“What does a personal injury lawyer do?” is a question you may ask yourself when you’re wondering whether seeking legal representation is in your best interests. From gathering evidence and valuing your claim to creating a suitable legal strategy for pursuing maximum compensation and representing you in court, a personal injury lawyer’s services help get the best possible outcome for your claim.
Table of Contents
Responsibilities of a Personal Injury Lawyer in Chicago
You have a right to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit when you sustain injuries in an incident caused by another party. You also have the right to retain legal representation. But what does a personal injury lawyer do during the life of your claim or lawsuit?
When you hire a personal injury lawyer, he or she will carry out several tasks.
A personal injury lawyer evaluates the merits of an accident victim’s case to establish whether the victim has a legitimate claim. A personal injury lawyer will explain the victim’s rights and provide objective opinions about the case, including any legal issues that may affect the case. That will enable the victim to make informed decisions.
A personal injury lawyer gathers evidence to support a plaintiff’s claim. Pieces of evidence that could support a personal injury case include:
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Footage from security cameras and dashcams
- Police or incident reports
- Medical records
- Property damage reports
- Employment records
A lawyer may bring in experts from different fields, such as private investigators, medical professionals, and accident reconstructionists, to collect and analyze all relevant evidence.
People who witnessed the incident that caused your injury and losses can be crucial in determining how an accident occurred and who should be held liable. Your personal injury attorney will track down witnesses and interview them to get their statements. The sooner you start working with an attorney, the easier it will be for the attorney to connect with witnesses with clear memories of your accident.
Determine the Value of Your Claim
After a personal injury lawyer collects eyewitness statements and other pieces of evidence, he or she will establish liability, the extent of your damages, and the amount of compensation you should seek to cover all your losses. Your lawyer will then be in a position to send a demand letter to the liable party’s insurance company stating the facts of your accident and asking for the appropriate amount of damages.
Create a Suitable Legal Strategy
Every personal injury case is unique. A personal injury lawyer reviews the applicable statutes and precedents and creates a legal strategy that matches a client’s circumstances and needs to achieve the best possible outcome.
Represent You at Trial
What can a personal injury lawyer do for you if the at-fault party’s insurer denies your claim or fails to offer a fair settlement? In such circumstances, taking your case to trial may be the only way to recover full compensation for your losses. A personal injury lawyer will represent you in court and ensure all the steps in a personal injury lawsuit are followed correctly.
Types of Personal Injury Law in Illinois
Personal injury law covers a wide variety of incidents in Illinois, such as motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and medical malpractice.
Motor vehicle crashes are one of the most common personal injury cases in Chicago and the rest of Illinois. There were 295,604 motor vehicle accidents in Illinois in 2021. Many car accidents are caused by the negligence of other drivers, such as:
- Drunk driving
- Distracted driving
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Fatigued driving
Hazardous road conditions caused by a government agency or contractor and defective vehicle components also cause car accidents. Crash victims can file a personal injury claim against the parties responsible for their crashes with the help of car accident lawyers.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents commonly give rise to personal injury claims. Property owners or operators must take the necessary and appropriate steps to keep their properties reasonably safe and warn others of potentially dangerous conditions. If they fail to do so, they could be held liable for the slip and fall accidents that happen on their properties.
Common causes of slip and fall accidents and injuries include spilled food or drinks, slippery surfaces, poor lighting, defective stairs, unsecured carpets or rugs, uneven floor surfaces, broken furniture, inadequate ice or snow removal, and lack of warning signs. A personal injury attorney can help you prove that the property manager or owner was negligent and caused you to sustain injuries, enabling you to recover compensation for your damages.
Medical malpractice occurs when healthcare providers fail to exercise the accepted medical standard of care, causing harm to a patient. Examples of medical malpractice cases include surgical errors, medication errors, failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and birth injuries. A personal injury lawyer who handles medical malpractice cases can help you hold a doctor, nurse, hospital, or any other healthcare provider accountable if you suffer an injury or lose a loved one due to medical malpractice.
Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer in Illinois
Engaging a qualified lawyer in your personal injury case in Illinois provides a number of benefits.
Navigate the Legal Process
The services that Chicago personal injury lawyers offer make it easier to navigate the Illinois legal process successfully and avoid costly errors.
Knowledgeable Legal Advice and Guidance
The many facets of the personal injury claims process can be overwhelming. A personal injury lawyer will explain your case and the applicable Illinois laws and regulations in a way that’s understandable to you. He or she will give advice and guidance at every step of the way, helping you make sound decisions throughout the process.
