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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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Winnebago County wrongful death lawyersA wrongful death suit is a beneficial legal tool which family members of a deceased person can use to collect compensation. Illinois law explains, "Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages." If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party, read on to learn about wrongful death claims in Illinois.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Illinois, only the personal representative a deceased person can file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative represents the deceased person’s estate. He or she can be a close relative of the individual who passed away such as a spouse, parent, or adult child. If the deceased person, or decedent, did not appoint a personal representative before he or she passed away, the court is authorized to make this decision.

Is a Wrongful Death Claim a Criminal Matter?

Many people misunderstand the difference between a criminal case and a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death suits are civil claims, meaning they do not take place in criminal court. Wrongful death lawsuits only address liability in terms of financial damages. Criminal cases are brought by the state or federal government, not by a personal representative. Often, wrongful death cases occur along with criminal cases, but a criminal prosecution is not necessary in order to pursue a wrongful death claim in civil court.

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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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Posted on in Car Accidents

Rockford car accident attorneyOf all the car accident injuries, whiplash is, by far, the most commonly reported in the United States. In fact, recent statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that some 66 percent of all claimants file an injury related to the neck, and over 800,000 whiplash injuries have been reported over the last 12 years. What can accident victims with whiplash expect after a crash, and what kind of compensation might they be entitled to receive? It is important to understand the dangers of this condition and what can be done about it.

What is Whiplash?

A soft tissue injury that involves the tendons, ligaments, and surrounding tissues of the neck, whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly and violently thrust backward, and then forward. It might sound as though it takes a high-speed crash to create this type of motion. However, whiplash is often seen in even low-speed crashes (perhaps as little as six miles per hour, if going by the cut-off limits in the UK). There is also a common misconception that whiplash occurs only in rear-end crashes, but front-on collision victims are also at risk.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Though the pain of whiplash may not show up immediately after the accident, victims are likely to notice symptoms in the coming hours, days, or weeks after an accident. Often hard to ignore, and typically far more painful than just a simple ache, these symptoms can include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_gavel-justice-personal-injury-courtroom.jpgWhen you or someone you love is injured in a car crash, or any other situation caused by another party’s negligence, you may be able to collect compensation for your injuries. This compensation is meant to reimburse you for medical expenses, lost wages, damage to your property, and other types of losses that can be measured financially. Your recovery may also include damages for non-economic considerations like pain, suffering, scarring, and disfigurement. Unfortunately, collecting the compensation you deserve is not always easy, and it is important for you the steps that could be necessary.

Filing Your Claim

In most personal injury matters, the first step is file a claim for damages with the insurance company of the person or entity you believe was at fault for the accident. This process usually includes an exchange of relevant information, in addition to reports filed by the police and witness statements. At this stage of the game, you will probably need to have some type of proof to show the insurance company that their client is responsible for your actions. Most insurance companies are not likely to admit responsibility without convincing evidence.

Depending on the details of your case, the insurer might offer a settlement. It is critically important to remember that accepting a settlement almost always limits your ability to take legal action in the future. You should never agree to a settlement offer without first consulting with your lawyer.

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Rockford medical malpractice attorneyWhen you place yourself under the care of a hospital and a team of medical professionals, you expect everyone involved to do their best to meet your needs. Doctors and medical staff members, however, are human, and they sometimes make mistakes. In some cases, medical professionals can be blatantly negligent, and when this happens, the patients who suffer harm as a result may be entitled to collect compensation for their injuries.

The amount compensation a victim of medical malpractice can receive depends on a large number of factors, including the seriousness of the injury and how it will affect the rest of their lives. A recent appeals court ruling in Illinois indicates that if the circumstances of a case change during trial, the verdict can be directly affected.

A Quick Recap

The case in question involved a 42-year-old Illinois woman who sought treatment at a Cook County hospital in 2005 for a soft tissue infection in her neck. Due to swelling in her throat, doctors installed a tracheostomy tube but failed to properly account for the effects of a blood-thinning medication that the woman was already taking. The combination of the medication and the trach tube led to several incidents of bleeding, including a serious event where the patient went into respiratory arrest. Before proper action was taken, the patient suffered serious brain damage and partial paralysis.

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