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Frequently Asked Questions

In the aftermath of an accident, it can be difficult to find quality information about your legal options and other related topics. To help foster education and as a service to our clients, we have created this list of Frequently Asked Questions and their answers as a resource. We will be updating the list over time, so check back frequently for new topics. For any questions that you have, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We hope you find the articles informative and helpful, but keep in mind that they are not meant to substitute for legal advice. For any questions or to discuss your case with a qualified Champaign personal injury attorney at Spiros Law, P.C., please do not hesitate to contact us at (217) 328-2828.

Can I file a personal injury claim on behalf of my child?

If your minor child has suffered from costly and/or debilitating injuries due to another party’s negligence, you may be able to file a legal claim on his or her behalf. In addition, a child whose parents have died as a result of another party’s actions may be able to win compensation if his or her guardian chooses to pursue a claim. Personal injury claims involving children are subject to unique regulations and need to be handled by an experienced attorney.

Can I get help paying my medical bills?

Many people who are hurt in accidents require immediate medical care, and a significant number of them will also need additional rehabilitative treatment to fully recover. Medical expenses often include immediate treatment, surgical costs, prescription drugs, and other expenses. All this treatment usually comes at a very steep price, and, as a result, people often struggle under the weight of their medical bills after an accident.

When you hire an injury lawyer to represent you, they will be able to help ensure that you can continue to get the treatment you need. In some cases, the attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable payment plan or arrive at some other agreement with a care provider that allows for payment when a settlement or judgment is expected.

A lawyer could also review your case to see if you possibly qualify for any assistance from the state or federal government. Another benefit of an attorney is that they can deal with debt collectors relating to medical bills for you and negotiate possible agreements to those issues. A lawyer might also be able to get some of your medical bills reduced. Perhaps most importantly, an attorney is going to fight to make sure that any settlement you obtain is sufficient for covering all of your medical bills.

Many insurance companies might quickly offer settlements that cover only the existing medical bills but provide nothing in terms of future care. A lawyer will be able to work with your doctors or other care providers to get an accurate assessment of all the future costs you’ll incur and make sure that any settlement accounts for them. If you are concerned about your inability to pay your medical bills, you should know that you likely will not be facing any jail time for failure to pay your bills. Courts can order that other civil actions be imposed in some cases, such as wage garnishment.

You can avoid many negative consequences by having an attorney on your side. Medical bills are some of the most common kinds of economic damages sought in personal injury cases. Unfortunately, insurance companies will usually find any reason possible to claim that they are not responsible for them.

One of the more common claims relates to alleged pre-existing conditions, which insurers will claim that they are not responsible for treating. A lawyer will show that your injuries were caused by the accident and will make sure that the at-fault party’s insurance company does the right thing by paying you for the harm and losses you’ve suffered.

Ultimately, hiring an attorney will help give you the peace of mind you need while you focus on getting back on your feet after the accident. If you’re unsure of how to pay for your treatment during the injury claims process, your lawyer will help you figure out how to continue getting the care you need, while working to secure the maximum compensation possible to reduce the financial stress and strain on you and your family.

Can I still be compensated if I am partially at fault for an accident?

Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible for compensation even if you partially contributed to an accident. Illinois civil law follows a doctrine called comparative fault. Under this law, you are eligible for compensation if you are less than 51% responsible for an accident. The amount of compensation you receive will be diminished by your level of fault. For example, if you are 40% responsible for your accident, you will be compensated for 60% of your total losses.

Do I have to accept a settlement if one is offered?

No, you do not. As the plaintiff, you have the right to decide whether or not a proposed settlement is acceptable to you. If it is not, you have two basic options: you can negotiate for a more reasonable settlement, or you can continue to pursue your claim. There are many factors that may influence your decision, including your chances of succeeding if the case goes to court and the amount of compensation you need to cover your expenses.

How do I prove that a product is defective?

Most product liability cases are based on the standard of strict liability. This means that you do not need to identify the precise act of negligence that caused the product in question to be defective. However, you will need evidence that:

  • The dangers of the product’s design outweigh its usefulness (in a design defect case)
  • The product was in a dangerous condition when you bought it (in a manufacturing defect case)
  • You were using the product correctly at the time of your injury
  • You did not modify the product in any way after purchasing it

Product liability cases can involve many complex and subtle legal distinctions.

If I file a Champaign personal injury claim, do I have to appear in court?

If a claimant and defendant are unable to reach a settlement on their own, the case may move to court and be settled by a judge or jury. However, most personal injury claims do not go to trial. In order to avoid the expense and negative publicity of a trial, defendants are often willing to negotiate a settlement with injured parties outside of court.

