depends on whether a jury thinks a reasonable landlord would have foreseen the probability of the crime occurring.

For example, say your apartment building was supposed to have working locks on all entry doors. You and other residents repeatedly complain that they are not working. Someone breaks in and injures you in the process. You would probably have a strong case because there was both a failure to provide a promised security feature and a broken lock is an obvious reason the assault occurred.

Can a Property Manager or Maintenance Company Be Held Responsible for My Injuries?

In some circumstances, a maintenance company or a property management company could be held responsible for an injury if they failed in their duties. Proving this can be complicated because of contract disputes and who had notice of the issue. This is why it’s important to have an experienced attorney handling your case.

Contact a Chicago Premises Liability Lawyer If You Were Injured While Renting a House or Apartment

If you or a family member were injured while renting a home or apartment, speak to a premise liability lawyer at our Abels & Annes Chicago office. The issue of liability can be complicated and depends heavily on the circumstances of your specific case. For a free review of your injury claim, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

Delayed Injuries: I Didn’t Know I Was Seriously Injured Until Later

Anyone who’s been involved in a car accident knows what it feels like to be glad you weren’t severely injured or killed. Close calls like that usually bring us an unexpected wave of emotion and gratitude. But just because you were not killed or visibly injured doesn’t mean you’re walking away unscathed. What you thought were normal aches and pains could mean that something more serious is going on.

It’s well documented that violent motor vehicle accidents cause shock and a rush of adrenaline. This protective physical response is helpful in life-threatening situations. But it can also mask serious injuries. Sometimes, it can take days or weeks for serious injuries to present themselves.

Because of this, it’s critical that you get checked out by a medical professional right away after a car accident. if you thought you were fine and delayed medical treatment, but it turned out you weren’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have ruined your personal injury claim.

How Delayed Treatment Can Impact Your Claim And What To Do About It

Far too many people forgo immediate medical attention after a motor vehicle collision. Whether it’s because of optimism that your injuries will heal on their own, the demands of a busy life, a lack of health insurance, or just putting your head in the sand, delayed treatment can create an obstacle when you need to pursue a personal injury claim later.

The personal injury claim process is already tedious to carry out on your own. And once insurance companies are involved, they’ll immediately begin identifying problems or inconsistencies to justify denying or lowballing your claim. The obvious way to do that in this scenario is to say that if someone was seriously injured, surely they would have known about it or sought medical care. However, years of experience in the personal injury field has proven time and again that this isn’t necessarily true.

In addition to arming insurance companies with arguments to counter your injury claim, waiting weeks or months to see a doctor creates another issue for injury victims. Insurance companies will say that your injuries didn’t originate from the crash. Therefore, it would not be their responsibility to cover your damages.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself after a car accident in the event that you need to file a personal injury claim is to get immediate medical treatment. Not only can you be assured of your physical state, but a medical professional will document your injuries. This allows your car accident attorney to establish a causal connection between the accident and your injuries.

What if you’re already delayed medical treatment after an accident?

If you’re already in this situation, “coulda woulda shoulda” won’t help. The next step to take is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will help you prove that your injuries were caused by the incident in question and document reasons for your delayed treatment. With an experienced attorney working on your behalf, a delay in treatment doesn’t mean certain loss of your lawsuit.

[Learn more: Why Getting Medical Treatment after an Injury is So Crucial]

Symptoms That May Indicate a Serious Underlying Injury

The following are some common symptoms that may indicate that your injuries are more serious than you originally thought.

Back Aches and Pains

Lots of people expect to have aches and pains in their back after a car accident. But in some cases, this pain is a sign of a more serious underlying back injury.

The back pain you experience after a car accident may be due to:

  • small fractures in the spine
  • nerve damage in the spinal cord
  • damaged vertebra, such as a herniated disc

If you’re experiencing back pain after a personal injury incident, a medical professional’s diagnosis is the best way to ensure your physical well-being.

Numbness

Another common symptom people experience after car accidents that may be a sign of something more urgent going on is numbness.

Numbness is often a result of nerve damage, which could have serious repercussions if left untreated. For example, numbness in your extremities could mean that you have a spinal cord injury. In other instances, numbness may indicate poor blood circulation caused by trauma. This can lead to permanent damage or infection and may even necessitate amputation.

Neck Pain or Stiffness

Neck pain is one of the most common complaints reported to medical staff after an accident. If you experience neck pain or stiffness, you definitely want to get it checked out.

Pain and stiffness in the neck could be a sign of damage to the spine. If you also experience dizziness, nausea, or vomiting, it may be linked to structural issues in the cervical spine. This can indicate a serious physical issue that requires treatment.

Whiplash is so commonly associated with car accidents that many people think it’s not a big deal. Just because you feel like you have whiplash doesn’t mean that something more critical isn’t hiding behind the stiffness.

Some injuries can present as whiplash when in reality the victim is suffering from a fractured vertebrae, herniated disc, or nerve damage in the upper spine.

Any one of these delayed neck injuries could cause a person to have serious issues down the road.

