Frequently Asked QuestionsRequest Free Consultation
If you’ve sustained a sudden traumatic injury, considering making a legal claim for compensation at the same time you’re dealing with painful medical procedures and lengthy recovery times may feel overwhelming. But as challenging as a personal injury claim might be in your case, you shouldn’t be left responsible for the consequences of an injury caused by someone else’s negligence. In legal terms, these consequences are referred to as “damages.” A skilled attorney in a personal injury claim can hold the negligent party accountable for damages like your medical expenses and compensation for pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury attorney can take on the legal complexities of your claim so you can focus on recovering from your injury.
If you’re considering a personal injury claim in Illinois, the Floyd Law Firm can help. But first, some answers to frequently asked questions can help you know what to expect as the process moves forward.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?
No matter how your injury occurred, whether in a car accident, slip-and-fall accident, from a defective product, or any other incident, if someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or reckless behavior caused the injury, they are accountable for the damages. Compensation from damages typically comes from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Sadly, insurance companies are rarely on the injury victim’s side, no matter how compassionate they sound on the phone. Large insurance companies protect their profits by finding reasons to deny or undervalue claims. By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you can concentrate on your health, while your attorney does the following:
- Investigates all aspects of the injury by examining police reports, eyewitness testimony, photo or video evidence, and information provided by accident reconstruction specialists and medical experts
- Calculates your damages in a way that helps maximize your compensation
- Documents clear evidence of liability and sends a demand letter to the insurance company
- Follows through with strong, evidence-backed negotiations with the insurance company to obtain an ample settlement
- Files a lawsuit should the insurance company fail to offer an acceptable settlement amount
An experienced attorney in your corner advocating for your rights and best interests throughout the process is the key to a successful claim.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Charge?
Most reputable personal injury attorneys charge nothing upfront. They typically offer free consultations and only take a contingency fee if they secure your settlement. The average personal injury attorney charges about 30% of the total compensation amount. But remember, a thorough attorney will maximize the amount of compensation you receive to ensure you get the payout you deserve for your claim.
How Long Do I Have to File an Injury Claim in Missouri?
Like all states, Missouri has a statute of limitations in place for filing personal injury lawsuits. These limits help ensure that evidence remains available and eyewitness testimony is reliable if the case has to go to court. Most states offer two years to file a lawsuit but Missouri allows a generous 5 years from the date of the injury. Because your personal injury attorney will first gather evidence and negotiate with the insurance company for a settlement, the five-year statute of limitations in Missouri allows ample time to choose to file a lawsuit if the claim isn’t settled out of court.
How Long Do I Have to File an Injury Claim in Illinois?
Injury victims in Illinois have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. Most injury victims file claims soon after the injury, once the scope of their damages becomes clear. This allows time for negotiations with the insurance company to attempt a settlement before it’s necessary to file a lawsuit should the insurance company deny a valid claim.
Most states, including Missouri and Illinois, also have two exceptions to their statutes of limitations for personal injury claims:
- If the injury victim is under the age of 18 at the time of the injury they have until two years after their 18th birthday to file a claim
- If the victim doesn’t discover the injury until later (for example, if a doctor diagnoses a nagging backache as an injury-related fractured disc) the clock begins on the date of the discovery
An attorney can answer any questions about how the statute of limitations applies to your injury case.
How Long Will My Personal Injury Case Take?
Your attorney can give you an estimated timeline for your unique case. Depending on the complexity of the case and the availability of evidence of the at-fault party’s liability, the case could take only a couple of months if the insurance company settles the claim out of court. A court case takes longer—sometimes a year or more after the date of the injury.
Over 90% of personal injury cases settle out of court so the injury victim never has to step foot in a courtroom.
What Damages Can I Recover?
Serious injuries quickly become expensive. Medical bills pile up on top of household expenses at the same time the painful injuries and medical procedures may prevent the injury victim from returning to work. Many injury victims recover compensation for damages including the following:
- Past and future injury-related medical expenses
- Lost income and future income loss
- Diminished earning capacity due to accident-related disability
- Pain and suffering
- Any other applicable damages like PTSD, anxiety, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, or disfigurement compensation
Monetary compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering can’t erase the pain but it can help victims achieve a sense of justice and relief from financial hardship.
When Should I File an Injury Claim?
Choosing to file an injury claim is a personal decision that usually comes when an injured victim begins to realize the scope of their damages. Some injuries cause disability which makes it difficult to earn a living the same way the victim once did. Most claimants in personal injury cases hire attorneys and file a claim as soon as the amount of the damages they’re facing becomes clear. It’s important not to wait too long because negotiating a claim with the insurance company may take some time and it’s important to ensure there’s still ample time to file a lawsuit within the state’s statute of limitations should the case require a judge and jury.
