Why personal injury cases take so long

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.


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.


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.


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.


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:

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

Jury Verdict of $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 a Morton Grove 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.

Recorded Statement – A Risky Gamble

Tens of thousands of auto accident claims are filed every day with insurance companies. Shortly after each of those claims, the accident Auto Accident Recorded Statementvictim will get a call from an insurance adjuster looking for a recorded statement about the accident. If you are involved in an accident and you would like a free consultation to discuss whether you should give the recorded statement, call our office at 312-848-9783.

What is a Recorded Statement?

A recorded statement is a tool used by insurance companies like Allstate or State Farm to figure out what happened in an auto or other accident. An insurance adjuster, who is an Allstate or State Farm employee, will call you over the phone and ask you questions about the accident. The questions will seem simple and you may feel compelled to answer as you are attempting to get the insurance company to pay for your damages and/or injuries. Be Careful!

Do I Have to Give a Recorded Statement?

The simple answer is no. You do not have to give a recorded statement to the insurance company for the vehicle who caused your accident. In fact, we advise (almost) all our clients not to give recorded statements. Why? The recorded statement is a trick used by insurance companies to get you on the record.

It seems simple. At first, the insurance adjuster is nice and sincere in his or her efforts to help you. However, what they are trying to do is pin you down to a story. Once you have committed, the insurance adjuster (or their defense attorneys) will use that information later to poke holes in your case.

For example, if you stated during a recorded statement that you were positive you driving 35 miles per hour at the time of the accident, you are now locked into that speed. If you change your story at all during your deposition (sworn statement before trial) or during cross-examination (while at trial), the insurance company will capitalize on the change in your testimony to discredit you.

Or, perhaps during the recorded statement you forgot to tell the adjuster that your shoulder was in pain following the accident. A year later when you attempt to obtain compensation for your shoulder pain, rest assured the adjuster or defense attorney will point out that you did not complain of shoulder pain after the accident. To learn more about documenting your injuries, check out this article.

In most cases, the insurance adjuster can make a determination of “liability” or responsibility for the accident from the police report, from speaking to their insured or by talking to witnesses. Often the facts help dictate fault as well. For example, if you were driving straight and the defendant took a left-hand turn in front of you, in most (though not all) cases, they will be responsible for failing to yield the right of way. And of course, there is little opportunity to deny responsibility if you were rear-ended in the accident.

When Should You Give a Recorded Statement?

If you file a claim with your own insurance company after the accident, you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company in investigating the accident. In that situation, you need to give a recorded statement.

However, beware of your own insurance company as well. If the defendant who hit you was uninsured or underinsured, meaning he or she had a small insurance policy, you may have to go after your own insurance company for compensation through your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. In that situation, your insurance company will go from being helpful to being your opponent in a split second. Then, they will be the ones who use your recorded statement against you.

What to say in a Recorded Statement

If you do give a recorded statement, here are a few tips for what to say or not to say:

  • Don’t be too precise: Instead of saying you were driving 35 miles per hour, give an estimate. “I was driving around 35” or “I was driving between 30 and 35 miles per hour.”
  • Always be honest: if you lie, the insurance company will find out and use it against you. This will jeopardize your credibility with the insurance company or the jury.
  • Limit the scope of the recorded statement: Agree to talk about the facts of the accident but not your injuries.
  • Do NOT guess. If you don’t know an answer, say so.
  • Do NOT sign a medical release or any other document. You will provide them your medical records when you see fit.
  • Keep your answers brief. Do not expound on anything. Simply answer their questions as briefly as you can and then stop talking. The more you talk the more they have to use against you.


If you are contacted by an insurance company after an accident, we recommend talking to an attorney prior to giving a recorded statement. For a free consultation, contact us today at 312-848-9783.

Social Media as Evidence

Bottom line, be careful what Social Media as Evidence

In most personal injury cases, this issue of whether you can use social media as evidence comes up often. In this

Social Media as Evidence

article we’re going to do discuss what you should and should not do with regard to your Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts. If you have any questions about this issue or you have been involved in an accident, contact our office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Social Media as Evidence

Personal injury cases are won and lost based on evidence. In the past, this was restricted to witness testimony, the statements of the parties involved, and the written documents, usually in paper form, that supported your case.

