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Rockford personal injury attorneysIf you have been injured in a car crash or any other accident caused by another party’s actions or negligence, you might be able to pursue compensation for the injuries you have sustained. Compensation is generally available to cover medical expenses, time away from work, and damage to property, as well as more subjective losses such as pain, suffering, and permanent scarring. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to collect compensation after an accident, especially if a lawsuit is necessary.

Filing Your Claim

In most situations, the first step toward recovering compensation after an accident is filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Depending on the situation, you might do so by going through your own insurance company first or you could file directly with the other party’s carrier. Your claim will almost certainly include the police report and any other evidence that might help prove that the other party was to blame for your injuries.

At this stage, the insurance company might offer a settlement that seems like it will cover all of your losses. Keep in mind that initial offers often do not take long-term considerations into account. For example, the first offer might come before you have even received a prognosis for making a full physical recovery from your doctor. If you accept a settlement offer, you will waive your right to taking legal action in the future, so you should discuss the matter with a qualified personal injury lawyer before making a decision.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_comparative-fault-balance-negligence.jpgImagine this scenario: You are cruising down the highway at about 10 miles over the speed limit when you are hit by a drunk driver. You suffer significant injuries to your back and neck that leave you unable to work and drowning in medical bills. The drunk driver’s insurance company offers you a settlement which does not even come close to compensating you for your damages. Is there a way that you can sue to recover compensation? The answer in Illinois is “yes.”

Illinois’ comparative fault law allows those injured by another’s negligence to sue even if they were partially responsible for the injury or accident. In this example, the original driver may have contributed to the accident by speeding, but if the other driver was more to blame, a personal injury suit is still possible.

Defining Negligence Under Illinois Law

The word “negligence” is used to describe a situation when a person or entity owes a duty of care, or responsibility, to another person and fails to uphold that duty. For example, doctors have a duty to their patients to maintain the prevailing standard of care within their area of practice. A doctor who significantly deviates from this standard of care and causes injury to his or her patient may be considered negligent. Similarly, drivers using public roadways have a duty to the other motorists on the road to drive with care and attention. Driving drunk is certainly not upholding this duty. Therefore, many drunk drivers are held liable when an accident they cause results in injuries.

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Rockford personal injury attorneysHead injuries are tricky. Sometimes a person falls and bumps their head and all they are left with is a small bruise or mild headache. However, sometimes life-threatening brain injuries can be caused by just a simple accident. Slipping on a wet floor can cause someone to fall backwards and hit the back of their head which causes a brain bleed. A fall from an electric scooter onto concrete could also cause a serious brain injury.

Brain injuries can happen for almost any reason. When these injuries are caused by negligence, the injured person or his or her loved ones may be able to receive compensation for their damages.

When Are Damages Awarded?

If an injury-causing accident was the result of another party’s reckless or negligent behavior, the injured person may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. In order to bring a successful civil suit, the injured person and his or her attorney will need to prove several things. Firstly, they must show that the negligent party had a duty to the person harmed and that this duty was not upheld. For example, anyone driving a motor vehicle has a duty to obey traffic laws. A drunk driver who causes an accident is not fulfilling this duty. Next, they must prove that the negligent party’s action was the cause of the harm. Lastly, they must prove that the victim suffered calculable damages.

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Rockford personal injury attorneyPerhaps more so than any other legal action, personal injury lawsuits are shrouded in misunderstanding. People hear television commercials about getting compensation for an injury and incorrectly assume that personal injury lawsuits are designed to “cheat” the system and make an easy buck. The purpose of personal injury lawsuits is to compensate a person for injuries sustained due to another party’s negligence.

If you are ever hurt by a drunk driver, defective product, unsafe environment, dog bite, incompetent medical professional, or another act of negligence, you may be out thousands of dollars. Medical bills and ongoing physical therapy can easily bankrupt a person, and insurance companies are notorious for only covering a minimum of costs. Missed work can result in even more financial hardship. Injury suits provide an avenue for injured people to recover some of these costs as well as be compensated for pain and suffering. Read on to learn about how personal injury cases are often misunderstood and how you can pursue compensation for your injuries.

Falsehoods Regarding McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case Damaged Public Perception of Personal Injury Suits

Back in 1992, a 79-year-old woman bought coffee at the McDonald’s drive-thru and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald’s and was awarded millions. If this story sounds familiar, it is because the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit unfairly became the poster child of frivolous lawsuits in the 1990s. However, the real story of this lawsuit was nearly completely unknown to the public thanks to biases and irresponsible journalism. The liquid which the elderly woman spilled was not simply “hot coffee,” It was coffee heated to the outrageously high temperature of 190 degrees – a temperature hot enough to cause third-degree burns in three to seven seconds. When the woman spilled her coffee, it soaked into her pants and continued burning her. She suffered third degree burns on her legs and genitals which were so horrific, she went into shock. The woman’s burns were so severe, she required multiple skin grafts and extensive medical care. 

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Rockford personal injury attorneysThanks to television procedural dramas and other dramatic depictions, you are probably familiar with the common legal phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt.” While the concept predates American law, it has become a cornerstone principle in criminal courtrooms around the country, providing a basis for protecting the rights of the accused. Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of entertainment, it is easy to assume that the same standard applies in any type of court proceeding. Reasonable doubt, however, does not play a specific role in civil court or personal injury claims, as the standard used in such cases is much different and much easier to attain. In civil court, a claimant must only show that his or her version of the event in question is more likely than not based on the “preponderance of the evidence.”

Burden of Proof Is on the Claimant

As you might expect, the party that files a car accident, slip and fall, or other personal injury claim has the burden of proof. This means that, in order to collect compensation as requested in claim, he or she must present a case that shows several distinct elements. The claimant must demonstrate and support with evidence that:

  • The defendant owed him or her a duty of care;
  • The defendant breached that duty by negligence or willful act;
  • The claimant suffered actual injuries or losses; and
  • The defendant’s breach was the cause of the claimant’s injuries or losses.

In most cases, the defendant’s duty of care is based on the standard of reasonable care, meaning that he or she must take the same steps that a reasonable person would take to prevent foreseeable injuries.

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