Personal injury victims often struggle with mounting medical bills, hindrances to their ability to work, and the emotional and psychological consequences that may result. However, you should be aware that you may have a legal path to recover monetary compensation for these harms from the party responsible.
Whether you were injured in a slip and fall, a car accident, a construction site accident, medical malpractice, or another accident caused by negligence, you could potentially recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit. Your compensation will account for both economic and non-economic damages and, in some cases, may call for additional punitive damages.
Our personal injury lawyers at Rhatigan Law Offices can offer you a free case review when you call us today at (312) 578-8502.
Common Causes of Personal Injuries in Chicago
Personal injury can occur in a variety of circumstances. Depending on how and where it happens, your injury may create liability for the at-fault party. Identifying these situations and how you can recover may be complex, but your Chicago personal injury attorney will help point you in the right direction. Below are some of the most common situations where personal injury claims could arise.
Slip and Falls
In the State of Illinois, property owners owe duties to anyone that they invite onto their property. These duties vary depending on the nature of the property and why the visitor is there. For instance, there is a difference in the duties that a restaurant owner owes its patrons and the duties that a person owes a dinner guest at their private residence. But in every case, the property owner or manager is responsible for taking reasonable precautions for preventing foreseeable accidents where a guest could fall and injure themselves.
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of serious injury. Drivers who behave negligently by breaking traffic rules and regulations on public and private roadways may cause devastating harm. Illinois is a fault-based car insurance state, meaning that the compensation for car accident injuries should come from the insurer of the driver who was at fault for causing the accident.
Chicagoans commonly rely on the care of medical providers in several situations. When that care deviates from established standards, the consequences could be dire. Personal injury lawsuits are available to malpractice victims who suffer new injuries and those whose existing injuries were unnecessarily exacerbated by the malpractice.
Construction Site Accidents
Negligence on construction sites can cause various accidents that could affect both construction site workers and passersby. In these cases, identifying who is responsible could be the most important step. Construction site operators, independent contractors, and machinery manufacturers may be liable, so consult with your Chicago personal injury lawyer to determine who to name in your lawsuit.
Additionally, many personal injuries are caused by truck accidents in Chicago. Trucking companies often place immense pressure on their drivers to remain on the road for extended periods to deliver their cargo on-time. Accordingly, many accidents are caused by tired truck drivers. Tired drivers are prone to making several kinds of mistakes like veering out of their lane or disobeying traffic signals.
Truck accidents can cause devastating injuries because of the size of the vehicles involved. If you were injured because of a truck accident, our Chicago personal injury lawyers can help recover financial compensation for the harm you suffered.
Lastly, in some cases, victims may suffer fatal injuries because of other parties’ negligent behavior. Deaths that occur because of other peoples’ wrongful acts are referred to as wrongful deaths. If your loved one suffered a wrongful death, you should contact our Chicago personal injury lawyers for help determining the appropriate next steps.
Damages for Personal Injury Lawsuits in Chicago
When a personal injury victim succeeds in their lawsuit, they recover monetary compensation in line with the harm that their injuries have caused. In the legal world, this compensation is commonly referred to as “damages.” Damages are calculated based on both economic and non-economic harms. In certain situations, victims may also recover punitive damages based on the defendant’s intentional or highly reckless behavior.
Economic damages are calculated based on the strictly financial harms that a personal injury victim incurs as a result of the accident. These include the expenses that the victim is forced to pay, such as medical expenses. They may also include any money that the victim lost out on due to their injuries, such as lost income or missed opportunities for advancement from missed time at work.
Your pain and suffering will also factor into the calculation of your damages. Noneconomic damages are meant to cover the more personal consequences of a personal injury. This might include compensation for chronic pain or disfigurement that could affect the victim’s personal relationships and ability to enjoy life as they had before the accident. If you have questions about how a court might calculate your non-economic damages, your Chicago personal injury attorney may be able to help answer them, as well as find expert witnesses that can help express these harms in financial terms to a court.
If a court finds that the defendant’s injurious conduct was intentional or highly reckless, the court may determine that this conduct warrants further punishment. Punitive damages are not available in every case, but they can be substantial where it is.
Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Chicago
In any case, there is only so much time that a personal injury victim has to file their lawsuit in court. According to 735 I.L.C.S. 5/13-202, the time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois is generally two years from the date when the injury occurred. Missing this deadline will likely result in the loss of your case and a chance to recover. However, certain exceptions do exist.