Today, evidence is totally different. While the above sources are still available, the first place we look today for evidence is online. Our clients were involved in automobile, slip and fall, or other types of accidents. Most of our clients have social media accounts as do most of the people involved in the accidents with our clients. As such, when we get a call from a new client, the first thing we do is look them up on the internet. The most abundant source of information comes from Facebook.


Facebook has more than 1 billion daily active users. YouTube has 1.5 billion active monthly users. These people are posting content online at an astounding rate. And they spend an enormous amount of time online. It’s estimated that the average person spends five hours a day on their mobile device. Most of that time is spent on apps. We’re now spending more time on apps than we spend watching television.

Criminal Conduct

This corresponds with an increase in criminal conduct on Facebook. On Facebook Live, there have been at least 45 instances of violence, such as rape and murder, broadcast live. What is wrong with these people?

Personal Injury Cases

Our firm does not practice criminal law, we are a civil practice. Our cases do not involve incarceration, but rather financial compensation for our clients who were victims of accidents. Most of our clients have Facebook or other social media accounts, as do the people who caused their accident. We look every one of them up.

Social Media as Evidence – Example

Believe us, if we are checking your social media, so are insurance adjusters. And the insurance adjuster’s sole job is to pay you as little as they can for your injuries. As such, we advise all our clients not to post excessively on Facebook about your accident. And, be wary of what you post period.

We had a case where our client suffered a real knee injury as a result of a motorcycle collision that was not his fault. He underwent significant medical treatment (not surgery) and physical therapy. The medical records were filled with references to his pain and discomfort.

Unfortunately, at the same time our client was reporting pain in his knee to his physical therapist, he continued to engage in a very active lifestyle that included working on small, personal helicopters. He posted photos of him engaging in this activity on Facebook. He was bending down, working on the engine, bending over, carrying things, flying the helicopter and so on. Sure enough, the insurance adjuster looked him up on Facebook. They used his social media as evidence against us. Because of this, the adjuster scoffed at our demands and we were forced to resolve the matter for far less than it would have been worth but for the social media evidence.

We have also used social media as evidence against the person who caused the collision. People often admit fault on Facebook. We’ve seen posts where people admitted they ran a stop light or didn’t see someone before an accident. All we had to do is take a screenshot of those posts to enable us to capitalize on them. Ultimately, we would have to authenticate them as evidence in court if the matter went that far. But that is not the topic of this article.

Other Electronic Evidence

As an aside, other forms of electronic evidence are excellent as well. We’ve had several cases where our clients and the defendants who caused their injuries texted about the collision after it happened. We’ve had more than one occasion where a defendant admitted fault in a text. In one case, the defendant, a young woman, admitted she was texting while she was driving and as a result did not see our client. She lied to her insurance company and told them she was blinded by the sun. This did not go well for her.


Bottom line, be careful what you post online as the insurance company or attorneys involved will use your social media as evidence against you. If you have any questions about the use of social media, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Can I sue for assault?

Sue for Assault
Can I sue for assault?

“Can I sue for assault?” The short answer is yes. The bigger question is, “is it practical?” If you are the victim of a domestic or other assault, contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

Is it a criminal or civil claim?

Assault and battery is confusing to many people because it is a criminal claim but also gives rise to a civil tort (or, wrong). As such, an individual who is assaulted can in fact sue for financial compensation in civil court.

According to Illinois law,  an assault occurs when a person engages in conduct which places another person in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. A battery occurs when a person causes bodily harm to another person.

This is not an article on criminal law. But it is relevant to point out that there is a tremendous amount of crime taking place in the state of Illinois and around the country. In 2016, there were an estimated 1,248,185 violent crimes (murder, rape, aggravated assault) in the United States. That was an increase of over 4 % from 2015. In Illinois, there were 55,854 reported violent crimes which included, 1,054 murders, 17,827 robberies and 32,065 aggravated assaults.

However, despite all the awful press, Illinois is not the most violent state in the nation. That honor goes to the state of Alaska. The most peaceful state? Maine. Illinois is ranked the 16th most violent state.

Can I sue for assault?

So how do you recover compensation if you are the victim of an assault? You can sue the perpetrator in civil court. But should you?

Assault and battery are intentional acts. Intentional acts are predominantly excluded from homeowners’ insurance policies. As such, if you sue someone, you more than likely will not be able to recover from his or her homeowners’ insurance. As such, you’re left recovering from the perpetrator directly. Do you see where this is heading?

