What You Need to Know About Illinois Personal Injury Law

Consider an injury on a construction site, a car accident, or another injury outside of your control. When someone is hurt, does that automatically mean he or she is entitled to compensation? 

The short answer to this question is “no”.  This adds to frustrations and fears that injury victims experience after a tragedy strikes.  Sustaining injuries at the hand of someone else can be a challenging situation. Intentional or not, these injuries can have lasting effects, physically, financially, and emotionally, leaving you with trauma, fears, and a seemingly overwhelming amount of important decisions that need to be made to protect you and your family. 

Facing a personal injury with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate this challenging time and ensure that you do receive the maximum compensation available under the law. From investigating your claim to determining who is responsible, to ensuring you are protected in case you can no longer work or will need ongoing medical care, experienced trial lawyers can obtain answers and protect your future by obtaining the compensation you deserve.

What is Personal Injury?

A personal injury occurs at the fault of another individual or entity. It is legally defined as the harm, pain, or injury caused by the action or inaction of another person or entity.

Just because a person is hurt on someone else’s property or by a product or at work does not mean you are automatically entitled to compensation.  By law, a person or entity is responsible for taking precautionary measures according to the circumstances at hand. A personal injury claim generally indicates that the person or entity acted negligently or failed to act when and as they should have. Examples include drivers not paying proper attention on the roadway or businesses exposing customers to unnecessary hazards or doctors performing procedures outside of their skill sets. As a result, a person must prove that the person or entity was at fault or negligent in causing your injuries before compensation can be recovered.

The experienced trial lawyer not only focuses on proving fault, but also on ways to maximize the compensation for the person’s injury. The injury itself can be visible physical injuries like broken bones, spinal cord injuries, disc injuries, and scars.  However, the injuries can also be emotional trauma, and financial losses including wages lost, medical bills incurred and other expenses resulting from the injury.  

Personal Injury in Illinois 

Accidents are sometimes unavoidable, but not every accident automatically calls for a lawsuit and a big courtroom ordeal. Statistically, over 96% of personal injury cases settle without ever going to jury trial.

Each state follows specific laws regarding personal injury. For example, in Illinois, personal injury laws give you the right to compensation if your injury was the fault of another person or entity due to their actions or negligence.  Hiring experienced trial lawyers that know how to investigate and prosecute cases properly and knows how to prove whether an injury was truly an “accident” or due to someone’s “negligence” is critical. Because if the injury was not caused by negligence, then the victim will not be able to obtain any compensation for their damages.

Statute of Limitations

While you might think you have ample time to consider filing a personal injury claim, each state carries unique personal injury laws regarding a statute of limitations. This prevents potential plaintiffs from dangling a personal injury case over a defendant’s head for years on end. 

Generally, in Illinois civil law (i.e. a personal injury case), there is a two-year time limit imposed for filing a personal injury claim. However, depending on the facts of the case, the statute of limitations can be reduced to as little as one-year.  As a result, time is of the essence and you should not delay in contacting a lawyer.   

For personal injuries, this time limit begins when the injury occurs or is discovered. However, if going based on the time that the injury is “discovered”, the discovery rule in Illinois analyzes when a reasonable person would have discovered the injury was wrongfully caused.  The focus is not necessarily solely on when the injured person actually discovered this information.  As a result, time is of the essence and people should not delay in pursuing their rights. 

The statute of limitations for children or minors in Illinois is different.  The statute of limitations does not start to accrue until the minor reaches the age of 18.  It is almost as if the clock does not start until the injury victim turns 18.  This also applied to individuals suffering a personal injury who are mentally incompetent or unable to make a decision for themselves at the time of discovery of the injury. 

Processing a Personal Injury Claim 

Compensation for personal injuries that occur on jobsites, in someone’s house, or in a car crash can typically get resolved in one of three ways. First, the case can get settled with the wrongdoers insurance company before a lawsuit is ever filed.  Second, the case can get settled after the lawsuit is filed but before a jury trial ever occurs (or before a jury renders its verdict).  Third, the case can be tried before a jury and the jury decides whether the defendant was negligent and the amount of compensation that is fair and reasonable.  No case is the same. So the facts of each case often decide which avenue is the best way to reach a resolution. 

As a result, every case is handled individually with its own unique game plan and strategy. The individualized plan depends heavily on the location where the injury took place, how you were injured, how badly you were injured and how much insurance is available to compensate you for your losses.  

Take a car accident, for example. Aside from making a call to the local police, you’ll also want to contact your auto insurance company.  The insurance company of the person who hit you or caused the accident should also be notified. But the injured person should not speak directly to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Talking to the wrongdoers insurance company directly can negatively impact your ability to obtain compensation. This is why hiring a lawyer that will formulate a strategic plan for your case is so important.

If you’re looking for compensation for injuries, always consult with an attorney before filing a claim. They will be more knowledgeable and provide you with the right information and proper channels for doing so.

Workers’ Compensation 

While personal injury claims require proof of negligence, workers compensation claims are different.  If you are injured on the job, the statewide workers’ compensation system kicks into gear. This covers everything from lost wages to medical expenses and future financial hindrances or missed employment due to your injuries and there is no requirement that someone was negligent in order to receive benefits.

In Illinois, you have up to 45 days to report an accident on the job, and if you miss more than three days of work, your employer is required by law to report your injuries to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Contributory Negligence 

Blaming an injury on someone isn’t enough to prove negligence for a personal injury in Illinois.

Illinois is known as a “modified comparative negligence” state, meaning that any court will compare your negligence in the situation to that of the opposing party. The amount of money you can recover can be dramatically impacted if a jury finds that your own conduct caused your injury to occur as well.  For example, if you were found to be 25% at fault, then your damages will be reduced by 25%.  If you were found 50% at fault, you damages are reduced by 50%.  If you are found to be 51% or greater, then you cannot collect any damages.  As a result, experienced trial lawyers work tirelessly to minimize your percentages of fault because doing so will maximize your recovery. 

While your own negligence factors into your case in Illinois, the defense has the burden of showing that you had the following:

  • A legal duty of care to do or not do something;
  • You did something that was unreasonable in violation of that duty of care;
  • Your breach of that duty caused or contributed to your injuries.

Often times, insurance companies will claim that the injured party was driving too fast or should have foreseen the crash about to occur and taken evasive maneuvers.  The insurance companies do this to try to minimize how much they will have to pay in damages. However, experienced lawyers know the law and how to utilize it to your advantage.  

Experience the Power of Promises Kept with Pullano and Siporin 

Facing a personal injury can be challenging physically, mentally, and financially. When you are looking for an attorney to handle the legal side of your personal injury claim, choosing the right one means everything.

Our team at Pullano & Siporin has successfully obtained full justice and timely compensation for our clients’ injuries for more than 50 combined years. We work tirelessly to fully understand how your injury has impacted every facet of your life and your family members’ lives in our pursuit of justice for you. You become our priority when you choose us as representation for your personal injury case.

Contact us today to discuss your case and meet our team of attorneys.

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