Niles Personal Injury Lawyer

Why chiropractors are important to personal injury cases

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you why chiropractors are important to personal injury cases. A lot of lawyers might disagree with me. Personal Injury Attorney Niles, ILSome orthopedists might as well. However, in my experience as a Niles personal injury attorney, chiropractors have played an important role in the recovery of many of my clients. Call today at 847-305-4105 to learn why or continue reading.

Our office is located in Glenview, Illinois, right next door to the village of Niles, Illinois. While a quiet community, Niles is multi-ethnic, has a public library with great content and is home to the Golf-Mil shopping center. There have also been significant auto accidents in Niles including a recent pedestrian fatality. Niles is also home to at least one excellent chiropractor that I have worked with.

Why chiropractors are important to personal injury cases

By far the majority of auto accident victims suffer “soft tissue” injuries such as back or neck sprains or strains. In fact, the ratio is probably 20 to 1 of calls I receive from people who suffered sprains/strains in an accident compared to those who suffered a fracture or other injury.

By the way, I use the phrase “soft-tissue” loosely. This phrase is used by insurance companies to diminish the significance of your injuries. I don’t agree with that as soft tissue injuries could include torn ligaments and even a heart attack. And soft tissue injuries can be very painful and persist for an extended period. Still, that’s the language the insurance industry uses and as such, so will we.

The challenge with soft tissue injuries is that it’s very difficult to get an auto insurance company to compensate victims with soft tissue injuries. If you’ve represented yourself against an insurance company, you learned the hard way that they will offer to pay for your medical bills and offer you an extra $500 or $1,000 to compensate you for your pain and suffering. As a Niles personal injury attorney, I’ve seen it countless times.

Most important recommendation

The traditional treatment utilized by most victims of soft tissue injuries is to see a chiropractor or to obtain physical therapy.

If you do see a chiropractor, the most important thing you can do from a personal injury case perspective is seeing your primary care physician or orthopedist BEFORE or shortly after you see the chiropractor.

Why? The insurance company wants it that way. The reality is that the insurance company sets the rules and we have to play the game. And they want to see that you obtained traditional medical care and were referred to a chiropractor before you went.

This raises another issue. It’s getting harder and harder to get medical care and it’s extremely expensive. Depending on your health insurance and/or the schedule of your primary care physician, it may take a while to get into to see your doctor. This is particularly true for people who have Illinois Medicaid.

This risk of delay is that it may result in a “gap in treatment.” Gaps are something that are capitalized on by auto insurance companies to diminish an accident victim’s recovery.

So, what do you do? I always tell my clients, “focus on your health, not your case.” As such, if you can quickly get into a chiropractor then do it. Just make sure you document your efforts to get into your PCP and get that appointment scheduled.

Ways to pay for chiropractic treatment

From a Niles personal injury attorney perspective, one of the main advantages of using a chiropractor is the many ways you can pay for chiropractic treatment.

First and foremost, there is a common misperception that the insurance company for the driver that injured you will pay for your medical treatment as you obtain it. That is not how it works. You are responsible to get those medical bills paid. It’s an unfair system. You were the innocent victim. But if you submit your bills to the defendant’s auto insurance, those bills will just sit in a folder and risk being sent to collections. You will not be reimbursed for your medical bills until your case is resolved.

There are several ways to pay for a chiropractor after an auto accident. You can pay cash, or you can try to submit the bills to your health insurance company for payment.

However, the two best ways to pay for your chiropractor are to use your medpay (medical payments) insurance or obtain treatment on “lien”.

Medpay

I have spoken about medpay many times on this site. In short, medpay is found in your own auto insurance policy. People often have $2,500 or $5,000 in medpay. It’s not automatically included in a policy. You have to ask for it.

If you do have it, then your chiropractor can send your chiropractic bills directly to your insurance company for payment. There’s no deductible and no co-pays associated with medpay.