The vast majority of perpetrators do not have assets such as bank accounts, stocks, and real estate for you to go after. Consequently, you could sue this person, but chances are there’s nothing for you to recover. Attorneys understand this. In most cases, they are not going to file a lawsuit when the chance of recovering is minimal. So, what can you do?

Where to look for compensation

If you are assaulted and the perpetrator is caught and convicted of a crime, it is within the discretion of the judge to award restitution to you for your injuries as part of the criminal sentence. Restitution is just another way of saying compensation. Unfortunately, if the defendant can’t pay it, you’re again left holding the bag.

In that case, you might want to file a claim with the Illinois State’s Attorney’s office under the Crime Victims Compensation Act.  Under the Act you can recover for up to over $20,000.00 in damages. There is an application and specific timelines you are required to adhere to, so do not delay.

If you have health insurance, your medical bills should be paid by the health insurance company. However, be aware that this may affect your ability to recover the funds discussed above. And if your health insurance finds out that you recovered compensation, they may want to be reimbursed for the medical bills they paid on your behalf.

Can I sue for assault while I’m at a bar?

There are situations where someone other than the perpetrator is liable for your damages. For example, you might have been injured while at a bar. This would be a claim for “negligence” against the bar. In other words, the court/jury would have to find that the bar actually did something wrong. It could have been that the bar served the assailant way too much alcohol and this caused him to act belligerently (Illinois Dram Shop Act). Or perhaps you allege that the bar had an insufficient amount of security to safely maintain the premises.

Can I sue for assault while I’m at work?

That depends. We don’t do workers’ compensation but we work with a lot of good lawyers who do. Generally speaking, if you get assaulted by a co-employee or by a stranger/patron, you can recover for your injuries under workers’ compensation. However, there are several factors that may alter this outcome and for a larger discussion of this matter, contact us and we can connect you with a qualified workers’ comp attorney.

If you were the victim of an assault, whether it be domestic in nature, as a result of a crime, at a bar or on the job, call out office today for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

How to prove your personal injury case?

How to prove your personal injury case

To prove your personal injury case, you need to “prove” your damages. But how do you do that? Contact Morton Personal Injury AttorneyGrove personal injury attorney Barry Zlotowicz at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

In a word – “Document” it!

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve represented personal injury clients and there simply isn’t any evidence to support their claim. There is evidence that the collision occurred, that they were taken to the emergency room and treated, and that they underwent physical therapy afterwards. But there isn’t any evidence that documents:

  • The severity of the impact
  • The injuries they suffered
  • Their pain and suffering
  • Their expenses such as prescriptions and mileage

How to prove your personal injury case? Read further.

Severity of Impact

Severity of impact is one of the factors an insurance company looks at to determine, at least preliminarily, how significant your injuries are. It makes a little sense (but that’s it). Sure, the severity of impact could be an indicator of how severe your injuries are. However, it is not always accurate.

We have handed countless cases where there was a minor impact but resulted in a significant injury. To avoid this issue, take photographs of the damage to your vehicle.  If you can demonstrate “significant damage” through photographs (and other evidence like repair estimates) you can end this issue quickly.

Despite nearly every cellphone having a camera, we have handled many cases where our clients did not take photographs of the damage to their vehicle. Don’t make that mistake. Begin your efforts to document your case with your property damage.

Photographs are also necessary if you are going to recover for damage to your personal property as well, such as cell phones, your GPS, your clothing, or any other property that may have been damaged.

Document Your Injuries

Most people think that their injuries “speak for themselves.” That an insurance adjuster will review your medical records and make you an offer that is fair based on your injuries, among other things.

It doesn’t work that way. Not the part about an insurance company making a fair offer – that doesn’t happen either. But specifically, the presumption that your injuries are apparent to the insurance adjuster. They are not. It is critical to document your injuries during your recovery so that the significance of your injuries is apparent.

If it’s not in the medical records, it doesn’t exist!

It would seem reasonable that you would suffer headaches if you were rear-ended and suffered a concussion. But how do you prove it to the insurance company? Through documentation.

  1. Tell your nurse/doctor/physician’s assistant about all the significant pain or discomfort you are suffering from after the collision. She/He will hopefully enter it in the medical records. And, she/he will hopefully identify it with the appropriate codes that medical providers use to get paid by health insurance companies. These codes, called ICD 10 codes are important to getting you compensated for your injuries.

