As the third-largest city in the U.S., Chicago provides plenty for its more than 2 million residents and visitors, including professional sports events, more than 7,300 restaurants, 303 miles of bike lanes, and 600 parks.
However, for every great thing, there is to do in Chicago, there is also a risk of personal injury, from car accidents to slip-and-fall accidents and more. If an accident in Chicago injured you because of someone else’s careless or reckless behavior, you can seek compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, undertake this process with the assistance of an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer.
The legal team at Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers is a nationwide law firm with more than 20 years of experience in helping the injured obtain the compensation they deserve for the expenses and impacts of the injury they incurred.
We are a national law firm based in Houston with multiple offices around the country. We also work with affiliate law firms in most states that share our focus and dedication to excellence. No matter where you live, we may help you, so call or contact us now. We are open, for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-898-4877, or you may contact us now by clicking here to submit your case for review.
Contact Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers in Chicago for a free case evaluation to learn more about your legal options.
Chicago Personal Injury Accident Guide
What Does a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
Personal injury law is a form of tort law that involves seeking compensation for physical injuries and property damage incurred from negligent or even intentional acts.
Our Chicago personal injury lawyers are legal professionals who represent claimants as they seek compensation through a personal injury claim by:
- Investigating claims to determine all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can provide compensation for the expenses and impacts of the claimant’s injury.
- Gathering evidence and witness testimony that can prove their client’s claim in court.
- Negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in an attempt to garner a fair out-of-court resolution to the claim.
- Conducting discovery, which involves requesting, procuring, and analyzing evidence and witnesses that the defendant’s legal counsel assembled.
- Litigating by delivering arguments, presenting evidence, and examining witnesses.
- Collecting your settlement or award.
Types of Chicago Accidents That Can Result in a Personal Injury Claim
Each day in Chicago, negligence, defined as careless or reckless behavior that breaches the duty of care owed by an individual to others around them, injures or kills people. The duty of care involves taking reasonable actions in a given set of circumstances to protect someone’s safety and property from damage. Here is a look at the cases with which a Chicago personal injury lawyer commonly assists clients.
Chicago’s streets are outdated and extraordinarily congested. Because of this, many Chi-Town residents don’t even own a car, choosing instead to utilize the city’s many transportation options. That said, many residents do own cars, and the streets also fill with visitors drawn to Chicago for work or pleasure.
Furthermore, the city’s many transportation options include commercial buses, rideshares, and taxis. Road conditions are difficult in winter.
The most common causes of car accidents to be experienced in Chicago are the same as they are in other large cities and include:
- Distracted driving
- Alcohol impairment
The types of accidents that frequently take place on Chicago roadways include:
Rear-end accidents (the most common type of car accident in Chicago)
- T-bone (broadside) collisions
- Head-on collisions
While inclement weather can make the already difficult driving conditions of Chicago even harder, most car accidents in Chicago occur on dry roads.
Chicago is considered a MAJOR transportation hub for the U.S. trucking industry.
The many reasons for this include:
- The central location of the city allows trucks to deliver products to half of the U.S. within a day.
- The Port of Chicago, which is one of the most heavily used inland seaports in the world.
- A top-of-the-line rail system that provides additional logistics options for companies.
- One of the largest interstate highway systems in the nation.
Despite the importance of commercial trucks to our daily lives, the massive size of the vehicles makes them particularly risky for other roadway users, due to:
- Significant blind spots can result in the truck driver not noticing vehicles driving alongside them in adjacent travel lanes, or close to either the front or back of the vehicle.
- Wide turns, which are required to allow the truck to negotiate a sharp corner, and involve the driver swinging the front wheels of the truck into an adjacent lane to complete the turn.
- A high center of gravity, which can make the vehicle prone to rolling over during emergency driving maneuvers or when negotiating a tight corner. This is particularly true if the cargo inside the truck is improperly balanced.
- A high ground clearance, which results in a space between the underside of the truck and the road that is just large enough for a small car to be pulled into it. This often-deadly situation is known as an underride.
Motorcyclists are considered vulnerable road users, due to the lighter and slimmer transportation method, and the extreme risk of injury or death if they are involved in an accident with a much larger motor vehicle. According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than 5,000 people die in motorcycle accidents each year.