Lien

The most common scenario I see as a Niles personal injury attorney is that chiropractors provide their services on lien. Meaning, the chiropractor agrees to treat the patient and the patient signs a lien that promises that they will pay the chiropractor back for his/her treatment when their case is resolved.

There are a lot of great chiropractors in the Chicago area. I’ve used them myself and found great relief from chiropractic treatment. If you’ve suffered whiplash or other neck/back pain as a result of a personal injury accident, consider seeing a chiropractor.

If you require a referral to a chiropractor, feel free to contact our office at 847-305-4105.

Uber Liability For Self-Driving Car Fatalities

There has been so much talk in the media recently about artificial intelligence and how it’s going to affect our lives in the future. The most Self Driving Car Fatalitiesrecent and hottest topic is Uber liability for self-driving car fatalities. If you were injured by an Uber or other rideshare drivers, call our office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Uber liability for self-driving car fatalities

If you haven’t seen the video of the Uber self-driving car fatality that occurred in March, 2018 in Arizona, you can see it by clicking above. This video is not graphic and shows little.

In short, a woman was walking her bicycle outside the crosswalk at night when she was struck by an Uber self-driving car. There was an operator in the car at the time of the collision but she was looking down, I assume at her phone, at the time of the collision.

Is Uber liable for this accident?

In short, probably. There are likely two theories that the victim’s family can pursue. One is a design defect to the vehicle’s sensor system that was supposed to detect an object and thus avoid a collision. Obviously, it didn’t work.

Second, the family can pursue a claim for negligence. It could be argued that the Uber operator in the vehicle was negligent for failing to keep her eyes on the road. Of course, it’s a self-driving vehicle and as such, you might ask why it needs an operator at all?

As self-driving cars are in their infancy, operators need to be in the vehicles for just this very reason.

Does Uber have a defense?

Yes. The pedestrian clearly was at least partially at fault for the collision. She was outside of the crosswalk in pitch black conditions. As such, she likely has some comparative negligence. This should not significantly affect her family’s ability to recover, however.

What’s missing?

I’ve read countless articles on this topic and watched the video repeatedly. The focus is almost unanimously on Uber liability for self-driving car fatalities.

For Uber, this is the cost of developing new technology. I assure you that Uber has calculated wrongful deaths from self-driving technology into their cost of doing business. They are prepared for this fatality and many more to come. As are all self-driving car companies. Tesla is dealing with this issue from a crash in Los Angeles where a Tesla rammed into the back of a stationary vehicle.

What’s getting lost in the Uber self-driving carcase is that a woman died and a family lost a mother, daughter, or wife, etc.

Uber’s CEO posted this tweet about the victim.

Uber’s CEO Tweet

Feels sincere despite the tweets that followed which accused the company of solely being interested in profits over people. Not sure what else could be said.

The bottom line

As self-driving car technology continues to develop, we will see more accidents, injuries, and fatalities. That is guaranteed. However, this is similar to many other technologies that required massive amounts of testing to overcome their design flaws.

Technological advancements will continue and despite our best intentions, some unfortunate individuals will pay for it. All we can do is work to make the technology as safe as possible.

Part of that will be accomplished by personal injury and product liability lawyers who will pursue claims against this technology.

If you would like more information on Uber accidents or would like a consultation for injuries suffered in a rideshare accident, contact our office at 847-305-4105.

How to damage your personal injury case?

How to damage your personal injury case

Personal Injury Case
How to damage your personal injury case

We’ve unfortunately seen a few accident victims who could teach a course on “how to damage your personal injury case.” To avoid damaging your case, contact our office for a free consultation today at 312-848-9783. Or read below for a few of the common ways that accident victims damage their case.

Dishonesty

The first lesson in how to damage your personal injury case is by lying to the insurance adjuster. The truth is going to come out. The facts will be verified by the parties, an independent witness, an expert witness, or the physical evidence/property damage. As such, it’s better to be honest up front with your attorney or the insurance adjuster. It avoids being called to the carpet later.

