Explaining the Personal Injury Claims Process in Illinois

    If you were recently injured in Illinois and you would like to hold the liable party responsible for your injuries, there is some information that you should be aware of regarding the state’s personal injury claims process.

    What are some of the most common types of personal injury claims in Illinois?

    Depending on what kind of accident you experienced, the claims process can vary. Some of the most common types of personal injury claims in Illinois include:

    • Car accidents and other traffic accidents
    • Work-related accidents
    • Medical malpractice
    • Intentional torts
    • Slip and fall accidents
    • Product liability

    Who can be held liable in Illinois personal injury cases?

    In personal injury cases, the question of who can be held liable depends on the type of case. The following section highlights some typical personal injury cases in Illinois and provides the potentially liable parties in these cases.

    • Workers compensation cases: If an Illinois employee is injured while on the job, the employer will typically be held liable for the extent of the employee’s injuries. Though the employer can technically be held liable, nearly all Illinois employers are required to have workers compensation insurance. As such, the employer’s workers compensation insurance carrier will provide compensation for the injured employee’s injuries. This program can compensate employees for any lost wages, current or future medical bills, and future impairments related to employment. However, it should be noted that if the employee’s workers compensation claim is denied or if the employee chooses not to use the workers compensation process, the employee may be able to instead file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the employer.
    • Product liability claims: If a consumer uses a product and is subsequently injured by that product because the product was defective, this can become the basis for a personal injury claim. Manufacturers, retailers, designers, distributors, and resellers can all be held liable for their respective roles in the manufacturing, installing, marketing, and sale of the defective product.
    • Medical malpractice cases: If you are injured while receiving medical treatment, you can raise a personal injury claim based on medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is used to refer to a situation where a physician or other health care professional either affirmatively engages in conduct that is a clear and direct violation of the standard of medical care owed to a patient or otherwise fails to act in a way that adheres to the standard of care owed to patient. The standard of care of physicians and other health care involves adhering to the same established practices that other health care professionals adhere to when treating a patient under similar circumstances. Under the theory of medical malpractice, physicians, nurses, other health care professionals, and even the hospital can be held liable for any injuries sustained.
    • Misconduct claims against the Illinois police force: Unfortunately, there are many instances of police misconduct in the state of Illinois. This police misconduct can often cause personal injury and sometimes even results in death. In order to make a successful personal injury claim based on police misconduct, a person will need to show that the police officer’s conduct was willful and wanton and that the officer did not have a legitimate law enforcement reason for his actions. Though police officers do have a lot of legal protection, they are not bulletproof. A successful personal injury claim based on police misconduct could hold individual police officers liable and could also even hold the respective police department liable.

    What do I need to prove in a personal injury case?

    Personal injury claims are based on the concept of negligence. In these claims, the plaintiff is alleging that she was injured due to the negligence of another party. As such, in order to make a successful personal injury claim, the plaintiff will first have to establish all of the elements of negligence. There are four elements of negligence which must be proven, which include:

    • Duty: First, you need to prove that the defendant owed a specific duty to you. Typically, a duty is owed to all foreseeable persons who may be injured by the defendant’s failure to act as a reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances. Additionally, if a defendant’s conduct (such as drinking while driving) creates a “zone of danger,” they are responsible for the resulting injuries of those within that zone of danger.
    • Breach: After establishing that the defendant owed a duty to you, you will next need to establish that the defendant has breached their duty. This means that the defendant engaged in some conduct (or failed to engage in some conduct) that violated the duty they owed to you.
    • Causation: After establishing duty and breach, the plaintiff must establish causation. There are two types of causation that the plaintiff must prove. First, the plaintiff must prove actual causation, meaning that the plaintiff’s injuries would not have occurred but for the defendant’s conduct. Secondly, the plaintiff must prove proximate causation, meaning that the kind of harm that the plaintiff actually suffered was within the realm of potential harms that would likely result from the defendant’s conduct.
    • Damages: Lastly, you will need to prove that the specific conduct of the defendant resulted in some verifiable type of damage(s) to you. There are various types of damages that a plaintiff can allege, some of which include:
      • Future medical expenses
      • Lost wages
      • Lost earning capacity
      • Disfigurement/ permanent disability
      • Loss of consortium/companionship
      • Loss of enjoyment of life
      • Mental anguish
      • Pain and suffering

    What does the personal injury claims process entail?

    Though every case is different, a typical personal injury claim will go through the following process:

    • The injured party seeks medical attention. After being injured, the injured party should immediately seek medical attention for her injuries. Even if the injured party does not believe she has been seriously injured, she should still go to the emergency room or make an appointment with her physician to ensure that there isn’t any underlying damage that she is initially unaware of. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible because if not, an insurance adjuster (as well as a jury if your case goes to trial) may assume that your injuries were not substantial and that as such, you should not be entitled to much compensation, if at all.
    • The injured party files a personal injury claim with the liable party’s insurance carrier. The injured party should file a claim with the liable party’s insurance company. This carrier will conduct its own investigation to confirm the injured party’s claims and if it finds that these claims are credible, it will provide compensation to the injured party for her injuries. It is important to note that most personal injury cases are resolved during this stage and never see the inside of a courtroom.
    • The injured party considers hiring a personal injury attorney. The injured person may choose to avoid the workers compensation process altogether and instead choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against any potentially liable parties. If so, the injured party may hire a personal injury attorney.
    • If the injured party hires an attorney who files a personal injury complaint with the appropriate court. Once the injured party (now plaintiff) provides specific details about the incident that caused her injuries, the attorney will file a personal injury complaint in the proper civil court. The complaint will contain information about the allegations the plaintiff has made, including who the liable parties are and what injuries the plaintiff suffered.
    • The attorney ensures that the complaint is served on the defendant. After the complaint is filed with the court, the plaintiff’s attorney will locate the liable party (now defendant) and serve him with a copy of the complaint. Serving (physically delivering) the complaint on the defendant in a way that can be verified is imperative because it means that the defendant cannot later claim that he never knew about the lawsuit.
    • The parties conduct discovery. During the pre-trial process, the plaintiff and defendant will request certain evidence from the other party to strengthen their own cases, which is referred to as the “discovery” phase.
    • The case goes to trial. Lastly, the trial takes place. This is the phase where the plaintiff’s attorney and the defendant’s attorney will present all of the evidence in their respective cases in order to help the court determine whether or not the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries and any other related damages. The trial process can be extensive and may last up to several months.

    Are You in Need of a Personal Injury Attorney? Contact Our Firm

    No matter the extent of your injuries, if you are a recent accident victim and are looking for a personal injury lawyer, contact the Palermo Law Group. Our Oak Brook personal injury law firm consists of knowledgeable attorneys with over 20 years of experience litigating personal injury cases. We will do our best to ensure that you receive proper compensation for your injuries. Please contact us today at (630)-684-2332 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation with our experienced attorney, Mario Palermo.

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