Q&A with TOP Trial Lawyer Mark Rigazio
1) What qualifies as personal injury?
Personal injury is a very universal term. There are many areas of the law that fall under this term. Many common ones include automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall, dog bites, and product liability. If one of these incidents has happened to you, please contact a lawyer today to see what financial reimbursement you might be able to receive.
2) How long should I wait to hire a lawyer?
The longer you wait, the more at risk you are. If you have been involved in a personal injury, you should seek out a lawyer as soon as possible. Personal injury cases can be complex, so a lawyer will be able to help you immensely with all the paperwork involved.
3) Should I get injured, how long after the injury do I have to file a lawsuit?
Usually in Illinois, you have two (2) years from the date of your injury or the date of the discovery of your injury to file a lawsuit. There are certain exceptions to the two year period; e.g. if you are pursuing a claim against a local, state, or federal government, the time is shortened in most circumstances to one (1) year. In a Workers’ Compensation Case, it is three (3) years from the date of your injury or two (2) years from the last date of medical treatment.
4) How do I know if I have a good case?
Easy; contact a reputable personal injury lawyer and most will discuss your potential case over the telephone or in person on a free consultation basis. Most lawyers will initially give you an idea if you have a good case. Sometimes, however, it will be necessary to do some investigation into the case, such as gathering the police report, speaking with witnesses, or reviewing medical bills and expenses before that determination can be made.
5) Why does it seem that a lawsuit takes so long?
The variables involved once a lawsuit is filed are numerous. There is normally an investigation which involves the passing of the various parties through their attorneys of written documents, depositions, photographs, and speaking with your physicians. In addition, some injuries may not fully manifest themselves until quite some time after the occurrence. However, each case may differ. Some cases are resolved relatively quickly, however, I agree that once a lawsuit is filed, it normally takes approximately 18 months for resolution, whether by settlement or trial.
6) What is the cost of a lawsuit?
This too can vary. For instance, if it is a medical malpractice case where you are claiming a doctor or hospital made an error in your treatment, those cases can become very costly. Some other cases, such as a Workers’ Compensation case and most automobile accident cases, have costs that are much less, unless the injuries are catastrophic. In instances of catastrophic injuries, many physicians and other medical personnel must be engaged and need to be compensated for their testimony.
7) What are typical types of injury lawsuits in Illinois?
Automobile Accident: Most people recognize that automobile accidents caused by a failure to stop at a stop sign, crossing the center line, or driving under the influence of alcohol are relatively straight forward matters. If you are injured because another driver did any of these things, you must be able to prove that the other driver was at fault. In addition, your injuries must also be proven for your case to be successful.
Injury at Work: In Illinois, this type of case is called a Workers’ Compensation Act Claim. The case is brought under a specific statute and you will have a case if you are working for your employer during work hours or providing services for your employer after your normal work hours. In these circumstances, it usually takes something as simple as working and being injured on the job to recover your lost wages, medical expenses, and a permanent award.
Animal Attacks: In Illinois, there is a law called the Animal Control Act. This allows you to recover if you are attacked by an animal, as long as you did not provoke it. Provoking can be defined as teasing, striking, or otherwise first engaging the animal. A majority of cases are dog bit cases and fall under the Animal Control Act. Many involve children and, because of the law in Illinois, most result in cases that a lawyer would be interested in.
Medical Malpractice: A medical malpractice case is exactly what it sounds like. This is a situation where you or a loved one suspects that a physician, hospital, or other medical provider has made an error in either your treatment or diagnoses or failed to treat or diagnose a certain condition. A medical malpractice case in Illinois, because of the cost of the case, normally requires a very significant and an unfortunate physical or emotional outcome to be a matter that would be feasible for an attorney to become engaged in.
Nursing Home Injuries: Illinois provides a law called the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. This allows you or a loved one to recover monetary compensation from a nursing home if any of its employees neglect, abuse, or injure you or your loved one. The law provides an avenue to recover compensation under these circumstances; much like medical malpractice cases, you should seek out a reputable Illinois attorney who concentrates in nursing home care matters.
8) Should I speak to the insurance company for the person who injured me?
NO! Under no circumstances should you speak with a representative from the other sides’ insurance company or anyone who claims to be an investigator for their insurance company or for the other side. If you receive such a call, contact your lawyer immediately.
9) Should I talk to a police officer?
Under normal circumstances, if it involves an investigation of the case, and he or she verifies that they are in fact a police officer, it would be advisable to speak with the officer. However, if you suspect anything or feel uncomfortable, you should speak to the officer in your lawyer’s presence.
10) Should I give my medical bills to my medical insurance provider?
Yes. Under every circumstance, even when it is an automobile accident or any other type of claim, you should certainly submit your bills to your medical provider. This will keep unpaid medical providers, who have provided services for your injuries, from submitting the bills to any collection agency. Your health insurance will ultimately be paid back a portion of what they have paid on your behalf at the conclusion of the case
11) Should I utilize any social medial after my injury?
Under no circumstance should you post anything on any type of social media, as this can and will be used as an admission against you. Many attorneys have encountered situations where clients have posted pictures after their injuries, or posted about other matters pertaining their case, on social media, only to significantly damage the case so that the lawyer is unable to properly represent them. Once again, under no circumstances should you engage in this practice.
12) What is my case worth? How much money will I get?
If a lawyer early on in a case gives you answers to these questions, fire the lawyer and get a new one. No lawyer can give you an answer to that question until a proper investigation is concluded.