Do not Talk to Insurers Without Talking to an Attorney

Illinois residents who are injured in any type of accident that may result in a personal injury claim need to understand their rights. Before you speak with an insurance agent, it is imperative for you to speak with a personal injury attorney first. Here are some of the reasons why this is so important:

Insurance company loyalties – insurers are bound by a board of directors and many are publicly owned companies. This means they are in business to make money. One way to keep the company’s bottom line healthy is to pay as little as possible when an insurance claim is filed

Statutes of limitations – Illinois has a two year restriction on when you may file a personal injury claim. Therefore, if an insurer can convince you to not file a lawsuit, your rights may be breached because you did not file a claim in time

One-size fits all offers – many insurers use a program called Colossus which is intended to help an adjuster “weigh” the value of injuries and claims. The company has a stated goal of “cost-containment” which is good for insurers, but not good for those who are injured


Why Contact an Attorney

Whenever you suffer a serious injury, you have the right to file a personal injury claim. Once you have been checked by a physician, an attorney can review your case and determine if you potentially have a claim. Insurance companies will try to minimize their risk by some of the following methods:

Rejecting your claim – insurance companies often reject claims in the hopes the claimant will give up and not file a second time
Establishing negligence – since Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state, insurance companies may suggest you were partially at fault for your injuries


Release of documents

One mistake to avoid is releasing documents to an insurer. When you are injured in any type of accident, you have the right to collect compensation for injuries, medical expenses and time lost from work. Keep in mind, any documents you release to an insurer may result in your claim being reduced or declined. Insurance companies are going to find any way to reduce the amount of money they must pay out in personal injury cases.

If you feel you have a personal injury claim, before you start dealing with insurance companies, contact the skilled Chicago personal injury law firm of Dworkin and Maciariello today at (312) 548-0359. We’ll evaluate your case and help determine if you have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The Basics of Personal Injury Law in Illinois

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Those who sustained an injury due to the fault of another may want to file a personal injury claim. The law in Illinois makes it possible for injured parties to seek compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. Before filing a lawsuit, people should consult with a lawyer to discuss their case. An experienced attorney helps people receive the compensation they deserve.


According to Illinois state law, the injured party only has two years to file a personal injury claim. Therefore, those who plan on seeking compensation should contact an attorney right away to discuss their options. The law covers everything from automobile accidents and dog bites to slip-and-fall injuries. How much compensation a person can receive depends on the accident. For example, those who suffered an injury from a car accident can file for car repairs, lost wages and medical expenses. In some cases, people can even recover money for pain and suffering.


The state of Illinois considers negligence when determining who caused the accident. To win a personal injury claim, the plaintiff must prove the accident occurred due to the other person?s negligent actions. Proving negligence is challenging without the help of a lawyer. The plaintiff must show that the defendant violated his or her duty not to cause injury to another person. In addition, the plaintiff also has to show proof of injury.


Sometimes, more than one party is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. As a result, the law allows the injured person to seek damages from all parties involved. Besides claiming personal damages, a person can also seek to recover compensation for future expenses. A lot of people believe they can only file suit if they were physically injured. However, the law also allows people to seek restitution for pain and suffering. Courts usually consider slander or false imprisonment a psychological injury or trauma, which makes the victim eligible for compensation.


No one should have to suffer due to another person’s negligence. An experienced lawyer can help the victim receive the compensation that he or she deserves. Attorneys are useful because they understand the legal system and can find expert witnesses to testify on the plaintiff’s behalf. An attorney will prepare the plaintiff for depositions, file court paperwork, communicate with insurance companies and handle all settlement negotiations. The amount of compensation the victim is asking for, severity of the injury and the victim?s willingness to settle are all factors that can affect the length of the case.

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Types of Compensation You Can Receive When Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Car Crash

When you have experienced a personal injury, on top of your pain, you’re likely worrying about finances. Perhaps you will be out of work for a while; you may even have mounting medical bills or other expenses. But you can receive compensation.


Illinois law recognizes several types of compensation — known as damages — in an effort to “make the plaintiff whole” after suffering an injury. While it’s hard to put a dollar amount on things such as pain, by awarding damages Illinois law attempts to rectify the injury to place you, as the injured party, into the same position you would have been in if you had not suffered the injury.


