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Nationwide Personal Injury Statistics

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

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

How many people are injured each year?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many people file personal injury claims each year?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How often do injury victims win their personal injury cases?

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

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

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

Success rates for:

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

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

How much do personal injury victims usually get in compensation?

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

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

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

How long do personal injury cases take?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tobacco Settlement — $206 Billion

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

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

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

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

BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill — $20 Billion

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

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

Volkswagen Emissions Scandal — $14.7 Billion

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

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

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

General Motors Auto Defect Case — $4.9 Billion

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

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

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

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Case — $4.69 Billion

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

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

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

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

Fen-phen Diet Drugs Settlement— $3.75 Billion

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

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

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

Silicone Breast Implants — $3.4 Billion

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

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

Actos Diabetes Drugs — $2.4 Billion

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

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

Brain Injury Caused by Train Derailment — $60 Million

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

Brain Injury Due to a Defective Seatbelt — $32.5 Million

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

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

Bus Accident Causes Leg Amputation — $27.5 Million

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

Pedestrian Accident Causes Brain Injury— $22 Million

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

Abels & Annes, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers

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

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

 

Side Impact Collisions

Intersections are the most dangerous places on the road. Side-impact collisions occur most frequently at intersections, and are among the deadliest type of accident faced by motorists.

What is a Side-Impact Collision?

At Abels & Annes, P.C. our Phoenix auto accident lawyers understand passengers are more likely to face serious or fatal injury in a side-impact collision than in any other type of accident with the exception of rollovers. Our vehicles are better designed to protect us from front- or rear-end collisions. While new-car technology — including side-curtain airbags — have made us safer, we are still at greater risk of injury in such T-bone collisions. The amount of protection on the side of a vehicle is much less than the front and rear ends.

Who is at Fault for a Side Impact Crash?

Additionally, fault can be more complicated to determine during a side-impact collision – particularly those occurring at intersections. When a collision occurs as one vehicle exits a parking lot or private drive, the vehicle already on the road typically has the right-of-way.

But most occur at intersections, often because a red-light runner failed to yield the right of way. In such cases, witness statements and video surveillance – either from traffic cameras or nearby businesses – can be critical in proving fault and protecting your rights.

How can Cars Protect Passengers Against Side Impacts?Increasing importance is being placed on a new vehicle’s ability with withstand side impact. Traditionally, front and rear crash testing have been the focus. Front and rear crumple zones offer drivers and occupants additional protection. Strengthening vehicle structure and improvements to side-curtain airbags seek to do the same for side-impact collisions.

Phoenix Injury Attorneys – Side Impact Auto Accident ClaimsThe U.S. Department of Transportation reports more than 2 million intersection crashes occur annually, killing nearly 8,000 and injuring more some 750,000 motorists. Those seeking to reduce the risk continue to push red-light cameras. And with some apparent success: The National Safety Council reports intersections crashes have declined nearly 20 percent.

Common causes leading to side-impact crashes are U-turns and other illegal maneuvers, stop light and stop sign violations, false assumptions of the other motorist’s intentions, misjudgment of speed, or driver inattentiveness.

Statistics on Side Impact Accidents

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports about one-fourth of vehicle deaths in the United States occur as a result of side-impact crashes. The height and size of the striking vehicle also has significant bearing on the survivability of such collisions. Crashes with SUVs, trucks and large commercial vehicles are much more likely to be fatal.

Injuries from Side Impact Collisions

Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries commonly result from side-impact collisions. Not until 2003 did the IIHS begin testing new vehicles in side-impact collisions. Previously, government testing had not accounted for the vastly different sizes of today’s vehicle. The agency also began using smaller crash-test dummies to represent women and teenage children. Such occupants are more likely to suffer head injuries as shorter victims are more likely to make head contact with the striking vehicle.

Traumatic Brain Injury & Side Impact Crashes

Occupants in a side-impact or rollover collision are more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury than victims of other types of traffic crashes. Motor-vehicle accidents are the most common cause of TBI injuries after fall accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, they are the leading cause of fatal TBI injuries nationwide.

The symptoms of brain injury may be relatively slow to present themselves, however the consequences may last a lifetime. Even a minor brain injury may result in short- or long-term changes in thinking, language, emotions and sensations. A TBI may also increase the risk of being diagnosed with epilepsy or Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

Severe TBI may result in either a closed or penetrating head wound. Such injuries are measured using the Glasgow Coma Scale. Those with a score of 3 to 8 are classified as having suffered a severe brain injury. Other classification systems include the Abbreviated Injury Scale, the Trauma Score and the Abbreviated Trauma Score.