Headache or Head Pain

A headache may seem normal after being involved in a collision. But it could also be the first sign of a traumatic brain injury. If your headaches are also causing nausea, impaired vision, or fainting, seek medical intervention right away.

What initially presents as head pain could actually be:

  • brain injury
  • spine injury
  • nerve damage
  • cerebral edema
  • fractured skull

If you’re experiencing head pain after a car accident, it’s best to not take any risks. An untreated brain injury could cause life-altering changes to one’s behavior, cognitive abilities, executive functions, communication skills, and emotions.

What starts as a headache can also lead to a sudden coma, vegetative state, or death, especially if treatment is delayed.

Changes in Mood, Thinking, Memory, or Personality

Changes in mood, thinking, memory, or personality can be hard to recognize. However, they are classic symptoms of a serious brain injury. If you were involved in a car accident or other traumatic event and you’re experiencing changes in any of the above areas, you should get emergency medical care immediately.

It’s normal for people to overlook aches and pains from a car accident as nothing serious. But anything to do with brain function should never be ignored.

Difficulty with Movement and Coordination

Both brain injuries and spinal cord injuries can impair communication between various body parts. If you experience muscle spasms, lack of balance, or loss of coordination, don’t ignore it. Injuries like these can cause more damage if left untreated. So getting medical care right away is key to preventing life-long problems like paralysis or permanent disability.

Stomach Pain

Abdominal pain, especially with bruising and dizziness, could indicate serious internal issues. Internal injuries include damaged organs or internal bleeding. Organ damage or blood loss can eventually send the body into fatal shock if left untreated.

Stomach pain related to an accident can easily be passed off as a digestive issue or some “routine pain that everyone experiences after a car accident.” These aren’t good approaches to take when it comes to aches and pains. Stomach pains can actually be a symptom of a life-threatening condition that may require emergency surgery to save your life.

Pain in Your Arms, Legs, or Ribs

A broken bone is usually obvious right away. Nonetheless, adrenaline and shock after traumatic incidents can temporarily mask pain. Additionally, some types of bone injuries are harder to notice. For example, rib and skull fractures, broken tailbones, or internal bone breaks aren’t necessarily outwardly visible. In these situations, it’s not uncommon to go days without noticing that something is seriously wrong.

Can I still get compensation if my treatment was delayed?

There are many reasons that people don’t realize they’re seriously injured and, as a result, delay medical treatment.

Some of the most common reasons that victims don’t get treatment after a serious car accident include:

  • thinking that their symptoms are normal
  • thinking they have a less severe injury
  • the injury was masked by shock and adrenaline
  • fear getting treatment because they have no way to pay for the large medical bills

Delaying medical treatment for serious injuries is not a sign someone is being deceptive. Sometimes, there is simply a good reason.

If you delayed getting medical treatment for a severe injury, it’s still possible to get compensation through a personal injury claim. The case may be harder to prove and some evidence may be lost. Additionally, it may be more difficult to link your injury to your damages. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be denied justice.

The experienced attorneys at Abels & Annes are here to help. We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options, explain your rights, and determine if you have a viable case. Call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online to be connected with our attorneys.

 

Groceries Store Slip and Fall Injuries

Slip and fall accidents frequently happen at bustling and busy businesses like grocery stores. Owners of these stores are almost never on-site to oversee the day-to-day operations. Instead, they rely on managers to run their stores for them. However, these managers and operators don’t always monitor the store in the same way that someone who has everything to lose, like an owner, would.

Regardless of who is in charge, it is the duty of the owner, manager, and operator to make sure that their grocery store is safe enough for shoppers.

This means that they must take the steps necessary to keep grocery stores free from hazards that could injure customers and employees.

Anyone who is walking through a grocery store can slip, trip, or fall in a way that results in severe and costly injuries.

If you were a slip and fall victim, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries if you can prove that your injuries were caused by the store’s negligence. This means you must prove that the person in charge of the property was aware or should have been aware of the dangerous conditions and did nothing to prevent them from injuring you.

Common Causes of Slips and Falls in Supermarkets

The most common slip and fall scenario in a grocery store that people think about is a puddle of liquid on the ground. But there are actually a lot of other common culprits. These include:

Refrigerator Leaks

Commercial refrigerators require routine maintenance to function properly. Older refrigeration systems and improperly installed systems can be serious hazards as they leak water or other slick liquids onto the ground from defrosting freezers or leaking internal components.

Produce Departments

The common practice of misting fruit and vegetables keeps produce looking fresh and appealing to customers. It is also one of the reasons the produce department attracts slip and fall accidents. As customers load their carts with recently misted produce throughout the day, water can fall onto the ground. If stores don’t use the proper mats or fail to clean regularly, floors can quickly become slippery and can lead to a slip and fall incident.

Floral Departments

Just like the produce department, the floral department relies heavily on water to keep their products looking fresh. Pools of water that accumulate on the floral department floors are difficult to see and can create dangerous slipping hazards for unsuspecting shoppers.

Torn Carpeting and Unsecured Mats

Replacing torn carpets is part of the regular maintenance of a grocery store. Otherwise, a customer’s foot could possibly catch where there’s a tear and trip. Similarly, unsecured mats, like those by the front doors or in produce departments, can move out of place or bunch up, creating a tripping hazard.

