When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

The success of your personal injury case hinges on the time it takes to retain legal counsel. As such, it’s in your best interest to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Delays can make it much more difficult to collect fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

Injured employee visiting lawyer for advice on insurance

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s careless or negligent actions, one of the most important decisions you may have to make is when to hire a personal injury lawyer. An injury lawyer can help you investigate your case, navigate the legal system, and get you fair compensation so you can move forward with your life.

Common Reasons to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

If you suffered serious injuries, retaining legal counsel makes it easier and more efficient to resolve your case. The following situations strongly indicate you need to hire a personal injury lawyer before proceeding with your claim.

You Suffered Serious Injuries

Cases involving severe injuries are typically more complicated and warrant the need for a personal injury attorney. For example, if you fell off your bicycle because of a cracked bike lane, but got up and rode away with nothing more than a little embarrassment, you may not need a lawyer.

But, if the bike accident resulted in serious injuries, like spinal cord damage, broken bones, or a brain injury, you’ll need an injury attorney to help you file a claim. Serious injuries come with higher financial damages, so you want an attorney who will make sure you receive maximum reimbursement for your injury and losses.

The Accident Was Caused by Someone Else

Personal injury claims are filed when the accident was caused by another person’s negligence or intentional conduct. In a car accident claim, for example, you need to prove that another driver caused the accident, either because he or she was driving recklessly, distracted, or under the influence.

Multiple Parties Are Involved

When multiple parties contributed to your accident or injuries, you can benefit from hiring a personal injury attorney. In a motor vehicle accident, for example, the fault might lie with multiple drivers or someone other than the driver. Proving liability when multiple parties are involved can be more complicated and drawn out, as the at-fault parties, their insurance companies, and their lawyers engage in disputes over liability and percentage of fault. As such, it’s important to hire an experienced injury lawyer to determine who might share responsibility for your injuries.

The Other Party Alleges You’re Partially at Fault

Defendants and their insurance companies often use contributory negligence as a defense. For instance, the insurance carrier might claim that you were using your cell phone at the time of the car accident and are, therefore, partially at fault for the cause of the accident. In such a case, your compensation could be reduced by the proportion of your fault under Illinois contributory negligence laws. In other words, if you’re found to be 40% at fault for the accident, the insurance company will only pay 60% of the damage award.

An attorney knows how to fight these founded allegations. Do not discuss your personal injury case with anyone other than your lawyer. Your statements could be used against you during settlement negotiations or a trial.

How Soon After an Accident Should You Consult an Attorney?

If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by someone else’s careless or negligent actions, it’s recommended you speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. In fact, the best time to call an attorney is the day the incident occurs. The earlier you get an attorney involved in your case, the higher your chances are of reaching a successful resolution for your case.

There are several reasons why you need to find a lawyer as soon as you can:

Preserve Critical Evidence

Critical pieces of evidence tend to deteriorate or get lost over time. If you were involved in a car accident, for example, the crash scene will be cleared up for the safety of other motorists. To ensure you have as much evidence as possible to prove liability, you must file a police report after a car accident and hire an attorney promptly. An attorney will quickly investigate your case so he or she can gather and preserve all evidence needed to support your claim.

Collect Reliable Witness Statements

In the immediate aftermath of an incident, witness memories may vary. Some witnesses may have a clear recollection, while others may have difficulty describing what they saw. The longer it has been since the accident, the foggier many memories will become.

Start Preparing Your Case

It is a dangerous practice to seek legal advice months or years after the accident. Your attorney will need sufficient time to investigate the case, collect evidence, identify liable parties, calculate damages, file a claim/lawsuit, and locate and serve the defendants. Delaying legal action cuts into the time your attorney has to prepare your case, which could mean having a weaker argument and diminishing your odds of recovering fair compensation.

Avoid Mistakes Early in the Proceedings

There are many ways an injured person can compromise the validity of his or her claim. From providing recorded statements to the insurance company to accepting some degree of fault, certain mistakes can jeopardize the trajectory of your claim. An attorney will advise you on what to do and what not to do after a Chicago auto accident to avoid missteps along the way.

Start Tracking Recoverable Damages

Enlisting legal help early enough will allow you to pursue the maximum compensation possible. Your personal injury lawyer will assist with preserving all relevant bills, records, receipts, and invoices that correspond to your economic damages. He or she will calculate past, present, and future expenses to make sure to get all the funds you need in your hands. What’s more, your attorney will help you document non-economic damages, like pain and suffering and emotional distress, by showing you how to keep a detailed injury journal and working with medical experts.

Protect Your Right to Compensation

Personal injury claims and lawsuits are subject to a deadline known as the statute of limitations. In Illinois, this deadline is set to 2 years from the date of the accident. Past that specific time frame, your claim is likely to be thrown out of court and you’ll lose out on any compensation for damages related to your injuries.

Types of Damages That Can Be Recovered After an Accident

Illinois laws make sure that individuals who sustain injuries in accidents can recover a wide range of losses. Claims for medical costs are chief among these, but you may also recover damages for lost wages, loss of companionship, or pain and suffering.

Medical Costs

Injuries sustained in an accident may be as minor as a few bruises and cuts, or as serious as amputation or paralysis. Medical treatment for serious injuries or permanent disabilities can be costly, even with health insurance. When you include medical expenses in your personal injury claim, you may be reimbursed for:

  • Medical consultations, diagnostic testing, and cognitive or physical therapy
  • Ambulance fees
  • Prescription drugs
  • Corrective surgeries
  • Medical devices and mobility aids, like crutches or heat pads
  • In-home services

Lost Income

After suffering serious bodily injury, you’ll likely miss work to focus on recovery. You can ask for compensation to pay you back for lost wages. This involves calculating how long you missed work and what you would have made during that time. Consider all sources of income, including your regular salary, tips and bonuses, promotions and raises, retirement contributions, commissions, and other employer-sponsored benefits.

Injuries may also cause you to lose your earning capacity. This may be due to problems with mobility, time spent in a hospital, physical therapy sessions, or other factors that interfere with your ability to earn your usual wages. This can also factor into your personal injury claim.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering refers to physical or mental distress for which the injured may seek damages in a claim. These damages are based on the type and extent of injury, the severity of the pain suffered, the impact it had on your life, and the prognosis for future pain and suffering associated with the injury. This type of compensation may also include emotional or mental distress stemming from the incident, such as extreme anxiety or PTSD.

Loss of Companionship, Affection, and Quality of Life

Getting hurt in a personal injury accident may affect your quality of life and your relationship with your loved ones. You may be experiencing a loss of quality of life if you find yourself no longer enjoying activities you once loved, or are falling out of relationships with friends and family.

If you’re married, your spouse may bring a claim for loss of companionship, affection, or consortium if the injury is depriving you of the ability to show affection.

Punitive Damages

If the at-fault party’s intentional misconduct or gross negligence can be proven, the court may award punitive damages. These are meant to punish the defendant for his or her reckless behavior.

A personal injury attorney can provide valuable advice about the damages you can recover based on the type and severity of the injury suffered.

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Keith & Robert Shindler

Keith & Robert Shindler are partners at the personal injury law firm of Shindler & Shindler, Attorneys at Law. The brothers focus their practice on protecting the rights of injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. They take pride in handling every case personally, and delivering top-notch legal services to the people of Illinois.

Years of Experience: More than 65 years of combined experience
Bar & Court Admissions: Active

Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois Wisconsin United State District Court, Northern District Illinois United State District Court, Central District Illinois