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What to Do After Suffering an Injury in an Accident

What to Do After Suffering an Injury in an AccidentA serious accident can cause a spike in adrenaline, concealing injuries and making it difficult to determine what to do next. If you suffer serious injuries in an accident, from a car accident to a slip and fall, however, the steps you take immediately following that accident can have a huge impact on both your physical recovery and the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries. Follow these steps following an accident to help protect yourself.

If you have been in an accident with serious injuries, contact the Chicago personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes who can give you a better idea of your rights.

Step One: Seek Medical Attention Immediately

In the case of severe injuries, including injuries like hip fractures from a slip and fall, you may need emergency transport to the emergency room to seek immediate treatment. Even if you believe you suffered only minor injuries in your accident, however, seek medical attention immediately.

A doctor can properly diagnose your injuries and prepare a treatment plan that may help prevent you from worsening those injuries. Not only that, your trip to the hospital or an urgent care facility provides a record of exactly when your injuries occurred, which can prevent the liable party from trying to claim that your injuries occurred at a different time or under different circumstances.

Keep track of all medical treatment. To file your personal injury claim and show how much compensation you need for your medical bills, your attorney may need to collect those bills. Further, your medical records can show vital evidence concerning the extent of your injuries and the limitations they cause.

Step Two: Report the Accident

If you suffer serious injuries in an auto accident, call the police and an ambulance. If you suffer injuries in a slip and fall or construction accident, notify the owner of the premises as soon as possible. Reporting the accident will result in an incident report. This incident report can serve as a vital piece of evidence when you later file a personal injury claim. Likewise, any time you suffer an injury at work, you should follow the proper protocol for reporting an accident.

If you suffer serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury, that cause you to lose consciousness or prevent you from moving safely around the scene of the accident, do not do anything that could worsen your injuries.

In addition to reporting the accident to the police or to the business where your accident occurred, you may need to become familiar with your health insurance plan, if you’re insured. This will help you get a better idea of what you can expect in terms of coverage for your medical expenses.

You may need, for example, to know many physical therapy sessions your plan will cover, or how much you can expect to pay for deductibles and copays. You should also look into your out of pocket maximum for your medical expenses each year.

Step Three: Collect Evidence, if You Can

At the scene of the accident, if possible, you should collect evidence. You may want to take photos of the accident scene or collect contact information from any witnesses. You may also want to immediately note any details about the accident that you can remember, since trauma can cause your memory to fade quickly after an accident. Further, look for traffic cameras.

In many cases, however, your injuries may prevent you from taking this step. An attorney can help collect evidence even after the initial accident. Do not collect evidence if it places you at risk in any way, including worsening your injuries.

Step Four: Contact an Attorney

As soon after your accident as possible, get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help collect evidence about your accident, including consulting witnesses, looking for any video footage of the accident, and reviewing the accident scene.

Not only that, a personal injury attorney can provide you with more information about the compensation you deserve for your injuries and prevent you from accepting a settlement offer that does not reflect the full amount you deserve. Finally, an attorney can advocate for you if you must take your claim to court to recover the compensation you deserve.

After an auto accident, your attorney will contact both the defendant’s and your auto insurance company and notify them about the accident. You want your lawyers to handle all important communication with insurance adjusters to prevent you from possibly saying the wrong thing and damaging your own case.

Your own auto insurance may provide medical payment coverage. Further, there may be uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that can offer assistance after an accident with an individual who does not carry adequate insurance.

Finally, contact a personal injury attorney before accepting a settlement offer from the insurance company that covers the liable party. This settlement offer usually will not fully reflect your needs, and an attorney can help you decide whether to take the offer or retain counsel.

Step Five: Follow Your Doctors’ Recommendations

In the case of serious injuries, you may need to work with several doctors to find a treatment protocol that will allow you to regain as much functionality as possible. Follow all recommendations given by your doctors.

In the case of injuries like spinal cord injuries, for example, you may need extensive physical therapy or occupational therapy to help restore as much mobility as possible. In the case of broken bones, you may need to decrease your activities while recovering so you can avoid doing further damage to your body.

Following your doctors’ recommendations can help you heal as much as possible. It also helps show that you have done your part in your recovery, which can prevent the liable party from showing that you contributed to your own injuries or stood in the way of your own recovery, which can ultimately decrease the compensation you receive for your accident.

Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

Following an accident with serious injuries, an attorney from Abels & Annes can give you a better idea of your rights, including how much compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon after your accident as possible.

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?

How Much Does a Lawyer CostYou suffered serious injuries in an accident. You know you deserve compensation for your injuries, but the insurance company that covers the liable party has made it difficult to get the compensation you really deserve. Unfortunately, a personal injury lawyer sounds like an expensive proposition.