Many thousands more suffer injuries that cause them to miss work, incur expenses, or even lose the ability to earn an income because of permanent injuries. Motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to become injured or die from injuries sustained in an accident during every trip than the occupants of passenger cars.
Some of the common causes of motorcycle accidents in Chicago include:
- Left-turning drivers in intersections that do not have a green arrow. These drivers must yield the right-of-way to vehicles in the travel lanes go straight through the intersection and judge a safe gap in traffic during which to complete their turn. However, many drivers fail to see an oncoming motorcycle and turn in its path.
- Dooring, which involves the occupant of a vehicle parked on the roadside opening their door into the path of an approaching motorcyclist. This causes the motorcyclist to collide with the door or swerve into another travel lane to avoid the collision. Unfortunately, swerving increases the risk of the rider losing control of their bike or colliding with a car in the lane where they swerve.
- Inattentional blindness. The brain is a fascinating organ, responsible for many things, including information processing. Inattentional blindness is one of the ways the mind processes information in chaotic situations such as those on the streets of Chicago. Inattentional blindness results from the brain prioritizing the biggest risks, such as larger vehicles, while failing to notice smaller risks, such as motorcycles.
- Distracted drivers, who fail to see or respond adequately to the presence of the motorcyclist due to being distracted by external factors such as other people, cars, or billboards, or internal factors such as texting, eating, or visiting with passengers.
- Alcohol impairment, which is involved in nearly half of all motorcycle accidents. Alcohol impairment deprives the body of the skills it needs for safe driving, such as the ability to control the vehicle and its speed, maintain lane position, multitask, track moving objects, and make safe decisions.
Bicycle/ Pedestrian Accidents
Bicyclists and pedestrians are also considered vulnerable road users due to the high likelihood of death or injuries sustained in an accident with much larger and heavier vehicles. Because the citizens of Chicago often choose to forego the ownership of a car and most residents live in proximity to where they run errands and bus stations where they catch public transportation, there tend to be a lot of pedestrians on Chicago roadways.
Additionally, the city provided more than 300 miles of bike lanes on the streets, providing ample opportunity for commuters to use that mode of transportation.
Despite encouraging the use of the streets for walking and cycling, the city has fallen behind in creating and maintaining safe routes for these vulnerable road users to take. Instead, in many parts of the city, walkers and riders are left with poorly marked crosswalks and signals, congestion for days, and an above-average risk for being involved in an accident.
Pedestrian accidents result in more than 5,000 deaths a year across the U.S., as well as more than 135,000 injuries. While their risk is not as high as that of motorcyclists, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to die in a traffic-related accident than the passengers of cars.
The most likely victims of pedestrian accidents include older adults over 65, who account for 20 percent of pedestrian deaths and 10 percent of injuries, and children under 15.
More than 800 bicyclists die on the nation’s streets each year. While public awareness and other transportation options have decreased bicycle accidents involving children since 1975, in that same time frame, the number of adults aged 20 and older who die in bicycle accidents has tripled due to the increasing popularity of bicycle transportation for adults. About 78 percent of fatal bicycle accidents occur in urban areas like Chicago.
If a slip-and-fall accident caused your injury at a private residence, a commercial property, or a public area, your case falls under the umbrella of premises liability. Premises liability involves the legal responsibility of property owners/possessors to regularly inspect their property to find and repair hazards that can cause injuries to guests.
Slip-and-fall accidents are the most common type of premises liability claim and result from the claimant slipping or tripping on an unsafe surface.
Some common hazards that result in slip-and-fall accidents include:
- Loose, torn, or worn flooring materials
- Floors that have been freshly mopped or waxed
- Liquid or debris on the floor
- Poor lighting, particularly in stairwells
- Damaged or improperly constructed staircases
- Cracks in the sidewalk or potholes in parking lots
- Cords extended across walkways
- Open drawers or cabinets in high traffic areas
While slip-and-fall accidents are the most common type of premises liability claim, they’re not the only source of premises liability.
Other accidents that involve premises liability include:
- Negligent security, which is the failure of a property owner or possessor to take reasonable steps to protect guests from criminal activity on the property.