Also, in Illinois and many other states, you can recover for your damages even if you are partially responsible for the accident under the theory of comparative negligence. It’s much better to accept 20 (or whatever) percent responsibility for the accident up front than have the insurance deny your claim entirely because you were dishonest.

Medical Treatment

Another way how to damage your personal injury case involves your medical treatment. First, often accident victims don’t immediately seek medical treatment – this is a mistake. If you didn’t get medical treatment right after the accident, it is very difficult to tie subsequent ailments to your accident.

Many people will get medical treatment after an accident but then won’t get any additional treatment (like physical therapy) for weeks or months thereafter. That results in a “gap in treatment.” Gaps in treatment are something that insurance companies utilize to diminish claims. Their argument is that something else could have caused your injuries during the gap (slip and fall/another accident/work injury). As such, it’s important to engage in a continual course of treatment after an accident.

Some people don’t follow their doctor’s instructions regarding medical treatment. The doctor instructs them to undergo physical therapy or use crutches, but they refuse. As a result, they are “non-compliant” with a doctor’s instructions. This is something that an astute insurance adjuster will point out to diminish your claim. You have a duty to take steps to minimize your injuries and failure to do so will be used against you.

Don’t “tough it out.” When you’re at your doctor’s office, tell the doctor/RN/NP about all your injuries. Do not diminish the pain you are going through. As we discussed in another blog article on documenting your injuries, if your injury is not documented in the medical records, it doesn’t exist to the insurance company. Don’t tough it out, tell them about everything you’re going through.

Social Media

Posting on Facebook or any other social media about your accident can hurt your case. I’ve discussed a situation before where I observed a client engaging in vigorous activity at a time when he was recovering from an injury. If we saw it online, so did the insurance adjuster. As such, be cautious about what you post on social media.

As an aside, whenever we sign up a new client, we check the defendants’ social media as well for information we can use against them. So social media can be a double-edged sword.

Recorded Statements/Sign Documents

Another “how to damage your personal injury case” is to give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster and/or to sign any of the insurance company’s documents without consulting with an attorney first.

The insurance adjuster is not on your side. They want to delay, deny and diminish your claim. As such, they will use the recorded statement against you later to call into your question your credibility. Few people can tell a story the exact same way two or three times.

Also, insurance adjusters will often get you to sign a release as soon as they can. If any additional medical issues arise after you sign, you are out of luck. Also, they will get you to sign a medical release which gives them the authorization to obtain all your medical records. You should control what they see, not them.

For more information about to avoid damaging your personal injury case, contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

Why personal injury cases take so long

People are often surprised when we tell them that their personal injury case may take twelve to twenty-four months to resolve. They always

Personal Injury Cases
Why personal injury cases take so long

ask why personal injury cases take so long. For the answer to this and other personal injury related questions, see part one of the blog article, or contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

Why personal injury cases take so long – Part Two

In part one of this blog article, we explained that obtaining insurance from the defendant who caused your accident, confirming that the defendant’s insurance company has accepted liability or responsibility for the accident, and the severity of your injury, can all affect how long it takes to resolve your case.

In part two of this blog, we will address additional factors that explain why personal injury cases take so long.

Factors that affect how long it takes to resolve your case

Obtaining medical bills and records

The medical bill and record aspect of your cases is a primary reason why personal injury cases take so long.

Once you are through treating, your law office will have to order all your medical bills and records from your medical providers – and there can be a lot of them. This is a slow process that requires dealing with medical bureaucracy. We are constantly required to order and re-order bills and records. And there are often significant fees for ordering the bills and records that have to be processed and paid.

Often our clients send us copies of the bills they receive and wonder why those won’t work. When we order bills from medical providers, they come with ICD Codes which are the codes insurance companies require before they compensate an accident victim for his or her damages. Our clients do not receive bills with ICD codes, we have to order them ourselves.

Medical bill and record review

Once we finally obtain the bills and records, they are reviewed in detail. This is a time intensive process and must be performed by an attorney or paralegal. Often there are hundreds and hundreds of pages of bills and records that have to be reviewed.

