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What Questions Should I Ask a Personal Injury Attorney?

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

Don’t Fear the Initial Consultation

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

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

Questions About Experience

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

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

Questions About How Invested the Lawyer Will Be in Your Case

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

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

Questions About Paying Your Attorney

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

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

Questions About the Strength of Your Case

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

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

References?

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

Questions About the Contract

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

How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

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

Ask for Recommendations

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

Do a Google Search

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

Weeding out Firms

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

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

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

The Consultation

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

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

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

When to Get a Personal Injury Lawyer

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

The Accident Was Caused by Someone Else’s Negligence

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

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

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

You Suffered Severe Injuries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There Are Multiple Potentially Liable Parties

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

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

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

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

When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

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

When Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

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

Did you suffer injuries in an accident?

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

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

Did someone else cause your injuries?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Operators of Involved Vessels

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

Life Jacket Provisions

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

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

Sober Operation

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

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

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

Navigation Skills & Competence

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

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

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

Boat Maintenance & Equipment

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

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

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

Unruly Passengers

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

Equipment Manufacturers

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

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

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

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

Waterway Management & Enforcement Agencies

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

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

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

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

Abels & Annes, P.C. Is Your Lifeline

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

Broken Bones Can Result in Thousands of Dollars in Losses

Broken Bones are a Common Result of Accidents

Accidents, like slip and fall incidents or a motor vehicle collision, often result in many different types of injuries. One of the most common injuries due to an accident are broken bones. Although broken bones are relatively common, especially among daredevil youth, they can be a very serious injury. Serious fractures can end up costing accident victims thousands of dollars in treatment. Further, there can be significant lost wages.

Symptoms of a Broken Bone

Broken bones commonly occur in traffic accidents and falls. Symptoms of a broken bone can include:

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

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

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

Broken Bones Are Common in Accidents

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

How much will a broken bone cost me?

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

With medical costs constantly on the rise, any injury in an accident may wind up costing far more than you expect. Broken bones are no exception. Even with health insurance, a broken bone can be very expensive.

The Cost of a Broken Leg

Without health insurance, the costs of a broken leg can reach into many thousands of dollars

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

The Cost of a Broken Arm

A broken arm from an accident is common, but no less expensive. Here’s what a broken arm costs in the United States:

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

In addition, the severity of the break is a major factor in how much it costs to treat a fracture. Compound fractures , for example, can be considerably more expensive to treat.

Other Common Types of Broken Bones

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

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

Finally, there is the dreaded trimalleolar fracture. This involves breaking three different bones in your ankle. This almost always requires open reduction and internal fixation to repair. Our injury lawyers often see this type of fracture in slip and fall cases.

The point is, insurance companies don’t always take broken bones seriously, since a broken arm or leg can be quite common in daily life. But in reality, these types of injuries are often serious.

Broken Bones are Serious, Contact an Experienced Chicago Injury Lawyer

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

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

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer at Abels & Annes, P.C.

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

Abels & Annes, PC

Bone xray image by Dave & Margie Hill

Coming to a Favorable Settlement Requires Tough Negotiation

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

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

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

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

Beginning Settlement Negotiations

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

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

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

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

Filing a Lawsuit to Provoke a Reaction from the Insurance Company

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

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

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

Accepting or Rejecting a Pending Settlement Offer

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is a Catastrophic Injury?

Catastrophic and permanent injuries can occur in car, truck, tractor-trailer, motorcycle, pedestrian, and bicycle accidents, to name a few. In many cases, these injuries require long periods of medical treatment and serious medical procedures in order to correct. In other cases, accident victims require a lifetime of care at a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Some catastrophic injury cases reach a settlement agreement, while others proceed all the way to trial. Litigating a catastrophic injury case requires a special skill set of both medical understanding of these severe injuries and legal knowledge. If you have sustained catastrophic injuries in an accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can review your case and may be able to provide you with legal representation.

Characterizing Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries are those types of injuries which require long periods of medical treatment and recovery time in order to improve or resolve. Catastrophic injuries are common in high-speed motor vehicle accidents – and most especially, in motorcycle, moped, and bicycle accidents. These accidents are more likely to result in catastrophic injuries because motorcycle, moped, and bicycle operators (and their passengers) have limited protection while on the road. Although riders usually wear helmets which partially cover their heads, they do not have the outer shell of a vehicle surrounding them, and their bodies are more or less exposed directly to the ground. Consequently, they are more likely to have an impact with the ground (and/or another vehicle) and suffer serious injuries.

