If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you probably don’t know where to turn. Medical bills and other expenses continue to pile up in your mailbox, and you might be too injured to even return to work. Fortunately, help is available.
At Jerome Salmi Kopis, LLC, we represent injured victims just like you in personal injury claims. We hear from many members of the public who have questions about personal injury law. And we reproduce some of the more common questions and answers below. Please contact us today to speak with a member of our firm.
What is personal injury law?
Personal injury law is a very broad field that basically covers any incident where you suffered a bodily injury. Typically, our clients suffer serious bodily injuries in an accident due to another person’s carelessness. For example, they could break bones or suffer head injuries, back injuries, burns, or other injuries which require medical care. In some situations, you may bring a personal injury claim even if you didn’t suffer a bodily injury.
How do I pay my medical bills?
If another person or entity is to blame for the accident, they should pay for your medical care. However, settling a lawsuit will take time—and you need medical care immediately. To pay for this care, you can use your health insurance or pay out of pocket. If you are uninsured and lack funds, please speak with us at JSK. There might be a way to obtain care from a doctor who agrees to payment later once your case settles and you have money. For more information on receiving medical bills after a work accident read here.
Why do I need a personal injury lawyer?
Obtaining compensation isn’t easy. Many defendants have large law firms representing them, and insurance companies hate to pay claims. We can perform many helpful services, such as collecting evidence and helping you document your financial and non-financial losses. We can also negotiate a settlement on your behalf. Settlement negotiations rarely go smoothly, but our legal team has the experience necessary to know when to settle and when to fight for more money. Read more here on why you should hire a lawyer for your personal injury case.
What compensation can I receive for a personal injury?
You should receive full compensation to cover all financial and non-financial losses, if this is a work-related injury you can find out how worker’s compensation works here. In both Illinois and Missouri, you should receive money damages for:
- All reasonable medical care to treat your injuries, including future care if you are permanently disabled.
- Lost income or lost wages, including future lost income if you suffer a permanent disability.
- Property damage, such as the cost of fixing your damaged car or replacing it if it is totaled.
- Pain and suffering, for the physical and emotional pain you feel.
How much is my case worth?
When evaluating what a personal injury case is worth, every case is different. Until you have finished treating your injuries with your doctor, we cannot collect all of your records and bills. This is an imperative step as we will gather all documentation to support your claim including lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Once we have all the necessary documents, we meet with you to discuss our evaluation of your claim and the steps we believe you should take to receive the most compensation.
Do I need to file a lawsuit?
Most cases settle without ever needing a trial. Indeed, probably 9 out of 10 personal injury cases can be worked about between the insurance companies and attorneys. But in some cases, a lawsuit is unavoidable. For example, both sides might disagree about who is primarily responsible for the accident, so they go to court to have a judge or jury decide the issue.
Filing a lawsuit is complicated. There are many rules and deadlines you must be aware of, and your failure to follow them can result in a case being dismissed. Reach out to Jerome Salmi Kopis, LLC today to secure experienced legal counsel.
Can I afford a personal injury lawyer?
Everyone should have an experienced personal injury lawyer by their side following an accident. This person will tackle the legal issues while allowing you to focus completely on your recovery.
A seasoned personal injury lawyer is surprisingly affordable. At Jerome Salmi Kopis, LLC, we represent clients on contingency. This means we don’t require any upfront attorney’s fees; instead, we agree to accept a percentage of any court award or settlement as compensation. Essentially, this means we only get paid if you get paid.
What should I do after an accident?
Once an auto accident has occurred, the first thing you must do is ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. Then call 911 and report the accident. If it is safe to do so, check on the other driver and receive their name, contact information, and insurance. After this, obtain the names and contact information of witnesses. Finally, if possible, take photographic evidence of the vehicles involved and any important notes at the accident scene, such as damage.
However, if it is not safe to leave your vehicle or do any of the above, wait for the police to arrive at the scene and follow their instructions. The police should interview witnesses and gather necessary information, but if it is possible, you can take photographs at this point. Find more information on steps to take once in an accident and motorcycle accident in Illinois here.
If you are injured as a result of a slip and fall, ensure you can move safely. If you cannot, call 911 immediately and reach out for help nearby. Then, once you are able, report the incident to the owner of the property and fill out any necessary incident reports. If it is safe to do so, photograph the reason for your fall. The more documentation you can attain, the smoother your claim will be. For more information on what to do after a slip and fall you can read here.
What if I was partially at fault for the accident?
Both Illinois and Missouri recognize comparative fault but each state applies it differently, which can affect the compensation you receive.
Illinois adopted the modified comparative fault standard. This means you may only recover damages for your injuries if the trier–be it judge or jury–determines you caused up to 50% of your own injuries. If it is determined you are at fault for more than 50% then you are barred from recovering any compensation for your injuries. Find out if Illinois is a no-fault state here.
