5320 West 159th St, Suite 501, Oak Forest, IL 60452
Personal Injury Common Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
To determine whether or not you will be successful in receiving compensation for your claim, it is necessary that all of the following factors be considered:
- Did you sustain a substantial bodily injury?
- Was another party at fault?
- Did the conduct or fault of the other party cause your injury or contribute to it?
- Did you contribute to your injury or the incident in any substantial way?
- Does the other party have adequate insurance or assets to justly compensate you?
- If the other party has inadequate or no insurance, are you covered by applicable uninsured or underinsured insurance?
Initially, we do not know! No ethical attorney can “guarantee” you an amount that you will receive at the beginning of your case. Each case develops, either for better or for worse, as the facts are ascertained. Some witnesses may enhance your case and other witnesses may deter from your case. You need a competent and experienced law firm to fully develop the facts of your claim and then present the favorable facts in the best possible light while minimizing the facts which detract from your case.
Remember, our system of justice in the United States is an “adversarial system.” This means that the opposing attorney will try to develop facts that are adverse to your case and your attorney will try to develop facts that are positive to your case. In other words, you not only need a good offense, you need a good defense.
In order for both sides to properly evaluate what compensation you should receive for your claim, the facts must be developed both through the use of investigators and court discovery procedures.
Investigation of your claim by our experienced investigators promptly after your injury has been sustained often leads to facts that win or lose a case. The investigation during these “golden hours” will permit us to gain such irreplaceable evidence as photographs of skid marks, objects or statements from talkative opponents who are willing to give a statement while they are still feeling remorse of injuring another human being. Additionally, we may be able to obtain names and addresses of witnesses who are willing to come forward.
It may also be necessary in preparing your case to seek the advice of experts in other fields. These experts often include doctors, engineers or other scientific experts. In addition to providing scientific evaluation of the facts surrounding your lawsuit, these experts may be called upon to provide testimony in court on behalf of your case.
The fees these experts charge will, in some cases, be advanced by Urban & Burt, Ltd. However, you will ultimately be responsible for those costs, and in certain circumstances, may be asked to pay them as they are billed by the expert.
After the initial lawsuit is filed, further development of the facts surrounding your claim will proceed by elaborate court rules that have been established to help each side gain information so that an informed evaluation of the case can be made. These procedures include:
- Interrogatories – Each side may submit written questions to the other side requiring written answers. Your attorney will forward to you the interrogatory questions partially completed with answers from his files. You should review and supplement them promptly. Your attorney will complete the answers and send them to you for your signature and request that you return the documents promptly as they must be filed within a short period of time.
- Depositions – Each side may request the parties to the lawsuit or independent witnesses to come to the attorney’s office and answer, under oath, in the presence of a court reporter, questions concerning the incident and the injuries you sustained.
- Production of documents – Each side may request the production of documents reasonably related to the claim evaluation. These documents usually include doctors, hospital, and repair bills. Also, the opposing party will request copies of all out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury. Additionally, requests will be made for copies of income tax returns and lost time verifications.
After both attorneys feel that they have developed sufficient factual data, each side evaluates the strong and weak points of their client’s claim and then settlement negotiations begin in earnest. Your attorneys will make a demand on your behalf to settle your claim prior to further trial preparation. The settlement demand is either accepted, rejected, or a counteroffer is made.
If the opposing parties cannot reach an agreeable settlement figure, your case must be presented to a judge and/or a jury for a determination of what amount, if any, you are entitled to for your just compensation for your injuries. Although the offer of settlement may not be exactly what a litigant wants, settlement is often in the best interest of the client in that trial preparation is expensive (fees for expert witnesses, doctors, subpoenas, construction of exhibits, etc.) Also, juries are unpredictable.
How do we know when to accept the offered settlement figure? Ultimately, the client makes the decision to accept or reject any settlement offer and the firm of Urban & Burt, Ltd. will promptly convey all settlement offers to you so that you may consider accepting or rejecting each offer. We will provide you with our opinion on whether or not you should accept or reject each offer, not only considering the factors discussed previously, but by utilizing both local and national indexes of jury verdict awards for cases similar to yours.
