If you are unsure about when to hire a personal injury lawyer, hire one as soon as possible after you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. A personal injury lawyer can assist you in seeking compensation for your injuries and can also help protect your best interests against insurance companies who may try to avoid paying fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
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Statistics of Personal Injury Cases in Illinois
A review of statistics over the past several years shows the scale of personal injury cases in the United States.
In 2020, personal injury filings in the U.S. surged 97% from the previous year. Product liability cases increased by 55,121. Only 4% of over 400,000 personal injury cases go to trial each year. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of personal injuries, accounting for 52% of cases. There were 24.8 million physician office visits for unintentional injuries in 2018. In 2020, there were 200,955 preventable injury-related deaths reported. Motor vehicle accidents cost $463 billion in 2019. Each year, around three million older Americans are hospitalized due to hip fractures from older adult fall accidents.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
You can classify personal injury claims into several types, including:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are among the most frequent types of personal injury cases. These cases can be further classified into subtypes, which include:
- Auto accidents: These are the most common type of personal injury claims and involve accidents that occur between two or more cars.
- Motorcycle accidents: These accidents usually result in severe and life-threatening injuries.
- Trucking accidents: These accidents can also lead to catastrophic injuries, but commercial truck drivers are typically well-insured.
- Pedestrian accidents: These types of accidents occur mostly in urban areas, and wrongful death claims are common.
- Uber/Lyft accidents: As rideshare services become more popular, accidents involving on-duty Uber and Lyft drivers are becoming more common. Such drivers are typically well-insured.
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, either as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation for your injuries and other losses.
Medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and hospitals, may cause serious injuries due to their negligence. Common types of medical malpractice include misdiagnosis, improper treatment, surgical errors, medication mistakes, pharmacy errors, birth injury during delivery, and failure to diagnose serious health conditions. Given the complexity of these cases, it is important to seek the expertise of a medical malpractice attorney.
Product liability claims can arise from injuries caused by dangerous consumer products. To win such a claim, you must establish that the product had a design defect, manufacturing defect, or inadequate warnings. You can win a claim against a product manufacturer without proving that the manufacturer was at fault. It is also possible to sue other parties involved in the product’s distribution chain, but fault must be established for a successful claim.
If an employee gets injured or dies while working, they can’t sue their employer. Instead, they must file a claim under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. This act requires employers to provide benefits such as medical treatment, wages, and payment for permanent disability. Workers’ compensation laws can be complicated. An experienced personal injury attorney can help make a successful worker’s compensation claim.
Premises Liability/Slip & Fall
Premises liability refers to accidents that happen due to dangerous or defective conditions present on someone’s property. These accidents can occur at various places, including commercial properties like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, malls, and retail stores, or even at a neighbor’s home or a public or private swimming pool. Many dangerous conditions can cause a premises liability claim, such as falling down a staircase because of a missing handrail, tripping over an obstacle, slipping on a spill in a walkway or aisle, or getting bitten by a dog, among other possibilities. It is crucial to document the dangerous or defective condition as soon as you can after the accident.
Why Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers can assist you in various ways such as negotiating with insurance providers, gathering evidence, and building a strong case. An accident lawyer will also advise on if you have grounds to sue for emotional trauma.
Experience With Insurance Companies and Negotiation Skills
Accident lawyers and their law firms often have to work with insurance adjusters to obtain the best possible payout for their clients. Dealing with insurance companies can be a stressful and disorienting experience for those who are not familiar with the process.
Attorneys, on the other hand, have experience in filing insurance claims and are well-versed in the tactics that insurance companies use to reduce payouts. These companies may use various methods to offer low settlement amounts.
Negotiating with an insurance company can be challenging, especially while you are dealing with injuries and financial losses. However, when you retain an experienced attorney, they can handle the negotiations on your behalf. This is because lawyers have honed their negotiating skills through years of practice and study in law school.
In many cases, having strong legal representation can result in larger settlements.
Gather Evidence and to Help Build a Strong Case
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important to have sufficient evidence to prove it. This can be especially important in cases like car accidents, where you may need to gather police reports, photos, medical records, and eyewitness testimony to make your case.
Proving negligence is key to having a legitimate case, which is why personal injury lawyers may be helpful. They have the expertise to evaluate the strength of your claim, gather evidence, and build a strong case on your behalf.
By working with a personal injury lawyer, you can increase your chances of having a successful claim.
When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in Illinois
If you believe you have a personal injury claim, it is important to contact a lawyer to represent you as soon as possible. The ideal time to find a personal injury lawyer is shortly after the accident. There are numerous advantages to getting an attorney involved in your case immediately.
Each claim has a statute of limitations, which is the deadline for filing a claim. Many types of claims also have deadlines for notifying the defendant of the injury and impending lawsuit. If these deadlines are missed, the injured party forfeits the right to compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer will ensure that the lawsuit and any required notices are issued in a timely manner if they are informed of your claim in time.
The earlier an attorney is involved, the more time they have to collect evidence and strengthen your case. If there are only a few months left before the statute of limitations, it may be impossible to gather all the evidence in time, or some of it may have been lost or forgotten. Your attorney is most likely to build a solid case if they are involved from the outset.
Early Stages of the Claim Process
If a lawyer is able to handle the early stages of the claims process, it is more likely that your claim for compensation will be successful. Typically, an attorney will handle the claims process in the following manner:
- Investigate. Personal injury lawyers usually investigate claims before taking on a new client. This helps them determine the validity of the case and whether filing a lawsuit is worth it for the client.
- Issue a demand letter. Once a lawyer accepts a claim, they typically send a demand letter to the defendant, or his or her insurance company. This letter explains the facts of the accident and the amount of damages the defendant owes.
- Gather evidence. To prove negligence in a personal injury case, you need supporting evidence. That’s why the lawyer collects photos, videos, witness statements, and other evidence to help prove the case.
- Handle discovery process. If both sides can’t agree on a deal before a complaint is filed, the lawsuit may enter the discovery phase. During this phase, your lawyer sends requests to the defendant for specific information and reviews this information. They may also conduct depositions of parties and witnesses to determine what they know.
- Negotiate. When it comes to settling insurance claims, lawyers can be of great help as they have the necessary expertise to negotiate with adjusters and ensure that their clients receive a fair settlement. Additionally, they can protect their clients from accepting settlement offers that are unreasonably low. Most cases involving attorneys tend to settle before they go to trial.
Your attorney will take care of all the legal aspects of your claim, allowing you to focus on recovering. By hiring an attorney immediately after your injury, you can have the peace of mind that your claim will be handled properly.