Emotional Distress After a Personal Injury

If you have experienced pain and discomfort as a result of an accident or injury, emotional distress law in Illinois makes it possible for you to obtain Emotional distress after a personal injurycompensation for accompanying emotional distress after a personal injury.

Often, many of those that sustain injuries suffer in silence, unaware of the symptoms of emotional distress and of important rights under Illinois emotional distress law. The attorneys at Chicago Legal Group are experienced emotional distress lawyers. We have assisted clients in obtaining emotional distress damages after an auto accident or other personal injury.

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is generally associated with mental anguish, or the non-physical symptoms of an injury. The period of mental suffering is typically brought on by a traumatic experience. Depending on factors unique to the victim, or the extent of the trauma, the period of suffering can be short-lived or chronic in nature.

What are Common Symptoms of Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress symptoms following an accident can take many forms. Common signs of emotional distress include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Embarrassment
  • Feelings of Guilt
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of Interest in Previously Enjoyable Activities

Obtaining Compensation Under Illinois Emotional Distress Law

While you may have or are currently exhibiting the above symptoms, that does not necessarily mean that you are entitled to emotional distress damages. In order to recover, you must be able to demonstrate that the accident or injury sustained caused the emotional distress. Common diagnoses in which you may be able to recover emotional distress damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD as a psychiatric disorder suffered by people wo have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a violent assault or serious car accident. PTSD symptoms typically occur within three months of a traumatic incident. Depending on the victim recovery can occur in as little as several months. However, for others, the condition can be chronic and last for many years.

  • Depression

Like PTSD, depression can take many forms. Symptoms can be mild or significantly interfere with your normal day-to-day activities. Depression is one of the more common forms of emotional distress experienced following an accident.

  • Anxiety

Anxiety following an accident or traumatic event is common. In the case of a car accident, for instance, the victim may be so anxious about driving that he or she is unable to commute to and from work. More serious symptoms can render the victim unable to complete routine tasks, making day-to-day life extraordinarily difficult.

  • Insomnia

An inability to sleep due to the actual physical injuries sustained or as a result of emotional trauma from the accident.

Do I Need to Be Physically Injured to Recover Under Illinois Emotional Distress Law?

This is one of the more common questions that we are asked by prospective clients. Often when we think of emotional distress, we think of being a victim of a crime or being involved in a car accident. While these types of cases certainly fall under Illinois emotional distress law, they are not the only type. One does not need to be seriously injured to suffer emotional distress.

In fact, we were recently contacted by a prospective client involved in a dog attack case. The person was holding a small dog when the two were attacked by a pit bull. The person suffered very minor injuries, but the dog died as a result of the wounds. One can imagine how traumatic it must be to witness such a vicious attack on a beloved pet. So, while the dog’s owner suffered little in the way of physical injuries, the resulting emotional distress damages can be significant. The person’s ability to recover largely depends on his or her symptoms and the extent of professional treatment required.

What Should I Do if I am Experiencing any Symptoms of Emotional Distress?

If you are currently experiencing any of the above symptoms, or related mental anguish, resulting from an accident or traumatic event, it is important to seek professional help. Even emotional distress symptoms that are seemingly mild can become far more chronic if left untreated. In many cases, professional treatment is required for victims to make a full recovery. In addition, a mental health diagnosis will be necessary to establish the extent of your injuries should you wish to pursue damages.

Once you have sought treatment, it is important to consult with experienced emotional distress lawyers. Emotional distress law in Illinois can be complex. Failure to abide by applicable procedures can result in a forfeiture of your right to recover emotional distress damages.

The responsible party, and especially his or her insurance company, will attempt to minimize the extent of your emotional distress damages in an effort to pay you less. Experienced emotional distress lawyers can help you to place a value on your suffering and to not settle for less. Moreover, should you wish to proceed to trial, you will need to establish a causal connection between the accident or injury and subsequent emotional distress symptoms.

If you suffered emotional distress after a personal injury such as a car accident, please contact us today for a free consultation.

Fatal Traffic Crashes in Chicago

Fatal Traffic Crashes in ChicagoAll traffic accidents can be devastating, however, crashes that result in fatalities are particularly tragic events. The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that 1090 people died in traffic crashes in our state in a single year. Chicago news sources are constantly reporting fatal traffic crashes in Chicago:

These are only a few of the many tragic accidents that happen on a regular basis throughout the Chicago area on a regular basis. For each fatality, there are often family members who are left with a loss that permanently changes their lives in numerous ways.