Some common examples of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Abrasions and permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Death
  • Fractures and Broken Bones

When an accident victim directly hits the ground or strikes something in the vehicle, he or she can suffer a major fracture or break. In many cases, these injuries require serious medical procedures, such as multiple surgeries, to correct. Following the surgery, the accident victim may need to take several months to recover and undergo long periods of physical therapy, and may still never regain regular use of that body part.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries typically involve nerve damage which may result in full or partial paralysis and other serious limitations. Spinal cord injury victims often require long periods of rehabilitation and therapy, including vocational or occupational therapy, in order to achieve a full—or even partial—recovery. In the most severe spinal cord injury cases, accident victims may require around-the-clock, lifetime care at a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries – or TBI’s – are one of the most significant types of catastrophic injury. These injuries can last for a long time and permanently impair an accident victim’s cognitive abilities. TBIs come about when blunt force or some other external trauma is applied to the accident victim’s head. This can cause injury to the brain’s neurons and axons (i.e. the brain’s “internal wiring”) and prevent them from functioning properly.

Depending on the severity of the head impact, traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to severe. The most serious long-term symptoms associated with traumatic brain injuries include:

  • Long-term memory losses
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Lost consciousness
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Temporary or permanent comatose state
  • Permanent inability to function or move

Proving Catastrophic Injuries and Damages

In order to prove catastrophic injuries and damages, the accident victim must be able to show that someone else behaved in a careless, reckless, or negligent manner. This usually means that the at-fault party did something that a reasonable person would not have done – or failed to do something that a reasonable person would have done.

In addition to proving that someone else was at fault for the accident, the accident victim must be able to show that the catastrophic injury directly resulted from the accident.

Whenever accident victims seek monetary compensation for catastrophic injuries, the insurance company will look for any reason to deny liability or limit its exposure. The insurance company will oftentimes look for other possible causes of the claimed catastrophic injury, including prior medical procedures, degenerative changes on imaging studies, preexisting medical conditions, and prior injuries.

Expert Testimony

When attempting to prove that an accident victim sustained a catastrophic injury, it is often helpful to introduce the expert testimony of a medical doctor or other healthcare provider. The expert may be able to testify about the extent of the accident victim’s medical treatment and the permanent nature of the injuries sustained.

In some cases, catastrophic injury accident victims are unable to return to work for long periods of time. In other cases, they may not be able to return to the same job post-accident – or they may have to switch careers altogether. A vocational rehabilitation expert may be able to testify about how the catastrophic injury prevents the accident victim from working at the same job, or from working altogether. An expert may also be able to speak to the accident victim’s projected loss of earnings over a specific time period due to catastrophic injuries sustained in an accident.

Economic and Non-economic Recovery Available to Catastrophic Injury Victims

Accident victims who sustain catastrophic injuries as a direct result of someone else’s negligence may be entitled to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, psychological harm, loss of the ability to function, and loss of spousal support or consortium. They may also be able to recover the costs of lifetime care and treatment – including the costs of medical care at a nursing home or assisted living center.

Call a Chicago Catastrophic Injury Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case

If you or a loved one has sustained a catastrophic injury in an accident, you may be entitled to recover monetary compensation. A Chicago catastrophic injury lawyer at Abels & Annes, P.C. can discuss the circumstances of your case and may be able to negotiate with the insurance company or file a lawsuit on your behalf.

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

Was Your Child Injured at Daycare?

Small children are not able to take care of themselves. For this reason, many parents drop their children off at daycare on the way to work—sometimes on a daily basis. Parents carefully select daycare facilities, and whether your child goes to a private home or a school environment, you should expect that your child will receive proper care. After all, children cannot protect themselves from harm during daycare.

Unfortunately, many parents receive the dreaded phone call that their child was injured while under the watch of their daycare. Sometimes, the injury is purely accidental—your child simply lost balance and fell down. However, in other cases, you may suspect that your child’s daycare could have prevented the injury—and the injury was actually due to the daycare’s carelessness. In this situation, you should always discuss your concerns with an experienced lawyer who can evaluate the situation.

