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Lawsuits sounding in negligence are often filed in the State of Illinois and are commonly referred to as the “civil justice system.” In order to bring a negligence action in Illinois, an injured person must usually show that:
- The Defendant owed a duty of care to someone;
- The Defendant violated that duty by failing to act in a reasonable manner; and,
- The Defendant’s failure to fulfill the duty caused injury to another.
For example, imagine the situation of an intoxicated motorist entering a highway at 90 miles per hour, striking another person and causing injury. The motorist holds a duty to operate a motor vehicle safely to other motorists and pedestrians on the roadway. Striking and injuring another person as a result of drunk driving is negligent. Under such circumstances, the drunk driver could be sued in an Illinois Court, and the jury verdict would probably award the costs of medical care, pain and suffering, and lost wages to the injured person.
There are many types of negligence actions that can be filed. Common lawsuits include:
- Automobile Collisions (Car Accidents);
- Dog Bite Injuries;
- Drunk Driving Wrecks;
- Medical Malpractice;
- Motorcycle Collisions (Motorcycle Accidents);
- Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect;
- Premises Liability;
- Survival Actions;
- Trucking Collisions (Trucking Accidents); AND
- Wrongful Death Actions;
At a free initial consultation, the Personal Injury Attorneys at the Noll Law Office will explain the legal theories underlying negligence to you and discuss the possible value of your claim. We will explain the insurance claims process and discuss how the act of negligence has affected your life. Our Personal Injury Attorneys in Springfield, Illinois take the time to get to know our clients so that we can properly represent them in court. We handle cases in Central Illinois and throughout the State of Illinois. We never charge a fee unless we obtain a settlement or are successful at trial. We can be reached at (217) 414-8889.
Personal Injury Actions in Illinois: Frequently Asked Questions
- What should I do if I am injured in an accident?
- How do I file a negligence lawsuit?
- How is an insurance company involved in a negligence claim?
- Who is sued, the individual who caused the injury or the insurance company?
- What happens during the negligence suit?
- What are the costs of litigating a negligence suit?
- If we go trial and win, can the Defendant be ordered to reimburse my legal fees?
- How do I prepare for my legal consultation with the Noll Law Offices?
What should I do if I am injured in an accident?
No matter if you are involved in a car accident, truck collision, or any other type of accident, the experience can be overwhelming. Many victims are left uncertain about how to respond after a personal injury accident. Unfortunately, failure to follow the proper steps after an accident can result in difficulty obtaining the compensation you need to recover. Some of the important steps that you should remember to take after an accident include the following.
- Obtain adequate medical attention: Even if you do not believe that you were seriously injured in an accident, it is still critical to obtain prompt medical attention because not all injuries show up right away. Receiving prompt medical attention not only helps to make sure that you receive the necessary treatment, it also helps to provide documentation about any injuries incurred in the event your case goes to court.
- Record details about how the event occurred: It is important to take notes about how the accident occurred and record the contact information for anyone else involved in the accident and anyone who saw the accident occur. Save any bills related to medical expenses associated with the accident. This documentation will help you build your legal case, and may also help you when negotiating with the insurance companies.
- Avoid potential mistakes in your case: There are several common errors that can greatly compromise a person’s ability to receive compensation for his or her injuries incurred in an accident. One major mistake to avoid is signing any releases you receive from the insurance company before you discuss the matter with your attorney. Also, it would be a serious mistake to discuss sensitive details of your case with friends or family, or post anything about it on social media.
How do I file a negligence lawsuit?
Your attorney will usually file the lawsuit in the county where the action forming the basis of the injury occurred. For example, a person injured by a drunk driver in Springfield, Illinois, would likely be filed in Sangamon County, with the Seventh Judicial District Court. The Illinois Code of Civil Procedure states:
§ 2-101. Generally. Except as otherwise provided in this Act, every action must be commenced (1) in the county of residence of any defendant who is joined in good faith and with probable cause for the purpose of obtaining a judgment against him or her and not solely for the purpose of fixing venue in that county, or (2) in the county in which the transaction or some part thereof occurred out of which the cause of action arose. 735 ILCS 5/2-101. Source: ILGA.Gov
The “Plaintiff” is usually the person who was injured, or, if the injured persons died as a result of their injuries, the administrator of the probate estate, who files the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person and living heirs. The lawyers will file a “Complaint at Law,” describing the negligent acts of the Defendant and describing the types of injuries sustained. For example, the Complaint may allege that an intoxicated motorist disregarded a stop sign, thereby killing the driver of another automobile. The Complaint will request that monetary damages be paid to the decedent and his heirs.
How is an insurance company involved in a negligence claim?
Most types of negligence lawsuits involve situations where the “tortfeasor” or “Defendant” (i.e., negligent person or entity) carries insurance. The insurance companies often “indemnify,” or pay monetary benefits, to the injured person on behalf of the Defendant in cases of negligence.
For example, consider the case of the drunk driver who drives the wrong way down a one-way road, who then strikes and injures an innocent motorist. The drunk driver was required by Illinois law to carry car insurance. And, if the drunk driver did not have car insurance, the chances are likely that the innocent motorist did have something called “uninsured” car insurance coverage. Either way, our Springfield, Illinois Personal Injury Attorneys know how to work with the insurance providers to obtain medical coverage for the injured, innocent motorist.
