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.

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.

Is It Bad To Represent Yourself In Court In Niles?

Should You Represent Yourself in Court?
Should You Represent Yourself in Court?

If you are searching for an injury attorney in Niles, call our office at 847-305-4105. We are a local Northbrook based personal injury law firm. We offer free consultations and can even come to your home to meet with you.

Thinking about representing yourself?

There has been a significant rise in the number of “pro-se” plaintiffs – people who represent themselves in court or against insurance companies. So much so that the Illinois State Bar Association just released an article about it in the October 2017, edition of the Illinois Bar Journal.

And on the Illinois Courts website, there is a section called “Access to Justice” dedicated to the pro-se plaintiff. On it you can find access to standardized forms for use in court and many of the forms are translated into Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Korean.

That does not mean the courts view pro se claimants favorably. Judge Richard Posner recently retired from the bench. One of his reasons for retiring was that his efforts to help pro-se plaintiffs put him at odds with his colleagues. Posner was quoted as saying “The basic thing is that most judges regard these people as kind of trash not worth the time of a federal judge.” That’s a very odd comment and hopefully not an accurate portrayal of federal judges’ opinions of people who represent themselves.

Why is it happening?

What has fueled the rise of people representing themselves in legal matters? According to the Bar, it is primarily financially-related. People cannot afford to hire an attorney to represent them. I agree that this is one factor. Our office has received countless calls from people who are defendants in actions and cannot afford to spend the $300 or more per hour to hire an attorney to defend themselves.

The other side of the financial coin, however, is that lawyers are turning away cases more now than before. We receive calls from all over the place from people who were injured. Many of the calls are medical malpractice cases from Wisconsin. Wisconsin has caps on how much an injured person can recover. As such, most lawyers we deal with won’t even talk to a Wisconsin medical malpractice victim unless the malpractice resulted in a catastrophic injury or death.

The situation is similar to auto accidents. It is harder and harder to get money out of an insurance company for “soft-tissue” injuries such as sprains and strains. They simply are not paying anymore. Most lawyers are not going to file a lawsuit for these types of injuries as the cost of doing so is too high. As such, many lawyers I talk to are turning away these types of cases, which results in victims having to fight the insurance company on their own.

The result of people representing themselves is that they get taken advantage of. Insurance companies are playing a different game than the victims filing claims against them. They have the know how and the resources to defend their insureds to the end if need be. Most claimants (and many attorneys) simply cannot afford to fight an insurance company for long. Consequently, people make mistakes such as giving a recorded statement to the insurance company immediately after the collision.

Our Office Accepts Soft Tissue Cases

Our office still takes many soft tissue cases. As such, if you want to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Niles, call me at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation.  In a personal injury case, you do not pay your attorney an hourly rate. Rather personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.

If you can find an attorney to work on your case, we strongly recommend that you do so. When you first get injured, the insurance adjuster will work with you. He or she will be nice and let you know that you will be compensated for your injuries. However, when it’s time to settle, I assure you, they will “low-ball” you. It is their goal to pay as little as they can for your claim.

In almost all situations, you will recover more if you have an attorney represent you against an insurance company than if you represent yourself.

The Internet

I think that another reason people are representing themselves is because of the abundance of information you can find on the internet. There are thousands of websites dedicated to providing legal information including www.findlaw.com, www.lawyers.com, www.avvo.com, and www.youtube.com. These sources are fairly reliable. However, there are thousands of other sources that should not be trusted. You could be following the instructions of a novice who just decided to post legal information.

Another source of information is Illinois Legal Aid.  There you can find countless forms and legal information to guide you through many different legal areas including: divorce, bankruptcy, immigration, criminal law and more.

Unlike many law firms, we are happy to provide you a free consultation to discuss your legal issue. If you are looking for a good lawyer in Niles, feel free to call us at 847-305-4105 and we will try to provide you the best guidance we can.