In addition, often when records are first reviewed, we learn that there was additional medical treatment that we did not know about, that there are records we have not ordered or received as yet, or that there were dates of service that were not provided to us. As such, we have to order those bills and records and that starts the process over again.

Once all the documents have been reviewed, your attorney will get on the phone with you to review your case before taking the next step in the process described below.

Demand Letter

Writing the demand letter to the insurance company is also a time intensive process. The demand letter will document:

  • The facts of the accident
  • Your theory of liability
  • Analysis of the medical bills and records
  • Description of your pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment, among other things
  • A demand for compensation

Once the letter is written, it must be reviewed and sent to the client for corrections, suggestions and approval. Then we will mail the demand to the insurance company. We will give them 30 days to respond to the letter – though it often takes much longer.

Negotiation

The negotiation process can take several weeks or months. Our demand letters often include very high demands and the insurance companies often begin with a very low offer. Then the process of negotiation begins. Your attorney will argue to the insurance adjuster about the value of your case and where the insurance company has exposure.

The insurance company will attempt to reduce your claim by disputing the severity of your injury and the amount of your medical treatment. They may point out you have pre-existing conditions and allege that the injuries you suffered were not actually suffered in the accident at all.

In many cases, the two sides are able to come to a mutually agreeable resolution of claims. However, that does not happen in all cases, discussed below.

As an aside, it may be that your injuries are so severe that they are more than worth the value of the insurance policy. In that situation, the insurance adjuster may just “tender” or offer the entire amount of their insured’s insurance policy.

Underinsured Motorist Protection

If the defendant offers you the full value of their insurance policy, you may be able to seek to recover additional compensation from your own underinsured motorist policy. We have handled several cases where we were able to quickly obtain the $25,000 or $50,000 policy limits from the defendant and then went after our client’s own insurance policy to compensate our clients for the rest of their damages.

Medical Bill/Lien Negotiation

Once your case settles, your attorney will attempt to resolve all outstanding medical bills you have as a result of injuries suffered in the accident. There are often deductibles, co-pays and in some cases entire medical bills outstanding.

Health insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois also intend to be reimbursed for the medical bills they paid on your behalf. Your attorney will attempt to negotiate a reduced amount with your insurance company as well. Do you have to pay your health insurance company back? Yes, often you do.

If you used your auto insurance medical payments (or “medpay”) benefits to pay your medical bills, you will have to pay your auto insurance company back as well. Your attorney will attempt to negotiate this amount down for you as well.

Be aware that some health insurance companies just simply take forever to settle with, mainly Medicare and Medicaid. They are huge governmental bureaucracies and just move much slower than a private health insurer.

Lawsuit/Litigation

The last reason why personal injury cases take so long, is that if you are unable to reach a settlement with the insurance company, your attorney may be forced to file a lawsuit against the defendant on your behalf. If you are in Cook County, you might not get to trial for eighteen months to two years. That’s on top of all the time you already spent on your case.

Despite this, it’s still optimal to try and resolve your claim amicably first as litigation costs a lot of money. Every dollar you spend on costs and expenses for your case comes out of your settlement/your pocket. Pre-litigation expenses cost a few hundred dollars while litigation can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Conclusion

All the above are many of the reasons why personal injury cases take so long. These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless other tasks that your law firm must to do prep your case and they all take time. If you want a free consultation to discuss why personal injury cases take so long, contact our office at 312-848-9783.

How long does a personal injury claim take to settle?

Were you involved in a personal injury accident? If so, your first question may be – how long does a personal injury claim take to settle? To Personal Injury Claimdiscuss this and/or any other issues regarding your accident, contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

How long does a personal injury claim take to settle?

If you’ve dealt with personal injury attorneys before, you’ll understand that it’s hard to get a definite answer out of them. That’s because there are many factors that go into a personal injury case. Anyone of them could delay your case. For that reason, the only honest answer to the question of how long does a personal injury claim take to settle is – “It Depends”.

