If you’ve suffered a serious or life-changing injury as the result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, Illinois law allows you to seek damages to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses. You can seek this compensation by filing an Illinois personal injury claim. Just like any other legal claim, a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois follows specific procedures that should be understood before you begin.
A Chicago personal injury attorney at the Law Office of Barry G. Doyle can discuss the specifics of your case with you to help you decide if you want to file a personal injury claim and represent you throughout your claims process.
Interviewing Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys
It is a good idea to interview several Chicago personal injury attorneys, and most will offer a free initial consultation. At this meeting, you should discuss your accident, provide any documents you’ve collected, and detail how your injuries have affected your life. Your potential attorney should explain how they intend to handle your claim, what challenges you will face, what amount of compensation you should ask for, and the attorney’s fee structure.
After this meeting, the attorney will either agree to represent your case, refer you to another attorney, or agree to take your case into consideration and contact you shortly with a decision. It’s important to pick an attorney that you click with and who understands all the legal ramifications involved in your type of injury claim.
Initial Court Documents and the Discovery Phase
Your Illinois personal injury claim officially begins when you and your Chicago personal injury attorney file the required paperwork with the Court. Each case may have additional documents that need to be filed depending on the unique aspects of your accident, but the most common forms include:
- complaint/petition – an outline of your case against the defendant (the person or persons you are suing for damages)
- summons and service of process – the notice to the defendant that they are being sued, as well as, where and when the trial will take place and a copy of the complaint
- answer – the defense’s response to the complaint; either “admitted”, “denied” or “insufficient knowledge to admit or deny”
- counterclaim – an addition to the answer in which the defense expresses their own claim against the plaintiff in regards to your accident (if they deny their liability and wish to seek damages from you)
- reply to counterclaim – your admittance or denial of the counterclaim.
Your Chicago personal injury attorney will know which of these documents to file and how to answer in the case of a counterclaim.
Once your Illinois personal injury claim is filed, both sides will enter the discovery stage. This process involves the collecting and reviewing of evidence specific to your claim, including medical records, interviewing witnesses, and so on.
Even in personal injury cases, most decisions of the court are subject to appeal, a review of the previous judge’s decision by a panel of multiple judges and, when necessary, a new verdict. Either side of the case may file an appeal if they feel there was an error in the previous court proceedings.
In an appeal, attorneys do not present witnesses or evidence. The appeal will only include facts that were revealed in the trial court, and are presented as-is. The “jury” in the appeal is a panel of judges. The number of judges on the panel is usually 3, but in some cases the entire appeals court may be called to issue the new verdict.
The main documents in an appeal are the appellate briefs. The party that lost the suit files a brief stating how they feel the law was improperly applied and how the verdict was unfair, while the winning side states how the verdict was correct. Because these statements are the bulk of the evidence in the appeal, they need to be properly prepared and supported by documentation.
Following the proper stages of an Illinois personal injury case will help avoid an unnecessary appeal after your case has ended. Understanding all the stages of a personal injury claim is important, even when you have the help of a personal injury attorney.
To read a brief overview of the basic stages of a personal injury case visit our article library. The Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. have been helping clients like you with every stage of their Illinois personal injury claim for more than 15 years. You have nothing to lose from our free case evaluation, contact us today – (312) 263-1080