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
- 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.