Cases We Handle
If you’ve been involved in an accident in the greater Chicago area, the Lamber Goodnow team is here to help. From River North to the Gold Coast, to Wicker Park and the South Loop—and everywhere in between—our attorneys and the Chicago personal injury attorneys at our partner firms can provide the legal expertise you need for your accident and personal injury matters.
The Lamber Goodnow team and its partner injury law firms handle all types of Chicago accident and injury matters including:
- Auto Accidents
- Truck and Tractor-Trailer Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Wrongful Death Cases
- Catastrophic Injuries
- Product Liability / Defective Product Cases
- Pedestrian Accident Cases
- Dog Bite Cases
- Bicycle Accidents
- Premises Liability/Slip and Fall Accidents
- Bus Accidents
- Drowning/Swimming Pool Accidents
- Aviation Accidents
- Fires/Explosions and Electrical Accidents
- Workplace Injury
How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
The value of a case turns on many factors, including: who’s at fault for the accident that caused the injury; how much insurance is available; whether there was any contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff; the amount of your medical bills; the amount of future care you may need; doctor prognosis; how a jury will respond to a plaintiff; and more.
Each case is unique, so it is critical that you contact a greater Chicago personal injury attorney to assist with a more detailed analysis.
In a civil case for personal injuries, the person that is found legally responsible for the accident may be held responsible for paying damages to the plaintiff.
The Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions has enumerated categories in which a plaintiff may claim damages in a personal injury lawsuit including:
- The extent and nature of the injuries
- Loss of earnings
- The expected time period of the injuries
- The aggravation of a pre-existing condition or ailment
- Disability or loss of a normal life
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Past and future emotional distress
- The expense of necessary past and future medical care
- The value of past and future earnings, time, salaries lost, and profits
- The cost of past and future caretaking expenses
- The plaintiff’s age and any shortened life expectancy
Collection is not automatic. Award can be barred or reduced based on the plaintiff’s fault. Further, practically, an award may not be collected if the responsible party does not have enough insurance or assets to cover the verdict. Each of these factors is discussed below.
How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
Liability is a legal term for fault. If a person is injured in an accident the at-fault party will generally be responsible for the person’s injuries and have to pay damages. However, many states, including Illinois, look at both the plaintiff’s actions in the accident as well as the defendant’s actions to see which contributed to the cause of the accident.
Illinois has adopted a comparative negligence approach to the concept of contributory negligence. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence if the trier of fact (judge or jury) finds that the plaintiff is more than 50% the cause of the injuries, they will be barred from recovery. However, if the contributory fault of the plaintiff is not more than 50%, they will be able to collect damages in proportion to the amount of fault attributed to them.
An example of this is if the plaintiff and the defendant were involved in an automobile accident and the plaintiff sustained $100,000 in damages. If the plaintiff was found to be 51% at fault for the accident they would not be able to recover any of the $100,000. However, if the plaintiff was found to be a 30% at fault for the accident they would be able to recover $70,000 from the defendant ($100,000 minus $30,000 because of the plaintiff’s 30% fault). Also keep in mind that the plaintiff may have no fault in the accident and recover all $100,000 in damages from the defendant.
How Does Insurance Impact My Case?
Liability coverage insurance is important to cover an individual in the event that they cause an accident and get sued for damages. It is also critical because it may impact the amount of money you can recover for your personal injury matter. People may speak with an insurance company and purchase liability coverage insurance for their vehicles, homes, businesses, boats, rentals and more. Some items are required to be insured and the amount of coverage required will range from state to state.
Under Illinois law all drivers are required to carry liability insurance. The minimum amount that drivers must carry is $25,000 per person in case of injury or death, $20,000 for property damage and $50,000 for injury or death of multiple people. Additionally, it is mandatory that all Illinois drivers carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will cover a driver if they are in an accident with another vehicle and the at-fault driver does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance to cover the damages. Drivers in Illinois must carry $25,000 uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Should I Speak with the Insurance Company after an Accident?
All parties that are involved in an accident have a duty to cooperate with their own insurance companies. The situation is more difficult when dealing with opposing insurance companies. Insurance companies often hire skilled insurance adjusters or lawyer who may ask questions in a way that may confuse you or make you answer in a way that will hurt your claim. It is best to speak with a Chicago personal injury attorney before speaking with any insurance company representative so they may guide you through the negotiation process.