Illinois law recognizes that family members in this situation should have important legal rights if someone else caused the fatal accident. If the accident victim had survived, they would have the right to file a personal injury action and seek damages from a negligent party. Since the deceased person cannot file a lawsuit, the law gives that opportunity to certain surviving family members who can file a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful Death Laws in Illinois

Each state has its own unique laws regarding wrongful death claims. In Illinois, a wrongful death is one that occurs due to another party’s neglect, default, or wrongful act. According to the law, if an injured person would have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident, the law allows surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim if the injuries were fatal.

In many states, family members file the lawsuit themselves, though Illinois requires that the lawsuit be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Often, the personal representative happens to be a close family member, such as a spouse or an adult child, though this is not always the case. If the deceased did not designate someone in their will or died without having a will, the court will appoint a personal representative.

Though the family members do not directly file the claim, certain damages paid are meant for the benefit of a surviving spouse, children, or other next of kin of the deceased, such as damages for mental suffering, grief, and loss of care and companionship. The damages will be distributed to a surviving spouse and other qualifying family members based on the proportions of their losses. Damages for monetary losses including medical and funeral expenses will go to the estate to ultimately be distributed to beneficiaries.

Liability for Fatal Accidents

While any type of traffic accidents can result in fatalities, certain types can have a particular risk of causing fatalities, including:

  • Head-on collisions
  • Rollover crashes
  • Accidents involving large commercial trucks
  • Accidents involving motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians

In many cases, fatal traffic crashes in Chicago happen because someone else acted in a negligent manner. When someone owes another person a duty of care and breaches that duty, causing injuries, they are deemed to be negligent under the law. In order to prevail in a wrongful death claim, the personal representative must sufficiently prove negligence on the part of another party.

Other drivers are commonly the at-fault party for fatal traffic accidents. Other drivers have the duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner to prevent accidents and injuries. They can breach this duty and cause fatal crashes in many ways, including:

  • Aggressive driving, including tailgating, cutting off other drivers, and excessive speeding
  • Texting, talking on a phone, or other forms of distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Fatigued driving that can lead to a lack of focus or falling asleep at the wheel
  • Violating any Illinois traffic safety laws

It is important to know that another driver is not always liable for wrongful death on the roads. In some cases, a company such as an auto manufacturer may be negligent. Such companies have the legal duty to ensure they sell safe vehicles and auto parts. If an auto part is defective and malfunctions while someone is driving, the malfunction can cause them to lose control and crash.

Auto parts that have caused fatalities include brakes, tires, steering systems, and even airbags. Manufacturing company Takata notoriously produced millions of defective airbags that shot metal shards toward vehicle occupants upon deployment, causing several unnecessary fatalities. In this situation, the wrongful death claims were against the companies involved in producing and selling the airbags.

Negligent parties can also be government entities or construction crews that fail to properly inspect, maintain, or repair roads. Chicago roads can have many dangerous hazards, including potholes, cracks, inadequate guardrails or shoulders, and more. Taking on companies or government agencies can be particularly difficult, though families still deserve to recover from these liable parties.

Civil v. Criminal Claims

As mentioned above, a Cook County sheriff’s deputy recently died in a drunk driving crash. The driver who caused the accident has been criminally charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless homicide, among other offenses. While a criminal conviction and sentence may bring a sense of justice to the family, it does very little to provide surviving family members with the financial recovery they deserve under the law.

A wrongful death claim is filed in civil court, separate from any criminal proceedings. These claims seek money damages instead of criminal penalties such as jail time. The burden of proof is also lower in civil claims than criminal cases, so it may be possible for family members to prevail in a wrongful death lawsuit even if a prosecutor cannot prove a crime beyond of reasonable doubt. It is always worth it to discuss a possible wrongful death claim if you lose someone in a tragic accident.

Contact a Glenview, IL Car Accident Lawyer to Learn About Your Rights

While a wrongful death case can provide compensation for your family, it can also be difficult to discuss what happened. You should not wait to contact an experienced Chicago wrongful death attorney at the Chicago Legal Group for help. We will handle your claim while you focus on your emotional recovery after a tragic loss. Call 847-305-4105 or fill out our online contact form to request a free case evaluation.

Admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois

If you get involved in a car crash, you may be inclined to apologize to the Admission of fault for an auto accidentother driver, even if you were not at fault. Word to the wise, do not make an admission of fault for an auto accident. It might be used against you later. If you were involved in an Illinois auto accident, or injured anywhere in Illinois, contact our office at 847-305-4105 for a free and confidential consultation.

Why you should never admit fault for an auto accident

Whenever you “admit” something, it can be used against you. In this case, we are specifically speaking about an auto accident, but this could apply in slip and falls or any other type of personal injury.

When you admit fault, you are making an “admission.” Admissions are admissible as evidence against you. So, if you unintentionally or intentionally make an admission of fault for an auto accident, the other party will take that information and use it against you to establish liability for the accident.