If there is no documentation to support your claim that you suffered headaches after your accident, it will be very difficult to recover for your pain and suffering they caused, no matter how real they are to you.

We have represented countless accident victims who swear they suffered injuries (headaches or shoulder pain etc.) after a collision but there was no documentation of it in the medical records. Absent direct testimony during a deposition or at trial, it is very difficult for an attorney to obtain compensation for your injuries if they are not in the medical records.

  1. Take photographs! A picture really does tell a thousand words. There is no better way to demonstrate the significance of your injuries to an adjuster or a jury than through photographs. You cannot take a photograph of a headache of course. But if you are in a splint or cast, take a photo of it. If you are walking on crutches, get a photo of it. If you have bruising, lacerations and abrasions, or end up with any scarring as a result of your injuries, take photographs of them.

We represented a client recently who suffered a simple ankle fracture. For many reasons, the insurance company disputed many of our client’s claims for damages. In our demand package, we sent over photographs of our client. However, for some reason, the insurance adjuster did not see them. During our negotiations with the adjuster, she attempted to diminish the significance of the fracture. We argued that our client couldn’t even walk after the collision and we had the photographs to prove it. We re-sent the adjuster a photograph of our client in a wheelchair (a photo that we took ourselves). The adjuster immediately offered an extra $5,000.00 to our client and that was enough to settle the case.

We had another case just recently where we had an excellent photo of a large scar that resulted from road rash to our client’s leg. That scar was in a highly visible place on our client’s body. It was visible and apparent to everyone our client came into contact with. And as a result, we were able to obtain the policy limits of $100,000 for our client.

Pain and Suffering

Like documenting your injuries above, you can document your pain and suffering by telling your doctor what you’re going through. However, it may also be helpful to your case to keep a daily journal or log. Your journal should document your:

  1. Symptoms: “I feel an aching and throbbing pain in my left shoulder every time I move it.” It’s also stiff and I can’t rotate my shoulder at all.
  2. Pain levels: “The pain is an 8 on a scale of one to ten.”
  3. Activities effected: “Today I was unable to go to the gym” or “drive my kid to dance/baseball practice.” “I couldn’t ride my bicycle/motorcycle.” “I had to get a ride to work.”
  4. Doctor’s visits: “11/18/2017 visit with orthopedist Dr. Smith”
  5. Impact on your ability to sleep: “I woke up 2x last night in pain. Had to take Aleve and ended up sleeping on the Lazy boy.”
  6. Anything else you’re going through

Be careful what your write. This journal could end up as evidence and if so, the insurance company or defense lawyer could use it against you. Keep your journal brief and to the point. Do not rant. Simply document what you are going through.

We had a case where our client hand-wrote thirty pages documenting his pain and suffering, his anger at the defendant, at the insurance company and at the system. This was not helpful.

For an example of a journal, check out this article on Enjuris.


It seems obvious, but our clients often don’t keep their receipts for items they purchased to treat themselves after a collision. This could include prescription medicine, splints, an Ace bandage, or gauze. Keep receipts of everything you purchased. You can recover from these expenses.

Also, keep a “mileage log” of all the trips you took to your doctor’s office or to physical therapy. You can recover from this as well.

Our client often sends us documentation of their co-pays. This is not necessary. While it is helpful to document what medical providers you are seeing, we will not recover specifically for your co-pays. However, you will be reimbursed for them and more. Your co-pay is a small percentage of the actual cost of seeing your doctor/physical therapist etc. Your attorney will try to recover for the entire cost of your medical visit – not just the co-pay.


In sum, if you want to know how to prove your personal injury case, in a word – “document” it! For additional information on how to document your case, contact Morton Grove car accident attorney Barry Zlotowicz at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Personal Injury Settlement Amount

Personal Injury Settlement Amount
Personal injury settlement amount

My clients who were injured in an automobile or other motor vehicle accident often ask: how much is a reasonable personal injury settlement amount? That is a very difficult question to answer and in typical attorney form, I can only answer “it depends.”

For a broader discussion of the value of a case, see my recent blog article entitled “How Much is my Case Worth?”. In short, it depends on several factors such as the severity of your injury, the amount of insurance there is, and what insurance company you are dealing with, among other factors.

