This is the next post in a series of articles discussing wrongful death cases in Peoria, Illinois. My previous article discussed how Illinois’ comparative fault laws may impact a wrongful death matter. So long as the victim was fifty percent or less responsible for the accident, their survivors will be entitled to recover damages from the defendant. Establishing liability can become a hotly contested and complex issue. An experienced attorney will understand how to effectively present evidence in support of your case to the jury. In this article, I will address the process of dealing with insurance companies after an accident occurs. In the aftermath of a tragic loss, survivors often find this process overwhelming and do not know how to handle communications from insurance adjusters. An attorney with wrongful death experience can help you understand your rights. If you need assistance, contact my office to schedule a consultation.
Shortly after an accident occurs, the defendant’s insurance company will contact the victim’s surviving spouse or next of kin to gather information and begin the process of negotiating a settlement agreement. It is important to remember that the insurance adjusters do not represent the victim. Their job is to minimize the financial exposure of the insured. Many people find this process intimidating and are unsure of how to answer questions, which information to provide, and how to evaluate settlement offers. Your attorney can handle these communications on your behalf. After retaining counsel, your lawyer will notify the insurance company that they represent you and instruct them to direct their calls to them.
From this point, your lawyer will begin investigating the accident. The investigation will include reviewing all records about the incident, such as police reports, medical examinations, autopsy reports, and witness statements. Additional inquiries will be made to identify all potential defendants. If liability is being disputed, experts such as accident reconstructionists may be engaged to prove which party was responsible. Your attorney will also work with other necessary experts to determine the amount of damages to which your family may be entitled. They will send a demand letter to the insurance company to begin settlement negotiations. Settlement negotiations can be contentious and can take a significant period of time. If an agreement cannot be reached, your attorney will initiate a lawsuit.
I cannot overstate the importance of engaging an attorney to help you deal with the insurance company after the loss of a loved one. Doing so can alleviate the stress and confusion of communicating with adjusters. In addition, your attorney can evaluate settlement offers and provide guidance about whether the offer represents adequate compensation. Accepting a settlement often precludes future legal action. Doing so without the benefit of legal advice can be a costly mistake. If you need assistance in a wrongful death action, contact my office today to speak to a Peoria lawyer. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.