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SALVATO , O’TOOLE & FROYLAN

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why do I need a personal injury attorney?

If you have been injured in an accident, it is quite possible and even likely that you have been contacted by an insurance company or even the person that injured you and been offered a financial settlement. In many cases, this initial settlement offer will be unreasonably low. Personal injury victims who do not have legal training often significantly undervalue their claims. Additionally, without legal representation, the threat of litigation is far more remote, significantly weakening a victim’s bargaining position. For these and many other reasons, a personal injury attorney can help victims obtain a significantly higher settlement or offer than they would be able to obtain if they chose to represent themselves.
Personal Injury FAQs
Do I have a case?
One of the first things that an individual who’s been injured in an accident may think of is if they have a legal claim. It can be difficult to go through the specifics of a case in order to understand who might be at fault and whether a third-party acted negligently such that they will be held responsible, in full or in part, for the harm caused.

Of course it is impossible to say with certainty whether one has a legal claim without knowing the details about the situation. However, in general, the civil law holds that one who is injured (or their surviving family members) has a legal claim for recourse any time that another party intentionally or negligently causes harm. Intentional misconduct is obvious: the other party causes harm on purpose. Negligent misconduct is slightly more complicated, but in general it refers to situations where someone acts unreasonably.

Negligence is by far the most common form of civil suit filed. It arises in many situations. In a motor vehicle collision, one driver may be negligent when they are speeding, run a red light, fail to yield appropriately, or in any other way do not act carefully. Negligence might occur when a property owner fails to keep floors free of hazards or ensure those on the property are safe.

Professionals, like doctors, nurses, long-term care workers, and others can also act negligently in their work, causing harm to medical patients, nursing home residents, and others. In fact, in some special cases a third party does not even need to be shown to have acted negligently in order to have a legal obligation to provide redress. That includes “strict liability” cases where dangerous products are made and cause harm.

The bottom line is that injured parties have legal claims in many different situations, even when the claim might not be self-evident. Because every situation is very fact-specific, the best bet is to always visit a personal injury attorney and share you story. The attorneys at Salvato, O’Toole & Froylan offer a no obligation, free consultation. Therefore, there is nothing to lose by explaining how you were injured and learning how the law applies in your specific case.

What is this going to cost me?
1. A Free Initial Consultation. Every prospective client is entitled to a free initial consultation with someone from our firm without any kind of fee or requirement to sign with our firm. During this consultation, we will gather facts from which we can make an initial assessment of your case. Based on this assessment, we may agree to represent you, or we may refer you to other competent counsel if we have a professional conflict of interest or if you have a case that we do not customarily handle. It is also possible that we might advise you that your harm is not compensable or that based on our assessment, your chances of recovery are slim. However, this by no means means you do not have a case.

2. A Contingent Fee Agreement. This is an arrangement whereby the client will not have to pay any attorneys’ fees, unless there is a recovery by settlement or verdict from the defendant(s). In other words, “We Don’t Get Paid Unless We Win.” This means that if we are unsuccessful in making a recovery on your behalf, our services are free. Under this kind of agreement, we receive compensation for our work on a case based on a percentage of the total recovery. The amount you would have to pay as a client would be equal to a specified percentage of your total recovery, consistent with applicable law and regulations.

3. Court Costs and Expert’s Fees. Costs customarily are payable at the conclusion of your case, and are separate and distinct from our attorneys’ fees. These are costs our office pays to file your case, serve defendants with notice, take other actions involving the courts, and hire appropriate experts.

How long will my case take?
The length of time between an accident and receiving a settlement or award depends on a variety of factors, such as whether liability is conceded and the insurance company with whom you are dealing. It is important for victims of preventable accidents to choose an attorney who is committed to securing the maximum amount of compensation available rather than the quickest resolution to your case.
What is my case worth?
The amount of compensation that you will receive depends on a number of factors, including the extent and nature of your injuries and the other losses that you may have sustained. Illinois tort law allows a person injured by the negligence of others to recover for both their economic and non-economic losses, such as their lost income, property damage, loss of future earning potential, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. An attorney familiar with representing people injured in accidents will be able to give you an estimate of what your case may be worth.
Should I accept a settlement from the insurance?
We cannot say this enough: Insurance companies are in the business of minimizing payouts in order to maximize their profits. No matter how nice the insurance adjuster seems or how many details they give you regarding your compensation, the adjuster’s goal is to pay you as little as possible. In fact, the adjuster is usually rewarded for resolving claims for as little as possible and as quickly as possible.

For these reasons, it is not uncommon for a claim’s adjuster to visit you very soon after an accident. To entice you to accept a settlement for far less than you could recover, the adjuster often comes ready to make a payment immediately. This is an underhanded tactic used to end a matter right away when an injured party is at their most vulnerable and has not had time to fully evaluate their options. It is important not to fall for this trap. There is no reason to make rash decisions about a settlement or offer from an insurance company. It is prudent to fully think through all legal decisions and not to sign away legal rights without being fully appraised of the consequences.

Along the same lines, there is no benefit to making recorded statements or providing material to the insurance company without first getting legal advice. In most cases, these requests are made specifically to use your words against you in possible legal cases in the future. Even if you simply intend to state that you were not responsible for the accident, it is very easy for these comments to be taken out of context and used adversely. Always get legal advice first.

Please remember: The insurance company’s interest is in ensuring that you receive as little as possible. Do not deal with the company alone. Retain the services of a personal injury attorney who can ensure that the company actually pays the full value of the claim taking all of your past and future losses into account.

Am I suing the person or the insurance company?
Generally speaking, if a lawsuit is required after an accident, you sue the individual or entity responsible for your injuries, not their insurance company. If your lawsuit is successful, the defendant’s insurance company will pay out any award on their policyholder’s behalf.
Workers’ Compensation FAQs
Will I get fired if I file a workers compensation claim?
Under Illinois Law, an employer may not terminate or take adverse employment action against an employee for making a workers’ compensation claim. The relevant provision provides that:
“It shall be unlawful for any employer, insurance company or service or adjustment company to interfere with, restrain or coerce an employee in any manner whatsoever in the exercise of the rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act or to discriminate, attempt to discriminate or threaten to discriminate against an employee in any way because of his or her exercise of the rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act.”
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Contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer today to schedule a free case evaluation

People who are injured by the negligence of others are often legally entitled to compensation for their losses. Among the types of damages available in many Illinois personal injury cases are those for medical expenses, lost income, loss of future earning potential, property damage, and loss of enjoyment of life, among others. The Chicago personal injury attorneys of Salvato, O’Toole & Froylan have been helping victims of preventable accidents recover for their injuries since 2010 and have recovered multiple settlements in excess of one million dollars on behalf of their clients. We use a contingency fee arrangement in our representation of all of our personal injury clients, meaning that we do not collect any legal fees unless we successfully recover on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, please call our office today at 312-583-9500.

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