More than 5 million Americans live with a TBI-related disability. These injuries typically impact the entire family.

Consult a Car Accident Attorney

At Abels & Annes, P.C. our law firm focuses exclusively on personal injury and wrongful death claims. Our focus is on winning justice for families dealing with the aftermath of a serious or fatal crash. In many cases, compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages should be paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In other cases, you may need to seek a recovery from your own insurance carrier. In either case, contacting an experienced personal injury law firm can help protect your rights and the financial wellbeing of you and your family.

These are often very serious cases and it’s not unusual for an insurance company to move aggressively to settle. You should not provide any statements, sign any documents or accept any payments until you’ve had the opportunity to speak to an experienced personal injury law firm.

If you have been injured in a side-impact collision, contact the Arizona personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. for a free, no obligation consultation. We are available to take your call and answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us toll free at (855) 749-5299 or locally at (602) 819-5191.

If you have been injured in a side-impact accident, call us at (855) 749-5299 or Contact Us online for a free consultation.

Estadísticas de Accidentes de Bicicletas

El clima de Arizona hace andando en bicicleta una actividad muy popular, tanto para el placer y para el transporte entre los ciudadanos del estado. Dependiendo en donde usted vive en Arizona, es posible que usted vea los ciclistas en las calles todos los días, mientras disfrutan del paisaje del desierto durante el uso de un medio de transporte ambiental-amable.

Hace tan sólo unas décadas, un gran número de ciclistas eran niños que eran demasiado jóvenes para conducir un carro. En los últimos años, sin embargo, la edad media de ciclistas ha aumentado significativamente, como que más y más americanos eligen ir al trabajo en bicicleta. En respuesta al aumento global en paseos en bicicleta, muchas comunidades han ido adaptando sus carreteras y calles para hacer ciclismo más seguro. Algunas áreas han creado carriles de bicicleta, donde sólo se permiten bicicletas. Otros han implementado semáforos específicos de bicicleta para controlar las bicicletas en las áreas de alto tráfico. Ya sea si una comunidad ha tomado medidas para fomentar ciclismo seguro o no, la gente todavía está permitida a montar sus bicicletas en las calles y están protegidos por las mismas leyes que se aplican a los automovilistas.

Desafortunadamente, como montando en bicicleta se ha vuelto más popular, el número de colisiones relacionadas con el ciclismo también ha aumentado. Ya sea si una bicicleta es golpeada por otra bicicleta, un carro, camión, camioneta o incluso en una colisión con un objeto estacionario, las lesiones resultan. La Administración Nacional de Seguridad en las Carreteras (“NHTSA”) reportó las siguientes estadísticas de accidentes de bicicleta para el año 2011:

  • Hubieron 677 fatalidades relacionadas con el ciclismo con otros 48,000 ciclistas lesionados en accidentes;
  • Lesiones de bicicletas y fatalidades representaron aproximadamente el 2% de todas las lesiones y muertes en las carreteras americanas.
  • Casi el 10% de los ciclistas muertos tenían entre 5 y 15 años de edad;
  • La edad promedia de un ciclista que murió tenía 43 años;
  • La mayoría de las fatalidades de bicicleta fueron en áreas urbanas y no fueron en las intersecciones;
  • Ciclistas de 35 a 54 de edad representaron el mayor número de fatalidades en 235;
  • El momento más peligroso para andar en bicicleta era a las 4:00pm-7:59pm;
  • El alcohol fue un factor en más de 1/3 de todos los choques relacionadas con el ciclismo;
  • La mayoría de los ciclistas muertos y heridos eran hombres.

NHTSA ha estado colectando y reportando los datos de accidentes de bicicletas desde 1932, y en total, desde entonces, más de 51,000 personas en bicicleta han muerto en accidentes, significando que decenas de miles de familias se han visto afectadas por la pérdida de seres queridos en estos accidentes. Arizona ha incurrido una buena cantidad de estos accidentes trágicos también. El Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (“ADOT”) mantiene un registro de los tipos de accidentes que ocurren, causan lesiones y reclaman las vidas de los residentes cada año. Para el 2012, ADOT informó las siguientes estadísticas de accidentes de bicicleta:

  • Hubieron 1,742 personas heridas en accidentes de bicicleta;
  • Como resultado de los accidentes de bicicleta, 18 personas perdieron la vida;
  • Más del 90% de todos los accidentes de bicicleta resultaron ya sea en lesiones o muerte del ciclista;
  • Aunque los accidentes de bicicleta representaron sólo el 2% de todos los accidentes relacionados con la calle, constituían el 3.5% de los accidentes con lesiones, significando que ciclistas eran más propensos a sufrir lesiones en un accidente que otros en el camino;
  • Contrario a la creencia popular, la mayoría de los accidentes de bicicleta ocurrieron durante las horas del día y en condiciones soleadas;
  • El número de accidentes de bicicleta aumentó en poco más de 200 accidentes entre 2011 y 2012, el primer incremento en varios años.

