Settlement vs. Jury Verdict in a Personal Injury Case

With any personal injury case, we begin working on the case knowing in advance that it may go to trial. Unlike some law firms, we never go for the quick settlement and are always prepared go the distance.  We are always ready to present your case to a jury if that’s what needs to be done to get a fair and full recovery for you.

As experienced personal injury lawyers, we often know when we are dealing with an insurance company that we consider substandard and seldom offer the amount of money that that could adequately settle a case and compensate someone for the injuries. If an insurance company is “low-balling” you, we will take it to a jury.

If there’s negative evidence that could potentially affect a case if it goes to trial or other factors that are not favorable then a settlement may be a good compromise. You get to move on with your life and leave with a certain amount of money in the settlement, tax-free.

An experienced injury lawyer can help you take all the proper steps to have your case shown in the most effective manner to the jury.  There are lawyers out there who will settle a case prematurely to avoid the hard work of building a case for a jury. If they don’t have the experience to know what the true value of the case is, they may have you settle for less than you’re entitled to.

 

It’s critically important that you seek out an experienced car accident lawyer if you’ve been injured by another driver or as a passenger in Illinois.

You want to have an experienced car accident lawyer advise you in advance on how to successfully navigate your case.  An experienced attorney will advise of any pitfalls that exist with any type of accident case and be prepared to deal with problems that could arise in the future. They will immediately gather all of the relevant evidence before the evidence becomes stale, will not under-value your possible recovery, and will seek out all forms of potential recovery.

Also, a lawyer who is not experienced with these types of cases may not be familiar with different statutes of limitations that apply for various defendants. For example, if a municipal vehicle hit you, typically, you would only have one year to file a lawsuit in the appropriate circuit court. A lawyer who doesn’t handle these cases may not know that there is a shortened period to file and allow the statute of limitations to lapse thus barring your case forever.

 

 

In Illinois personal injury cases, comparative negligence would be what your own negligence is in relation to the defendant or whoever you claim is the main responsible party. For example, if you and the other driver are both found to be responsible for the accident, comparative negligence would come into play to determine what percentage you were at fault, and what percentage the other driver was a fault.

If it goes to trial and a verdict is reached, the jury may determine if there is any type of fault on the part of the plaintiff. Illinois is a state where if there’s a certain percentage fault attributed to the plaintiff, the verdict would be reduced by whatever that percentage fault is attributed to the plaintiff. For example, if you are found to be 10% responsible for the accident, the amount of the verdict would be reduced by 10%.  However, if the plaintiff is determined to be 50% or more at fault, there would be no recovery at all.

 

Q: In comparative negligence, how does the judge describe to the jury what they can and cannot consider?

The damages to the plaintiff would be one calculation, and then a separate calculation would be the percentage of their own fault for those damages. Assuming that the jury finds a favorable verdict on behalf of the Plaintiff, they would first determine the total damages to the plaintiff. For example, if the verdict is for $1,000,000, the jury would then determine the percentage of fault that was the defendant’s and what percentage was fault of the plaintiff. Then the verdict would be adjusted based upon that percentage.

 

Injured passengers

If you’re a passenger, in all likelihood, you’re going to have zero comparative negligence.  You potentially could have a case against both the driver of the vehicle that you were a passenger in as well as against another vehicle that allegedly caused the accident.

In the era of ridesharing the potential claims of passengers are on the rise.  Contact our office in the event you are the victim of a car accident while riding in an Uber, Lfyt or any other form of ridesharing.

 

Multiple Defendants

When an accident involves multiple defendants there are numerous issues that need to be dealt with by a skilled attorney.  If an injury results from the negligence of two or more separate defendants, the jury will apportion the fault amongst the defendants with the combined percentage being 100%.

In Illinois, if a Defendant’s fault exceeds 25% of the overall fault (26% for example), then that Defendant is considered both joint and severally liable for the Plaintiff’s damages,  This means that a Plaintiff can collect the full verdict from that Defendant even though their fault is only apportioned at 26%. If the defendant who is 26% at fault ends up having to pay all of the judgment, then that Defendant can seek the excess amounts from their co-defendant(s).

 

Q: If I’m a passenger and both drivers were underinsured, can I pursue my own underinsured motorist coverage even though I wasn’t driving?

In all likelihood, yes, but it would depend upon what your insurance policy dictates. I would advise any clients to get a certified copy of their policy to make sure that there’s no type of exclusion.

 

 

Q: What do I do if the insurance company wants to record a statement from me?

I would never have any statement recorded without speaking with a lawyer. If you give the insurance company a statement, they’re always going to have that to potentially look for inconsistencies and impeach later testimony.

If you say something incorrectly or it is interpreted wrong, it’s very difficult to undo. Speak with a lawyer and have a lawyer present in the event any statement is taken, even if it is your own insurance company.

 

Q: What’s your first step when you find out that the person has already spoken to the insurance company?

When someone who has been injured in a car accident comes to us after having already talked to the other driver’s insurance company, we first try to piece together what the insurance company was told from our own client’s memory. Then, throughout the litigation, that’s a piece of evidence that would be discoverable, and we would have to be provided a copy.

What kind of damages can you get for a car accident victim?

“Damages” is a term used to describe the economic recovery an injury victim would receive from the other responsible party to make the injury victim “whole” again. Usually when someone is seriously injured in an accident, it is impossible to be made fully “whole” again, but the idea of damages is to put a monetary value on what you have lost, physically, emotionally and economically.

In Illinois, they are divided into economic damages and non-economic damages. With economic damages, we’re looking at injury victim’s actual monetary losses – medical bills that they have incurred as a result of the accident and lost wages for when the injured person isn’t able to work. This would cover both past and future medical expenses and lost wages.

Non-economic damages relate to pain and suffering, lost physical mobility and function, emotional distress and anguish that they’ve incurred as a result of this accident. And then finally, the type of disability or loss of a normal life they have incurred as a result of the accident.

 

Q: How do you establish disability and loss of a normal life?

We would look at the types of activities, like hobbies and sports, that the injured person engaged in prior to the accident. How active they were and what they typically did in their free time? And then we would look at how the accident changed them and whether they can no longer do those hobbies or sports. Have they lost interest in them because it’s no longer exciting or fun for them? Is it too painful or have they been sufficiently disabled that the activity is simply physically impossible?

We would also look at activities of daily living. Do they need help getting dressed every day? Do they need help being bathed or going to the bathroom? All of those simple tasks that we take for granted are now compromised because of the accident to where their life is forever changed.

 

Q: What about the emotional distress of loved ones?

In a wrongful death action, loss of society and loss of companionship lost as a result of the death of a loved one can be an additional type of non-economic damages.

 

Q: If I can’t do my job but can do similar jobs, would that factor into lost wages?

We would look at it from an economic standpoint and how it has affected you. If you were making $1,500 a week and now can only make $500 a week, that’s $1,000 per week you’ve lost. What we would say is that for the remainder of your work life that there would be a significant wage loss.

When necessary, we will hire an economist or vocational rehabilitation expert to try to capture what that wage loss is and figure what that amount would be in present dollars.

How can we help you?

Brian J. McManus & Associates, LTD.
33 North LaSalle Street
Suite 1210
Chicago, IL. 60602
Phone:(312) 346-8210
Toll Free: (877) 346-8211
Fax: (312) 346-8565
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