If you are interested in pursuing a claim against a negligent party, you need an attorney who will be able to protect your rights both in court and during out-of-court negotiations. Contact the Champaign personal injury attorneys of Spiros Law, P.C. at (217) 328-2828.

Is there more than one form of medical malpractice?

There are a number of different types of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is an umbrella term which includes far more cases than just those involving negligent medical errors made by physicians. Dentists, chiropractors, midwives, and other professionals can also be found guilty of medical malpractice. The more common types of medical malpractice include misuse of surgical tools, birth injuries, wrong diagnoses, and wrong site surgeries.

What are damages?

Damages are the fiscal compensation requested by or given to someone who has suffered an injury or loss. They are usually awarded in an effort to cover the cost of medical bills and other pain and suffering. Different types of damages can be awarded in different situations, so if you have been injured in an accident, you should speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to find out what types of damages you may be able to claim for your injuries.

What are the most common diseases and disorders involved in medical malpractice suits?

A medical malpractice lawsuit can involve any type of disease or disorder, but certain ones are routinely seen. There are a number of factors affecting the frequency of various diseases, disorders, and medical malpractice lawsuits. One factor is how common the disease or disorder is on a whole. A rare condition may be less likely to be accurately diagnosed.

Another factor is the way the disease or disorder presents itself. If it is a disease or disorder that has a number of symptoms which overlaps with other conditions, it may be misdiagnosed for another disease. Some of the most common disease and disorders involved in medical malpractice lawsuits include heart failure, breast cancer, lung cancer and sinonasal diseases.

You have the right to decide whether or not you will undergo any kind of medical test, procedure, or experiment. Before you make this decision, you also have the right to learn as much as you can about the procedure in question and give your approval, or your informed consent. You deserve information about your treatment alternatives, the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure, and the likelihood that it will be successful.

What evidence do I need for a personal injury claim?

The specific types of evidence your claim requires will naturally depend on the details of your case. However, as a general rule, plaintiffs in personal injury claims need proof that they suffered significant injuries, and that these injuries were caused by the defendant’s negligence. Documents that can help you build your case include:

  • Medical records
  • Property repair bills
  • Photographs of your injuries and/or property damage
  • Testimony from eyewitnesses
  • Expert analysis of your case

An experienced lawyer will know how to gather and organize all of the information you need.

What is “pain and suffering”?

“Pain and suffering” is a legal term for the physical and emotional stress caused by an injury or the injury of a loved one. It can also be applied to the survivors of a wrongful death victim. Some examples of “pain and suffering” are depression, scarring, aches, limited activity, permanent disability, and the potential shortening of one’s lifespan.

What is a Free Consultation?

When a lawyer says they will provide a free consultation, it means that they will take time to sit down with you, listen to your story, and discuss your rights – all at no cost to you. The free initial consultation gives you the opportunity to talk about what happened and ask any questions you might have about your accident and the injury claims process. At the end of the consultation, you are free to choose whether or not you want to hire the attorney. Also, the lawyer could say that they cannot assist you with your particular problem, or might refer you to someone more suited to assist you with your particular case.

Considering bringing the following to your free consultation:

  • Pen and paper. During your conversation with the lawyer, you will definitely want to take notes.
  • List of questions. Clients typically have numerous questions before a meeting with a lawyer. It can be easy to forget some of those questions during the consultation. Make a list of all your questions ahead of time to ensure all of your concerns are addressed.
  • Documents related to your case. Make copies of all the documents and give them to the attorney during the consultation.

It’s important to ask your attorney what the strategy for your case will be and the outcome that they expect. You’ll want to get details on the types of legal procedures that will be involved and when they expect the case to be resolved.

Find out if your lawyer will attempt to settle your case, if mediation is an option, and if they plan to take your case to trial if necessary. Think about the answers they provide and decide if you are comfortable with them. It is critical that your attorney’s legal strategy aligns with your needs.

During your consultation, you should be able to find out:

  • Whether you have a valid claim. The attorney will be able to take all relevant state laws and statutes of limitations into consideration in letting you know if you have a case.
  • Whether you need the help of an attorney. A lawyer will inform you whether you need legal representation for your specific case or whether you could resolve it on your own.
  • Whether this particular lawyer can help you. The best lawyer for your case is one who has extensive experience in achieving favorable outcomes in your specific type of case. If the lawyer does not handle your type of case, they might refer you to a lawyer who does.
  • What to do next. Upon completion of the consultation, you may be asked to sign an agreement for the attorney to take the case, decide that you do not want to hire the attorney, or the lawyer may decide that they cannot assist you with your case.

If you’ve been hurt due to someone else’s negligence, you are not alone. Legal help is available to you, so contact an experienced injury attorney at Spiros Law, P.C. to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case in private.

What is a statute?