Los expertos creen que el ciclismo seguirá siendo una actividad muy popular en las décadas por venir y, como resultado, la amenaza de los accidentes de bicicleta se mantendrá. Es deber y responsabilidad de todos los conductores de actuar de una manera segura y prudente mientras que en la carretera y esta obligación se extiende a la seguridad de cada vez más ciclistas. Los conductores involucrados en un accidente a menudo dicen que nunca vieron a un ciclista hasta después de que ocurrió una colisión porque no estaban buscando que los ciclistas estarán presentes, significando que una mayor atención en la carretera puede conducir a una disminución en el número de accidentes relacionados con el ciclismo.

Lo mejor para reducir las lesiones y muertes en bicicleta es limitar el número de colisiones que ocurren. La segunda mejor opción es mantener el ciclista lo más seguro posible en caso de un accidente. Como no hay nada alrededor de un ciclista para proteger al ciclista en caso de un accidente, los ciclistas pueden optar por el equipo de seguridad que limitan las posibilidades de que ocurra un accidente y que protege el cuerpo del ciclista en un accidente. Reflectores de bicicletas y faros son algunos de los dispositivos de seguridad comunes, y, a menudo requeridos que un ciclista debería considerar usando como ropa y zapatos reflectantes o iluminados. El uso de un casco de bicicleta que se ajuste correctamente puede hacer un gran impacto en la seguridad de un ciclista también. Muchas de las lesiones fatales en bicicleta implican una lesión en la cabeza o en la cara que puede ser limitada cuando una ciclista lleva un casco. A pesar de los beneficios que ofrece un casco, muchos en Arizona eligen montar sin uno, aumentando el riesgo de una lesión en la cabeza o el cerebro en un choque.

Si usted ha sido víctima de un accidente de bicicleta, la ley de Arizona puede permitir que usted haga un reclamo por sus daños financieros, incluyendo gastos médicos y salarios perdidos que incurrió. La ley provee sólo una cantidad de tiempo limitada para llevar este tipo de reclamo así que siempre es una buena idea hablar con un abogado de lesiones personales en Phoenix tan pronto como sea posible después de un accidente para aprender acerca de sus derechos legales y las opciones que pueden estar disponibles para usted.

Si usted ha sido víctima de un accidente de bicicleta en Arizona, llámenos al (855) 749-5299 o contáctenos en línea para una consulta de su caso gratis.

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit for Dog Bite?

dog bite lawyer in chicagoIf you suffered injuries in a dog attack, whether or not the dog bit you, then one thing you need to know is how much time you have to take legal action against the dog owner (or someone else) for damages. The law refers to this window of opportunity to file a lawsuit as the statute of limitations. If you do not take legal action within the period the statute of limitations sets out, then you will likely lose your rights to receive compensation.

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for a dog bite-related lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the attack, in most cases. However, that time frame can vary depending on a variety of legal factors, so do not assume you always will have two years. You may have more time, or you may have less. Consulting an experienced dog bite injury attorney as soon as possible after a dog attack is the most reliable way to ensure that you do not miss out on your rights to receive money damages for dog bite injuries.

The Statute of Limitations Is an Expiration Date, Not a Target Date

The two-year window to take legal action for a dog bite injury set forth in Illinois law is an outside time limit for filing a lawsuit.

Do not wait one year and 11 months to talk to a lawyer about a dog attack that injured you or a loved one. Call as quickly as you can. The sooner you speak with an experienced dog bite injury lawyer after suffering an injury, the better your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.

Why? Here are just a few of the many reasons.

Your Lawyer Will Need to Preserve Evidence ASAP

Because the preservation of evidence is vitally important in a dog bite case. The fact is, the more time that elapses, the more likely it is that evidence will fade or get lost or misplaced.

Consider one potentially important element of evidence: the dog. The owner of a dog that attacks and inflicts injury may have it put down, or may give it away, potentially making it more difficult for your lawyer to prove ownership and/or legal responsibility for the dog’s actions.

Eyewitness testimony, too, can play an important role in proving a dog owner’s (or someone else’s) legal liability for a dog attack injury. Over time, memories fade and witnesses get more difficult to locate. The sooner a lawyer can start working to preserve evidence that may prove crucial to your case, the better your chances of getting the money you deserve for your injuries and losses.