Negligence at Daycare

Because children are so vulnerable, daycares are held to high standards when it comes to providing proper care. Illinois has specific guidelines and requirements for child care licensing, and every daycare is expected to adhere to these standards. Unfortunately, government regulators cannot continuously monitor all daycares for compliance, and many violate the rules, which can result in injuries.

When a daycare fails to meet the required standard of care and injures a child as a result, the daycare can face liability for negligence and any losses stemming from the injury. Negligence can occur in many different ways and result in many types of daycare accidents. Even minor mishaps—harmless in other situations—can cause life-threatening injuries at a daycare.

Examples of negligence that may cause daycare accidents and injuries include:

Inadequate supervision. Inadequate supervision of the children, whether due to an understaffed facility or a staff that simply may not pay proper attention to the children, is a primary cause of daycare accidents. When a daycare leaves a small child unsupervised, the resulting accidents can include:

  • Falls
  • Children injuring each other
  • Obtaining and using items that can harm them
  • Swallowing items and choking
  • Falling in pools, tubs, or other water hazards
  • Wandering off from the premises
  • Eating things they shouldn’t due to allergies

One reason you entrust your child to a particular daycare is so someone can supervise and watch your child while you cannot. If a daycare fails to provide the necessary level of attention to your child and an injury results, you may have a claim for negligent supervision.

Dangerous Premises

Sometimes, daycare injuries occur because the staff doesn’t keep the facility in a safe condition for the children. Anyone with small children knows to keep them away from dangerous items and not to give them access to cabinets, closets, or areas that may store dangerous items. Many daycare injuries can result if children are able to reach the following items:

  • Household cleaners
  • Chemicals
  • Knives, razors, or other sharp objects
  • Plastic bags or anything that can suffocate them
  • Appliances
  • Matches
  • Hot objects

The above is far from an exhaustive list of items that, if they are not properly stowed safely away, can cause injuries to children.

In addition, facilities in states of disrepair can violate safety standards and result in injuries. Children may become ill or injured from exposure to toxic chemicals, mold, or other dangerous building conditions. Children can contract serious infections, rashes, and other illnesses due to exposure to unsanitary facilities. Unfortunately, many of these dangerous conditions are not obviously apparent to parents who drop off and pick up their children.

Many daycares also have playground equipment or even swimming pools with which to entertain children. When facilities do not maintain playground equipment or it fails to meet safety regulations, they put children in extreme danger. In addition, swimming pool areas must meet certain specifications, and if they fail to do so, daycares can create dangerous and fatal hazards for children. Many hazards on a daycare’s premises can cause injuries, and our attorneys can evaluate whether your child’s injury was caused by such negligence.

Inadequate Security

Having a stranger harm your child is almost every parent’s worst nightmare. Daycares should have proper policies and procedures in place to ensure that no one has access to a child without the necessary permission. If a daycare has inadequate security, someone who is allowed to wander into the facility can physically assault, sexually assault, or kidnap children.

Neglect and Abuse

While negligence on the part of the staff or owner of the facility causes many daycare injuries, intentional actions produce others. Sometimes, staff members know they provide subpar care or may even lose their patience and hurt children on purpose. Examples of daycare neglect and abuse include:

  • Not providing adequate food and water
  • Failing to change diapers or allowing children to remain soiled
  • Not attending to injured or ill children
  • Isolating or restraining children
  • Physically harming children
  • Emotionally abusing children
  • Sexually abusing children

You should never expect that a daycare or its staff will intentionally neglect or abuse your child, but these cases do happen. Some signs of such misconduct can include any injuries to your child that you cannot explain, repeated injuries in various stages of recovery, changes in personality or behavior, and much more.

Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney to Learn About Your Rights Today

No child should suffer preventable injuries at daycare, and no parent should have to witness a child in pain or bear the cost of treating such injuries. The attorneys at Abels & Annes in Chicago understand the seriousness of injury cases involving children, and we are fully dedicated to our clients. If your child was injured, please do not wait to contact us online or call the office at (312) 924-7575 for a free consultation.

Different Seasons Create Different Injury Risks

When you live in a place like Chicago, you are truly able to enjoy all four seasons. Our famous blustery and snowy winters, hot summers, and pleasant springs and falls provide Chicagoans and tourists ample opportunities to enjoy the weather they like most. It also exposes people to a wide variety of accident risks that change with the seasons.

