Illinois Personal Injury Overview
Personal injury is any physical or mental injury to a person that results from another person's negligence or harmful act. Unlike criminal law cases where the government punishes the wrongdoer, personal injury allows the victim to pursue a civil action, called a tort action, against the wrongdoer. People come to us to ask questions of our lawyers or to receive a referral to an attorney that is right for their case. If you would like our help please contact us. For more information on Illinois accident laws please read on.
A personal injury is also known as a tort. Tort actions have three elements: there must be a legal duty between the defendant (the one doing the wrong) and the plaintiff (the person injured); there must be a breach of that duty; and damage (an injury) must occur because of that breach. When all three elements take place, a personal injury, or tort, has occurred. Liability can be caused by intentional acts, negligence, or strict liability.
An intentional act occurs when someone, acting deliberately, does something that hurts another person or damages that person's property. It doesn't matter if a person doesn't intend to injure another person; all that matters is that they acted deliberately or with complete indifference toward a person's own safety or the safety of others.
For example, a driver intends to scare a pedestrian by driving very close and swerving away. The driver doesn't swerve away in time and ends up seriously injuring the pedestrian. Although the driver didn't intend to injure the pedestrian, the driver still committed an intentional act.
In most accident and injury claims, the basis for holding a person or company legally responsible for any resulting harm comes from the theory of negligence. Negligence is the legal term for any careless behavior that causes, or contributes to, an accident.
In a personal injury claim based on negligence, the plaintiff must show that the defendant:
- Owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff under the circumstances
- Failed to fulfill ("breached") that legal duty through conduct, action or failure to act
- Caused an accident or injury involving the plaintiff
- Harmed or injured the plaintiff as a result
For example, truck driver ignores a red light, speeds through the intersection and hits you in your car. If your personal injury dispute is based on negligence, you will have to prove: (1) by driving his vehicle on public streets, the truck driver owed all other drivers (including yourself) a legal duty to drive with reasonable care under the circumstances; (2) by running the red light and speeding through the intersection, truck driver breached that legal duty; (3) in failing to fulfill that legal duty, truck driver caused his vehicle to collide with yours; and (4) due to the collision, you suffered injury.
Another form of personal law covers strict liability. Strict liability means that there is responsibility whether or not negligence was involved, and often occurs in the area of product liability. Manufacturers of products have the responsibility of assuring that their product is safe when used as directed. If a product injures someone, under the terms of strict liability they do not have to prove intent or negligence, only that the product was defective through no fault of their own and that harm was done.
Even if you might have partly caused an accident yourself, you may still have a case. In Illinois, as long as you were less than 50 percent responsible for your injuries, you can still hold the other responsible party responsible for their share. In Illinois, if the victim is more than 50 percent at fault, he or she collects nothing.
For example, if a jury finds that you suffered $100,000 in damages, but were 30 percent at fault, the judge reduces the damage award by 30 percent to $70,000.
Damages recovered from an Illinois personal injury claim may vary and can include cost of medical bills, lost wages during treatment and the recovery period, future recovery costs, pain and suffering, and punitive damages to punish the defendant for negligent or careless actions.
Personal injury lawyers almost always accept cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you are not required to pay the attorney's fees until you recover against the party you are suing. If there is no recovery in your case, you do not have to pay any attorney's fees. If you do recover against the other party, your lawyer will charge you a certain percentage of what you recover as their fee.
The percentage of the lawyer's contingency fee varies from state-to-state and depending on the type of case and facts. Typically in Illinois, personal injury lawyers charge between 25 percent to 40 percent of the total amount they recover for you. The most common contingency fee is 1/3 and quite honestly, unless there is something extremely complex about your case, if a law firm is charging more than 1/3 on standard accident claim it is suspicious.
We have helped thousands of people find the right injury attorney for their case. We don't promise a result, but we've had a tremendous record of success as we take every case very seriously. Some of our victories include:
- $5,000,000.00 to a man who was hit by a car and lost his leg.
- $5,000,000.00 to the family of a young woman who was killed when she was struck by a barge.
- $3,200,000.00 to a woman who was severely injured from a vaginal mesh device.
- $2,600,000.00 for a worker who lost his leg in an accident.
- $2,500,000.00 to the estate of a boy who died in his public school after nobody called 911 during a severe asthma attack.
- $1,900,000.00 for a mentally disabled woman who was impregnated in a group home.
- $1,800,000.00 for a young girl who sustained a severe neck injury when she was thrown from a horse.
- $1,500,000.00 from a life insurance policy that wasn't being paid following a death.
- $1,100,000.00 to the family of a man that was killed in a mining accident.
- $1,000,000.00 (full policy limits) for a trucker that was killed in a highway accident.
- $1,000,000.00 (full policy limits) for a man who shattered his leg in a motorcycle accident.
- $750,000.00 to a young girl that was sexually assaulted after being kicked off a bus by a driver in a bad neighborhood.
- $700,000.00 to a victim of sexual molestation
- $450,000.00 for a woman that had back surgery following a slip and fall accident.
We have had numerous other high value settlements. We are most proud of the cases that we've referred out that other firms had declined to get involved in. We know which lawyers will really fight for their clients and aren't afraid to take a tough case to trial.
If you have any questions about your unique situation or would like a referral to an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer with a proven track record of success, please contact us. When recommending law firms we always suggest an independent firm that we feel is best for you based on the facts of your case. There is no one firm that is right for every type of case. Our staff of attorneys will answer your questions and help you determine who is best for you.