personal injury

How is Personal Injury Compensation Calculated in Illinois?

David Monteleone
Illinois Accident and Wrongful Death Lawyer

  Posted  |  Category : Personal Injury Lawyer

Financial compensation for a severe injury claim usually begins with medical expenses. The average injury-related hospital bill in Illinois is over $55,000. Medical bills are not only the largest category of economic losses, at least in most cases. Generally, these bills also show the amount of pain and suffering the victim endured. Pain and suffering are the largest categories of noneconomic damages, once again, at least in most cases.

No one can travel back in time and alter the chain of events that lead to a serious personal injury. Financial compensation is the next best thing. This compensation helps victims pay accident-related bills and move on with their lives. At this point, that’s the best possible outcome and one that a Rockford personal injury attorney works diligently to achieve.

Victim/Plaintiff’s Case

A strong, evidence-based damages claim increases a claim’s settlement value more than anything else.

Basically, a lawsuit’s settlement value is a lot like a new car’s sticker price. Both figures serve as a starting point for settlement negotiations.

Evidence in a personal injury case includes the aforementioned medical bills, as well as witness statements and, especially in a vehicle collision claim, the police accident report. Technically, the victim/plaintiff must only prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Usually, however, minimal evidence means minimal compensation. To obtain maximum compensation, a Rockford personal injury lawyer must go the extra mile.

After they gather evidence, attorneys must assemble this evidence much like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Common legal theories in personal injury cases include ordinary negligence and negligence per se. Jurors naturally presume that car crashes, dog bites, and other injuries are “accidents” that weren’t anyone’s fault. A legal theory, based on the available evidence, must convince them otherwise.

Insurance Company Defenses

According to an old proverb, the first person to speak in court sounds right, but then, the cross-examination begins. If a victim/plaintiff’s case cannot withstand the cross-examination, which in this case usually involves some legal defenses, the maximum compensation is unavailable.

Comparative fault, which appears in various forms in different personal injury cases, is probably the most common insurance company defense. In Illinois, the comparative fault usually shifts the blame of an injury from the tortfeasor (negligent party) to the victim (innocent party). Some forms of comparative fault only reduce the victim/plaintiff’s damages. Other forms cut off damages completely.

Insurance company lawyers have the burden of proof when they try to use comparative fault or another defense, like the assumption of the risk. If these defenses are strong, the case’s settlement value goes down. Insurance companies are less willing to settle and more willing to risk a fight in these situations.

Non-Legal Variables

These legal variables usually dictate the amount of a personal injury settlement. Some non-legal variables could apply as well.

Motivated buyers and sellers (plaintiffs and defendants) change the settlement value. If a victim/plaintiff is in a hurry to move on, that person might be willing to accept a lower settlement offer. In contrast, if an insurance company wants to keep a case from becoming a public record, the insurance company often offers more money. This dynamic is often present in hotel personal injury claims, like falls and swimming pool drownings.

Location often matters as well. Jurors in smaller urban areas, like Winnebago County, are often sympathetic to victims. Jurors in larger urban areas, like Cook County, are often less sympathetic.

Reach Out To Our Winnebago County Personal Injury Attorneys

Accident victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. by calling 815-315-0574. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.