Your Lawyer May Need to Investigate to Find Liable Parties

Investigating your dog bite case takes time. While you may have two years (or more, or less) to file a lawsuit for your dog bite injuries, your lawyer may need a chunk of that time to collect evidence, evaluate who has a legal liability to you, and plan an effective strategy for getting you the money you deserve. Waiting until the last minute only makes those tasks more difficult.

In conducting an investigation, your lawyer may discover that more than one party has a legal liability to you for the harm you suffered in a dog attack.

In any given Illinois dog attack, those parties could include:

  • The dog owner, who effectively faces automatic liability under Illinois law for any unprovoked dog attack against someone who is “peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be.”
  • The dog’s handler or custodian, if different from the owner, for failing to take reasonable steps to keep an individual safe from a dog attack;
  • The owner or occupant of the property where the dog attack occurred, for failing to fulfill duties to keep visitors to the property safe.

What Your Lawyer Finds Can Affect How Long You Have to File a Lawsuit

The circumstances of a dog attack injury can affect the amount of time you have to take legal action. As we mentioned above, the general statute of limitations in Illinois is two years, but that rule has exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions.

For example:

  • Dog attack victims who were minors when they suffered injuries typically have until two years after their 18th birthday to sue in their own capacity, but their parents or legal guardians can also take legal action on their behalf before then.
  • If you suffer an injury that you do not (and could not, with reasonable diligence) discover right away, then the statute of limitations period does not start to run until you do (or reasonably could) discover it. Please note, this is a highly unlikely scenario and very difficult to prove. For example, if a dog bite infects you with a viral disease that takes a long time to show symptoms, then you may have an extended time period. But again, it is a very bad idea to let the statute of limitations expire without a lawsuit on file.

These are just a few of the many potential complexities and complications that can affect how much time you have to file a lawsuit for a dog bite injury.

Seek Advice From an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer Right Away

Given the numerous considerations above, the best course of action for any dog bite victim (or parent of a dog bite victim) is virtually always to seek the advice of an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible after a dog attack. By seeking timely advice from a skilled lawyer, you give yourself and/or your loved one the best possible opportunity to take full advantage of your legal rights to compensation for your injuries and losses.

To learn more, contact an experienced dog bite injury attorney today.

Back Injuries: How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

back injury lawyer in chicagoBack injuries can be debilitating. They can make the most mundane tasks excruciatingly painful, and many cause lingering discomfort and limitations that last a lifetime. What’s worse, the long-term costs of treating and living with a back injury frequently lead to massive medical debt, and keep victims out of work, unable to provide for their families.

Victims of back injuries caused by someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful actions may have legal rights to seek compensation for damages. One question those victims often ask their lawyer is: what is my claim worth? In this blog post, we explore some answers to that question. To discuss the specifics of a back injury that has disrupted your life, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free case evaluation.

A Simple Question With No Simple Answer

The answer experienced lawyers know to give to that question is always the same: It depends. Every back injury is different, and every claim for damages involving a back injury has unique characteristics. Also, a claim’s worth depends both on how much money the law allows the victim to recover, and also on how much money is available to pay the victim damages.

Generally speaking, victims of someone else’s wrongful actions have the right to take legal action seeking compensation for:

  • Medical expenses related to the back injury;
  • Non-medical expenses connected to living with the injury;
  • Past and future lost income caused by missing work because of the back injury (either temporarily or permanently); and
  • The victim’s pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life resulting from the back injury.

Factors Affecting the Amount of Damages You Can Claim

The amount of money reflected in each of the categories above varies from case-to-case, depending on various factors. Let’s take a look at some of them.

The Severity of Your Back Injury

Generally speaking, the more severe your back injury, the more medical and non-medical expenses you have, the more work you miss, and the greater your pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life. In other words, the severity of the injury roughly correlates to the amount of money you might have the right to recover.

The Cost of Medical Care

Back injuries cost Americans upwards of $50 billion every year in medical costs. However, those costs are not evenly distributed. The severity of an injury affects the costs any individual incurs, of course. However, even two identical injuries may cost vastly different amounts to treat depending upon the local cost of medical treatment where the victim lives and the quality of that treatment. These factors will affect the tally of medical costs the victim can claim.

Secondary Health Complications

Back injuries frequently lead to other, secondary health complications. For example, back injury sufferers may struggle to get quality sleep or withdraw from physical activity, both of which can lead to a host of health problems including coronary disease and diabetes. They may become dependent on prescription pain medications, leading to addictions and overdoses. Their chronic pain can also take a heavy emotional toll, causing them to suffer from depression and other mental health disturbances. The presence of any of these secondary conditions that can be tied to a back injury can increase the amount of money a person might claim as compensation.

Where You Live

While this doesn’t affect Illinois, currently, nine states limit the amount of so-called non-economic damages personal injury victims can recover in a lawsuit. These damages include pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and harm to personal relationships. The aim of laws that cap non-economic damages is, in theory, to reign-in juries and limit insurance premiums. In practice, those laws have fallen especially hard on injured people. An experienced lawyer can help back injury sufferers construct their claims to maximize their recoveries even if a law caps non-economic damages. These laws can unfortunately affect Illinois residents involved in out-of-state accidents.

Factors Affecting the Amount of Money You May Actually Obtain

There is a big difference between having a legal right to recover damages, and actually getting paid. The following factors can affect how much you get paid for your back injury.

Who Owes You Money (and Their Financial Resources)

To get you money for your back injury claim, your lawyer needs to prove that one or more individual, company, or government entity has a legal liability to you. Who your lawyer can prove liability against can have a huge impact on how much money you might receive.

Here’s why.

  • Different liable parties have different financial resources. You are much more likely to recover compensation from a well-insured liable party than you are from an uninsured liable party or a defendant with substandard insurance. Two victims with the same back injury might have different odds of getting paid, depending on who they can sue for damages.
  • Additional parties tend to mean additional money. In some cases, just one party has a legal liability to the victim. In others, multiple parties have a legal obligation to pay damages. Generally speaking, every additional party with liability increases the amount of money the victim has a shot at recovering.

The Degree of Dispute

Some back injury claims are a slam dunk to prove, and the parties with liability admit their wrongdoing and the insurance carrier pays for damages. Other claims pose challenges, and the parties you sue fight back. As a general matter, the more dispute a case involves, the more uncertainty there is about how much money the victim can expect to receive. That does not mean the victim will receive less for their back injury at the end-of-the-day, necessarily, but it does mean the victim may have to compromise more to settle a case.

The Quality, Experience, and Reputation of Your Lawyer

Back injury claims can get tricky to prove. An unfair stereotype portrays people claiming phony back injuries to obtain insurance payments and disability benefits.

To overcome that stereotype and get every penny your claim is worth, you need a lawyer who:

  • Takes back injuries seriously;
  • Has successfully represented back injury sufferers like you;
  • Understands the medical science behind back pain, and knows how to explain it in simple language;
  • Investigates your injury to connect it to secondary health conditions; and
  • Has a strong reputation for getting results in and out of the courtroom in back injury cases.

Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer with those qualities today for a free case consultation.

What Is a Contingency Fee?

After being seriously injured in an accident, getting back to normal can be an arduous journey. You’re dealing with physical pain, mental and emotional trauma, medical bills, and maybe even job loss. The situation may be even more dire if you have a family.

Facing so many challenges at once might be overwhelming; you may not know where to turn or who to ask for help. It’s important to know you’re not alone. If your injuries were the result of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can lay out your options and chart a path forward for you and your family.

For some people, merely the word attorney evokes images of enormous bills and surprise fees. After all, the average billing rate for an attorney is between $100 to $300 per hour, but often much higher in a big city like Chicago. Considering this is a common perception, it may come as a surprise that most personal injury attorneys will take a case with no retainer, primarily through the use of a contingency fee.

The Definition of Contingency Fee?

Although it sounds like impenetrable legalese, contingency fees are fairly straightforward. The client only pays their attorney if they’re awarded damages or reach a settlement agreement with the defendant. The lawyer’s fee is taken as a percentage of the damages or settlement agreement, and the client is left with no out of pocket attorney fees.

Pros of Contingency Fees

As already mentioned, the cost is one pro. Hiring a lawyer on a contingency fee basis can drastically reduce the cost—especially the out of pocket cost—of legal representation.

Additionally, working on contingency provides certain incentives to the lawyer that may also benefit the client.

For one, because the lawyer is working at zero cost until a settlement is reached or damages are awarded by the court, he has an incentive to achieve a payday for his client as soon as possible, when it makes financial sense for the client.

Relatedly, because the size of the lawyer’s paycheck is determined by how much he earns for his client, he has an incentive to earn the largest possible compensation for the person he is representing.

Finally, contingency fees make the cost more predictable, because the lawyer’s fee is guaranteed to be a fixed percentage of the client’s award. In a traditional fee arrangement, if a lawsuit runs longer than expected, the client can expect a corresponding rise in the attorney’s bill. Additionally, with an hourly rate a lawyer has more opportunities to saddle the client with surprise fees and costs. Thus, a contingency fee can potentially earn the client more money in a shorter amount of time than a traditional fee arrangement. Additionally, it makes the legal fees from a lawsuit more predictable for the client.

Cons of Contingency Fees

Most plaintiffs see no disadvantages to a contingency fee arrangement. If the client doesn’t prevail, the client owes nothing to the personal injury lawyer. The attorney, on the other hand, who has invested hours in a case that pays him or her nothing. Should the client obtain compensation from the lawyer’s efforts, those damages almost always exceed what the client could have obtained on his or her own.

What Are Damages?

Because contingency fees are inextricably linked with how plaintiffs recover compensation, at least a brief discussion of damages is necessary. Damages are meant to compensate the client for their losses, to put it simply. In the common parlance of the court, they attempt to make the victim whole.

Courts generally consider a few different factors to determine how much compensation a plaintiff deserves. They will look at pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of income, and even cost of care if the plaintiff sustains permanent disabilities.

Coping with the effects of a serious injury is never easy, especially if you’re dealing with financial difficulties, such as medical bills, at the same time. Knowing that your injuries were the result of wrongdoing only adds frustration. Thankfully, you don’t have to suffer in silence.

The law allows victims of negligence to obtain financial compensation through the court system. A successful personal injury lawsuit can achieve the support that both you and your family need and deserve.

The first step in vindicating your rights is consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can evaluate your case, determine your options, and give you a sense of direction in an otherwise turbulent moment.

Furthermore, most personal injury lawyers will handle cases at no upfront cost to the client by working on contingency. The lawyer is paid only if the lawsuit is successful. If the court awards the client a monetary reward, the lawyer will collect a certain percentage of that reward to cover the cost of his services. This should eliminate any amount of money the client is required to pay out of pocket for a fee.

Further, most personal injury lawyers will advance any costs to prosecute a case. For example, the cost of obtaining the police report, copies of medical records, or expert opinion fees. You would have to pay these costs on your own if you were representing yourself. The expenses a lawyer advances typically get reimbursed at the time of settlement or verdict.

Contact an attorney right away if you believe you’ve suffered injuries because of another party’s wrongdoing. Personal injury lawsuits are often complex, and may require an extensive investigation. Additionally, many jurisdictions impose a statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits, requiring that you file claims within a certain time after the accident. Call a personal injury lawyer now to make sure that deadline doesn’t pass before you file your claim.

Tips for Staying Healthy When in Public Places

Each year, millions of people suffer from colds, flu, or other viruses. Some viruses can spread easily from one person to another. Now more than ever, it is important to take care of yourself and your immune system. Try these tips for protecting your good health, as well as the health of others.

Get a Flu Shot

There are many viruses each year, and each one can affect people differently. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated annually—and while you’re at it, make sure your other vaccinations (including chicken pox, shingles, and measels) are up to date. Vaccination is especially important for those with chronic health conditions. Other benefits include reducing the severity of illness as well as the likelihood of hospitalizations and flu-related death in children.

Wash Your Hands

chicago illinois personal injury lawyerJust the simple act of washing your hands often and thoroughly will help protect you from germs. More than any other part of your body, your hands come into contact with your surroundings. Whether you are at your workplace, a store, a bus, or any public place, when you touch a surface, you risk picking up germs. According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on hard surfaces for up to eight hours.

Wash your hands several times a day. In general, wash your hands whenever they are visibly dirty, or after you have come into contact with any questionable surfaces. Make it part of your daily routine. For example, wash your hands before preparing or eating food, caring for someone who is sick, and inserting or removing contact lenses. Also, don’t forget to wash your hands after using the bathroom, sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose or caring for someone who is sick. Also, wash your hands after handling food (including pet food) or garbage, or touching an animal or animal waste.

The Mayo Clinic recommends washing your hands with soap and water. Regular soap is just as effective as over-the-counter antibacterial soaps to kill germs.

For thorough, effective hand washing, experts recommend:

  • Use clean, running water.
  • Apply soap and scrub your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds or more. Make sure you rub all parts of your hands, including between your fingers, under your fingernails, the backs of your hands and your wrists.
  • Rinse completely, and air dry your hands or use a clean towel.
  • Use alcohol-based sanitizer

An alcohol-based sanitizer is also a sensible way to kill germs and protect against illness, but only if soap and water aren’t readily available. For maximum effectiveness, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using a sanitizer containing 70 percent to 95 percent ethanol or isopropanol.

Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Mouth, and Nose

Even if you wash your hands regularly, it is impossible to keep them completely clean all the time. You can’t see them, but germs are everywhere. If you touch something that is contaminated with germs and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you risk infection. Unfortunately, touching your face is a tough habit to break. Those who have habits such as nail-biting risk ingesting germs.

When wearing a mask, be sure to follow the recommended guidelines for safe and sanitary use.

Keep Your Home, Workspace, and Car Clean and Sanitized

You probably feel that your home, office, or car is very clean. However, we are all touching surfaces all the time. After you have been out in public, you may have gotten in your car, driven home, and along the way, touched your keys, cell phone, and other areas in your home before you got around to washing your hands. Doing so just invited all sorts of germs into your life.

Countertops, whether they are in a store or your own kitchen, can be teeming with germs. If you make yourself a snack on a contaminated surface, you will ingest all those germs. Even kitchen sponges harbor germs. They should be disinfected or changed regularly.

Avoid Touching Common Surfaces in Public Places

Common public surfaces/places that have the most germs include:

  • ATMs, PIN pads or other electronic payment terminals
  • Gas pumps
  • Shopping carts
  • Pens used to sign at a store checkout or a restaurant
  • Self-checkout terminals at the grocery store
  • Doorknobs and handles
  • Handles and other surfaces on public transportation

Use sanitizer or disinfectant wipes to clean public surfaces before you touch them and then use hand sanitizer afterward. You can also bring your own pen to use at the register. As much as possible, avoid putting your hands on stair rails, doorknobs, and faucets. Especially in busy public places, people touch these surfaces constantly, and they probably do not get sanitized enough to keep them free of germs. Instead, use the back of your hand, arms, and elbows, use a disposable paper product, or use the outside of an article of clothing. Also, do not share items such as cell phones.

Avoid Crowds

Do your best to avoid unnecessary crowds and travel. You can’t always tell if someone is sick, because people may be infected with the flu or cold even before symptoms appear. Therefore, stay away from crowded spaces if you can. If you find yourself in a crowd, try not to talk too close to people. If someone near you is sneezing or coughing, turn away and cover your mouth and nose. Breath out slowly so that you don’t inhale the contaminated air and move at least 6 to 10 feet away from that person.

Try to stay away from busy malls or performance venues. We all love to go to a movie theater or live performance, but in those situations, many people are sitting close together, and if one person has a virus, germs can spread easily and quickly.

It is easy to see why daycare or childcare centers are a frequent source of colds or flu. In these settings, young children often use their hands to touch their faces or wipe their noses. Then they handle their toys, touch every surface within reach, and touch other children, who, in turn, do the same. The flu virus and other germs can easily spread among them, especially as their immune systems are still building up. According to the CDC, flu can be especially dangerous for children, especially those aged five or younger, because they are at a higher risk for complications.

Avoid Close Contact

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too. To protect others, cover your mouth and nose with a mask or tissue and, if possible, stay at home if you are sick. If you are caring for someone who has a contagious illness, follow all basic sanitation procedures. Try to stay in a separate area, away from the sick-room, and avoid using the same bathroom. Be extra cautious about sharing household items. Don’t share unwashed drinking glasses, eating utensils, or dishes. Also, avoid sharing linens, such as bedding, towels, or kitchen linens. After a sick person uses household items, always wash and sanitize them carefully.

Practice Other Good Health Habits

Most of the secrets to good health are just common sense. Keep your immune system in good shape by eating nutritious food, drinking plenty of liquids, getting enough sleep, being physically active, and controlling your stress level. Be careful and be well.

What You Should Know About Rear-End Collisions and Back & Neck Injuries

When you have neck and back pain after someone rear-ends your car, you may have a condition commonly known as whiplash. If you feel immediate intense pain and you require emergency treatment and hospitalization, you likely have a far more serious problem. While you eventually recover from minor back and neck injuries, the most serious problems may require treatment indefinitely, and can lead to a variety of long-term consequences.

Even minor neck and back injuries cause pain, discomfort, loss of motion, and a variety of unexpected symptoms. Sometimes minor conditions turn out to be not so minor at all. They often require extensive medical treatment, pain medication, and physical therapy before your symptoms subside. Some seriously injured victims find relief through surgical intervention. Others adjust to the long-term disabilities, chronic pain, and permanent motion restrictions. Regardless of the severity, persons with back injuries often lose income during their recovery. If their disabilities continue, they live with a long list of physical, financial, and emotional consequences.

Why Is It Called Whiplash?