- Elevator or escalator accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Dog bites
- Fires or floods resulting from an unsafe property condition
We prove premises liability claims by showing:
- The property owner or possessor had a duty to perform regular inspections of the property and promptly repair known hazards that could cause injury to guests.
- The property owner or possessor failed to take reasonable actions to safeguard their guests from becoming injured by hazards the owner/possessor should have reasonably known about.
- You were legally on the property.
- You became injured as a result of the property hazard.
Have You Suffered a Personal Injury in Chicago?
If you suffered a personal injury in Chicago, the most important thing you can do for the sake of your physical health is to seek medical attention and follow your medical provider's treatment plan. The second most important thing you can do is hire an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim.
Read on for answers to the questions we are most frequently asked about filing a personal injury claim in Chicago, and contact our legal team if you would like to start the process with a free case evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chicago Personal Injury Claims
With a population of more than 2.6 million people, Chicago is the third-largest city in the nation. Large cities provide a lot of benefits. However, they often create more risks of personal injury due to congested streets, old buildings, and other hazards.
If you are one of the many Chicago residents or visitors who suffered a personal injury, here are answers to the questions about personal injury claims that our Chicago personal injury lawyer is most frequently asked.
What are the steps involved in the personal injury claims process?
The personal injury claims process generally involves the following steps:
- You hire an attorney to represent you and sign a contract agreeing to the services and payment method. Your attorney begins investigating your claim, determining all sources of liability and accessible insurance resources.
- Your attorney submits a demand package to the at-fault party’s insurer. The insurer then has the option to 1) Accept the liability of their insured and process the claim for payment; 2) Deny the claim and send a letter to you providing the reason for the denial; or 3) Accept some liability on the part of their insured but offer a settlement for less than the value of the claim.
- If the insurer pays the claim, then the case is resolved. If the insurer denies the claim, you and your attorney will discuss filing your lawsuit in court. If the insurer makes a settlement offer, it will often start the negotiations process.
- Because the negotiations process can continue even after filing a personal injury lawsuit (and even after your trial starts), your attorney will begin preparing your case for court while still attempting to garner a fair settlement on your behalf.
- If the insurer fails to provide a fair settlement offer, and as the statute of limitations draws closer to your claim, you and your attorney will determine the appropriate time to file your lawsuit. Filing your lawsuit often prompts an insurer to make a better settlement offer because the settlement process is less expensive and more predictable than litigation.
- If you receive no settlement agreement by the time your trial date arrives, your attorney will make opening and closing arguments, present evidence, and examine witnesses.
- Upon the resolution of your claim, your attorney will assist you in collecting your settlement or award.
What type of compensation can I receive through a personal injury lawsuit?
Illinois’ civil court system allows you to seek the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages through the personal injury claims process. In plain English: You can seek compensation for the expenses and psychological impacts of your injury.
Examples of the types of expenses and impacts that commonly appear in personal injury claims include:
- All reasonable medical costs associated with the treatment of the injury you sustained in the accident and related complications.
- The wages and benefits you were unable to earn because you were too injured to work.
- The loss of future earning capacity if your injury results in permanent deficits that impact your ability to earn an income.
- Property damage you incurred in an accident, such as damage to your vehicle in a car accident.
- Physical pain and suffering resulting from the injury, the treatment of it, or complications caused by it.
- Emotional distress over the trauma of the accident and the negative experiences your injury caused.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, if your injury prevents you from partaking in hobbies or activities that are important to you.
- Loss of consortium, which refers to the loss of physical intimacy with your spouse due to the severity of your injury.
How do I prove liability in a Chicago personal injury claim?
Except for premises liability claims that pose slightly different elements, the elements needed to prove negligence (and, therefore, liability in most personal injury claims) include:
- The at-fault party had a duty to take reasonable actions to protect others from becoming injured or experiencing property damage in a given set of circumstances.
- There was a breach in that duty when the at-fault party took actions that failed to protect you from physical injuries or property damage.
- This breach caused the accident, which led to you becoming injured and experiencing financial and psychological losses.
How long do I have to file a Chicago personal injury lawsuit?
In most cases, Chicago personal injury claimants have two years to file a personal injury claim in court. This does not mean your claim must resolve in two years, only that you must initiate legal proceedings.