Exceptions to the Illinois Statute of Limitations
There are limited exceptions that apply to the statute of limitations. Victims who were minors at the time of their injurious accident or whose cause of injury was improperly concealed from them may have slightly longer to file their case. Still, it is better to file sooner rather than later, so we urge you to reach out to an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you believe you may have a personal injury claim.
Evidence Used to Prove Fault in a Chicago Personal Injury Lawsuit
A crucial step in any personal injury lawsuit involves gathering evidence. Plaintiffs must gather evidence that proves another party was at-fault for their injuries. There are numerous forms of evidence that can be used to prove fault. The following are common types of evidence used by our Chicago personal injury lawyers:
Accident reports are typically written by police officers and filed with the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles and the law enforcement agency that conducted the accident investigation. If you suffered a personal injury at work, though, your employer likely filled out an accident report for their business records and insurance purposes.
Accident reports usually include a description of what happened, the names of people involved, the types of injuries sustained, and whether a party was cited for the accident. These reports can be incredibly useful in proving fault in a personal injury lawsuit and helping discover other pieces of evidence and witnesses that could help your case.
Witnesses can provide testimony about what they saw or heard at the time of an accident. Witnesses might also be able to identify other factors that contributed to an accident, such as poor weather conditions, road hazards, or other conditions the plaintiff might not recall or was not aware of. Witnesses will often help establish who is liable for damages because they saw everything happen first-hand. In many cases, witnesses will not know the parties involved, so their testimony is usually trusted in court since they have no good reason to lie under oath. However, witnesses are not always able to accurately remember what happened, so it is important to find as many witnesses as possible who saw what happened and who can offer credible testimony about what occurred.
Photos from the Scene
Photos are one of the most common forms of evidence used in Chicago personal injury cases. Photos are useful since many types of evidence will not physically be able to be brought into court. For instance, you obviously cannot bring your damaged car into a courtroom, but you can submit photos of your damaged vehicle during a trial to support your testimony.
Photos and videos of the scene can help prove how the accident occurred and help establish the severity of your injuries. After being injured, take photos of your injuries at the scene or the hospital to preserve evidence of how severe they were at the time of the accident. Be sure to take as many photos as possible from multiple angles of any damage you notice or think might be relevant to an attorney.
Physical Evidence from the Scene
Depending on what kind of incident occurred, there might be physical evidence left at the scene that helps establish who was at fault for causing your injuries. Physical evidence from the scene includes any objects found at or near where an injury occurred that might help explain what happened. For example, if someone were injured when they tripped over an object on their friend’s front lawn, we would likely collect this object for further analysis. You might also have a defective product to use as evidence if you were injured by a negligently designed or manufactured product. Other types of physical evidence include blood stains on clothing and debris left behind by your damaged vehicle, such as broken glass or pieces of metal.
Surveillance footage can be very helpful in proving fault, if available, but it is most often used in car accident cases. A dashcam camera might have been installed in the vehicle or a speed camera at an intersection could have captured valuable information about your accident. Given that most people have smartphones today, it is quite possible that a witness took a video of your accident if it occurred publicly. If nearby, your accident could also have been captured by residential or business surveillance cameras. Our firm can investigate the scene of your accident to determine if any cameras in the area can provide evidence in your case.
Expert Witness Testimony
Expert witness testimony is another type of evidence often used to prove fault in a Chicago personal injury case. Expert witness testimony comes from someone who knows certain information about your claim not known to the average person, such as medicine or engineering. Expert witnesses can tell the court how products work or explain a complex diagnosis to the judge or jury. For example, if you injured your back while playing basketball, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in back injuries might need to testify about the treatment you received for your injuries and how they will impact your life.
Our team can help arrange for expert witnesses to testify in your case, regardless of the type of personal injury lawsuit you are pursuing. However, expert witnesses will need to be qualified before they are allowed to testify. This means the defendant’s attorney is allowed to question your expert witness before they testify to ensure that they are indeed an expert in what they claim to be. This is usually not an issue since we will also question the expert witness to establish their credentials.