Are Personal Injury Settlements and Verdicts Taxable?
The bulk of most personal injury settlements or jury awards are not taxable because the amount recovered isn’t income. Instead, it is compensation for a loss. Only the amount of compensation a victim receives for their lost income is taxable.
If the injury victim receives a settlement and places the funds in an interest-bearing account, the interest is taxable income.
If a jury awards punitive damages, the amount is subject to taxes because punitive damages are not compensation for a loss, but rather an amount awarded to an injury victim to serve as a punishment and deterrent to the defendant who caused the injury or to an insurance company that uses bad-faith practices to wrongfully deny a valid claim.
How Long Does it Take to Receive a Response?
Like most states, both Missouri and Illinois require insurance companies to respond promptly after an injury victim files a personal injury claim. Once an attorney sends a demand package, the insurance company must issue a response within 30 days in Missouri or within 45 days in Illinois. This is a more victim-friendly time limit compared to the 90-day response time allowed in Florida and many other states.
Once the injury victim and their attorney receive a response, the victim must decide whether to accept the settlement offer or negotiate for a greater compensation amount. If the insurance company refuses to offer an acceptable amount or wrongfully denies a valid claim, the case proceeds to a lawsuit.
What is the Average Personal Injury Settlement Amount?
The amount a victim recovers in a personal injury settlement varies greatly depending on the severity of the injury, the cost of their medical care and related expenses, and whether or not the injury caused temporary or permanent disability. A settlement amount for an individual who suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident with a commercial truck will naturally be far more than a settlement for someone who broke their ankle by slipping on a wet floor in a convenience store. However, both types of injuries cause pain, disrupt the victim’s daily routine and ability to earn a living, and deserve compensation.
The average personal injury settlement amount in the U.S. is $75,904.90 based on an average of data collected between 2015 and 2023. Keep in mind that this average derives from averaging a range of settlement amounts including both very high and unusually low settlements as well as those in mid-range.
What are the Steps in a Personal Injury Case?
A personal injury claim can be challenging to navigate if you’re new to the process. That’s why hiring an attorney with years of experience in this type of case is highly beneficial. Most personal injury cases progress through the following timeline:
- After the injury victim has a clear idea of the extent of their past and future injury-related expenses they have a free consultation with an attorney with a strong track record in similar injury claims
- The attorney investigates the evidence in the case to determine the liable party and document evidence of their negligence
- The attorney reviews the victim’s medical records, records of injury-related expenses, and lost wages, and then consults with medical experts to determine the amount of future expenses the victim is likely to expect and their pain level throughout the injury and recovery process
- The attorney calculates the amount of damages in the case, including an amount for pain and suffering based on one or more common formulas
- The lawyer sends a demand package listing evidence of liability and the amount of damages to the appropriate insurance company of the at-fault party, such as an auto insurance company in a car accident injury claim or malpractice insurance in a medical malpractice claim
- The insurance company reviews the demand and assigns an insurance adjuster to evaluate the claim
- The insurance adjuster investigates the claim and then offers a settlement amount as compensation for damages
- The injury victim and their attorney determine whether to accept the offer or to negotiate for a higher amount
- Negotiations may go back and forth until all parties arrive at a mutually agreeable settlement amount
- If the insurance company denies the claim or lowballs the settlement amount the case may then proceed to a lawsuit
Although this may seem like a daunting process when you’ve been injured, a good attorney can handle the legal aspects of the claim and keep open communication with you throughout the process so you’re always up to date on the progress of your case.
What is the Burden of Proof in Personal Injury Cases?
When making a personal injury claim for compensation, the burden of proof is on the injury victim (plaintiff) to prove negligence and liability on the part of the individual or business at fault for the injury (defendant). Criminal cases require proof beyond a reasonable doubt but in civil cases like personal injury claims, the injury victim only has to prove negligence by a preponderance of evidence—or show that it’s more likely than not that negligence caused the injury. Proving liability requires demonstrating the following legal points of liability through the evidence in a case:
- That the at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injury to others, like a driver’s duty to follow traffic laws or a manufacturer’s duty to produce safe products
- The at-fault party breached this duty through an act of negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing
- The breach of duty directly caused the injury
- The injury victim suffered damages because of the injury
If another party caused harm by failing to do what a reasonable person would have done in the same circumstances, the injury victim is entitled to compensation. A skilled personal injury attorney can deftly navigate the claim and help maximize the amount of compensation.