If worries about the cost of an attorney have you down, however, Abels & Annes, P.C., can help. Many Chicago personal injury attorneys, including our firm, don’t charge our clients money up front. There’s no retainer fee. Instead, we work on a contingency fee basis.

How Do Contingency Fees Work?

In a personal injury claim, an attorney may accept your case on a contingency fee basis. Instead of needing to pay for your attorney upfront, the attorney will accept a percentage of the settlement or award you receive at the end of your claim. This can substantially decrease your financial worries during a time when you may find yourself struggling to pay the bills due to high medical bills and an inability to work in your usual capacity.

What if I Do Not Win My Case?

If an attorney accepted your claim on a contingency fee basis and you did not win a settlement or award as a result of your case, you do not need to pay your attorney. Typically, however, an attorney who accepts a claim on a contingent fee basis will not accept a claim if he feels it lacks adequate evidence or support for you to win an award or settlement. In general, your personal injury attorney only gets paid if you do.

Can You Afford Not to Hire an Attorney?

In all those worries about money after an accident, many people forget one key consideration: whether they can afford not to hire an attorney.

Having an attorney on your side in a personal injury claim can offer these critical benefits.

The attorney can help collect evidence regarding your claim. Your attorney will investigate your claim, seeking evidence about how your injuries occurred and who bears liability for your accident. The attorney may investigate the scene of the accident, talk with witnesses, examine video footage, and even bring in an expert witness to look over the scene of the accident, if warranted. This evidence can help prove who caused your accident and provide you with the evidence you need to present to the insurance company or to help support your claim if the case must go to court.

The attorney can help you better understand how much compensation you deserve for your injuries. Often, private individuals have little understanding of how much compensation they deserve following a serious accident. The compensation you receive will depend on a variety of factors. An attorney will help evaluate those factors and give you a strong understanding of how much compensation you should expect for your injuries.

This may include:

  1. Taking a look at the insurance policy limits that covers the liable party. In the case of a personal injury claim, this may mean following the law to demand a disclosure from an auto insurance policy. For property insurance limits, a business insurance policy, or a medical malpractice policy, it can be more difficult to obtain the needed information, but it can be accomplished. The limits of the insurance policy may determine how much compensation you can ultimately receive for your injuries.
  2. Evaluating your injuries and medical bills. Injuries like traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury, for example, may bring with them ongoing, substantial medical expenses. Even injuries like broken bones can lead to significant medical expenses. Your medical expenses often form the foundation for your claim, so an attorney will work closely with you to look at your medical expenses from the accident.
  3. Including the time you spent off work and how it impacts your income after substantial injuries. Many people must miss substantial time at work as a result of severe injuries. Even employers willing to work with an accident victim may struggle to allow that employee to continue working when the employee’s injuries cause substantial limitations. Including those lost wages as part of the personal injury claim can help the victim continue to provide for his family.

Many accident victims find that an attorney substantially increases the compensation received after an accident. The insurance company may, for example, attempt to offer a low settlement immediately after the accident, or continue to provide low offers to a private individual dealing with the claim alone. Hiring an attorney often increases the insurance company’s willingness to offer the funds the victim deserves as well as clearly defining the full compensation the victim deserves.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can identify all parties who bear liability in an accident. Sometimes, more than one party may share liability for the injuries you suffered in your accident. A personal injury attorney can help identify all parties who share liability, which can ultimately increase the compensation you can receive.

Abels & Annes, P.C.An attorney can provide guidance and support throughout your claim. An attorney can give you a better idea of what to expect, whether you need to know more about the discovery process or how to deal with questions from the insurance company that covers the party liable for your accident. Not only that, the attorney will handle negotiations with the insurance company or liable party on your behalf, which can lead to a significant decrease in the stress you face as a result of the accident. Many victims find that working with an attorney alleviates a great deal of the stress and worry associated with the personal injury claim itself.

Hiring a Chicago personal injury attorney after a serious accident does not have to be a daunting prospect. Most people find that working with a personal injury attorney ultimately increases the compensation they ultimately receive for the accident and their injuries. Contact an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney as soon after your accident as possible to learn more about the compensation you deserve.

What Is Premises Liability?

When you enter another person’s property, whether their home or business, you expect a certain level of safety. If you were injured on someone else’s property, you might look to the property owner to compensate you for your damages. To learn more about what is premises liability law and how your can recover compensation through a legal professional read on.

Whether the property owner is responsible for your injuries will depend on whether you visited lawfully and how the injury occurred. If the property owner is found responsible, you may be entitled to compensation.

If you were injured on someone else’s property, you will first need to understand their obligations to visitors and what damages you can possibly recover. For that, you will want to hire a Chicago premises liability lawyer.

Is the Property Owner Responsible?