Roof Leaks

A slip and fall that happens because of water on the ground caused by a roof leak could be the property owner’s fault if they knew about the leak. When a grocery store notifies the building owner about a structural problem, the owner should fix it in a reasonable timeframe.

While a grocery store is awaiting repairs, it’s up to management to sufficiently block off the hazardous area and to continuously clean up any oversplash that may accumulate.

Vendor Product Hazards

Vendors regularly deliver large quantities of products for the grocery store to sell. Additionally, they are responsible for putting that product on the shelves too, which means that they are interacting with the same spaces that customers use to shop.

Some of the most common vendors include bread vendors, chips and snacks vendors, and soda vendors.

These workers are often in a rush to unload so that they can make their rounds to other retailers. As a result, they may not be too concerned with any spills or debris they leave behind.

Vendor visits are typically scheduled in advance. This means that grocery store managers should know exactly when they’ll be on property. If a slip and fall accident happens, that schedule is one piece of evidence that your attorney can use to show a grocery store should have known about the hazard or possibility of a hazard left by a vendor.

Blocked Aisles

Employees of busy grocery stores often have to restock empty shelves during business hours. If they’re not careful, they may spill items or the pallets they’re unloading can overcrowd an aisle. Or the same boxes can inadvertently block aisles.

While some may argue that a reasonable person would have seen a pallet in the walkway and therefore should have avoided injury, it does depend on the circumstances. This type of case can be difficult to pursue. A personal injury attorney will work to prosecute your injury claim on the basis that your injury was caused by a store operator’s negligence.

 

Injuries That Can Result from A Slip And Fall

Falling in a grocery store is no laughing matter. Depending on your age and health, the injuries you received from falling down onto a hard tile floor or hitting your head on a shelf on the way down can be catastrophic.

The following are some of the most common types of injuries that result from slip-and-fall incidents in grocery stores:

Proving Liability for Your Injuries

For a slip and fall case to be successful, proving that a store is liable for your injuries is critical. Proving that the store behaved in a negligent manner is an important component of a slip and fall case.

To prove liability, you must show that a grocery store had actual notice or constructive notice of a hazard.

Actual notice means that a grocery store was directly aware of an issue. For instance, if a refrigerator has been leaking for weeks and multiple people have been out to fix it unsuccessfully, that would be actual notice.

Constructive notice means a business should have been aware of dangers. Say, for example, that there is water on the floor but the store didn’t cause it. One can argue that they couldn’t have known there was water on the ground. But if there are lots of mud tracks through the puddle indicating the condition was there for a long time, or if video shows employees or managers walking past it, one can easily make a case that they should have been reasonably aware of the hazard.

What to do if you Slip and Fall in a Grocery Store

In order to protect yourself, here is what you should do after you are injured from a slip and fall in a grocery store.

Firstly, seek any necessary medical treatment as soon as possible. Even if you are not seriously injured, get checked out by a medical professional. Some injuries can be hidden or delayed due to the immediate shock, swelling, and adrenaline you experience after a slip and fall.

Look for the cause of your fall—like a wet floor, blocked aisle, or poor lighting—and document it.

Take photos and videos, if you are able to. Take note of the time and area of the store where your slip and fall occurred. Also document the names and descriptions of any employees who were on duty. And if possible, gather witness statements and their contact information. Your attorneys may need to talk to witnesses later so having their names and phone numbers will be helpful for your injury claim.

Ask for surveillance footage. An estimated 180 million surveillance cameras have been installed in the United States. Chances are your accident was caught on video, especially in a grocery store. You should also insist that the store fills out an incident report and hands you a copy.

Finally, contact a slip and fall attorney as soon as possible. After a slip and fall, proof of the accident dissolves quickly. A grocery store will do their best to fix the hazardous conditions leading to your injury. Video may mysteriously disappear or may be recorded over after a week or so. And store employees may fall victim to selective amnesia. Hiring a personal injury attorney can assure that an official request for video, records, and documentation are submitted as soon as possible to remedy your damages.

Hiring a Chicago Slip and Fall Attorney Can Make All the Difference

If you were injured because of a slip and fall in a Chicago grocery store, or anywhere else in Illinois, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your damages. Damages may include medical bills, wages you lost while you were out of work, and any pain and suffering you may have endured.

While nothing can undo the stress, physical pain, and mental anguish your injuries have caused, receiving compensation can relieve a significant part of your financial burdens.

[Read: How Long Will It Take To Settle My Grocery Store Slip And Fall Case?]

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact the attorneys at Abels & Annes. Our slip and fall accident attorneys are experienced at investigating falls in grocery stores and on other premises. Our main goal is to prove negligence, recover the most compensation possible for our clients, and ensure that each person who comes through our doors is treated with dignity and respect.

For a free initial consultation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

 

How Social Media Can Impact Your Personal Injury Case

When you file a personal injury claim, it’s critical that you monitor your social media to protect your case.