If the opposing party’s insurance company contacts you directly and wants you to answer questions, politely decline and give them the number of your Chicago personal injury attorney. You are under no obligation to speak with the opposing party’s insurance company.
What is the Statute of Limitations In Chicago Personal Injury Cases?
Statutes of limitations apply both to civil and criminal actions and are designed to prevent people from bringing claims when all the evidence has been lost or witnesses have died or do not remember the accident details because of passage of time. Statutes of limitations are laws that set a time limit in which a plaintiff must file a claim or be barred from doing so. You should consult with an attorney to confirm the applicable statute of limitation or deadline applicable to your case.
In general, the statute of limitation for a personal injury claim in Illinois is within two years of the date of the accident or it will be barred. However, if the plaintiff is under the age of 18, they have two years after they turn 18 to file a personal injury claim.
Additionally, in Illinois, any person who is going to commence an action against the state or its commissions must file a notice of claim within one year of the date that the injury was received.
Can Technology Make a Difference?
Technology has changed the world, and it has changed the practice of law too. At the Lamber Goodnow team, we set ourselves apart by our use of technology. In some cases, we use iPads to create video settlement demands, using our clients, experts, documentation and exhibits, which are sent to opposing firms in metal briefcases with Bose noise-canceling headphones to make opposing parties really understand our position.
Additionally, in appropriate cases, our team uses wearable technology such as Fitbit, Apple Watch and Google Glass to communicate with our clients remotely, monitor heart rates in focus groups, and get a better first hand perspective of clients’ everyday hardships after being involved in an accident.
Furthermore, we have the ability to deploy 3D print technology during the pre-litigation phase in, for example, products liability and premises liability cases to show the opposing party and the insurance company how a product should have been designed, ultimately encouraging settlement and saving our clients from having to go to court.
Do I Have a Case?
We provide free case evaluations 24/7. Following an accident, there may be a lot of moving parts, which is why it is important to contact a greater Chicago personal injury attorney. Many times the injured party is in no position to navigate the claim alone. They may be experiencing a variety of emotions, from pain and confusion to anger and sadness, which may make it difficult to reach informed decisions.
Additionally, witnesses’ recollection of what occurred may become hazy, and insurance company adjusters may try to take advantage of the injured party by asking questions in a way that could hurt their claim. When you consult with a member of the Lamber Goodnow team, they will provide guidance for your specific and unique situation.
How Does a Contingent Fee Work?
The Lamber Goodnow team helps clients on a contingency fee basis. This means we only get paid when and if we secure a satisfactory settlement or favorable verdict that results in financial recovery to you. In other words, we don’t get paid unless you get paid first. We understand that being involved in an accident is stressful enough, we never ask for any money upfront and only get paid when we recover money for you.
The Lamber Goodnow team’s Chicago office is located in the award-winning Chicago Board of Trade Building (Cbot). The historic building is located in perfect proximity to all means of transportation, including CTA’s Purple, Brown, Green and Orange lines, which are adjacent to the property, and various Metra stations. It is also located close to Millenium Park, the Federal Reserve, The Chicago Mercantile Exchange and The Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse.
Downtown Chicago Office
141 West Jackson Boulevard #4219
Chicago, IL 60604
What Steps Are Involved in a Personal Injury Case?
Accidents and injuries take many forms, and all cases are unique; however, the basic steps involved in a personal injury case remain constant. Below is a detailed overview of the steps that are taken in personal injury cases in Chicago and throughout Illinois:
Step 1: Investigation/Preservation
Once a greater Chicago personal injury attorney has chosen to take the case, the first thing that they will do is collect any remaining evidence and documentation so that they may conduct an independent investigation of your personal injury claim. This will include a more detailed interview of you about what occurred before, during and after the accident. It is important for your attorney to as clearly as possible answer the question, what happened in this case?
Additionally, your Chicago personal injury attorney may contact and memorialize any witness statements, statements from others involved in the accident, gather photos of the accident, conduct vehicle inspections, gather medical reports, gather bills relating to your injury, collect police reports, investigate your employment history and earning power, and more. If you were involved in an auto accident, your attorney may also secure information from your vehicle’s black box.