Illinois has codified premises liability responsibilities in the Illinois Premises Liability Act. It spells out the duties of property owners to different types of guests.

Invitees and Licensees

Gary Annes Lawyer
Premises Liability Attorney, Gary Annes

Invitees visit a property for the benefit of the property owner, such as patrons of a business, while licensees enter a property for their own amusement, such as social guests. Illinois requires that property owners show the same level of care for both invitees and licensees.

For any invitee or licensee, the property owner must properly maintain the property free of hazards and must make defects or hazards known. A dangerous condition could include a broken step, unmarked wet floors from mopping, or poorly maintained walkways.

To recover for their injuries, an injured entrant must demonstrate that a dangerous condition existed on the property, the property owner was aware or should have known of the dangerous condition and failed to properly fix or warn of the danger, and the entrant suffered an injury due to the dangerous condition.

Trespassers

A trespasser enters another’s property without permission. Under Illinois law, property owners owe no duty of care to adult trespassers aside from refraining from willful and wanton conduct that would endanger the safety of a trespasser.

The law intentionally excludes recovery for trespassers to adults. The property owner has some responsibility for injuries caused to a child trespasser on their property. A property owner generally has some duty to protect children from enticing conditions that present dangers—traditionally referred to as “attractive nuisances”—such as swimming pools, fire pits, play equipment, abandoned cars, or construction equipment.

To recover damages for a child’s injury, plaintiffs must show that:

  • The owner knew that young children were accessing the property;
  • A defective or dangerous condition existed on the property;
  • The danger was of a type a child could not understand or appreciate; and
  • The cost to remedy the defective was low

If plaintiffs meet the above conditions, the property owner is likely responsible for the injuries of the trespassing child. Keep in mind that the above is only required for trespassing children. The standard duty of care discussed above will apply if a child is an invitee or licensee.

Determining Damages

If a property owner violated a duty of care and caused you injury, your damages will depend on the type of injuries you suffered.

Common damages in a premise liability action include:

  • Medical costs: These include doctor’s bills, hospital stays, and long-term care such as rehabilitation or physical therapy.
  • Loss of income: If your injuries cause you to miss work, you can recover lost income. If your injury affects your ability to advance or continue in your career, you can recover future earning potential.
  • Emotional distress: The event or dealing with injuries often causes emotional distress like depression or anxiety.
  • Loss of enjoyment: Injuries commonly limit an individual’s ability to participate in activities they previously enjoyed. Juries often award damages to compensate for these losses.
  • Punitive damages: These damages are not meant to compensate the plaintiff but instead to punish the defendant for egregious behavior. In Illinois, punitive damages are only available when the defendant acted with evil intent or with reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm.

Calculating damages in premises liability cases is a complicated and fact-intensive process that requires a review of your medical and other expenses.

An experienced attorney can help assess the strength of your case and your ability to recover damages. Your lawyer may hire medical and economic experts to validate your damages claims. An experienced attorney can help coordinate any experts required to analyze or substantiate your damages and help you understand what damages you can recover. If you receive a settlement offer from the defendant or their insurance company, an attorney can assist in evaluating the offer’s fairness.

Speak With a Premises Injury Attorney for More Information

A premises accident attorney is a powerful ally and advocate. If you were injured due to the negligence of a property owner or manager, call a Chicago slip and fall attorney as soon as possible.


Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

Was Your Child Injured at Daycare?

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

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

Common Daycare Accidents and Injuries

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

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

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

Who Is Responsible for Your Child’s Injury?

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

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

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

Contact Our Chicago Premises Liability Attorneys for Help Today

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

How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

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

Before You Contact an Attorney

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

Types of Cases

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

Experience

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

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

Narrowing Your Choice Down

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

Attorneys’ Fees and Costs

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

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

What a Firm Should Promise

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

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

Make a Decision

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

How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

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

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

Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer: Determining the Cost

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

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

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

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

 

The Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

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

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

 

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

 

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

What Questions Should I Ask a Personal Injury Attorney?

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

Don’t Fear the Initial Consultation

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

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

Questions About Experience

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

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

Questions About How Invested the Lawyer Will Be in Your Case

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

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

Questions About Paying Your Attorney

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

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

Questions About the Strength of Your Case

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

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

References?

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

Questions About the Contract

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

How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

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

Ask for Recommendations

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

Do a Google Search

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

Weeding out Firms

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

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

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

The Consultation

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

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

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

When to Get a Personal Injury Lawyer

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

The Accident Was Caused by Someone Else’s Negligence

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

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

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

You Suffered Severe Injuries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There Are Multiple Potentially Liable Parties

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

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

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

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

When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

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

When Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

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

Did you suffer injuries in an accident?

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

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

Did someone else cause your injuries?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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