Factors that affect how long it takes to settle your case

There are many factors that affect this answer. The most important being the severity of your injury. Instead of starting there, however, we will address this question by looking at the normal pattern a personal injury case takes.

Finding the defendant/insurance

Many times our clients were taken from the scene of an accident in an ambulance. If that’s the case, chances are you didn’t have a chance to get the defendant’s contact information let alone his/her auto insurance information. As such, you may have to wait until the police report is ready to identify the defendant or his insurance. That can take weeks in big cities like Chicago. The easiest way in Chicago to obtain a police report is on the CPD website. You can also obtain reports from the Illinois State Police, your local Sheriff’s department and/or your local city.

Liability

Once you find the defendant, you or your attorney will file a claim with their insurance company. Most insurance companies have websites with instructions or a phone number to file a claim, like this one from State Farm insurance.

Just because you filed a claim, however, does not mean that State Farm etc. will immediately compensate you for your damages. Normally the insurance company will investigate the matter first. This could include ordering the police report, interviewing their insured about the facts of the accident, interviewing witnesses, inspecting the scene of the accident and so forth. Then, they will either accept “liability,” meaning responsibility for the accident, or they can deny liability, or they might split responsibility between their insured and you the victim.

This can take a long time, especially if a serious injury or a death is involved. In the meantime, your car is damaged and you’re in pain. You may get frustrated and for good reason. However, aside from filing a lawsuit, there is little you can do to speed the insurance company’s investigation up. That’s one of the reasons why we recommend filing a claim with your own insurance company as well.

This is the quickest way to get your property damaged resolved. Yes you will have to pay your deductible in order to get your vehicle fixed, but you should get that money back shortly.

Severity of Injury

The one factor that most affects the question of how long does a personal injury claim take to settle, is the severity of your injuries. Why? Because this will (in many situations) dictate how long you obtain medical treatment for.

Once you sign a release from the insurance company accepting compensation for your damages, you waive away your right to recover anything else from the defendant/his insurance in the future. It doesn’t matter what happens. We just received a call from a woman who signed a release from an insurance company six months ago. She was just recently diagnosed with bulging discs in her neck and wanted to go back to the insurance cover to obtain additional compensation. We had to tell her that once she signed the release her case was over. There was no going back for more money. Consequently, you want to make sure your medical treatment is completely finished before you sign on the dotted line.

Ironically, the severity of your injuries may also mean that the amount of time it takes to settle your case is very short. For example, we had a case recently where our insured (a pedestrian) suffered a severe leg fracture when she was hit by a car while crossing the street. She underwent open reduction internal fixation surgery on her leg.

This is a severe injury for which she could have recovered significantly for. However, the driver of the car that hit her only had $50,000 in insurance and our client did not have any auto insurance. As such, she was limited in her recovery to $50,000. The insurance company offered the $50,000 within weeks of the accident occurring. Theoretically, we could have settled her case right then but for the time it took to negotiate her medical bills.

We will discuss that and other issues that effect how long it takes to settle a personal injury claim in part two of this blog article, which we will post next week. If you want a free consultation to discuss the question – how long does a personal injury claim take to settle? Contact our office at 312-848-9783.

Reasons People Don’t File Suit in a Personal Injury Case

Need to speak to a Morton Grove personal injury lawyer? Call our office today at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation about whether you Personal Injury Caseshould file a lawsuit in a personal injury case.

You Need to File a Lawsuit When….

There are times when you have no choice but to file a lawsuit for injuries suffered in a personal injury accident. The main reason being when the police report (if there was one filed) does not contain the auto (or other) insurance information of the party who caused the accident and the defendant refuses to reveal what insurance he or she has. Feel free contact a Morton Grove personal injury lawyer to determine whether you should file suit. But frequently there are situations when people choose not to file suit

When Personal Injury Victims Do NOT File Suit

There are situations when filing a lawsuit does not make sense. The main reason is when the person who caused the accident has no insurance or has the minimum insurance limits – $25,000.00 in Illinois.