Whiplash gets its name from the neck motion that occurs when a motorist strikes another person’s car in the rear. The vehicle’s sudden deceleration after an impact causes a whip-like flexion and hyperextension of the neck. You flex and extend your neck every day, but the motion is usually harmless; when a sudden crash impact triggers the motion, it traumatizes soft tissues and underlying musculoskeletal structures. Whiplash injuries occur even at low-speed impacts.

Why Are Neck and Back Injuries so Painful?

If your whiplash pain seems to encompass your neck, back, head, and other areas of your body, it’s because neck and back injuries often affect the upper and lower back as well as their internal structures and nerves. As the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains, whiplash injuries harm intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots. This causes symptoms and conditions such as neck stiffness, muscle and ligament sprains and strains, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, depression, inflammation, and an extensive list of potential problems. Persons with back and neck injuries even suffer from referred pain where they feel pain in an uninjured body part.

Although whiplash is often seen as an insignificant injury, it’s sometimes a sign of a deeper problem. Knowyourback.com, the North American Spine Society website, projects that whiplash injuries should resolve within 6 to 10 weeks of an accident. Chronic pain beyond this timeframe is often due to an underlying disc problem or an issue with facet joints located at the rear of the affected vertebra.

Serious and Catastrophic Back and Neck Injuries

When a vehicle rear-ends a car at high speeds, the impact jolts the body causing severe injuries. If a semi, a bus, or another heavy vehicle initiates the impact, the injuries are often catastrophic and sometimes fatal. A sudden severe spinal trauma can fracture or dislocate a vertebra. Bone or disc fragments then damage spinal cord tissue. They destroy axons, the nerve cell extensions that deliver signals to the brain. This dynamic causes paralysis and functional losses from the damaged area downward.

Rear-end accidents cause these and other serious and catastrophic back and neck injuries.

  • Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spinal fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis at the damage and below
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Loss of sensation
  • Herniated discs
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Reduced life expectancy
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Psychological problems
  • Fatal injuries

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website lists car or motorcycle crashes as one of four high-energy traumas that cause thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (low back) spinal fractures. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center’s 2018 Spinal Cord Injury Fact sheet cites auto accidents as a factor in 38.3% of spinal cord injuries nationwide.

Neck and Back Injury Treatment

Neck and back injuries vary widely, so the treatments vary as well. For whiplash injuries, doctors often treat patients using traditional soft tissue injury solutions. They include more complex treatment options if the pain continues or worsens.

  • Pain medications
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Cervical collars
  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Cervical traction
  • Spinal fusion
  • Laminoplasty
  • Laser surgery
  • Heat treatments
  • Medial branch blocks

For patients with catastrophic back injuries, treatment options are still limited. Advances in emergency medicine have improved spinal cord injury recovery. When given within hours of the injury, a steroid drug called methylprednisolone reduces nerve damage. For many spinal cord injuries, the treatment still emphasizes rehabilitation, condition management, and follow-up care like:

  • Respiratory support
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Surgery
  • Strengthening
  • Physical and psychological therapy
  • Chronic condition management (pain, heart, bladder, respiration, bowel)

Recoverable Damages from a Rear End Neck or Back Injury

Each neck or back injury is unique. The damages are often unpredictable, but settlements usually include the basic categories: economic damages and general damages. Economic damages reimburse actual costs incurred for medical treatment, therapy, medications, prosthetics, mobility devices and structures, lost wages, future wages, and more. General damages pay an injured person for the value of pain, suffering, emotional distress, scarring, lifestyle changes, diminishment of a spousal relationship, and other emotional and psychological considerations.

Never say I’m Okay

Sometimes a back or neck trauma takes a day or so to catch up with you. When you have no broken bones or immediate pain, you might not feel symptoms until a day or two later. That’s important to remember during the moments immediately following an accident. Neck and back injury symptoms often don’t manifest immediately. That’s why you should never insist that you’re okay following an accident: without medical observation, it’s often impossible to know for sure whether you are truly injury-free.

The delay factor often makes whiplash injuries controversial when you have a pending liability claim. When a person feels unharmed after a rear-end accident, they often respond “I’m okay” to police officers, witnesses, EMTs, and anyone else who asks. That sense of being okay, however, may only last until the pain begins a few days later. When you present an injury claim to the other person’s insurance company, your post-accident okay statements could support their doubts that your injuries aren’t legitimate.

Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys

If someone rear-ended your car and caused your neck or back injury, they should be held responsible for your damages. Abels & Annes Personal Injury Attorneys have recovered millions for our clients: Let us determine if we can help you. Call us at (312) 924-7575 or complete our contact form at Abels & Annes online to arrange a free consultation.