Note that this is not a hard and fast rule. Not every apology is the same and often the same thing said by two different people can mean two very different things. Having said that, if you do admit fault or make some other apologetic statement or an admission, it could hurt your case.

Where does this commonly occur?

The most common place where a party makes an admission of fault is at the scene of the accident. Right after an accident, your adrenaline is rushing, you’re scared, you’re concerned about your safety, your passengers’ safety and even the safety of the person you were in the accident with.

As such, immediately after the accident you may say something totally innocuous like “I’m so sorry.” Believe it or not, this small statement can be the difference between you prevailing in your case or not.

You might also make an admission of fault to a police officer who comes to investigate the accident. The cop is going to make a finding of fault on the police report. The insurance company may base their decision regarding “liability,” or, who is at fault for the accident, based on the police report.

After you report the accident to your insurance company or file a claim with the other party’s insurance company, you will be asked to give a recorded statement. If it’s your insurance company, you probably have to give a statement. But I generally do not allow my clients to give recorded statements to the other party’s insurance company.

During the statement, the insurance adjuster is going to ask you statements to get you on the record so that they too can establish responsibility for the accident. Don’t make an admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois or anywhere in the United States during a recorded statement either. At least, not if you want to recover for your damages.

The opportunity to accept responsibility for the accident may also arise during your deposition when you give testimony under oath in advance of trial. And it will arise again in the unlikely event your case goes to trial.

Another common place you may be tempted to admit something is at your doctor’s office. Doctor’s and patient communications are protected but if you attempt to get reimbursed for your injuries and medical bills, the doctor’s notes are fair game and will have to be turned over to the other side. If you admit fault for the auto accident to your doctor, she or he may document it in their records and this too can be used against you.

Different ways to make an admission of fault for an auto accident

An admission does not have to be saying “I’m sorry.” While that is the most common admission, it could be in many other forms as well. For example, you are involved in an accident and afterward while talking to the police you state:

  • “I didn’t see him/her”
  • “I was looking at my cell phone”
  • “The sun was in my eyes”

These statements may be used against you and they may in and of themselves establish at least a portion of fault.

I had a client a few years ago who was involved in an auto accident and the other driver who rear ended him sent him text messages after the accident apologizing for what had occurred. She also admitted that she was looking at her phone when the accident occurred and that she had lied to the insurance company about what really happened. Case over.

What to do if the other party admits fault

So, admissions of fault cut both ways – if they can be used against you, they may also benefit you. What do you do if the other party makes an admission of fault after an auto accident? You document it.

If you are in Illinois, do not audio or videotape the admission as that could get you in trouble at least if the other party believes that your conversation is private. But, after the admission is made, document exactly what was said including where, when, how etc. You may be able to use this as evidence later.

Bottom line is, do not make an admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois or anywhere else for that matter. If you are involved in an Illinois auto accident, contact the Chicago Legal Group for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Chicago Pedestrian Accident Deaths Increasing

Involved in a Chicago pedestrian accident? According to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, in 2016, 15% of all deaths caused by vehicle collisions were pedestrians, which is an 11% increase from just a decade ago.

Chicago Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Chicago pedestrian accident

Possible factors that contribute to this increase include increased use of smartphones, which can cause distraction, improved safety features in automobiles, which may help in reducing the risk of serious injury to the occupants, but do not offer any benefits to pedestrians who are struck by vehicles, and an increase in the US population walking for environmental, health, or economic reasons.

In February 2017, the National Safety Council reported that there was a 6% increase in traffic deaths overall across the nation in 2016.

According to the council, the increase was spurred by “a perfect storm” of factors. A stronger economy and low prices of gas have resulted in more cars on the road and people driving more often. However, it says, this is only a small part of the story, and that there is something else at play in the increase of pedestrian deaths.

Distractions Caused by Mobile Devices

Experts say that if you look at both the drivers of the countless cars as they inch their way through traffic AND the scores of pedestrians crossing busy intersections, there is a common thing you will notice in both – their eyes are down, busy with their phones. This has been the cause of many a Chicago pedestrian accident.

For pedestrians, this is called “distracted walking!”

It is without a doubt that people, whether inside vehicles or walking on the street, are distracted. The Active Transportation Alliance reports that distractions, particularly by electronic devices, are the third most common cause of pedestrian deaths, after speeding and failure to yield.

Distracted driving and distracted walking are both a major cause of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities. But vehicle speeds and drunk driving are also significant factors. Safety advocates say that better road designs, more sidewalks, and lower speed limits can help reduce fatalities.

If you have been the victim of a Chicago pedestrian accident, contact attorney Barry Zlotowicz at 312-848-9783.