As I’ve mentioned many times on this site, if there are no insurance proceeds to go after the likelihood of recovering against the defendant personally is small. I had a call this week with the victim of an accident and had to tell him we couldn’t help him because there likely were no insurance proceeds to go after. I hate those calls. The only way to protect yourself is to have adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist protection.

Another reason people don’t file suit is when the numbers do not “make sense”. What does this mean? As a Morton Grove personal injury lawyer, we are experienced in crunching the numbers to determine the potential difference in recovery by an accident victim who accepts an insurance company’s offer or who files a lawsuit.

For example, we have an auto accident case we recently worked on. The insurance company offered approximately $50,000.00 to settle the case. We estimated that at trial the case could be worth up to $70,000.00 – though a jury could always award more or less. If we went to trial, our client’s attorneys’ fees would increase from 33.3% to 40.0% and costs would increase from approximately $250.00 to approximately $10,000.00. To understand how much money more our client would have recovered in litigation, check out the numbers below.

Settle pre-litigation:

$50,000.00
$16,333.33 attorneys’ fees (33.3%)
$ 250.00 costs
$33,083.33 Total recovery

Jury Verdict of $70,000.00:

$70,000.00
$28,000.00 attorneys’ fees (40.0%)
$10,000.00 costs
$38,000.00 Total recovery

As you can see, assuming we won a $70,000.00 jury verdict, our client would have recovered less than $5,000.00 more by going to trial (not taking into account paying back medical bills and liens). And, she would have had to wait approximately 18 to 24 months to have the jury trial in the first place. Most people do not want to wait 18 months to get another $5,000.00.

This is not accurate in all situations. There are many times when insurance companies low ball accident victims. As such, a trial is the only way to get a fair and just recovery. The example above is to point out those situations when filing suit would not make sense.

Other Reasons People Do Not File Suit

Time, Aggravation, Money

We have handled a couple of cases in the past six months where our clients, one a female bicyclist and an another a female auto driver, were affluent and suffered moderate injuries. For these two ladies, the issue wasn’t so much the amount of the compensation but to see justice done. Neither party wanted to file a lawsuit and get involved in litigation that would have required them to undergo a deposition, respond to discovery and possibly spend time in a courtroom. So, we settled both cases on their behalf for a little less than they might have been worth at trial. In addition to the case not being about money, neither of our clients wanted to spend the time required in litigation and/or to deal with the aggravation of litigation.

Fear of the System

Some people don’t file lawsuits because of fear of the system. I’ve heard this from some people recently who might not have the residency status that many of us enjoy. Not making a value judgment here, just pointing out that some people are scared to go to court because they fear being deported.

Others are just afraid of the legal system in general regardless of their citizenship status. They don’t know the system works, they are distrustful of attorneys (sometimes for good reason) and they don’t want to get caught in something they know nothing about. And these people often think they will owe their personal injury attorney money that they cannot afford or that it will cost them money (they aren’t aware that p.i. attorneys work on a contingency fee basis – no recovery, no fee).

Severity of Injury

Finally, as a Morton Grove personal injury lawyer, it’s our duty to advise people when it is and when it is not a good idea to file suit. Often, a person’s injuries will dictate whether they should or should not file a lawsuit.

If you were involved in an auto accident and suffered a back or neck sprain or strain, it is not likely that a jury is going to compensate you very much for your injuries. This is not to diminish the pain or discomfort you are going through. Simply pointing out that those are not the kind of injuries that juries compensate victims for. I think jurors feel that these types of cases should have been resolved out of court. Most judges would agree with that as well.

Our firm is located in Northbrook, Illinois but we practice all over Chicagoland and throughout the state of Illinois. As such, if you are seeking a Morton Grove personal injury lawyer, or you want to confer with an attorney about whether you should file a lawsuit, call our office today at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation.