This is the next post in a series of articles discussing the litigation process following a car accident in Peoria, Illinois. My previous post discussed Illinois’ comparative fault laws and their potential impact on car accidents Many accident victims are hesitant to pursue their legal claim for recovery of damages if they believe they were partially responsible for an incident. Under Illinois law, however, so long as a plaintiff is fifty percent or less liable for the crash, they may still be entitled to compensation from the party who is more at fault. This concept can become complicated. An experienced attorney can help review the facts of your case and advise you about your legal options. In this article, I will explain why lawsuits are not typically filed immediately after a wreck. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, contact my office today to speak to a lawyer.
When a car crash is caused by the negligence or misconduct of another driver, injured victims are entitled to recover damages from the responsible party. In many cases, it is possible to negotiate a fair settlement with the defendant’s insurance company. The process of negotiating a settlement, however, can take a long period of time. This is true for several reasons. First, in cases involving serious injuries, such as paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, or spinal cord damage, victims generally require significant medical treatment. Their long-term medical prognosis may be difficult to ascertain for several months, or sometimes years, after a crash. This information is necessary when attempting to quantify the amount of damages to which the injured party or their family may be entitled. Expert witnesses, such as doctors, economists, or vocational experts, may be required to determine the appropriate compensation. Second, if the defendant’s liability is in question, settlement negotiations could be delayed while a full investigation occurs. Additional experts, such as accident reconstructionists or engineers may be needed to establish responsibility. These elements, while necessary to obtain a reasonable settlement on a victim’s behalf, can be time-consuming. If a settlement cannot be reached prior to the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations, it may become necessary to file a lawsuit, even while negotiations continue, to preserve the victim’s right to sue.
Many victims may wonder why their attorney would not simply file a lawsuit right away following a crash. As stated above, the information required to estimate damages and establish liability requires time to understand and develop. Taking the time to conduct a thorough investigation and gather evidence related to the victim’s medical treatment and injuries will help ensure that your legal counsel has the information necessary to represent your interests. This information will also be necessary during a lawsuit and will, if needed, be used in that process. Litigation, once initiated, can become extremely expensive. Successful settlement negotiations mean less legal fees and more economic recovery for the victim. If a deal cannot be reached, your attorney should be prepared to take the case to trial and handle the matter through its conclusion.
If you need assistance, contact our Peoria, Illinois office to speak with a personal injury attorney. I have experience representing car accident victims and their families seeking the compensation to which they are entitled. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.