Accidental injuries happen every day, no matter the season. These incidents can involve vehicles, defective consumer products, bicycles, or slippery floors, and at any time of the year. All, however, share one thing in common: When someone else’s negligence causes them, victims are typically entitled to compensation for their injuries.

The types of accidents that are most associated with specific seasons follow below. Of course, this information is meant to be general, and accidents of any type can occur at any time of year. For more information, or to discuss a particular accident with a Chicago personal injury attorney, call Abels & Annes, P.C., today at (312) 924-7575 or send us an email through our online contact form.

Spring

Spring weather can vary greatly in the Chicagoland area. March and April can feel like winter or summer—or somewhere in the middle. As the area’s wettest season, slick or even icy roadways and sidewalks can create treacherous conditions. Part of the accident risk associated with spring is that people often do not know what to expect. You can wake up in the morning, head to work, and have no idea that there may be ice on the road. This lack of preparation can lead to serious accidents, especially when road crews, business owners, and other parties responsible for the maintenance of the roads, parking lots, and sidewalks are unprepared for changing conditions. Serious car wrecks and slips and falls are common springtime accidents.

Summer

Summer in Chicago gets people out and about. Between Cubs and White Sox games, Navy Pier, and various entertainment districts around the city, summer in Chicago provides plenty to do. Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations (like the Taste of Chicago) are typically lively, and many people take advantage of the thousands of public and private pools in the area and the beaches along Lake Michigan. While these activities all sounds great, they also pose significant injury risks. More people out and about can increase your risk of involvement in motor vehicle or pedestrian accidents, and DUI accidents tend to spike around holidays. In addition, like other water-based activities, visiting a pool or water park poses a real risk of serious injury. Falls on pool decks, debris in the water, unsecured pool chemicals, and defective diving boards can all result in injuries that have the potential to result in long-term and severe complications.

Fall

As a transitional season, fall poses many of the same risks as spring. Unpredictable weather patterns can cause unexpected freezing temperatures, and accumulations of wet leaves are capable of making roadways and sidewalks extremely slippery. In addition, fall holidays have the potential to put people at risk of serious injuries. Labor Day tends to see an increase in drunk drivers, and traditional Halloween activities put children at risk of involvement in serious pedestrian accidents—especially if they wear costumes that make them difficult to see or interfere with their ability to see their surroundings.

Winter

Winter in Chicago can be harsh. Sub-freezing temperatures, accumulations of snow and ice, poor visibility, and high winds can make getting from place to place extremely dangerous. As a result, Chicago winters put residents at risk of involvement in motor vehicle accidents and slips and falls. In addition, every year, defective or improperly used space heaters cause serious burns and fires. Ice from downtown skyscrapers can fall on pedestrians. Finally, as is the case with other seasons, winter holidays bring office parties, family get-togethers, and other celebrations that often involve the consumption of alcohol. This, coupled with college students who are home for several weeks without anything to do, can result in significantly more drunk drivers on the road than during other times of the year. For this reason, your risk of involvement in a drunk driving wreck can significantly increase during the holidays.

Protect Your Rights

As a victim, take steps to protect your rights after an accident to maximize your chances of recovering compensation. To protect your rights:

  • Gather as much information about your accident as you can. If appropriate, take pictures of the scene and obtain copies of any reports that police or others created. Try to get the contact information of anyone who saw your accident.
  • Do not give any insurance company a written statement regarding your accident. Doing so could reduce the amount of compensation you recover or make it impossible to recover anything at all.
  • Undergo a thorough medical evaluation, even if you think that your injuries will heal on their own. Having an official medical record of your injuries is extremely important when it comes to establishing damages during settlement negotiations.
  • Do not accept a settlement before talking to a lawyer. Once you accept a settlement offer, it is next to impossible to recover compensation for any additional losses that come to light at a later date.

Call Abels & Annes, P.C., Today to Discuss Your Accident With a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer

Accidents can devastate victims, regardless of when they occur. The Chicago personal injury attorneys of Abels & Annes, P.C., are available to review the facts of your case at no cost to you, and they will let you know whether they believe that you have a claim. There is no obligation to retain us after your consultation, and if you choose to do so, you will not pay anything for legal representation unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, call us today at (312) 924-7575 or send us an email through our online contact form.