Personal injury law exists to protect your rights and interests if you've suffered harm because of someone else's negligence or deliberate actions. It can cover everything from car accidents and slip-and-fall incidents to medical malpractice cases.
Having the right legal representation at the correct time allows for the proper handling of complex legal procedures and ensures that your rights as a victim are fully protected.
Here’s when it’s essential to work with a personal injury lawyer.
When Liability Isn’t Clear
A personal injury case can become complicated when multiple parties are involved and it's unclear who should be held accountable.
An experienced attorney has the skills to navigate through these complex layers, help establish liability, and make sure all responsible parties are addressed.
Here are a few potential parties that could bear responsibility:
The At-Fault Driver
In case of an auto accident, the driver at fault – whether through reckless driving, distracted driving, or other violations – may be held responsible for your injuries. This liability is usually determined through various factors, like traffic laws and eyewitness testimony.
The Manufacturer of Defective Vehicles or Car Parts
In car accidents, a driver might seem to be at fault initially. However, deeper investigation can sometimes reveal that there were defective auto parts contributing to the mishap.
The At-Fault Driver's Employer
In an accident involving a commercial vehicle like a delivery van or semi-truck, the driver's employer might carry some fault – particularly if company policies encouraged reckless driving behavior.
A Government Entity
Occasionally, government entities can hold responsibility – such as when poor road maintenance leads to an accident. These cases often have different filing deadlines and procedural rules, making them more complex than traditional personal injury lawsuits.
A Property Owner
In a slip and fall accident or any other injury that occurs on someone's property due to unsafe conditions, the owner of that property could be liable under premises liability law.
When You're Partially Responsible For the Accident
In some accidents, you might be found to share some level of responsibility for the incident. In Illinois, a rule known as modified comparative negligence applies in such situations.
Under this principle, even if you are partially at fault – so long as your degree of blame does not reach 51% or more – you can still claim economic and non-economic damages. Your award will be reduced proportionally to your level of fault. This often complicates matters, though. Trying to determine and argue percentages becomes a tricky process where having skilled legal representation can prove invaluable.
When Insurance Companies Are Being Difficult
It's worth keeping in mind that insurance companies are ultimately businesses looking to protect their financial interests. As such, they may try to minimize the payout or deny your claim altogether.
Insurance adjusters might utilize various tactics, like disputing liability, downplaying your injuries, or convincing you to make recorded statements, which could harm your case later on. Negotiating with them can prove challenging, especially when dealing with the trauma of an accident.
By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you'll have someone experienced at handling these often intricate negotiations while leveling the playing field against large insurers who routinely deal with such matters.
When Medical Treatment is Ongoing
Cases involving long-term injuries or chronic medical conditions from an accident can be particularly complex. If your medical treatment is ongoing, it may be difficult to accurately estimate the full extent of your costs and future care needs.
In such scenarios, a personal injury lawyer can work with healthcare providers and insurance companies to ensure that all current and future expenses are accounted for in settlement negotiations. This helps to recoup immediate costs and also secure financial resources necessary for complete recovery over the long haul.
When You Have a Complex Case
Certain circumstances can make a personal injury case highly complex, such as when multiple parties are involved, injuries are severe with long-term effects, or if the incident occurred in a specialized setting like maritime or aviation accidents.
In these situations, it would be wise to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. They will have the experience to navigate through complicated legal procedures and understand specific regulations pertaining to these unique scenarios.
When an Uninsured Driver or a Hit-and-Run Accident Is Involved
In the unfortunate event that you're involved in an automobile accident with a driver who lacks proper insurance coverage, or worse, you've been a victim of a hit-and-run offense, it can increase complications while seeking compensation for your losses.
Such circumstances emphasize why retaining legal counsel could be particularly beneficial. An attorney well-versed in personal injury law will know how to resort to different strategies, like leveraging your own uninsured motorist coverage (if available) and identifying other liable parties, if any exist.
When You Have Pre-Existing Injuries
If you have pre-existing injuries, an accident might exacerbate those conditions, which you should be allowed to collect compensation for. However, insurance companies often dispute these claims and argue that your current issues are due to the prior injury, not the recent accident.
Having a personal injury lawyer in such scenarios can prove significantly advantageous. Your attorney can gather medical documentation emphasizing how your condition worsened post-accident, coupled with expert medical opinions supporting this claim.
When the Case Seems Likely to Go to Trial
If the defendant proves obstinate and refuses a fair settlement, your case may proceed to trial. This stage of proceedings is quite formalized, with specific rules around what evidence can be introduced and how arguments must be presented.
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney becomes even more critical here, as they can use their knowledge about courtroom procedures to skillfully argue in front of a judge or jury.
Without legal training, there's almost no way for you to effectively prove your claim in court.
Make Sure You Contact a Personal Injury Attorney As Soon As Possible
It's crucial to engage a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible after an accident for several reasons:
The Illinois Statute of Limitations
Every state imposes its own legal time limit, known as the statute of limitations, on how long you have to file a personal injury claim. In Illinois, this deadline is typically two years from the date of the accident. Sometimes, it can be shortened or extended, depending on the circumstances, which is why speaking with a lawyer is critical.
The sooner you hire a lawyer, the quicker they can start gathering evidence. The longer you wait to work with a lawyer, the more likely it is that certain evidence won't be available – like skid marks or surveillance footage that gets automatically erased after a certain period of time.
Witnesses can forget details over time that could have proven helpful in bolstering your case. Quick action ensures that statements are recorded when events are still vivid in people's memories.
Contact Our Experienced Illinois Personal Injury Lawyers After an Accident
To protect your rights, don't delay in contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer. Contact us by calling us at (312) 726-1616 for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you navigate these challenging times.