However, some circumstances cause the deadline to be shorter or longer with certain personal injury claims, such as those involving a governmental agency. You must file claims against the city or county in one year.
I might have been partially at fault for the accident. Does this mean I can’t file a claim?
You can still file a claim. Even if you are partially at fault, you still have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault party in proportion to the percentage of responsibility you bear.
However, here is an important point about partial fault: Do not apologize after the accident or admit that you think you caused the accident to the other party, any witnesses, or their insurer.
- An attorney can help you determine partial fault, and you should discuss this matter only with your attorney.
- Additionally, if you admit to any liability without knowing for sure if it was yours to admit to, the other party’s insurer can (and likely will) use it against you to devalue your claim.
What if the person who caused my injury was not insured?
Accidents involving uninsured liability are difficult. Insurance pays nearly all personal injury settlements and awards. Uninsured parties generally can’t afford to pay for someone else’s injury expenses out-of-pocket.
There are a few options for compensating your injury that your attorney can explore with you, including:
- Additional sources of liability with insurance resources that can provide compensation.
- Insurance policies that you have, such as health insurance policies provided by your employer, or uninsured motorist policies that can be accessed after a traffic-related accident.
- Seeking compensation directly from the at-fault party. Collecting the judgment can prove difficult. There are some traditional collection methods available, however, including wage garnishment.
My spouse died as a result of a Chicago accident. Can I use the personal injury claims process to seek compensation?
You will use the wrongful death claims process to seek compensation. Like a personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim filed in civil court within two years of the date on which the death occurred. In Illinois, family members can seek compensation for a wrongful death claim. A personal representative of the deceased’s estate (which is often a spouse, adult child, or parent) must file the claim.
The compensation family members can obtain if their loved one has died in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence include:
- Loss of financial support that was provided by the deceased for their family members.
- Loss of instruction, education, and moral training afforded to the deceased’s children by the deceased.
- Loss of consortium, which includes the loss of society, companionship, and physical intimacy incurred by the deceased’s spouse.
- Guilt, sorrow, and mental suffering experienced by the deceased’s family members.
How serious does an injury have to be to file a personal injury claim?
We have represented clients whose injuries resulted in minimal time from work and a relatively straightforward treatment protocol. We have also represented clients who suffered catastrophic injuries that left them incapable of working or living independently again. If your injury resulted in expenses and psychological impacts, it is serious enough to result in a personal injury claim.
Will I have to pay taxes on my Chicago personal injury settlement?
For the most part, no. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not consider settlements and awards obtained for personal injury income and does not tax them.
Pay attention to a couple of exceptions, however:
- If you deduct your medical expenses on your taxes and later obtain compensation, you must repay the IRS for that deduction.
- If you received punitive damages as part of a personal injury award, the IRS can tax them because they don’t compensate you. Punitive damages punish a defendant for particularly reckless or wanton behavior. Punitive damages are not a factor in settlements as insurance policies typically exclude them from coverage. Instead, the claimant must wait until after the initial complaint has been filed in court and file a motion to amend that complaint to ask the jury to consider punitive damages.
I can’t afford an attorney. Do I really need one?
Yes. Personal injury claims are difficult. The process is filled with legal requirements and expectations, and the work that goes into investigating your claim and gathering the evidence and witness testimony is generally too much for one person, particularly if they lack legal training.
That said, personal injury attorneys understand that the experience and knowledge they bring to your case are vital to the success of your claim.
Because of this, we provide to anyone who needs a Chicago personal injury lawyer:
- A free case evaluation, which is time for you to speak with our legal team about your claim, learn more about personal injury claims, and the services we can provide you. You are under no obligation to hire us by requesting a free case evaluation.
- Contingency-fee billing. The contingency fee allows you to wait to pay us for our services until there has been a positive resolution to your claim. It also allows us to begin working right away on your case without waiting for you to make an upfront investment in the form of a retainer for us to do so.
With free case evaluations, a contingent-fee billing method, and the experience you need to negotiate a fair settlement or present your claim in court, the question isn’t so much a matter of whether you can afford our services but how you can afford not to.
The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, is nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years. If you were injured in an accident in Chicago, call our office right now for a free consultation! Because we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a dime unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by clicking here.
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