Let’s face it. Almost everyone uses social media. And with an estimated 230 million users in the US alone, your posts are probably being viewed by a lot more people than you think. No big deal, right? Well it is if you have an active personal injury case.

In almost every personal injury claim or lawsuit, the insurance company from the opposing side–and maybe even your own insurance company–actively monitors the claimant’s social media accounts. They are searching for any information they can use to weaken or outright deny your claim.

Because of this, it’s best to think twice before sharing anything on social media while you are actively pursuing a personal injury claim. The best thing you can do is stop using social media altogether.

In this article, we will explain how insurance companies use your social media posts, how it can harm your case, how simple things can be misconstrued, and how all of that can lead to you getting less money for your injury.

Is Social Media Admissible in a Personal Injury Claim?

According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, social media is admissible in a personal injury claim because it is electronically stored information. This information, such as Facebook comments, Instagram posts, tweets, text messages, and emails can all be used as evidence.

To be admissible in court, electronically stored information must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be relevant to the personal injury case
  • Must add value to the defense’s case
  • Should not be hearsay
  • Should be authentic, meaning it was created by or about the defendant

If it fits these criteria, then it can be used against you in court. And chances are it meets criteria for court admission because most social media posts do. The simple point is that social media posts and comments can sink your claim without your realizing it. Even posts that are not nefarious may be misconstrued in their use against you.

Social Media Tips for Protecting Your Personal Injury Claim

Don’t Post About Your Accident or Case

We are all used to updating our friends and family about everything that happens in our life, especially when it’s a life-changing event. This means that if you were injured in an accident or you are a part of a lawsuit, you might be tempted to share about it.

However, many types of social media posts and comments can create more trouble than they’re worth in the long run.

You may think the photos of your accident clearly show that the other person is at-fault. However, those photos can actually tell a completely different story if the other party can find a way to twist it.

A great example of how not everyone sees things the same, even with photo evidence, are the optical illusions that are popular online. Have you ever seen the “white and gold versus blue and black dress” debate? Or the popular post about whether the sneaker is gray and teal or white and pink?

Uncertainty is entertaining in a viral post. But it’s the last thing you want in your personal injury case.

These may seem like irrelevant examples, but they are an indicator of how an image can be interpreted in multiple ways by different people.

If you are involved in a personal injury case that is using social media evidence, the defense will intentionally look for ways to interpret your posts in a way you didn’t intend. If your case goes to trial, the opposing lawyer can try to influence the jury with their own interpretation of your Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and other status updates.

Even Innocent Posts May Contradict Your Claim

When innocent posts are taken out of context, they can appear to contradict your injury claim.

Let’s consider the example of someone who develops severe back pain due to a slip and fall accident and decides to file an injury claim. While the case is going on, you reluctantly go to your nephew’s birthday pool party because he really wanted you to come. All you did was sit in a lawn chair and watch.

However, multiple people posted photos online of you at the pool party. These innocent photos could easily be twisted by the insurance company to show that your back injury isn’t as severe as you claim it is or else you wouldn’t be able at a party.

Of course, this is a complete misrepresentation, but it is exactly the kind of tactic that can be used against you. These simple photos can call into question how serious your back injury is and impact how much compensation you’re offered or how much a jury will award you.

Let’s consider another example. You post a status update to Facebook talking about how excited you are for some upcoming time off work. You can’t wait to have some time to do whatever you want.

In your mind, you meant you were gonna sleep on the couch and binge watch Netflix because you are exhausted and in pain from a recent serious car accident. But an insurance company could manipulate this to make it appear as if you were planning on going on an extravagant vacation.

The fact is, you were the one that decided to share that information on social media. How the insurance company decides to use or twist that info is up to them.

This is why we always say that it is best to not post anything to social media while you’re involved in an active personal injury case.

Comments From Others Can Hurt Your Case

Not only can your own posts have an impact on your case. Comments on your social media accounts can also hurt your case.

A comment from a family member such as, “I’m glad you’re okay,” probably means I’m glad you’re pulling through. Not that your health is perfect. This is a perfect chance for the at-fault party’s lawyer or insurance company to manipulate the situation.

If you are involved in a personal injury case, explicitly ask your friends and family to not post anything about your accident, injuries, or recovery. If anybody violates this rule or just didn’t know, make sure to delete their comment as soon as possible.

As you can see above, even the most innocent get-well wishes can be twisted into something seemingly nefarious.

Make Your Profile and Posts Private

When you first begin the process of filing a personal injury claim, it is imperative that you set all of your social media accounts to private.

This does not mean that the insurance company or the opposing attorneys will not be able to find anything about you. But it will limit what new information is available to them.

It should be noted that even a private account is still accessible through shady tactics using fake accounts. For this reason, you should never accept a friend request from someone you don’t personally know.

If you have any questions about how to change the privacy settings on your social media accounts, you can find more information here.

If In Doubt, Do Not Post

If you do not know whether a post could negatively affect your personal injury case, the best choice is to not share it at all.

There is no photo, status update, or video worth compromising your claim. Keeping those details private is one of the steps that will help you to recover the highest possible compensation amount for your damages.

Hire a Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer to Guide Your Claim

Abels & Annes will fight to make sure you get the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will do our best to prevent misleading information being admitted into court or allowing it to influence negotiations. Let us put our experience to work for you.

For a free initial consultation, call us at 855-749-5299 or contact us online.

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Why You Shouldn’t Talk to an Insurance Adjuster without a Personal Injury Lawyer

Don’t make the mistake of speaking to an insurance adjuster without the representation of a car accident attorney.

One of the biggest mistakes car accident attorneys see clients make is speaking with an insurance claim adjuster before they have legal representation.

An insurance adjuster’s role is to investigate claims against their company to determine whether the claims are legitimate. On the surface, insurance adjusters seem like neutral parties between you and the insurance company, but this is not true. They are employees of that insurance company. Their livelihood depends on how well they do their jobs. To be clear, their job is to save their company as much money as possible. So how does an insurance company save money? It’s by paying injury victims the least amount possible or by not paying anything at all.

This does not mean that you should never speak to any insurance company after a car accident. It means you should be cautious who you speak to and what you tell them, and we would highly recommend consulting with an accident lawyer first. You are much safer letting your attorney handle communications with insurance carriers from day one to avoid any mistakes.

However, after you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle collision, providing basic information about the incident to your own insurance company is okay. It is perfectly fine to share where and when the accident happened as well as details about the people who were involved.

However, you do not want to get too detailed about injuries or who was at fault. Speaking to an insurance adjuster about your injuries or describing how the accident happened could jeopardize your case.

This is especially true when it comes to speaking with the other party’s insurance adjusters. In fact, it is in your best interest to avoid direct communication with the opposing insurance company altogether.

If you were injured because of a car accident, you should always seek an attorney’s advice as soon as possible. Most if not all car accident attorneys offer a free consultation for this very reason.

Never Speak to the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company

You should never speak to the at-fault party’s insurance company because their goal is to pay out as little money as possible. Unfortunately, their company’s profit comes at your expense.

Insurance adjusters, just like all employees, are valued for how well they do their job. In this case, doing their job well means saving their company as much money as possible. That turns a conversation with you into an opportunity to fish for information that will allow them to deny, delay, or undervalue your personal injury claim.

Insurance Adjusters Will be Friendly at First Contact

Insurance adjusters will initially appear as friendly as possible to gain your trust. They will seem patient, helpful, and concerned about your well-being. When they’re friendly and sympathetic, you’re less likely to question the information you give them.

This means that you could be talked into admitting something that isn’t true or convinced that they’re offering a reasonable settlement when they are in fact giving you the least amount possible.

Additionally, insurance companies contact you as fast as possible in hopes that you haven’t had a chance to speak to an attorney. They act fast because it is a proven tactic for diminishing valid personal injury compensation claims.

Adjusters may make it seem like they’re doing you a favor by handling your claim so that you don’t have to spend money on a lawyer. However, most insurance adjusters are aware that most people who have an attorney end up with far more money in their pocket, even after attorney fees. That’s because attorneys know the true cost of injuries and they know how to advocate for proper compensation for their clients.

The Insurance Company Will Want to Get You on Record

Insurance adjusters want to get you on the record (either through a phone conversation or in writing) so that they can lock you into one version of how an accident happened and how serious your injuries are. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to remember all the details after an accident.

Very often, the evidence that tells a different story can be uncovered after the fact. A personal injury attorney has the experience and resources to discover the evidence to support your case.

Surveillance footage of the accident scene may reveal new information. And medical evaluations can prove the severity of your injuries. However, insurance companies will resist accepting new information if it increases the value of your claim.

Imagine a player injures their ankle while playing soccer. If you asked them how the incident happened and how severe their injury was one minute after the injury, one day after the injury, and one year after the injury, would you get different results? If you were able to go back and watch the video of the soccer game, or look at an MRI scan of their ankle, would you reveal new information? The obvious answer here is yes. But most insurance adjusters will ask you what happened and how bad your injuries are only once and then expect you to stick to that answer.

Insurance Companies Can Record Conversations Without Your Consent

In Arizona, an insurance company can legally record your conversation without explicitly telling you. This is because Arizona has a one-party consent law. They may let you know they’re recording as a courtesy. However, they are not required to announce this fact.

Insurance adjusters are aware that you are frazzled and stressed following an injury. They know you’re not in the best frame of mind to give a recorded statement. Quite simply, they use this to their advantage.

This is another reason hiring an attorney helps to level the playing field. Your attorney is not emotionally involved. So when your attorney contacts the insurance company on your behalf, they will make sure the facts that are shared are objective and paint a clear picture of the incident, your injuries, and your damages.

You May be Offered Quick Cash

When insurance adjusters offer quick cash, they’re more than likely trying to shortchange the accident victim. If they are offering any money at all it’s because they are trying to lock in a low settlement amount as quickly as possible.

They understand that as the injured party, you are overwhelmed by your medical bills, lost wages, and other financial stressors due to an accident. Any financial relief may seem enticing to a personal injury victim.

What adjusters won’t mention is that once you’ve accepted a settlement, you’re locked into that decision for good. The settlement will usually require that you sign a settlement agreement, which means you waive the right to file a lawsuit against the insurance company. It is almost always impossible to file a subsequent claim if you later discover that your injuries are more serious and costly than you had imagined.

This is why we always strongly encourage accident victims to speak to an attorney before they accept a settlement offer. Also, personal injury attorneys use a contingency fee agreement. This means there’s no money up front, no fee unless you win your case. Further, the more money a lawyer gets their client, the more they make.

Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Hire an Attorney

Insurance companies may not want you to hire an attorney because they know that you don’t fully understand the law. Their experience shows that attorneys will fight for the compensation their client is entitled to and won’t take anything less.

If their client is blatantly at-fault, insurance adjusters will offer the bare minimum to cover your immediate medical expenses. But that doesn’t include all other damages a personal injury victim may incur.

Experienced attorneys take a comprehensive look at how your injuries will impact you in the long run. You may need a surgery in the future or your earning capacity may be reduced. These costs will likely not be considered by an insurance company when they offer you a quick payout.

An attorney will also consider the value of your pain and suffering. If a car accident causes you to never be able to pick up your grandchild again or to lose the ability to do your favorite hobby, what is that worth? No quick offer from an insurance company is going to consider this.

Hire an Attorney and Let Them Speak to Adjusters on Your Behalf

Having your own legal representative to speak to the insurance company for you is one of the many benefits of hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone’s negligence, Abels & Annes can protect you from the insurance company’s tactics. As your personal injury attorneys, we will strategize to secure maximum compensation for your injuries. For a free initial consultation, call us at 855-749-5299 or contact us online.

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Considered Taxable?

Getting a settlement for expenses related to a personal injury incident is a major financial relief for injury victims. If you find yourself in this situation, you may be wondering if all the money you receive from your personal injury claim is yours to keep. Or you may be curious to know if you’ll need to pay taxes on your settlement money as income.

In Illinois, the money you receive from a personal injury case is generally not considered taxable. This is because settlement money is not considered part of a claimant’s income. Rather, the money you receive for expenses related to bodily injuries and property damage is considered compensation for a loss. However, there are some exceptions. Certain portions of a personal injury settlement may be subject to taxes.

If you have specific questions about your personal injury settlement, you should consult your personal injury attorney or accountant to understand how the law applies to your specific circumstances.

Below is some general information about how personal injury settlements and verdicts affect income taxes.

Do I have to pay Illinois state taxes on my personal injury settlement?

Illinois follows federal guidelines when it comes to taxing personal injury settlements. If the settlement is exempt from federal income tax, it will also be exempt from Illinois state income taxes.

What portion of my settlement is tax-free?

If a personal injury settlement provides compensation for physical injuries or illness, then that portion of the settlement is not taxable. This is because it’s not considered earned income.

Compensation for physical injuries or illness usually remedies damages related to medical expenses. This may include damages for the cost of medication, surgeries, diagnostic tests, hospitalization, doctor appointments, rehabilitation, and other medical issues.

If you also got compensation for emotional distress that stemmed from the physical injuries, that portion is not taxable either.

Additionally, replacement services that were caused by your physical injuries are also not taxable. For instance, if a broken leg prevented you from driving to work, the compensation you received for alternative transportation would not be taxed.

Is compensation for property damage considered taxable?

Following an event like a car accident, you may have had to pay for repairs. If you received reimbursement for those repairs, it’s considered compensation for a loss and is therefore not taxable.

Is a wrongful death settlement considered taxable?

Generally, survivors who receive compensation for the death of a loved one do not have to pay taxes on that money.

For example, funeral expenses that stemmed from a wrongful death are considered compensation for a loss. As such, they aren’t taxable. This would also apply to compensation you receive in a wrongful death lawsuit for your loved one’s medical expenses prior to their passing.

What portion of my settlement is taxable?

Illinois follows the federal rules on taxes for personal injury settlements. Therefore, we can look to those laws to determine what portion of an injury claim settlement may be considered taxable.

Internal Revenue Code section 104(a)(2) excludes as income “the amount of any damages (other than punitive damages) received…on account of personal physical injuries or physical sickness.”

This clearly states that any money awarded for punitive damages (which is rare) is considered taxable.

Additionally, any compensation you receive for lost income is taxable since the wages you would’ve earned would have been taxable.

Additional Exceptions Where Settlements May be Taxable

Sometimes, settlement payments are delayed. This can cause your settlement amount to accrue interest while you’re waiting for your check. In this situation, the original amount is not taxable. However, any interest that accumulates on your settlement principal amount would generally be taxable.

Also, if you have already deducted your medical expenses in a previous tax year, you may have to pay taxes on the compensation you receive to replace those costs.

Can confidentiality clauses affect what is taxable?

In some cases, an injury victim is offered additional compensation in exchange for confidentiality. This is common when the at-fault party is a well-known public figure or a business with a reputation to protect. Compensation for confidentiality is unrelated to the physical injury itself and is therefore taxable.

If you are ever involved in this kind of case, make sure the terms are clear. If you are receiving money in excess of your damages to agree to confidentiality, it’s important that the settlement agreement breaks down amounts. This way you’ll know how much of your settlement was for confidentiality and how much was for physical injuries. This would allow you to then differentiate between taxable and non-taxable sums of your settlement.

If you are signing a confidentiality agreement but not being paid anything extra for it, make sure the agreement states that there is no consideration being paid because of the confidentiality clause. If the agreement does not clarify this, the settlement money may be considered taxable.

Admittedly, this type of settlement agreement is complicated. That’s why having a qualified personal injury attorney guiding you through the personal injury claim process is the best way to secure fair compensation for your injuries. Moreover, it helps you establish settlement terms that ensure your taxable portion is clear and distinct from the non-taxable portion.

How can I limit taxes on my settlement amount?

Some Illinois personal injury settlements include both taxable and non-taxable forms of compensation. If a case is resolved in court, a jury will specify how much of a settlement is for physical injuries.

However, most personal injury claims are settled before they reach a courtroom. In these situations, the insurance company may not provide a breakdown of the settlement unless you specifically request it.

It’s in your best interest to have in writing what part of the settlement is for your physical injuries and what part is for other damages. This needs to be detailed in your settlement agreement.

An experienced lawyer can help you to make sure that the settlement agreement clearly expresses which specific amounts relate to each type of damages.

Getting the Highest Possible Settlement for Your Personal Injury Claim

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, the attorneys of Abels & Annes can help you to get maximum compensation for your injury claim. Our no-obligation initial consultations are always free. To learn about the potential legal options available to you, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

Common Personal Injuries That Can Occur at Big Box Stores

As consumers, we count on “big box stores” like Walmart, Target, Big Lots, Home Depot, Sam’s Club, Costco, Fry’s, and Safeway for just about everything we need. We should also be able to count on them to provide us with a safe shopping environment. Unfortunately, big box stores are notorious for putting profits over safety. This means they don’t always take the proper precautions to keep shoppers safe. Customers who are picking up a few things on their way home are often exposed to hazards like:

  • Loose floor mats
  • Cracked parking lots
  • Wet floors
  • Falling objects

What should be a quick and easy errand can easily lead to a serious long-term injury when big box stores fail to prioritize a safe shopping and working environment.

If you were injured at a big box store in Phoenix, Arizona, you may be eligible to recover compensation for any damages you may have suffered. The attorneys at Abels & Annes have decades of experience taking on the biggest companies in the country. And we are ready to put those skills to work for your personal injury claim. To receive a free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal options, contact an experienced premises liability attorney today.

Common Types of Hazards Resulting in Injury at Big Box Stores

Slip And Fall Injuries

Wet floors are a preventable hazard that lead to slip and fall injuries in big box stores. Slip and falls caused by wet floors can also be caused by leaking freezers, dripping pipes, clogged drains, a leaking roof and careless maintenance crews. The source of the water doesn’t usually matter. All big box stores have a responsibility to clean it up within a reasonable amount of time. They should also be cautious to notify shoppers of wet floors to avoid sustaining an injury.

Slip and falls are often laughed at in movies, TV shows, and other forms of media. But falling onto a hard surface can have serious consequences.

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most severe types of slip and fall injuries. An estimated 20% of TBI-related hospitalizations are a result of falls. Shoppers who slip and fall at stores like Fry’s or Walmart often land on their heads if they aren’t able to catch themselves. Sometimes a falling person hits their head on an object like a display or a shelf on the way down, which is another common way a TBI can occur in a slip and fall.

Back and neck injuries and broken bones and fractures are also common injuries that can occur when a person slips and falls.

Falling Object Injuries

When big box stores don’t properly shelf their products, items can fall and injure customers. Bulk stores in particular, such as Costco and Sam’s Club, stock especially heavy products and pallets of goods high to save space. If these items are not properly stored on these ‘above head height’ shelves, they can cause serious injuries to shoppers when they fall.

Overstocked and unsecured shelves also pose a risk. Lots of big box stores attempt to get as much product out on the sales floor as possible. After all, you can’t sell something that a customer can’t see. This overstocking can lead to precarious positions that can ultimately result in a falling object. Similarly, shelving that is not properly secured or installed can also cause a product or the entire shelf to fall down onto an unsuspecting customer.

Another culprit of storing large heavy objects above a customer’s head is Ikea. Once you make it through Ikea’s beautiful maze of home goods, you’ll find yourself in a warehouse-like section that stores very heavy boxes at heights that can pose a serious risk of falling objects.

Tripping Injuries

One common cause of tripping injuries is improperly installed and maintained floor mats. Sometimes they buckle, sometimes they roll up on the edges. Either way, when this happens, serious injuries are common. The floor mats are typically placed in high traffic areas, like store entrances. If there is a problem with a floor mat, chances are high that someone will trip and fall soon. Our law firm has worked on several of these cases and they often involve badly broken bones that require surgical repair.

Another cause of trip and falls are aisles cluttered with boxes, flatbed carts, and shelves that haven’t been put up yet. Big box stores sell tons of products everyday. This means they often have to stock and rearrange shelves while customers are present.

Target alone brings in over $78 billion a year. Since these retailers sometimes have to restock during business hours, they’re not always mindful of how this can affect their customers. Boxes, pallets, and loose items can become tripping hazards if workers don’t block off the area or unload carefully.

Torn carpets are another common tripping hazard. Stores like Walmart, Big Lots, and Safeway have many high traffic areas. Their flooring needs to be replaced more often than most other places because of this. If they don’t keep up with deteriorating carpets and rugs, customers’ feet can get caught, causing them to trip. Like a slip and fall incident, a trip and fall can result in serious injuries.

Parking Lot Injuries

All too often, tripping hazards go unfixed in the parking lots of big box stores. Potholes that aren’t promptly blocked off or repaired, large cracks, uneven pavement, and loose wheel stops can lead to slip, trip, and fall accidents for customers and employees. Poorly lit parking lots make it difficult for customers to see potential dangers in front of them.

An estimated 9% of pedestrian accidents happen in parking lots. Faded signs or a lack of signage altogether can contribute to car accidents in a parking lot. Arrows, crosswalks, and stop signs are essential to keeping both drivers and pedestrians safe in big box store parking lots. However, typically the driver that hits a pedestrian in a parking lot will be responsible for the injuries sustained.

Injuries in Produce and Floral Sections

Produce and floral sections rely heavily on water to keep their products looking fresh. Misters frequently spray fruits, vegetables, and flowers to entice shoppers. Since stores use this method frequently, they’re well aware that water accumulates in these areas.

When a big box or grocery store doesn’t dry the produce and floral section floors regularly–or use appropriate non-slip mats–customers are at risk for slip and fall accidents that could cause serious injuries.

[Read More: Slip and Fall FAQs]

Who Is Liable for Injuries That Happen at a Big Box Store?

In order for you to have a valid slip and fall claim against a big box store, there must be some amount of negligence on the part of store management. This is where premises liability cases can get a little tricky.

For example, if a customer spills their coffee and someone slips on it 30 seconds later, the store cannot possibly be expected to have cleaned up the spill so quickly. However, if a freezer has been known to leak water for weeks and someone eventually slips and falls, the store’s management was clearly negligent in fixing the hazard.

In addition to the question of whether or not the store is liable, there is also the issue of who caused the slipping hazard in the first place. A variety of people and companies are involved in a big box store’s operations. One or more parties may be responsible for the hazard that caused your injuries.

Oftentimes, the business owner and property owner are not the same entities. Say for example, you fall because of a pothole in a parking lot. It may have been the property owner’s responsibility to maintain this area of the property. Matters become further complicated if the property owner hired a management company that was supposed to provide this service. Your attorney will determine who should be held liable in complex situations like this.

Big box stores also rely on various vendors to deliver the products they sell. If those products are unsafely unloaded and a customer is injured, it may be the vendor’s fault rather than the store.

As you can see, who should be held liable is not always straightforward.

Arizona Premises Liability Laws

Arizona premises liability laws require landowners and business owners to take reasonable safety measures to prevent injuries to people who enter their store.

Store owners and management can be held liable if they knew, or should have known, about a dangerous condition.

More often than not, establishing whether or not the business owner had notice of a dangerous condition requires a thorough investigation by an experienced Arizona premises liability attorney. During this investigation, your attorney may find that the:

  • Property owners, managers, and/or their employees created the dangerous condition through negligence, a wrongful act, recklessness, or failure to fix an obvious hazard.
  • Defendant was aware of the condition and had a reasonable amount of time to fix it or warn customers about it.
  • Condition existed for so long that the defendant definitely knew about the hazard and decided to do nothing about it.

Once the investigation establishes that the defendant had notice of the dangerous condition and did nothing to prevent an injury, you and your attorney can move forward with a claim to receive compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses.

Do I Need a Lawyer for This Type of Case?

If you were injured at a big box store, hiring a qualified lawyer is a good start. Pursuing compensation from a big box store means you will be up against a major corporation that has virtually unlimited financial and legal resources at their disposal. They will go to great lengths to protect their reputation and their bottom line.

Additionally, these massive corporations deal with these situations all the time. Their lawyers and investigators handle slip and fall cases on a daily basis. Obviously, there is a huge disadvantage created by this unbalanced experience.

A Phoenix premises liability lawyer will have the tools, resources, and background knowledge to handle your case properly and make sure you’re not shortchanged for the compensation you deserve.

How Can Abels & Annes Help Me?

Gathering and presenting strong evidence is crucial in any personal injury case, especially slip and fall cases against big box megastores. Abels & Annes will help you by taking over the legal process for you. While you focus on recovery, we will gather evidence, demonstrate the extent of your injuries, and negotiate with the insurance companies involved. The end goal is to get you the most possible compensation for your injuries.

If you were injured at a big box store, give us a call. We can be reached 24/7 at (602) 819-5191 or by using our online contact form.

 

*We will add photos representing each scenario under “Common Types of Hazards Resulting in Injury at Big Box Stores”