A statute is a formal, written ratification of legislative authority. This can be created at the federal, state and local levels of government. Statutes usually declare policy, command something, or limit something. Statutes are considered primary authority.

Because statutes can be enacted at the state and local levels of government, it is not uncommon for a statute in one area to not apply to nearby locations. As such, you should speak with an experienced attorney to make sure you are well-informed about any statues that might apply to your situation.

What is common law?

Common law is the legal system of deciding cases that has been dominant in the United States since its founding. It is the traditional system of having judges who rule on individual cases. Common law is practiced almost universally across the nation, with the exception being the use of the Napoleonic Code in Louisiana. Broad areas of the law are a part of common law, such as property law or torts.

What is liability?

In legal terms, liability refers to fault. The person or entity at fault for a wrongdoing is liable to the victims of that poor decision. Liability can be applied to all types of legal cases but is especially pertinent for personal injury cases. For example, in the case of a car accident, the person found liable may be responsible for all injuries, damage done to property, and other expenses resulting from the accident.

What is My Case Worth?

Because no two injury accidents are exactly alike, a good lawyer will never promise you a specific result for your case. However, an attorney can usually help give you an idea of what your case is worth based on the facts of the case and the laws that apply and affect the outcome. While there is no exact formula for determining what your case is worth, there are factors an attorney can review that will affect the recovery in your case.

When assessing the potential value of your case, a lawyer will consider how you have been affected by the injury. Determining the worth of your case will depend on a wide range of factors, including:

  • Facts and details of your accident
  • Evidence
  • Extent and severity of your injuries
  • Your insurance coverage and the insurance of the party liable for your injury

Assuming that liability is clear is your case, the following damages are likely to be taken into consideration:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Property loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

While an attorney cannot give you an exact amount you could receive, they can help determine what types of damages you’re entitled to for your injuries. When you hire an attorney, they will get to work immediately on obtaining details about your accident, as well as evidence and documents relating to your injuries.

It’s worth noting that Illinois is a comparative negligence state, meaning that if your percentage of fault is more than 51%, the claim will likely be dismissed because you were more liable for your injury than the other party.

Insurance companies will typically offer you the lowest possible settlement. If your injury claim is denied or you are given a lowball offer, you will want to speak with an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Negotiating with insurance companies can be a complicated process. You should not try to do it alone without the help of an experienced lawyer. There are potential risks if you settle too low, and there are risks for asking for an unrealistic settlement. Also, an Illinois personal injury lawyer will discuss all of your options before accepting a settlement on your behalf.

What is personal injury?

In tort law personal injury is an injury to the body, mind, or emotions, usually due to the negligence of another. Physical injuries most commonly result from car accidents, workplace accidents, and product malfunction. Psychological injuries usually result from a traumatic situation or serious physical injuries or disfigurement. For a personal injury lawsuit it is necessary to prove that the defendant is liable for the damages done.

What is strict liability?

Strict liability is the body of law that holds individuals or entities responsible for damages their actions or products cause, regardless of culpability, or fault. This usually happens when someone engages in inherently hazardous activities that subsequently injure an innocent party.

For example, when a dangerous product injures a consumer, the company is held liable for this injury, even if nothing negligent or careless was done in the manufacturing of that item. The fact that it is dangerous is enough for liability to be assigned.

What is the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim?

The statute of limitations identifies the maximum time after an event when legal action can be taken concerning that event. For example, if you are involved in an accident, there is only so much time you can take before bringing action against those who caused the accident.

This time period varies based on location and the nature of the incident in question. Once a statute of limitations has elapsed, an accident victim will no longer be able to claim compensation from the responsible party. In Illinois, most personal injury claims must be filed within two years of the date you were injured or learned about your injuries. If the party that injured you deliberately concealed his or her negligence, the deadline can be extended. In addition, the deadline can be extended if you were a minor at the time you suffered your injuries.

What is a tort?

A tort is a civil wrong that injures someone in some way that can result in a lawsuit against the wrongdoer. There are three general categories of torts: intentional, negligent, and strict liability torts. Intentional torts arise when a person intentionally injures another, like through an act of violence or another malicious act. Negligent torts occur when a person injures another through their poor choices, such as causing a car wreck by ignoring traffic signs. Lastly, strict liability torts occur when someone is liable for a mistake, such as a defective product.

Who can be compensated in a wrongful death claim?

In Illinois, the only people who can win compensation through a wrongful death claim are the deceased person’s spouse and next of kin (closest blood relatives). The judge will award compensation to each of these parties based on their respective level of dependence on the deceased person. If the person had no spouse or next of kin, then the person who provided his or her medical care may be awarded up to $450. In addition, his or her legal representative may be awarded up to $900 depending on the circumstances.