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Most people who have been unexpectedly injured by someone else’s negligence have questions. Even if you don’t know what questions to ask after an accident, we have provided you with answers. Please browse our FAQs to learn more about personal injury law in Illinois.
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Can I recover punitive damages if I’ve been hurt in an Illinois personal injury accident?
Whether you’ve been injured in a car crash, motorcycle wreck, by a dog bite, by a prescription medication, or in another type of accident you may be angry. You may want the person or company that hurt you to be punished.
In some cases, you may be able to recover punitive damages—or damages that are designed to punish the wrongdoer. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to the compensatory damages that you recover for the harm that you have suffered. However, punitive damages are not available in all cases and they can be difficult to get. An experienced personal injury lawyer can put forth the necessary evidence and advocate for your recovery of punitive damages, when appropriate.
When Punitive Damages Are Awarded in Illinois Personal Injury Cases
One of the Illinois state statutes, 735 ILCS 5/2-1115.05, explains when punitive damages may be awarded, what a plaintiff needs to prove to get punitive damages, and what those damages may include.
A judge or jury may award punitive damages in an Illinois personal injury case if the plaintiff can show by clear and convincing evidence that the “defendant's conduct was with evil motive or with a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and with a conscious indifference to the rights and safety of others.”
Clear and convincing evidence is a higher standard than the preponderance of the evidence standard that you use to prove other types of personal injury damages. The clear and convincing evidence standard means that you must prove with a high degree of certainty that you are legally entitled to personal injury damages.
How Much Can You Recover in Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are only allowed if you were hurt and you can recover personal injury damages for things such as medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering. The amount of punitive damages that can be recovered is limited by Illinois law to three times your economic damages.
Punitive damages can be hard to prove and difficult to recover, but they may be important to you personally and for public policy reasons. Accordingly, if you believe that you have a case that could include punitive damages then we encourage you to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 800.800.5678 to schedule a free consultation about your rights and for more information about protecting your full and fair recovery.
How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois?
Every state, including Illinois, limits the amount of time that you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. These laws, known as the statute of limitations, benefit both the person who was hurt and the person who is being sued. The person who was hurt (the plaintiff) benefits from the statute of limitations by having to take action when evidence is still attainable and by getting a fair recovery sooner. The person who is being sued (the defendant) benefits from having a time certain by which the plaintiff must take action so that the threat of litigation is not present indefinitely.
In Illinois You Usually Have Two Years to File a Personal Injury Case
In most cases, the Illinois statute of limitations provides you with two years to file your lawsuit in court. The two-year clock begins running on the date that you were injured or the date that you should have known that you were injured.
There are some exceptions to this general rule. The statute of limitations may be extended, for example, if the person who was injured was a minor or was mentally incompetent at the time of the injury.
Don’t Miss the Deadline
If you miss the statute of limitations deadline then you will likely lose your right to make a recovery. The defendant will bring a motion to dismiss any lawsuit that you file in court after the statute of limitations has expired, and you should expect the court to grant that motion to dismiss. This will leave you without a recovery.
Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your injury to make sure that you don’t miss the statute of limitations, to make sure that all of your rights are protected and to learn more about how an Illinois personal injury case works. Contact us online or call us directly at 800.800.5678.
I was hurt by someone else’s negligence. How do I file a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois?
Your lawsuit will begin when you file the necessary paperwork with the court. This must be done before the statute of limitations expires. Any negotiations that you have with a potential defendant, a defendant’s attorney, or an insurance company prior to filing the correct paperwork with the court will not begin your claim.
Accordingly, it is important to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible who can make sure that your case is filed correctly and on time so that you can protect your recovery.
How to Start Your Case
If you are seeking $10,000 or more in damages then your case should be filed with one of the 24 circuit courts in the state of Illinois. You will need to file the following forms and pleadings:
- A complaint. The complaint should explain why you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, what happened that caused your injury, the injury that you suffered, and the remedy that you seek from the court. You will need to file at least two copies of your complaint with the court. One copy will be kept by the court and one copy will be served on the defendant.
- A civil lawsuit cover sheet. This sheet provides basic information that helps the court staff. Names, addresses, and contact information, for example, should be included on this sheet.
- An appearance form. Your appearance form should name your personal injury attorney.
- A summons. The summons informs the defendant of the lawsuit.
These forms are available from the court. In order to be accepted for filing by the court, they must meet the specific requirements set forth by the court and be accompanied by the required filing fee.
Get Help Before You File a Case
The complaint that you file with the court is important. It is the basis of your personal injury lawsuit. You can protect your rights and learn more about how a personal injury lawsuit works in Illinois before you file anything with the court that could impact your recovery. Simply contact us online or call us directly at 800.800.5678 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Do I have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois?
You do not have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois every time you get hurt. Instead, you must have legal standing to file a case. An experienced lawyer will talk to you about your claim and make sure that you have standing before you begin pursuing a personal injury claim.
Four Ways You May Have Standing
You could have the legal right to bring a lawsuit in Illinois if:
- You are an adult who was hurt by someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. If you were suffered a direct and actual injury, then you may have standing to file a lawsuit and recover damages.
- You are the parent of a child under the age of 18 who was hurt by someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. If your minor child suffered a direct and actual injury, then you may have the right to file a lawsuit on your child’s behalf. Any recovery would be for your child’s benefit.
- You are the legal guardian of someone who was hurt by someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. As with a minor child, if you are the guardian for a child or an adult who was suffered an actual and direct injury, then you have the right to file a lawsuit for the benefit of that person.
