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Personal Injury Basics

Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys > Resources > Personal Injury Basics

Personal Injury Lawsuit Process Basics

Answers to Frequently Asked Personal Injury Questions

If you are injured because someone else was negligent, reckless or otherwise careless, you have a legal right to be compensated for the damages you have suffered. Certain restrictions, thresholds and time limits apply to this right, so it is important to discuss the specific circumstances of your case with a skilled personal injury attorney to determine whether you can pursue financial compensation through a personal injury claim.

Q. What is negligence?

A. Negligence occurs when another person, business or organization either takes an action or fails to take an action that results in harm to others. When someone drinks and drives, that person is neglecting the law and placing others at risk. When property owners fail to fix broken stairway railings, they are neglecting their duty to keep their property safe.

Q. What are damages?

A. Damages refer to the financial losses or personal harm caused by the negligence of another. Legally, there are three types of damages.

  • Monetary damages include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages or income, and property damage.
  • Non-monetary damages include the victim’s pain and suffering, a spouse’s loss of consortium (marital relations), and a child’s loss of the love, care and guidance of a parent who was killed in an accident.
  • Punitive damages are those intended to punish the negligent party and serve as an example and warning to others who may be tempted to behave in a similar manner.

Q. What is compensation?

A. In a personal injury claim, the injured party seeks compensation (money) for the monetary and non-monetary damages caused by the negligent party.

Q. Who pays compensation?

A. In most personal injury claims, the injured person’s attorney will seek financial compensation from the negligent party’s insurance company. However, the negligent party can be held personally responsible for damages.

Q. Are there time limits for filing a claim?

A. Statutes of limitation apply in personal injury cases. The deadlines vary depending upon the specifics of the case. It is always wise to contact a lawyer as soon as possible so that you do not lose your right to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Q. What will it cost?

A. Personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis rather than charging by the hour. That means the attorney takes all the risk and pays the upfront costs and fees. In return, the attorney will be paid a percentage of whatever financial compensation he or she can obtain for the client. If the attorney fails to obtain any compensation, the client owes nothing. Contingency fee arrangements allow people of all economic backgrounds access to justice regardless of status. Clients pay no money up front and nothing out of pocket.

To learn more about the personal injury process, please contact The Horwitz Law Group by e-mail or call 312-641-9200. The initial consultation is free of charge.