Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Chicago Personal Injury Claims
AFW Law Group is always here for you to answer your questions about a personal injury matter and offer any help we can to ensure you get the medical care and compensation you need and deserve after getting hurt because of another’s negligence or wrongful conduct. Below we have compiled answers to some of the questions we get most often. If you have other questions or need to talk with a lawyer about a Chicago personal injury claim, call AFW Law Group at 844-AFW-LAWS, 872-210-2198 or 872-210-2199.
What do I need to know if I’ve been injured?
If you get hurt in an accident that might have been someone else’s fault, paying attention to the following do’s and don’ts can help preserve your rights to file a claim and ultimately be successful recovering compensation from the negligent party who caused you harm:
Do not give a statement either recorded or otherwise to anyone. Any statement you give could possibly by used against you if you get involved in a civil lawsuit.
Be aware that there are laws in each state called Statutes of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations in each state restricts the amount of time in which you have to bring a lawsuit. You need to know what the Statute of Limitations is in your state that will relate to your incident. You must file a lawsuit before the allotted time so that your rights are protected.
You should preserve all important documents relating to your incident, including any police report.
In an automobile incident, you should consider preserving your car as evidence. Most vehicles now have a black box which contains information that might be relevant to the proof in your case.
In an automobile incident, be aware that you should check out your own insurance to see how much underinsurance coverage you have on your policy. Your underinsurance coverage may be a source of recovery if the defendant has a limited amount of coverage.
Consider documenting your injuries with photographs.
Seek the advice of legal counsel at least to be educated as to what your rights are.
How long do I have to file a claim?
Illinois has a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits. This means you have two years from the date of the injury or accident to file a lawsuit in court; after that period, you can be prohibited from going to court for a recovery. Illinois also maintains a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims; these lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of death (which might be later than the date of the accident which caused the death).
Depending on certain circumstances, the time to file a claim might be shorter or longer. For instance, victims of medical malpractice have two years from the time they discovered the injury-causing malpractice, such as a retained foreign object after surgery or a missed diagnosis of cancer, where the malpractice might not be apparent to the victim at the time it happened. This exception cannot extend more than four years beyond the date of the malpractice, however.
An example of a shorter timeline might be a claim against the government, such as malpractice at a public hospital, a slip and fall on government property, or a motor vehicle accident with a government vehicle. To preserve your right to file a lawsuit, the appropriate government agency must be put on notice about the injury within one year from the date of the accident.
While having a year or more to file a lawsuit might seem like a long time, it can go by very quickly while you are recovering physically from your injuries, negotiating with the insurance company, dealing with mountains of paperwork and requests for documents, all while trying to put your life back in order. By calling a lawyer soon after your accident, you’ll get help accessing medical care and other elements of your claim, preserving evidence and documenting your injury, settling your claim as soon as you are ready, and making sure important deadlines like the statute of limitations don’t get missed.
What does it cost to hire a lawyer for my case?
The attorneys that our office will refer you to generally take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. Simply put, a contingency fee means that we only get paid if we win. If we don’t recover compensation on your behalf, then you don’t owe us anything. The fees are a fixed percentage of what is recovered on your behalf, normally one-third of any sum recovered. This is usually discussed with you when your case is accepted. The law office where your case is referred will usually advance all costs of any litigation, such as court filing fees, costs of depositions, expert witness fees, etc. These costs come out of any verdict or settlement, so it won’t cost you a penny upfront out of your pocket to pursue your case.
Your initial consultation with our firm is free of charge, regardless of whether you retain the law office we refer to represent you. As a client, all communications during your case (phone calls, emails, texts, etc.) are included in the contingency fee.
Contingency fees allow everybody to have access to the best lawyers and the best legal representation, regardless of how much money they have to hire a lawyer. We are pleased to be able to offer this arrangement to our clients.
What if the insurance company says the accident is partly my fault?
Be very wary of this tactic. In Illinois, injury victims cannot recover compensation if they are considered to be more than 50% at fault for causing the accident. If they are 50% or less to blame, they can still recover, but any amount they are awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them. Insurance companies know this and will try to shift as much of the blame onto you as they can. But they don’t have the final word on who was at fault. Your attorney will gather the facts and build a case that proves the other party’s negligence while defending you against groundless claims that you were negligent when you weren’t.
What if the driver who hit me drove away without exchanging information?
Hit and run car accidents are dangerous, deadly, and illegal. Under Illinois law, all drivers involved in an accident resulting in personal injury are required to immediately stop or return to the scene and remain there until they have rendered aid and exchanged information with the other driver. Failure to do so is a crime. Sadly, hit and run accidents are on the rise in Chicago.
Your lawyer can work with law enforcement or independently with private investigators to track down the hit-and-run driver and hold them accountable for the harm they have caused, including punitive damages if applicable. If the driver can’t be found, you can file a claim with your insurance company under your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Our lawyers can settle your UM claim on your behalf for maximum compensation or take the insurance company to court if necessary to get you the amount you need and deserve for your injuries.