Missouri, on the other hand, recognizes the comparative fault standard. This means even if the trier, be it judge or jury, determines you were 95% at fault for your own injuries, you can still collect 5% of any recovery awarded. Find out if Missouri is a no-fault state here.
What defenses might the defendant raise?
In our experience, defendants raise certain defenses over and over. Most commonly, they will deny liability or try to pin most of the blame on our client, the victim. We fight back by marshaling facts in your favor to show it was the defendant who was negligent.
In other cases, a defendant might claim you are an “egg shell” plaintiff—that is, easily susceptible to injury. However, that is not a defense to personal injury cases, and we remind insurance adjusters and judges of that fact.
Can I wait to hire a lawyer?
It’s best to avoid delay. There are deadlines you must meet. For example, both Illinois and Missouri have a statute of limitations that states you must file a lawsuit before a certain deadline otherwise you may be barred from suing.
Should I give a recorded statement to an insurance company?
Unless it is your own insurance company, there is no requirement for you to provide a recorded statement. We at JSK strongly advise our clients against giving a statement. Oftentimes, the questions posed by claims reps are confusing and you can easily misunderstand the questions and provide answers that may hurt your claim.
At JSK, we normally do not allow our clients to provide recorded statements. For the rare times that we do, we prepare you in advance and then sit with you during the recorded statement to ensure the questions asked of you are fair and there are no misunderstandings regarding the answers you provide. Find out more about why not to give a recorded statement to the other insurance company here.
Should I settle my case?
Our clients have complete control over whether they want to settle. It’s up to them. However, we always advise our clients so they can make an informed decision. When the other side tenders a settlement offer, we will help you analyze whether it is fair. Can you reasonably expect to get more money? Would you prevail if you went to court?
With a settlement, you will sign a document in which you agree not to sue the defendant again for injuries you suffered in the accident. Essentially, this means your compensation will be limited to the amount you get in the settlement. With each settlement offer, we provide you with advice regarding the pros and cons of taking the settlement. This includes our beliefs on whether the settlement is fair or if we believe we can receive a higher amount for you–either through further negotiation or if necessary filing a suit.
For a guide on Illinois worker’s compensation settlement read here and to determine the settlement value of a worker’s compensation case in Missouri you can check out this blog. There is also a common misconception that you need to settle a personal injury claim fast, we break down why that isn’t true here.
What is negligence and does it apply to my case?
Negligence is a legal term meaning a person failed to use reasonable care, and they injured you in the process. A negligent driver, for example, might have failed to check their mirrors or have been looking at a text message while driving. This is not careful behavior.
Another term used is “fault.” To obtain compensation in a personal injury case, we need to show that the defendant was negligent.
Can a pedestrian receive a settlement following an accident?
Yes. Each year, thousands of pedestrians are injured around the country. They should seek full compensation for their injuries if they are struck by a negligent or reckless driver. We would help make a claim on the defendant’s insurance.
What is pain and suffering?
This is a legal term to describe certain intangible losses that aren’t easily calculated using a receipt or bill. It covers pain, inconvenience, and emotional or mental anguish. A serious back injury, for example, can cause pain and disrupt a person’s sleep schedule, making them irritable. It can also prevent a person from enjoying hobbies or spending time with family. These losses, though not financial in nature, deserve compensation.
Is there any reason I might not receive full compensation?
This sometimes happens. A defendant might be uninsured or have a policy with a low limit. For example, a motorist could have struck and paralyzed you. When added all together, your present and future losses could exceed $1,000,000. However, the defendant might only have a car insurance policy with a $25,000 bodily injury liability limit and no other resources. As your attorneys, we would do everything possible to identify additional sources of compensation. But the reality is that some clients might have uncompensated losses.
Furthermore, if you were partially at fault for your injuries, you will also receive less compensation because of that fact. That is the rule in both Illinois and Missouri.
What if I was struck by a hit and run driver?
There are times that a driver flees the scene of an accident. Still, you might qualify for compensation if you have uninsured motorist coverage. This policy can step in and cover your medical bills and other losses attributed to the wreck.
At JSK we will review your insurance policy to determine if you have uninsured motorist coverage, what the limits are, and what steps are necessary to make a claim.
What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in addition to compensatory damages for medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. They are designed as a punishment when the defendant’s conduct was especially offensive or egregious. They aren’t always an option in every case.
At JSK we can determine, based upon the facts of your case if we can pursue punitive damages under the requirements of both Illinois and Missouri.
Contact JSK Today
Our personal injury lawyers are standing by to help. Please call or send us a message to schedule a time to meet.