Before your case goes to trial, the court will conduct a pre-trial conference. This conference between the judge and the attorneys is one last effort to reach settlement between the parties. In the event the case cannot be settled, the case will be set for trial. However, because of the backlog in the courts, the trial may not take place for up to three years, depending on in which court the case is filed. We may be notified in as short notice as two weeks that your case will go to trial. Because of this short notice, it is necessary for you to assist us by keeping us apprised of your whereabouts and assist us in contacting your witnesses.
It is extremely important that you take time within two weeks prior to trial to discuss your testimony with your attorney. Upon notice of a trial date, you should contact your attorney immediately to set up a conference to discuss your case.
- Let Us Know Your Thoughts: Your thoughts are important to us. Give us your impressions of the case as your case develops, because you may have more key information that is unknown to your attorney.
- Talk to No One: You should not talk to anyone about your accident except one of the lawyers or investigators in our office. You should always require some identification so that you are sure to whom you are speaking. You should not even speak to your own insurance company, or to any lawyers hired by your own insurance company without notifying us so that we may be present, if we determine it necessary. We will generally want any of these statements taken in our office.
- Your Doctor: You should visit each of your doctors during your recovery period and should always give them your complete complaints. You should not minimize your ailments to your doctors, as it is one of the best ways of knowing how to treat you. If you see any additional doctors, be sure we are advised immediately of their names and addresses. Be sure to be specific in relating all your complaints and how they relate to your injury when you speak with your doctors.
- Wages and Earnings Lost: Please keep an accurate record of all days lost from work because of your injuries. We may provide you with a wage loss verification for your employer to complete. Please have it returned to our office promptly.
- Medical Bills: Obtain and keep duplicate copies of all medical, hospital, and drug bills. You should periodically send these bills to us for our files. You should also keep records of any other expenses you may have in connection with your accident, such as the hiring of extra help. All your bills should be paid by check, or you should obtain and keep receipts. You should utilize the statement of damages supplied by our office to list all of your medical bills and the costs incurred in going to your doctor. You should forward to your attorney copies of all bills relating to the injury, even those already paid by your own health or automobile insurance companies.
- Repairs: Do not have your automobile repaired or other objects that were involved in the accident until you are sure that we have obtained pictures of it. After pictures are taken by this office, have your collision insurance carrier repair your car. If it is necessary to rent a car during the repair period, forward this receipt to your attorney.
- Traffic Offenses: Never appear as a witness or plead guilty to any traffic offenses in connection with this accident. If you are arrested, call one of the lawyers in the office immediately and we will see that someone represents or advises you. In the event of a coroner’s inquest, union hearing, or other type of hearing, be sure to notify this office, so that we will be able to represent you in connection with this inquest.
- Witnesses: Furnish to us immediately the correct name, address and telephone numbers of any and all witnesses of whom you may learn.
- Save Your Cast: If your injury requires a cast, brace, traction, or other appliance, save it for evidence at trial. You should notify us that you are keeping it and when the case is set for hearing, you should bring these items with you.
- Photographs: Send to us the negatives and prints of any photographs pertaining to your case which you or any of your friends have taken. If at any time you are required to be in the hospital and are receiving any type of treatment like traction or physical therapy which can be photographed, please notify our office so that we can have our investigator photograph you.
- Your Address: Be sure to keep us advised of any change in your address, as well as your home and work telephone numbers.
- Keep Your Diary: Please keep a diary or weekly record of your complaints and progress. This can be very helpful to permit you to recall your pain and difficulties more vividly. Your diary should reflect your normal, daily activities, highlighting the difficulties you experience in your daily functions due to the injury. Include not only the pain that you are experiencing, but your disposition in relationship to others. If your marital relationship is being adversely affected by your injury, we need to know this also.
The type of pain that you experience should be recorded accurately, including such matters as the type of pain (shooting pain, throbbing, and continuous pain) and the areas affected by such pain, as well as the duration of such pain.