In order to keep all relevant information from being destroyed, an attorney may send a preservation letter to all appropriate parties in a case. A preservation letter is a legal directive, which advises custodians of certain documents and electrically stored information to preserve that information in anticipation of possible future litigation.
It is also very important that your attorney find out what insurance coverage both you and the at-fault party possess. Liability insurance coverage is important because it will make you financially whole after suffering property loss or injuries.
When necessary, your attorney will contact different experts to collaborate on the investigation. Experts may range from accident reconstruction to medical experts depending on the circumstances of your situation.
Step 2: Making a Demand and Negotiating
Many times a personal injury claim may be settled before a lawsuit needs to be filed. There are many reasons why the parties may decide to settle including: stress, trial expense, excess length of time and privacy.
If the client has chosen to pursue a potential settlement, the Chicago personal injury attorney will make a demand for settlement to the at-fault party’s attorney or their insurance company. This demand will include a demand letter, which will present facts about your case, including liability and damages. Such information will include a detailed description of your injuries, your medical bills, any lost wages or profits, pain and suffering, and future medical assistance, in an attempt to persuade the opposing party to provide adequate compensation. The opposing party will respond to the letter by either rejecting the demand, accepting the demand, or making a counteroffer to the demand. Because the vast majority (statistics show up to 92%) of cases settle, the demand letter is an important tool to make a lasting impression on the opposing party and the outcome of your claim.
Step 3: If Necessary, Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you are unable to settle your case on the front end, and your Chicago personal injury lawyer has established that a legitimate case exists, your attorney or an attorney at a partner firm may file a lawsuit with your permission and instruction. The first document that your personal injury attorney will file to start the lawsuit is called a complaint. A complaint is a document that identifies the parties involved, states the plaintiff’s legal claims, the facts that brought about the claims, and what the plaintiff wants the court to require the defendant to do, such as pay damages. The complaint will be delivered to the defendant and provide them with notice of a lawsuit including a factual and legal basis for the plaintiff’s claims.
Step 4: Discovery
Before trial begins, the opposing parties are required to disclose all relevant facts and documents to each other during a process called discovery.
Discovery comes in three forms:
- Document production
Written discovery usually includes interrogatories and requests for admission. Interrogatories are written questions regarding the facts of certain claims asked of the opposing party. They range from broad to detailed. Requests for admission ask the party to admit or to deny certain facts pertaining to the case.
Document production is when each party furnishes documents to the opposing party that are even arguably related to the case. These documents could be paper or electronic.
Depositions are sworn statement by witness, and parties to the action, in which an attorney asks questions and a court reporter records the answers. Depending on the complexity of the case, a deposition may range in length from a few hours to weeks. Depositions work to find out what the other parties and witnesses know, which allows for no surprises during trial.
Step 5: Mediation and Negotiation
Generally, once the discovery ends, and both sides have all relevant facts surrounding the case, the Chicago personal injury attorneys will start talking about settlement. Often during this time a mediator may be used to try and facilitate a negotiation between the two parties. Mediators are often former or current judges. During this informal proceeding, the mediator supervises the exchange of information and the bargaining process. The mediator will try to find common ground, allow the parties to speak, and offer creative solutions in drafting a settlement.
Step 6: Trial
If you have not resolved your case via a court motion or through settlement, the case will be scheduled for a trial. In a personal injury trial, a decision maker, usually a jury, examines the evidence and decides whether the defendant should be held legally responsible for the injuries of the plaintiff.
Generally, there are six main phases in a personal injury trial: jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony and cross-examination, closing arguments, jury instruction, and jury deliberation and verdict.
Step 7: Appeal
Most civil cases, including personal injury, are subject to review by an appeals court. Depending on the circumstances and specific issues surrounding your case, you may appeal if you lost. The appeals court will look to see if there were any errors in the law, this may concern a judge’s order or a judgment made by the jury. Although there may be some similarities between a trial and an appeal, the process is mostly quite different. It is important to have an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer who can assist you with issues before various appellate courts should this issue come to pass.