At Langdon & Emison, we’ve seen all too often what happens when individuals handling their own claims get blockaded by an insurance company. Many are given bad information and assume they have no recourse, while others lack the knowledge, experience, and resources to continue fighting for their claim.
Let us fight for you. We can investigate your accident, document damages in full, and work through the language of the insurer’s own contracts to seek the maximum compensation available. We are also not afraid to take your claim to court or an alternative dispute resolution venue to give your case the highest chances of success possible.
If you need professional help with your case, we are here for you. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Chicago personal injury lawyer near you when you call (312) 855-0700 or contact us online.
Why an Insurance Claim May Not Result in the Compensation You Need
Most personal injury cases can be resolved through a standard insurance claims process. If the incident that caused the injury involves clearly-defined fault and minor damages, then there’s a good chance that the injury victim will recover all of the compensation they need.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes, fault is difficult to determine or the responsible party refuses to admit fault. Other times, the insurance company will use every opportunity they have to dispute whether certain damages are covered. After all, an insurance company makes a bigger profit by not paying out for the full claim.
If a reasonable settlement agreement cannot be reached, the claimant has to choose between appealing the claim, arguing the case in court through a lawsuit, or simply giving up and covering the costs of all damages out-of-pocket.
How Do I Know If I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
For the most part, knowing whether a personal injury lawyer is necessary or not is fairly easy. Something like a car accident that results in a hospital stay – which means significant medical bills and likely lost wages – can benefit from having a personal injury attorney involved. The higher your damages, the more likely insurance companies are to resist paying in full.
On the other hand, having minor injuries treated at an urgent care center after slipping in a store often means the insurer will be willing to pay out in full, rather than go through the headache of an adversarial legal process.
But because each case is unique, there are a few factors you can use to decide whether your claim is likely to result in a fair settlement without the help of an attorney. If you’ve been involved in an accident and are wondering if you need a personal injury lawyer, consider the following:
The Seriousness of the Injury
Was it a serious injury or a minor one? Have you completely recovered, and how long did it take?
Most injury claims are over what is known as “soft tissue” injuries. This means bumps, bruises, whiplash, strains, and cuts – things that can be completely recovered after a few days of treatment and a short rest.
Even if these injuries seem minor, make sure you have fully recuperated from the injury before assuming you know the total scope of damages – however tempting it might be to take an insurance adjuster’s initial offer. For example, see your doctor to make sure that sore ankle isn’t due to ligament damage and make sure there are no hidden injuries that may cause problems later.
Whether the Insurance Company or At-Fault Party Accepts Full Liability
If there’s been an accident and the at-fault party has accepted their liability or the insurance company agrees you’re due a settlement, there’s little more to argue about than the amount to be paid.
However, never assume fault is settled, and never take anything at face value.
The person who T-boned your car may be telling their insurance company they’re not liable, or the insurance company may decide they aren’t legally obligated to pay. Always get the assumption of liability and the agreed-upon benefits in writing from all at-fault parties before signing a settlement agreement.
You Have the Time to Take Care of the Case on Your Own
Large or small, handling a personal injury claim is usually going to be a lot of work. It often requires getting medical and police reports, interviewing witnesses, negotiating with insurance companies – and that’s just to start!
If the at-fault party decides to fight the claim or be nasty about it, it may take months to settle, if at all. This is much harder when you’re dealing with pain, medical care/bills, lost wages, etc.
You Are Being Accused of Fault or Wrongdoing
When insurance companies or allegedly at-fault parties really want to avoid liability, they will often go on the attack, legally speaking. “The best defense is a good offense,” as the saying goes. You may find yourself accused of partial or total fault for the injury-causing incident. The insurer or defending policyholder may even counter sue you for defamation, seeking attorney fees and other damages.
Don’t let these maneuvers intimidate you, but do take them seriously. If you are facing the threat of legal action, discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
I’ve Decided To Get a Personal Injury Lawyer. Now What?
You’ve been seriously injured or the at-fault party refuses to pay a claim, so you’ve hired a personal injury lawyer to represent your case. A qualified lawyer will put in all the necessary work before filing the claim – investigating the accident, acquiring reports, interviewing witnesses and experts, etc. – before contacting the insurance company or at-fault party.
Their goal is to achieve an out-of-court settlement, saving clients the hassle. Most larger companies and insurers prefer settling to litigation, when possible.
A good rule of thumb is the more serious an injury, the more a personal injury lawyer may benefit you. Wrongful death claims, medical malpractice, injuries to children, and health problems due to prescription drugs or unsafe environments almost always benefit from a personal injury lawyer. And, even if the case seems cut-and-dried, legal complications can arise even after the case is settled.
Shared Fault, or Contributory Negligence
Illinois uses something called the “51 Percent Modified Comparative Negligence” rule. Also known as the “51 Percent Bar,” this states that if two parties are determined to be at fault for an accident, the party that is over half at fault is not entitled to compensation. If you share equal or less blame for the accident, you’re still entitled to compensation, although it will be reduced according to your contribution of fault.
Repaying Third Parties (Subrogation)
When you receive compensation for an injury from another party, your health insurance company or Medicare/Medicaid has the right to recover medical fees and bills they covered in your name. This is known as a “medical lien,” and they have come as quite a shock to people who’ve won a settlement only to find themselves having to owe another party.
A good personal injury attorney can negotiate for the lien to be fulfilled with less money, or they might argue that the lien only applies to certain parts of the award. That way, more compensation goes to the injured party.
Payouts to Multiple Parties
When a company or individual has to pay out to several injured parties, they may get their insurance company to file an “interpleader.” This occurs when there’s not enough money to go around and they’re asking the court to divvy up the payouts. Your attorney can negotiate a reasonable share of the compensation despite the damages being split across multiple parties.
Don’t Wait After You’ve Been Hurt. Call Us and Learn About Your Legal Rights from a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer
Make sure your claim isn’t too much for you to handle alone. If insurance companies can get away with paying you less, they will. You may also be led to believe false claims when an experienced personal injury lawyer knows better.
When you need someone on your side in the Chicago area, call Langdon & Emison. For over three decades, we’ve dedicated ourselves to getting clients the compensation they deserve from negligent individuals, big corporations, and the insurance companies that cover them. We will fight for you and only see our fee if we win. Call today at (312) 855-0700
or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.