Included in many personal injury settlement amounts are compensation for:

  • Property damage – your vehicle but also your damaged cell phone, clothing etc.
  • Pain and suffering – but how do you measure your pain and suffering?
  • Lost wages – we will contact your employer to verify the amount of money you lost
  • Mileage and other expenses – keep a mileage log for example
  • Medical bills – In Illinois, you can recover for the total cost of your medical bills
  • Loss of enjoyment – you lost time playing catch with your son or daughter due to your injury
  • And more

In my practice, the primary reason my clients are limited in the amount they recover is that the person who caused the accident has a small insurance policy. In the state of Illinois, the minimum policy is $25,000.00 and most people have just that. In addition, not all but many of my clients, unfortunately, don’t have enough uninsured or underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance to protect themselves.

So how does that affect your settlement? Let’s look at two cases my office recently settled. In the first case, our client was able to tap into multiple policies and thus obtain an adequate recovery. In the second case, our client did not have a sufficient UIM policy and her recovery was thus limited.

  1. Bicycle accident settlement $93,000.00+

Our client was riding his bicycle when he was hit from behind. He went down and suffered a fractured wrist, transverse process fractures, and lacerations, abrasions and contusions. The driver of the car that hit him only had a minimum insurance policy. However, our client had a large underinsured motorist policy. As such, we were able to recover against his own policy and obtain appropriate compensation for his injuries.

  1. Motorcycle accident settlement $100,000.00

As a Chicago motorcycle accident attorney, I had a client who was the passenger on the back of her husband’s motorcycle. A car cut them off and they went down. Our client suffered a fractured wrist and an aggravation of a pre-existing injury – a spinal stimulator that was placed in her back was damaged and had to be replaced through surgery. The defendant had a $100,000.00 policy. However, based on the severity of an injury, her pain and suffering and her medical bills, this case could have garnered a much larger settlement. However, our client did not have enough underinsured motorist protection. As such, our client was limited to the $100,000.00. Fortunately, we were able to negotiate down her medical bills in order to net enough to compensate her.

$100,000.00 sounds like an adequate personal injury settlement amount. However, medical bills and attorneys’ fees and costs are paid out of the settlement. As such, the net recovery is much smaller.

Often, when a defendant has a small insurance policy, clients want to sue the defendant personally for their injuries. That is an option, however, in most cases, it is not practicable. Most people who have assets have insurance to protect those assets. If the defendant has a small auto insurance policy, he/she probably doesn’t have many assets to protect.

Practical scenario:

You are injured in an auto accident and you file a lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant has a $50,000.00 auto insurance policy. You win a judgment of $100,000.00. The insurance company writes you a check for $50,000.00 and you try to collect against the defendant for the balance of $50,000.00. The defendant determines he cannot pay you. So, what does he/she do? File for bankruptcy. Practically speaking, that ends your case.

Consequently, in most cases, our clients are limited in their recovery to the amount of the defendant’s insurance policy.

In sum, it is difficult to determine what is a reasonable personal injury settlement amount. That determination is made on a case by case basis. Just because a friend or relative recovered a certain amount in his or her case, does not mean you will have the same experience.

If you need help determining what to demand in a Glenview auto accident case, contact Barry Zlotowicz at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation.

All About Illinois Statute of limitations for Personal Injury Claims

If you have an Illinois personal injury case, one of the first questions out of your attorney’s mouth should be – when did the accident happen? It ispersonal injury statute of limitations illinois critical that your Chicago personal injury attorney know the date of your accident as that is the date that the clock starts running on your Illinois personal injury lawsuit!


Our office is constantly asked by clients, friends and colleagues, how long do I have to file a lawsuit for personal injury in Chicago or the whole state? The answer, in general, is two (2) years from the date of the accident! To be specific, and for our readers’ benefit, the exact verbiage of the statute is provided below:

“Sec. 13 202. Personal injury Penalty. Actions for damages for an injury to the person, or for false imprisonment, or malicious prosecution, or for a statutory penalty . . . shall be commenced within 2 years next after the cause of action accrued . . .” 735 ILCS 5/13 202

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, a minor who is injured in Illinois typically has two years from the date they turn 18 to file a claim for an injury that occurred while they were a minor. 735 ILCS 5/13 211

Also, other “personal injury” claims such as a claim for Illinois medical malpractice have different statutes of limitations. Illinois medical malpractice claims typically expire two years from the date they are discovered but no more than four (4) years after the date they occurred. 735 ILCS 5/13 212


Lastly, be aware that there are differences in personal injury claims if filed against a governmental or quasi-governmental entity like the CTA. In general, a notice of a claim against an Illinois governmental entity must be given within one year of the accident.