Personal recollections are a type of evidence that can be used to prove fault in a Chicago personal injury lawsuit. These recollections usually come directly from the parties involved in the incident. Personal recollections are often used when no other sources of proof are available, but they can also be useful to corroborate other evidence. In order to be considered valid evidence, however, personal recollections must be considered by the court as accurate and reliable. They must also not be found to be tainted by bias or prejudice. The person providing their personal recollection must also have firsthand knowledge of what happened since hearsay is not generally allowed in a trial.
The Burden of Proof in a Chicago Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you are filing a personal injury claim, you will have the burden of proving that your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence or conduct. While the burden of proof is lower in civil court, you will need to submit evidence that shows that it is more likely than not that someone else’s actions caused your injuries.
The burden of proof refers to a plaintiff’s duty to prove their cause of action. Plaintiffs in Chicago personal injury cases must usually do this with a “preponderance of evidence.” The preponderance of the evidence is an evidentiary standard that requires a plaintiff to establish that there is a greater than 50% chance their claim is true.
Some people may be familiar with the burden of proof from criminal cases on T.V. and in the movies. In criminal cases, fault must be established “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The preponderance of evidence standard that applies to Chicago personal injury lawsuits is a substantially lower standard. Personal injury plaintiffs in Chicago must simply prove that their claims are more likely to be true than not true. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers can further explain how the burden of proof will apply to your case during a free case review.
The Process for a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Chicago
The process for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Chicago can vary depending on a variety of factors. For instance, the cause of your injuries and the extent of the harm you suffered can both impact which legal strategies and analyses will apply to your case. However, each personal injury lawsuit will follow a similar basic process. Our experienced Chicago personal injury lawyers can offer support throughout each of the following stages of the legal process:
Filing a Lawsuit
Filing your case is one of the first steps toward recovering compensation in a Chicago personal injury lawsuit. Plaintiffs must adhere to numerous requirements when filing their cases. For instance, potential plaintiffs must bring their cases to the right court, pay any required court fees, attach necessary supporting documents, serve all named defendants, and ensure they are filing a complete and valid claim. Those who do not adhere to any of the previously mentioned requirements may have to re-file their cases. Accordingly, the assistance of our attorneys can be highly valuable when ensuring you have satisfied the required conditions for filing your claim.
Witness testimony is a highly valuable form of evidence when proving fault for a personal injury. However, interviewing witnesses can be a stressful task. Interviews can take hours to complete, and it is imperative that plaintiffs know the right questions to ask when seeking pertinent information. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers can help ask the right questions to obtain evidence that supports your claim.
Next, our experienced Chicago personal injury lawyers can offer help when presenting evidence at trial. Extensive amounts of evidence are often required to support a personal injury claim. Organizing and presenting such evidence can be difficult. Therefore, our Chicago personal injury lawyers can help ensure you present your evidence in a convincing manner.
Lastly, our team can help plaintiffs evaluate and understand the consequences of a jury verdict. Furthermore, if your verdict is less than favorable, our attorneys can assess your ability to appeal. There are numerous potential reasons for an appeal. If your appeal is successful, you may recover monetary damages that were denied in your original trial.
How Much Is My Chicago Personal Injury Case Worth?
The amount of damages awarded in Chicago personal injury cases can vary drastically. The amount of damages awarded in your case will depend on the extent of economic and non-economic damages you sustained because of your injuries. Fortunately, our experienced Chicago personal injury lawyers can help assess the potential value of your case during a free case review.
How Can a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?
Most personal injury plaintiffs in Chicago are faced with the difficult decision of either settling their cases early or going to trial. Fortunately, our Chicago personal injury lawyers can help plaintiffs decide which is the right choice for them.
Settling with Insurance
A settlement agreement is a type of legal contract that ensures a defendant will pay a specific amount of monetary damages to a plaintiff for their case to be dismissed. Plaintiffs who settle early may acquire compensation more quickly. Furthermore, those who reach settlement agreements before going to trial can save on the many costs associated with litigating a case. However, not all settlement offers reflect the true value of plaintiffs’ cases. Insurance companies typically want to settle cases as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
Going to Trial
Plaintiffs that go to trial will have the opportunity to recover additional compensation. However, those who are unsuccessful may receive little to nothing for their injuries. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers can help accurately assess settlement offers to determine if going to trial is the right choice for you.
Our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
To hear more about our services during your free initial case assessment with our personal injury attorneys, call Rhatigan Law Offices at (312) 578-8502.