Types of compensation you may receive if awarded damages for a personal injury in Illinois include:

  • Reimbursement for Medical Costs: In most cases, you can expect to receive compensation for past, present and even future medical bills related to your injury.
  • Compensation for Lost Earnings: If you missed work due to your injury — even time away from work for doctor’s appointments or other medical appointments — you are entitled to compensation. Not only can you claim past loss of income, but you can also seek future earnings you might have earned if not for the injury — a damage known as “loss of earning capacity.”
  • Property Damage Reparations: Repair or replacement of property that was either damaged or destroyed may be awarded according to the fair market value of the item.
  • Compensation for Disability and Disfigurement: If the injury leaves you permanently disabled or physically disfigured, you may be entitled to receive monetary damages.
  • Award for Emotional Distress: While pain, suffering and emotional distress — both present and future — are hard to put a dollar figure on, you may receive compensation in many cases. Emotional distress covers problems such as anxiety, sleeplessness and fear.
  • Punitive Damages: In some instances, you may be awarded punitive damages — monetary awards intended to punish the defendant for his or her actions. This type of compensation is less common in Illinois personal injury cases, however, since it is only awarded when the defendant acted with evil intent, complete recklessness or extreme indifference to your well-being and rights.


There may be other monetary damages to which you are entitled, depending on the circumstances surrounding your injury. In addition, Illinois doesn’t cap, or put a limit on, the amount you can receive for your personal injury. Illinois law does require that a personal injury case commence within two years of the injury, or from when the injury was discovered.

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Questions to Ask When Talking to a Personal Injury Attorney

The decision to hire a personal injury attorney is not one that should be taken lightly. All attorneys do not offer the same level of service in the field so it is important to take your time and plan carefully before deciding which one to hire. Be proactive and go into the initial consultation prepared with a list of questions to ask.


The first thing to question is your attorney’s background and experience. Ask what law school he attended and how long he has been practicing. You’ll also want to ask how long he has been taking personal injury cases to gauge how well he will be able to represent you.


Your attorney’s personality is something else that you need to consider. You want someone to represent you that you feel comfortable with in and out of the courtroom. Determine whether you want to go into the consultation with a plan of action in mind, or whether you want your attorney to recommend various options that you might want to consider regarding your case.


The most important questions to ask are those regarding your actual case. Ask your attorney whether he will be the only one attending to your case or if you are going to be dealing with multiple attorneys, including settlements and court appearances. Give the attorney the majority of facts about your case and progress from there to have a conversation about the specific facts. Get a realistic assessment of your case to determine whether you will end up receiving a settlement or going to trial and how much you should expect to receive. You should also get an estimation of how long your case will take from start to finish.


Fees are something else that you need to keep in mind during the consultation. You should also ask how much of a settlement you will receive and how much he will keep in exchange for taking the case. Fees vary depending on whether the case settles, goes to trial or requires an appeal. Ensure that you know what percentage your attorney takes for each scenario.


After you have completed the consultation, assess the meeting and select whether you want to use the firm or not. If you feel comfortable and the fees are reasonable, end your search for a personal injury attorney and feel confident in your decision.

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What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall Accident?


Slip and fall accidents can happen at any time and in any place. Whether you’re on the job, at the store or are simply walking down the street, you never know when you may become the victim of this type of accident. In addition, slip and fall accidents can be quite costly, requiring you to rack up those medical bills that keep coming in after a visit to the hospital. No matter if you’ve only sustained a small injury or if you’ve broken a bone during your fall, it is always important to protect your legal rights by hiring a reputable Illinois personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can help you to make a case and to acquire compensation that may be owed to you after your slip and fall accident.

Obtaining Medical Assistance

Your number one priority after a sip and fall accident should be to obtain medical assistance after your slip and fall. You will also want to make sure that you receive any and all documents from the hospital stating your injuries, as well as medical bills that you can provide to your personal injury lawyer.

Reporting the Accident

After a slip and fall accident, it is necessary to report the accident and injury to whoever is in charge of the property. This could be the landlord, store owner, or other person that is present at the time of the fall. This person should record an accident report on the incident which you will also want to receive a copy of. If police are called to the scene, a copy of their accident report should also be requested.

Photographic Evidence

Because it is easy for store owners, landlords and property owners to fix different areas of their property after an accident occurs, it is especially necessary to take photographs of where the injury occurred directly after the incident. You may also want to take photos of the injuries that you have sustained to provide as proof in your case.

Contacting a Personal Injury Lawyer

Before you head to your insurance company to file a claim, you will want to speak with your Illinois personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can assist you throughout the process, ensuring that you do not sign any unnecessary forms or pay any medical bills that you may be able acquire compensation for from your insurance company or other parties involved in the accident. Your personal injury lawyer will work for you to obtain the best results possible from a painful accident.


