Nobody ever expects to suffer an injury, but there are many situations where negligence can lead to you sustaining significant harm. When this happens, it’s vital to recognize the legal matters that come into play and what your rights are to pursue compensation for the damages you endure.
It’s easy to see how some people may be concerned about the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit to hold negligence accountable, but it’s not something you need to do on your own. The more you understand about the process and know what to expect, the more confident you can feel determining what options you have and what comes next.
At Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd., we want to make sure you have peace of mind throughout the entire process. Below, we provide you with the process and what can happen but know that we’re also here to help you through every step of the way.
The personal injury claim / lawsuit process includes:
If you suffer an injury because of negligence, call our firm at (312) 313-2888.
Filing a Claim
Illinois is an at-fault state, meaning that you’re filing your claim with the insurance provider of the negligent party. Immediately you’re at a disadvantage because this insurance company has no obligation to you as you are not their policyholder, and they’ll quickly try to find ways to limit or deny your compensation.
Your claim with the insurance company should contain as much evidence as possible including statements made by all parties when the incident occurred, photos, and police or medical reports. The more you can show, the more beneficial it is.
Acceptance or Denial
Should the insurance company accept your claim, they’re more likely to pay out a settlement amount closer to the amount you need. It’s best to speak with a lawyer, though, before accepting any settlement amount you’ve been offered.
In many situations, though, the insurance company is quick to use various tactics to deny claims. Whenever this happens wrongfully and insurance companies violate their responsibilities, you can pursue additional legal action.
Filing a Lawsuit
If your claim with the insurance company is wrongfully denied, you may have the option of filing a lawsuit. This begins when you file a complaint with the court to notify the negligent party (now the defendant) of the lawsuit.
In your complaint, you will explain the negligent act of the defendant (whether they did or didn’t do something to cause you harm), and the legal basis that you are holding him or her liable for the damages you sustained.
Answer to the Complaint
The defendant has a timeline they must follow when answering the complaint. However, they can still try to delay your lawsuit in hopes that you’ll accept whatever settlement they offer. Some of the responses to your complaint can include the following:
- Providing their side of the story regarding the negligence
- Filing a counterclaim against you for damages
- Requesting additional clarification
- Filing a motion to dismiss part of or all of the lawsuit
Should your case proceed forward, the discovery phase is a crucial part of the process. Both sides are available to use this phase to show significant evidence, request depositions, use witnesses, and exchange information that is used to help fuel their side of the case.
For you as a plaintiff, this means ensuring your legal team has as much evidence and information possible to show that negligence was present without a shadow of doubt. The more you can provide for your case, the better.
While this whole process can seem daunting to you and you are unsure of what to expect, you should know that there are far more cases that settle than those that go to trial. If your legal team is able to show enough evidence of negligence in the discovery phase, a settlement becomes more likely.
Before you accept the settlement, it’s best to discuss your options with your lawyer. In some situations, you may still be able to recover more should you show your case to a jury of your peers.
Going to trial is an option in many situations if the defendant is making it difficult to get the outcome you need. However, you should know that this can be a lengthy process, and it’s not something that is always easily handled. It’s always in your best interests to have someone on your side who knows the laws and tactics other sides use to try and take advantage of a difficult situation.
Having an attorney on your side not only safeguards you from devious tactics, it allows you to level the playing field. Insurance companies are quick to utilize large legal teams to defend against claims. When this happens, you need experience, service, and support from a team that knows how to enforce your right to compensation.
At Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd., we dedicate ourselves to providing you personalized service throughout the entire process so you can feel peace of mind every step of the way. We are tenacious in our pursuit of justice, but we are compassionate in dealing with your needs and best interests.
Our Chicago personal injury attorneys have decades of legal experience representing people just like you in some of the most difficult and challenging legal matters. We’re focused on you, staying available whenever you need us to ensure your questions are answered.
Call our firm today at (312) 313-2888 and discuss your rights in a free consultation with an experienced lawyer.