Handling All Paperwork
Personal injury cases involve getting through a maze of paperwork. A personal injury lawyer will handle all the necessary paperwork and documentation, including accurately filing all the required paperwork with the appropriate insurance companies, agencies, and courts within the applicable deadlines in Illinois, sending demand letters, and corresponding with insurance companies and other parties.
Peace of Mind
Managing a personal injury case while recovering from injuries can be challenging. Taking calls from insurance companies, having them pressure you into settling your claim, and negotiating with them can be a stressful and disorienting experience. Pursuing a personal injury claim or lawsuit may also involve significant expenses, in addition to the medical bills that may be piling up and the income you’ve already lost. Having a personal injury attorney who advocates on your behalf allows you to create a barrier between you and the processes and people that would disrupt your peace of mind.
An attorney can handle all aspects of your case, keep you updated on its progress and any developments, and answer your inquiries. Most personal injury attorneys in Chicago work on cases on a contingency fee basis. They absorb the costs associated with pursuing compensation without you paying any upfront costs for representation. The attorneys collect their fees and other costs after securing a settlement or jury award for you.
A personal injury lawyer takes the legal and financial burden off your shoulders, allowing you more space and time to focus on your healing, health, family, job, or other responsibilities.
Help Calculate All Possible Compensation
Victims who hire lawyers receive more compensation than those who go it alone. So, what does a personal injury lawyer do that leads to higher compensation?
When victims handle their cases on their own, they’re likely to consider only the visible and immediate effects of their accident. On the contrary, a personal injury lawyer handles such cases regularly and will better assess damages by comprehensively establishing both the immediate and long-term effects of an accident, including its emotional impact.
Your personal injury lawyer will request your bills and records and analyze them, alongside other data, to calculate your current and future losses. Your lawyer will look into whether your injuries will cause any limitations on your ability to work and perform other daily tasks. If you might suffer significant wage losses and medical expenses in the future, your lawyer may consult experts like medical professionals, actuaries, and economists to project your future losses more accurately.
Besides determining your current and future economic losses, a personal injury attorney will look at how your injuries have affected you and your family emotionally and psychologically to establish your non-economic damages. This usually involves the use of a multiplier. So, how are personal injury damages calculated with a multiplier? Non-economic damages are generally calculated by multiplying your economic damages by a multiplier, typically between 1 through 5.
The multiplier used to calculate your non-economic damages depends on the severity of your injuries. An insurance adjuster will likely use a low multiplier to calculate your non-economic losses. A personal injury attorney will establish the extent of your injuries and help get the highest possible multiplier that’s appropriate for your circumstances used in your case.
There are several other ways a personal injury attorney maximizes the compensation for an accident victim’s injuries.
Present Quality Evidence
The more evidence you collect and the higher its quality, the more likely you are to receive a reasonable settlement. A personal injury attorney will gather and present as much clear and well-documented evidence of your accident and injuries as possible, potentially increasing your compensation.
Strong Negotiation Skills
Experienced personal injury lawyers are skilled negotiators. When you receive a settlement offer, your lawyer will advise you on whether the offer is fair. If it isn’t, your lawyer will aggressively and tirelessly negotiate with the insurer on your behalf whenever possible until a fair settlement that adequately covers all your damages is reached. If a fair settlement can’t be reached, your lawyer will take your case to court to recover maximum compensation.
Protect Your Right to Full Compensation
The goal of insurance companies is maximizing profits and minimizing claims. They hire skilled attorneys and claims adjusters who help them pay injury victims as little compensation as possible. Interaction with insurance company representatives can easily jeopardize your claim. They have many tricks they often use to get statements that they can later use against victims to reduce the value of their claims.
Insurance company representatives know how to talk to you and the questions to ask to make you admit fault or give other statements that they could later use against you to reduce your compensation. It’s crucial to talk to a personal injury lawyer before talking to an insurance company or signing any documents. When you hire a personal injury lawyer, he or she can handle all communications with insurers, protect you from their tactics, and prevent you from doing or saying anything that could hurt your ability to recover maximum compensation, such as giving recorded statements.
Minimize Your Percentage of Fault
Illinois utilizes the modified comparative negligence rule. Under the rule, you can’t recover any compensation if you’re found to be 51% or more at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. If you’re under 50% responsible, your compensation will be reduced according to the percentage of fault assigned to you.
Comparative negligence can be an issue during settlement negotiations in Chicago. A personal injury lawyer will work diligently to ensure your percentage of fault isn’t misrepresented or exaggerated by insurers. If you’re partially to blame for the accident that caused your injuries, your lawyer will collect comprehensive evidence to help minimize your percentage of responsibility and ensure you receive the rightful amount of compensation to which you’re entitled.