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What is the Plaintiff’s Burden in a Premises Liability Case

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Premises liability law is used to determine the obligations of a landowner to a visitor or trespasser on the land, whether that obligation was breached and, if so, what damages were incurred. There are multiple facets to a premises liability case, and the burden of proof falls upon the plaintiff. The burden of proof is the obligation of the plaintiff to provide the evidence needed to prove the liability of the defendant. Only if the plaintiff can successfully prove liability will he be awarded damages. There is no set amount of damages under the law. Rather, the law sets guidelines and leaves the specifics to the court.

Situations that May Constitute a Premises Liability Case

  1. Slips and falls: The property owner does not adequately warn or protect an area with a known falling hazard.
  2. Inadequate Maintenance: The property owner fails to upkeep the premises, and as a result harm comes to another individual.
  3. Defective Conditions: The property owner fails to warn visitors of an unsafe or broken condition or area, such as a staircase.
  4. Inadequate Security: The property owner fails to provide the necessary safety features for the area, such as railings, security cameras or lighting.


Duty of Care

An important aspect of a premises liability case involves the breach of the duty of care. A duty of care is the extent to which the property owner is expected to see to the safety and security of a visitor. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant violated his duty of care and that this violation resulted in the injuries sustained. It is the responsibility of a plaintiff in a case to prove that the defendant violated their duty of care and that this violation resulted directly in the injuries sustained.


Invitee and Licensee

An invitee is anyone invited onto the premises for business reasons. Examples include shoppers invited into a store or a contractor invited to do work on a property. A licensee is someone invited into the premises for personal or non-commercial reasons. Examples include a friend coming over for a personal visit or any other social guest. A property owner owes invitees and licensees the highest duty of care. Almost any injury on a property to an invitee or licensee will involve some level of liability.



On the other side of the spectrum are trespassers, or someone on the premises without legal permission. Unsurprisingly, property owners owe trespassers the lowest duty of care, but they are not completely exempt. If the property owner is aware of the trespasser then they are obligated to warn them of any man-made hazards or defenses such as electric fences.

The exception to this is with child trespassers. The property owner owes child trespassers a higher level of care and is expected to warn them of any unsafe condition and take measures necessary to protect them from harm.


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How A Spinal Cord Injury Can Affect Your Settlement

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Spinal cord injuries that result from the negligence or actions of another party are among the most life-changing an individual can experience. It is important to seek legal representation from an attorney who understands the significant and long-term impact that spinal cord injuries have on their clients and the rest of their lives. Sustaining a spinal cord injury, no matter how severe, can affect the settlement of a personal injury case in Illinois in a number of ways. Because a spinal cord injury has such long-term effects on an individual’s lifestyle, earning power and need for continued medical treatment, personal injury settlements for victims suffering this disability are often in the millions of dollars.


Preparing for a personal injury trial in Illinois involving a spinal cord injury involves intensive as well as expensive preparation. Although most personal injury attorneys offer to take such cases on a contingency basis in which the client does not have to pay any upfront fees and the law office fronts the money for all expenses involved with the case, clients must realize that attorney fees, medical expenses and court expenses will be deducted from the total damages received on their behalf as the victim.


A spinal cord injury case in the Illinois court system usually involves expenses to hire independent medical experts to testify on behalf of the client, fees to pay experts regarding the damage caused by sustaining a spinal cord injury, court expenses in addition to all costs incurred in order to take depositions from all witnesses involved in making a case against the defendant. Because a law firm may have to advance tens of thousands of dollars in expenses before a spinal cord injury case ever makes it to trial, it is essential that a plaintiff hire an attorney who is very knowledgeable about spinal cord injuries and exactly how they affect not only the individual sustaining an injury but also the impact on their families and loved ones.


An attorney who has successful experience getting settlements for spinal cord injury patients will have realistic expectations about what the client deserves and will not agree to inadequate or lowball settlement offers. Because attorney, medical and other fees associated with filing a lawsuit must be taken out of the final settlement money obtained, it is essential to be represented by an experienced personal injury attorney will who fight for the largest settlement possible. This means that your settlement must be sufficient to cover all attorney, medical and court expenses in addition to ensuring your financial well-being as an individual whose disability will require medical treatments for the rest of your life.


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Certain Asiana Plane Crash Injuries Linked to Seat Belts

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Airplane travel whether for business or for pleasure sometimes results in passengers needing to hire a personal injury attorney. Certain actions either taken by airline companies or actions they neglect to take can result in both emotional as well as physical injuries to passengers. The recent crash of Asiana Airlines on July 6 when attempting to land at San Francisco International Airport is a good case in point. Boeing, which designed the aircraft, is now the defendant in a lawsuit filed by three families based in the Bay Area, who are contending that passengers seated in the coach section of the Boeing 777 aircraft sustained injuries that were more significant and severe than those seated in business class because of a difference in the way that seat belts were configured in both classes of seating.


