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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysDamages are the financial and nonfinancial losses incurred as the result of an injury or death caused by another party’s negligence or wrongful act. “Compensatory damages” refers to the compensation an injured person receives for things like medical bills and lost wages. However, it is possible for a claimant in a personal injury case to receive “punitive damages” as well. Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are above and beyond the compensation an injured person would typically receive and are only awarded in certain circumstances.

Illinois Law Regarding Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant for actions that are exceptionally negligent or wrongful. The additional compensation awarded to the injured party serves as a deterrent against similar actions in the future. Illinois law states that punitive damages are awarded when a defendant's behavior was with “evil motive” or careless disregard for the risk of harm to others. The plaintiff in an injury claim must show that the defendant’s actions were sufficiently malicious or reckless to warrant punitive damages by “clear and convincing evidence." This burden of proof is much harder to satisfy than the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Consequently, successfully recovering punitive damages after being injured by another party’s behavior will require the plaintiff to build a robust, evidence-based case.

Types of Injury Cases in Which Punitive Damages May Be Awarded

Illinois plaintiffs may pursue punitive damages for cases involving:

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysPersonal injury claims enable individuals hurt by the negligent or unlawful actions of another party to recover damages, or compensation, for the losses they have sustained because of their injuries. These claims are often associated with medical malpractice, car accidents, premises liability including slip and fall accidents, and defective products. If you have decided to file a personal injury claim and pursue compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, or other losses, you may have questions about how the amount of compensation you may receive will be calculated.  

Calculating the Monetary Value of Economic Damages

Medical costs are often a top motivator for personal injury claims. The amount of reimbursement you will receive for medical expenses will depend on:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The cost of the medical treatment you have already received
  • The estimated cost of the medical treatment you will need in the future
  • The amount of time you will likely need to recover from your injuries
  • Whether there are any permanent or ongoing consequences of your injuries

You may also receive compensation for your lost wages caused by missed work. Loss of income is calculated by adding together the money you would have earned or would have likely earned if you were able to work. Lost income typically includes wages and any commissions, bonuses, or tips you would have likely received as well as compensation for the loss of your work benefits. 

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Winnebago County personal injury attorney car accident

Living without health insurance can be a large risk to take on, but you may feel as if you have no other option. It is no secret that the United States has some of the highest medical costs in the world, with many Americans uninsured. Luckily, many companies offer health insurance to their employees so that they are not financially destitute just for going to the doctor. The level of coverage varies based on the plan offered, meaning that some medical treatments will be covered by your insurance while others may require additional out-of-pocket fees. For those without health insurance, going to the doctor may be a last resort when injuries or illnesses begin to surface. While this may be acceptable for the common cold or flu, anyone who has been involved in a vehicle collision or workplace accident should seek immediate medical attention. Such accidents can lead to serious, and potentially fatal, injuries if left untreated. The fear of ongoing medical bills may have people thinking otherwise, but luckily, there are options for those without insurance who have been injured in an accident.

Will Doctors Still Treat Me?

Uninsured Americans may not realize that they are still eligible for medical treatments even if they do not have proper healthcare coverage. Hospitals are legally required to provide all patients with the necessary treatment, even if they do not have health insurance. After receiving any required medical treatments, you should speak with the hospital’s administrators to discuss your payment options. Oftentimes, these professionals will work with you to set up a payment plan so that you can pay off the bills over time.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorney drunk driver

Have you ever been to a bar or a party and witnessed someone having too much alcohol to drink? It is a common occurrence for individuals who are underage or who have just recently turned 21 to drink a few too many. When alcohol is involved, accidents with injuries can occur. When you are the injured party, you may be able to hold multiple parties responsible. Illinois has two laws that address the danger that overconsumption can place on others. If you have been injured on account of someone’s level of alcohol consumption, you may be able to prove that the serving party is liable.

Dram Shop Laws

Illinois law provides legal protection to those who have been injured by an intoxicated party. For instance, someone who gets pushed and injured by an intoxicated person at a bar or someone who is hit by a drunk driver may wish to press charges against the intoxicated individual and the bar itself. The person who causes the injury, aka the drunk individual, cannot use Illinois’ dram shop law to his or her benefit. This law is solely for the purpose of providing compensation to the sober, injured individual to make up for any medical costs, time away from work, and emotional distress that the accident may have caused.

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Winnebago County dram shop liability attorneysWhen a person considers the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption, he or she may think about problems like liver disease or high blood pressure. However, diseases like these are only some of the many ways in which alcohol use can cause injury or death. Alcohol-related injuries, including those caused by falls, car accidents, drowning, or violence, are extremely common. It is estimated that 3.2 percent of worldwide deaths are caused by alcohol.

When a person is injured in an alcohol-related accident, he or she may choose to bring a personal injury claim against the person whose intoxication caused the accident. In some cases, it is also possible to bring a personal injury claim against the establishment that served the intoxicated person alcohol. Injury claims brought against alcohol vendors fall under the umbrella of dram shop liability.

Illinois Dram Shop Laws

In certain situations, Illinois law permits an injured person or the representative of a deceased person to bring a personal injury claim against an alcohol vendor such as a restaurant or bar. In order to bring a successful personal injury claim under the state’s dram shop liability laws, you and you attorney will need to prove that:

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