If you were injured, you should have a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer who will analyze the specifics of your situation and determine a course of action that will secure the proper financial settlement for you and your family. Insurance companies will do all they can to avoid paying, and a lawyer can help you deal with a complex and emotionally charged situation.
The specific compensation that could be awarded in personal injury cases depends quite a bit on the type of claim, the extent and severity of the injuries, and other factors unique to each case. However, some of the things you might receive compensation for include medical care and equipment, at-home care, pain and suffering and lost wages.
There are similarities between personal injury and wrongful death cases in that both involve the negligence or intentional acts of another party leading to harm. A personal injury claim, however, is filed by the person who was injured. A wrongful death claim is filed by the family of the victim, which can include a spouse, children, parents, or siblings.
If you file a lawsuit, you are the plaintiff in the case. The person who injured you is identified as the defendant. Your lawyer and the lawyers for the other side and their insurance company will begin to gather evidence, which is called discovery.
In most situations, a personal injury lawsuit is settled without going to trial. What this means is that you agree to a monetary amount, and you then drop your legal action against the other party. You would have to sign a release that would absolve the defendant from any future liability. It’s up to you whether you accept a settlement offer.
The amount of time you have available to file a lawsuit is called the statute of limitations. In Illinois, for personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations is usually two years. That means you will have to file a lawsuit within two years of the time you were injured. There are limited exceptions to this, such as if the injured party is a minor.
Personal injury damages are calculated based on combining actual expenses, and then expenses that account for pain and suffering. There is a division between special, medical special, and general damages.
Special damages are things that you can calculate pretty easily such as lost wages or out-of-pocket expenses resulting from an injury.
Medical special damages are those costs such as ambulances and diagnostic testing. These are dependent largely on the severity of your injury.
Pain and suffering is a way to compensate you for damages that aren’t economic.
In Illinois, fault in personal injury cases can be shared. For example, you might be 20% responsible for a car accident where you’re injured, and the other driver might be 80% responsible. You could still recover damages. Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state, so if you’re 50% or more at fault, you can’t recover damages.
When you settle a personal injury claim, you should expect to receive your funds relatively quickly. It’s the negotiation and settlement process that can take time. Most insurers don’t send checks until they receive your signed liability release. Your attorney will handle the creation of your settlement statement, which will outline how much money will be taken out of your settlement for court costs and other needed ductions.
For serious injuries – those that put you out of work either temporarily or permanently – you will likely be entitled to receive compensation for not only your medical and property expenses, but also lost wages, pain and suffering, future medical care, disability payments and emotional distress.
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