In sum, statutes of limitations can be confusing. As such, it is essential that you contact a competent Chicago personal injury lawyer to assist you in determining the appropriate statute of limitations for your claim.

Disclaimer: The information on this webpage has been provided by the Chicago Legal Group for general informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Do not rely upon this information when making legal decisions. Nor does this information and/or transmission of this information create an attorney-client relationship between CLG and the recipient.

Understanding The Role Of Illinois Injury Attorneys

what do injury attorneys do in illinoisIllinois injury attorneys handle thousands of Chicago personal injury cases every year. If you’ve been injured or suffered a loss due to someone else’s negligence and are considering a lawsuit, you’ll work closely with a personal injury lawyer in Chicago or, in the case of the loss of a loved one, an Illinois wrongful death lawyer. Understanding just what is involved in this type of lawsuit and everything that your lawyer has to do in order to represent you is the first step toward resolving the problem. Most people think the majority of the work done is in the courtroom like we see on television programs. The reality is that the vast majority of legitimate claims settle prior to going to trial. If you have a good Chicago personal injury lawyer, he or she will work your case as if you are going to go to trial but with an eye on settling the case prior to trial.

Determining What Type Of Chicago Personal Injury Case To Pursue

Cases generally fall into one of two categories – negligence or intentional torts. An intentional tort includes any case where the defendant intentionally caused the injury or injuries. In other words, the person or persons being sued deliberately committed the act that resulted in harm. These can be difficult cases to pursue because your attorney has to demonstrate that the defendant’s act that led to the injury was intentional. Still, an experienced and skilled Illinois injury attorney can pursue this type of a case effectively. Some of the most common types of intentional liability cases include battery, false imprisonment, defamation, and/or abuse. In most cases, if you’re the victim of a criminal act that resulted in an injury, you may also be able to sue for damages in civil court.

A negligence lawsuit is different – in a negligence lawsuit, the case hinges on whether the person or persons being sued exercised appropriate care and consideration for the safety of others. Your attorney won’t have to prove that the act that resulted in your injuries was deliberate; he’ll only have to prove that the action was careless and contributed to your injuries. This is based on the assumption that every individual owes a reasonable amount of care toward protecting the safety of others. The vast majority of Chicago automobile accidents are negligence cases – in other words, you will allege that the driver who is at fault failed to exercise reasonable care when driving his or her automobile resulting in the Chicago car crash. Slip and fall accidents and Chicago medical malpractice cases are other common types of cases where a plaintiff will allege negligence.

An Illinois wrongful death lawyer may file a lawsuit on your behalf alleging either an intentional act or that negligence contributed to the death of a loved one. If you’ve lost someone you love, be sure to hire an Illinois wrongful death lawyer who is experienced at pursuing these types of cases. Paul Wolf, the attorney affiliated with the Chicago Legal Group has extensive experience with Illinois wrongful death cases.

The Many Roles Of A Chicago Personal Injury Attorney

Your Chicago personal injury attorney will wear a variety of hats during the course of pursuing your case. In addition to understanding and applying the law, he/she will have to have an understanding of the complexities of your situation and the accident or malpractice in question. He will be an investigator – talking to all the doctors, nurses, witnesses, and other professionals connected with the event leading to your injuries. He will be an instructor – consulting with experts who can recreate the scene, engineers who can testify as to whether the accident could have been avoided, or others who will lay the groundwork for your lawsuit.

Many experienced attorneys become advocates for their clients as well. They may talk to physicians, physical or occupational therapists to determine and obtain the best possible medical and other care for their clients. Choosing an Illinois injury attorney who will help you find the best treatment possible can make your recovery easier.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contacting us is the first step toward recovery. The best Chicago injury attorneys will not only represent you in court, they will guide you throughout your recovery to ensure the best possible outcome.

The information on this site is not intended to be legal advice. Consult with an attorney for legal advice. Reading and visiting this site does not create an attorney-client relationship nor does sending an email to any of the attorneys listed on this site. An attorney-client relationship will only be made upon the appropriate consent of both you and the attorney.