Under this example, the resident would likely file suit against the Defendant in the county where the injury occurred. If the case went to jury trial, the damages (i.e., money) awarded by the jury would be paid by the insurance company, to the extent of policy coverage.
Who is sued in a negligence action, the individual who caused the injury, or the insurance company?
Generally, the person or company who caused you or your loved one’s injury is sued as the Defendant. However, when a negligence suit is filed, the insurance company usually pays for the Defendant’s attorney and other costs of litigation. The insurance companies then typically will “indemnify” the Defendant and pay for any funds obtained through settlement or jury verdict.
For example, consider the case of a nursing home that forgets to provide necessary diabetic medication to a resident, which causes substantial injury. That nursing home likely holds insurance to cover such “negligent” acts and omissions, and will often pay for the resident’s medical bills sustained as a result of the negligence.
What happens during a negligence lawsuit?
As discussed above, the Plaintiff or their legal representative will file suit against the Defendant. The process begins when the attorney files a “Complaint at Law,” seeking monetary damages for the Defendant’s negligent behavior.
After the Complaint is filed, the Defendant is served. Your attorney will arrange for “summons,” to be issued, and request local law enforcement or a private investigator to serve the legal paperwork on the Defendant. Once the Defendant is served, he or she typically has 30 days to enter an appearance and claim any possible legal defenses. Usually, an attorney enters an appearance on behalf of the Defendant.
After the Defendant’s attorney has entered an appearance, discovery will commence. This process usually involves exchanging copies of the evidence held by the Parties and taking the depositions of witnesses. Depending on the complexity of the litigation, experts will may be retained for trial. Their depositions will also be taken.
Your attorney may also choose to file requests for admission and other legal documents in order to simplify the issues presented at trial. Following the close of discovery, summary judgment motions and other pre-trial motions will be heard. Trial preparation will then begin in earnest. Witnesses will be subpoenaed, trial exhibits prepared, and other pre-trial paperwork will be filed. Jury instructions will be prepared. Jury trial should follow shortly thereafter. When the jury awards a verdict, the sums are usually paid by the insurance company. If a person died as a result of the negligent actions, the probate judge will decide how the funds are distributed.
What are the costs of litigating a negligence suit?
Costs of litigation vary wildly in negligence actions, ranging from $3,000.00 to over $80,000.00. This is because there is a great variety in the complexity of litigation, spanning Medical Malpractice, Car Accidents, and Nursing Home Violations. Any attorney you choose should be able to explain the differences in types of litigation, and how it will affect your litigation costs.
For example, consider the rather “cut and dry” case of the drunk driver who disregards a stop sign and breaks the leg of another motorist. Litigation costs may be rather low, consisting of taking the depositions of the witnesses to the collision, paying court-reporters, potential crash reconstruction experts, and deposing emergency room doctors to testify that the injury was caused as a direct result of collision. The case would be rather simple to prove and would mostly be an issue of monetary damages. On the other end of the spectrum, consider a medical malpractice claim in which a physician “misses” a cancer diagnosis. Multiple independent expert oncologists will likely be hired to provide opinions of causation. There will be an extensive investigation into the medical history of the decedent, defenses involving causation, and the majority of the decedent’s treating physicians will need to be deposed. The defense will likely argue that the cancer would have caused the person’s death, regardless of when it was diagnosed. Such a case would likely cost close to $100,000.00 to take to trial.
For this reason, most attorneys litigate their cases on a “contingency fee” basis, whereby they are only paid if successful in obtaining a settlement or jury verdict. The costs of litigation are paid from the settlement or jury verdict funds, together with the attorney’s legal fees. Our Personal Injury Attorneys in Springfield, IL will provide you with a frank analysis of whether the costs of litigation are outweighed by years of litigation and potential loss at trial.
If we go to jury trial and win, can the Defendant be ordered to reimburse my legal fees?
Generally, negligence cases that go to trial result in an award of medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, grief and loss of companionship, and other damages. Attorney’s fees and costs are not usually included, unless a special Illinois law has provided for the same. For example, Nursing Home cases filed under the Illinois Nursing Home Act specifically provides that the Defendant “shall” pay the attorney’s costs and fees if a favorable verdict is obtained at trial. The same would not occur in a wrongful death action arising from a drunk driving claim. Our lawyers will be able to explain your claim, and potential awards, in great detail to you.
How do I prepare for my legal consultation with the Noll Law Offices?
To expedite legal review of your claim, you should bring a copy of the medical records, police investigations, photographs, videos, Facebook pages, text messages, correspondence, insurance information, and any other evidence in your possession to your claim. The attorney will review the records, together with any other evidence in your possession, and provide you with a free legal opinion as to the merits of your claim.
Our Springfield Personal Injury Lawyers are renowned for compassionate communication with clients and aggressive advocacy in court. Our office pledges to keep you up to date with all steps in the litigation process and always act in your best interest.
If you or a loved one would like a free consultation, call today at (217) 414-8889. You will not be a charged unless our firm obtains a settlement on your behalf or prevails at trial.