The personal injury lawsuit filed in San Francisco Federal Court allege that coach passengers sustained both head and spinal injuries because their only safety option was a lap belt. By comparison, business class passengers seated in the front section of the aircraft who had the option to wear more protective shoulder restraints design to prevent head, neck and spinal injury in the event of a crash. In addition to linking crash injuries suffered to the type of seat belt provided for the passengers, the lawsuit also contends that Asiana failed to properly train its pilots in the operation of the Boeing 777 and that the aircraft itself contained an auto-throttle that was not working properly.


The Chief of Neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital where scores of the injured passengers were rushed for emergency medical treatment, noted that he perceived a pattern of injuries among those seated in the coach section of Asiana Airlines Flight 214. Their bodies, the doctor noted, were whipped in a forward and then backward motion, causing head and spinal trauma. Medical experts who have studied the relationship between the type of seat restraint used for safety and resulting injuries in the event of a crash will likely be called to testify as the lawsuit progresses as medical expert testimony is a very important part of personal injury lawsuits.


The Federal Aviation Administration is currently responsible for determining which type of seatbelts airlines must install on their aircraft. The newly filed lawsuit regarding crash injuries linked to seat belt configuration on behalf of Asiana Airline crash victims may set a precedent for future personal injury lawsuits regarding air travel accidents.


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How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Illinois?

Illinois State Senate

In the state of Illinois, a person who has suffered a personal injury generally has two years from the date of the incident to file a claim before the statute of limitations goes into effect. Some circumstances may cause a toll, which is when the limitation is set aside due to situations such as the age or mental competency of the victim.


As an example, if a minor child suffers an injury, the two-year statute of limitations period does not begin until the child reaches 18 years of age. At that point, the person would have until age 20 to file an action. Cases of molestation or sexual abuse can require a longer statute of limitations if the victim is underage, or the memories of the event have been repressed due to trauma.


If an injured person is found mentally incompetent at the time of the incident, the two-year time period will not begin until the person is deemed competent again. This is useful in cases where someone has fallen into a coma and remains in that state for a long period of time. The individual will still have the full two-year period to pursue legal action after recovering from the coma.


If someone wants to sue a public entity, the statute of limitations time period can be substantially shorter. The State of Illinois requires that a notice of intent to sue be filed in the Court of Claims within 12 months, with the suit itself filed within two years. The Chicago Fire Department has a one-year limitation for filing a complaint. If the entity being sued is the Chicago Transit Authority or a school, an intent must be filed within six months, with the suit following within one year.


It is important to note that, under some circumstances, the state may be immune from legal action. Those wishing to pursue a case will need to fill out a large number of forms and start the process as soon as possible to stay within the statute of limitations time period.


Personal injury is a lifechanging event that can lead to serious complications. If legal action is being considered, it is imperative to find an experienced personal injury law firm and start proceedings before the statute of limitations expires.

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What To Expect During A Personal Injury Deposition

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A personal injury deposition is the primary method an attorney uses to gather facts and information from an opposing party. Information discovered during a deposition, a simple but often lengthy question and answer period, can help a personal injury attorney assess the merits of his case and decide the best strategy to pursue. Should you find yourself being summoned (required) to give a deposition, here is what you can expect.


During the course of a deposition, you will first be placed under oath. The attorney for the defense will present a series of questions. It’s important to listen to the full question being asked before answering. You should pause for a second or two before answering in case your attorney wishes to raise any objection to the question being asked. When answering, do so truthfully as you swore you would under oath. It’s important to restrict your answer to the question being asked without providing more information than what was requested.


If you do not know the answer to a question posed by the defense attorney, don’t make one up or guess; what you say goes on the record and could be used to diminish your case if it proceeds to trial. If you don’t know the answer to something being asked, simply say, “I do not know” or I don’t recall that information.” Attorneys usually hold a deposition practice session with their clients several days before the actual deposition so you can both review key facts and information about your case so they will be fresh in your mind once the actual deposition takes place.


You should not bring any notes or written materials to the deposition because the rules indicate that this material can be reviewed by the other party’s legal counsel and could work against your case. Questions asked during a deposition include basic information about your background, including age, employment history and place of residence, your history regarding prior accidents, details about how the current accident or incident causing injury occurred, what injuries you suffered, the medical treatment received, and how your injuries have affected your daily life.

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