Your chances of winning your case and getting the compensation you deserve are much higher if you hire an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer. You are not legally required to have a personal injury attorney to handle your injury claim in Chicago, Illinois. You could file all the necessary paperwork yourself and represent yourself in court.
The simple answer is, “Yes.” However, there are many things you could do without a lawyer but are not recommended – getting a divorce, buying a business, selling a house, creating an estate plan…. The point is that, at a bare minimum, it makes sense to have a free consult with a personal injury lawyer prior to attempting to enter into settlement discussions without a lawyer.
There are many pitfalls to trying to settle a personal injury case without a Chicago personal injury lawyer. First, the odds are that the insurance company you are dealing with is extremely well-versed in evaluating and negotiating personal injury cases. It doesn’t matter how wise you are, the advantage is going to go to the expert who handles personal injury claims for a living.
Second, in addition to obtaining the largest possible settlement offer, there may be other things that an unrepresented claimant may not know about. For instance, claimants often have to pay back the companies that made payments on their behalf – mainly their own automobile insurance companies and their own health insurance companies. The claimant may assume that their medical bills are somehow being handled, but they may not be. Therefore, they may negotiate a settlement where none of the proceeds end up in their own pocket. They may even find themselves in debt after the settlement they negotiate on their own.
Certainly, there are very minor personal injury claims that an unrepresented claimant can handle on their own but if an injury is moderate to severe, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer for a free, no-obligation consultation.
The simple answer is, “Probably.” On average, studies show that personal injury lawyers in Chicago get their clients more than 3.5 times what claimants without a personal injury lawyer get for themselves.
Now mind you, in a case involving serious injuries, an experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer may get a client hundreds of times what an unrepresented claimant would get on their own. On the flip side, even the best personal injury lawyers won’t be able to get much more than an unrepresented claimant could get on their own if the injuries are minimal.
Whether it’s worth it to hire a personal injury lawyer is a decision that really should be made by the claimant and an experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer. Most good lawyers will be honest and tell a potential client if he is able to add substantial value to a claimant’s case. Consultations with personal injury lawyers are generally free so it’s worth a phone call.
If you’ve been injured in some type of accident, and your case warrants the need for a Chicago personal injury lawyer, the next question might be, when should I hire one? The answer is, as soon as possible. The right lawyer will get your case started on the right track so you can get your life back on the right track.
For starters, evidence, such as possible video evidence, needs to be preserved and collected. Scenes, vehicles, and injuries need to be photographed. Witnesses need to be interviewed while memories are fresh. Injured claimants may need to be guided towards the proper type of medical treatment, given the nature of their injuries. This is not to say lawyers should be sending clients to doctors but sometimes an injury lawyer needs to counsel injured people on what type of treatment to get and what type of treatment not to get. A person injured in an accident may think he can go to his local massage parlor to alleviate symptoms from injuries only to find out later on that an insurance company is not going to pay for alternative medical treatment, nor is a Judge or jury going to award damages for that type of treatment.
Furthermore, insurance adjusters may start calling injured victims looking for recorded statements. Those statements almost never work in favor of the injured victim. Lawyers need to guide injured victims on how to deal with the insurance adjusters or guide them on whether or not to speak with the adverse insurance company at all.
Lastly, there are time limits, called Statutes of Limitations, associated with every type of personal injury case. Thinking you know how much time you have only to be mistaken down the line happens more often than you may think. The consequences are devastating.
- Medical Costs
- Future Medical Expenses
- Property Damages
- Pain & Suffering
- Rehab Costs
- Lost Wages
- Years of Physical Therapy
- Emotional Stress or Distress
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Loss of Consortium
- Missed Opportunities
When a personal injury lawyer in Chicago is contacted by an injured claimant, there are literally hundreds of questions that can, and probably should eventually be asked by the lawyer. However, there are generally three main questions that just about every personal injury lawyer wants to be answered in the initial consultation: 1. What happened in the accident? 2. What are the injuries and damages? 3. What type of insurance is involved?
The answer is, not much, AND, a lot. The confusing answer, I know. Well, medical malpractice is a sub-set of personal injury law. For instance, when a doctor negligently injures one of his patients, that is medical malpractice. This is like a driver who negligently injures another driver by rear ending him, an ordinary personal injury matter. Most lawyers who claim to be “medical practice lawyers” have handled or handle, ordinary personal injury cases. Your typical personal injury case doesn’t require the monetary or time investment of a medical malpractice case. Medical malpractice cases often take several (3-5) years to investigate and prosecute. Your usual personal injury case does not (or should not). Also, to fund the investigation and prosecution of a medical malpractice case may cost the lawyer $50,000 to several hundred thousand dollars in out-of-pocket expenses. Your typical personal injury case does not cost nearly that much. Handling a medical malpractice case often requires extraordinary knowledge of the medicine involved whereas a typical injury case probably does not. Regardless of what type of case you or a loved one has; it is important to find a lawyer who has a track record of success in the sub-set of law that your case involves.
There is no right answer. There is no formula. Once upon a time, personal injury lawyers tried to settle cases by using a multiplier formula – two to three times specials (actual medical bills and lost wages). However, that practice is long gone. I’ve been a personal injury lawyer since 1995 and that way of evaluating injury cases was pretty much dead since then. Using a non-existent multiplier formula, there are serious injury cases that settle for hundreds of times the specials and there are minor injury cases where obtaining the specials is quite the challenge.
Each personal injury case should be evaluated independently. There are many factors that should go into making these evaluations. Of course, the incident itself, the nature of the injuries, damages, and the insurance available are probably the main factors. But there are many others as well – the jurisdiction where the case would be litigated, the quality of the medical treatment, the presentation of the injured victim, and the presentation of the at-fault party… The list goes on.
As in most questions involving accidents and injuries, the answer depends based upon the State where the accident happened. Of course, laws differ from state to state.
Many people who are injured in an accident think that the at-fault party pays for the medical bills. They get treatment, wait for the at-fault party’s insurance company to pay the bills, which usually does not happen. Then, the injured victim receives a letter from a collection agency, and now, not only does the person have injuries to deal with, but a botched credit record as well.
We tell our clients that, after a vehicular accident (including car v. pedestrian, car v. bicycle…), there are usually three sources to pay medical bills, your own health insurance, your own automobile insurance (under the medical payment provision), and your own wallet. Of course, people sometimes don’t like to hear that their own insurance should pay the bills or that they might have to pay some bills out of pocket.
An injury lawyer will attempt to get you and your insurance companies paid back. However, this will likely not happen until the time of settlement, which could be months or even years after the date of the accident. Regardless, it is wise to make sure medical bills are paid to the fullest extent possible along the way, even if you don’t approve of who is paying them.