- You are the administrator of an estate of someone who died because of someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. You may have the right to file a wrongful death case on behalf of the estate. Any damages that are recovered would go to the estate and its beneficiaries.
According to these requirements, you must have been the one who was directly hurt or you must have the legal authority to act on behalf of someone who was directly hurt. This prevents witnesses from accidents, people who are worried about a potential injury, and others from filing unnecessary litigation and it protects the rights of those who have been truly injured by someone else’s actions.
Knowing whether you have standing is an important first step in pursuing an Illinois personal injury recovery, but it is only one piece of how a personal injury case works. For more information about protecting your rights, please contact us online or call us directly at 800.800.5678 to schedule your free consultation.
I was partly at fault for my personal injury in Illinois. Can I still recover damages if someone else was also at fault?
As long as you were not primarily responsible for the incident that resulted in your injury then you may be able to recover damages even if you were partly to blame. According to the Illinois contributory negligence law (735 ILCS 5/2-116), you may recover damages as long as your percentage of fault was not more than 50% of the proximate cause of your injury.
Who Determines Percentage of Fault?
You should expect that the percentage of fault will be hotly contested during any settlement discussions or during litigation. Part of the defense lawyer’s strategy may be to claim that you were primarily responsible for the accident or to minimize the percentage of fault attributable to the defendant.
If percentage of fault cannot be agreed upon during settlement negotiations, then it will be up to the court to decide during litigation. In a jury trial this critical determination will be decided by the jury, and in a bench trial the decision will be made by the judge.
Here’s What Happens to Your Recovery If You Were Partly at Fault
Damages will be determined based on who was at fault for the accident. You will not have the legal right to recover damages for your injuries if you were the primary cause of the accident. However, if the defendant was at least 50% responsible for the accident, then you can recover damages. If the defendant caused the entire accident then you may be able to recover for all of your damages.
If you also contributed to the accident, but your found to be less than 50% at fault, then you can recover partial damages. Your damage award will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to you. For example, if you were 25% responsible for the accident that resulted in your injuries, then your damages will be reduced by 25% according to Illinois law. The defendant should not have to pay for your negligence.
Contributory negligence can be complicated and it is critical that the correct percentage of fault be attributed to all parties so that you can get the fair recovery that you deserve. An experienced personal injury lawyer can collect all of the evidence and advocate for your full recovery based on that evidence. To schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney, please contact us online or call us directly at 800.800.5678. We would be pleased to explain how an Illinois personal injury case works, to answer your individual questions about your own claim, and to help you get the recovery that you deserve.
How long do I have to file an Illinois medical malpractice claim?
The law in all 50 states limits the amount of time that you have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, the amount of time that you have, which is known as the statute of limitations, varies from state to state. If you have been hurt by medical malpractice in Illinois, then you need to know how long you have to file a case. If you fail to file a case before the statute of limitations expires, then you may never recover damages even if your claim is otherwise valid.
The General Rule in Illinois
In most cases, people who have been hurt by medical malpractice in Illinois have two years to file a lawsuit. The two-year period begins running on the date the medical malpractice victim discovered—or should have discovered—his injury. Additionally, Illinois law provides that in most cases medical malpractice actions must be brought within four years of the date the malpractice occurred, regardless of whether or not the victim knew or should have known about the malpractice.
Exceptions to the Illinois Statute of Limitations
People who were minors at the time they were hurt by the medical malpractice and people who were kept from filing a claim because of fraud committed by the defendant may have a longer time to file a case. Additionally, some specific types of medical malpractice may have different statutes of limitations.
When to Call an Attorney for Help
Don’t wait until the statute of limitations is about to run out to contact an attorney. Instead, start protecting your rights today by calling an experienced lawyer for help. You can schedule your own free, no-obligation consultation now by contacting us via this website.
Four Adjustments Everyone Should Make Before Driving in Illinois?
While driving, you will see many vehicles on the side of the road due to all-too-common Gurnee car wrecks. The odds are high that you have had—or will eventually be involved in—some sort of car wreck. The best way to prevent or stay safe in an accident is to be proactive. Staying safe in your vehicle begins before you even start your engine.
One of the ways you can stay safe on the road is to properly prepare your cockpit. There are four key things you can do to get this area prepared. They are:
- Adjust your seat. Adjust your driver seat to a position where all your controls are easy to reach. You should be able to fully press your brake, gas pedal, and clutch without having to stretch.
- Position your steering wheel. Most vehicles are equipped with an adjustable steering wheel. Place the steering wheel in a position that allows your hands to be slightly lower you’re your shoulders while hands are rested at the ten o’clock and two o’clock positions.
- Adjust your mirrors. Adjust your driver and passenger mirrors so that you can see as much as the road as possible. You should only be able to see a small portion to the side of your vehicle. The rearview mirror should be adjusted to give you a clear view of the road behind you.
- Fasten your seat belt. When you put on your seat belt, it should be firmly against your chest. Adjust the height of the belt to slightly above your shoulder.
By simply taking a few precautions before driving, you may be saving your life, the life of a passenger, or the life of someone else driving on Illinois highways.
If you have been involved in an Illinois traffic accident, contact a Gurnee auto accident attorney at Hupy and Abraham or call us directly at 1.800.800.5678 for a free consultation.
Also, be sure to get your FREE copy of the law firm book, The Ultimate Guide For Automobile Accident Victims, which is filled with useful information about recovering from your experience.