How Trust, Emotions, and Facts Affect Personal Injury Verdicts

Web Admin - Monday, December 24, 2018
Inverness personal injury lawyer jury verdictSerious injuries, illnesses, and deaths happen every day. In many cases, these are unfortunate events that naturally occur in our imperfect world. However, there are times when a personal injury or wrongful death occurs as the result of another party’s negligence or misconduct. For example, a drunk driver may cause a collision that kills another person, or a business may fail to take reasonable precautions when manufacturing a product. In these situations, the party at fault has a civil responsibility to compensate the injured party for their damages. 

Juries Sometimes Award Huge Sums in Personal Injury Cases

Many, if not most, personal injury cases are resolved through an out-of-court settlement negotiated by lawyers. In some cases, however, the two sides cannot agree on the amount of damages that one party should pay to the other, so the case must go to trial. The verdicts in personal injury trials are often unpredictable, and they are sometimes dramatically large, as in these recent 2018 cases:

- An Indiana jury awarded $35 million to a man who was rendered a quadriplegic in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. 

- A Georgia jury awarded $1 billion to a young woman who was sexually assaulted by an armed security guard employed by her apartment complex.

- A San Francisco jury awarded $289 million, which was later reduced by a judge to $78 million, to a man whose cancer was caused, according to the court’s verdict, by Roundup weedkiller.

How Attorneys Build a Convincing Case for a Large Verdict 

What factors convince a jury to rule in favor of an injured person and to award large amounts of compensatory and punitive damages? This is a hard question to answer definitively, but there are several factors that play a role. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to leverage these factors and use them to construct a compelling combination of factual evidence and emotional arguments for a jury trial.

One factor is that jurors seem to be less offended today by plaintiff requests for multi-million dollar verdicts and more willing to award them. Court-watchers speculate that American citizens have been affected by the barrage of online stories highlighting exorbitant professional athlete contracts, lottery jackpots, and the huge gap that has developed between CEO compensation and worker wages. As a result, jurors tend to believe that a corporate defendant can easily afford a large payout and must be made to feel the pain of their mistakes through punitive damages, and that the injured party deserves the compensation. 

Another factor is more widespread feelings of anger and distrust against “the elite.” Part of this stems from the growing division between the highest-paid and the lowest-paid workers in America. This has caused more anger and distrust toward the leadership of large corporations, who are viewed as getting rich at the expense of their workers. Also, with so much “fake news” going around on social media, people are becoming more distrustful in general. In some cases, jurors even distrust the injured person’s attorney and increase their award to the injured person just to “make sure they are taken care of” after the plaintiff’s attorney takes their share of an award.

Short attention spans are a third variable that personal injury lawyers must increasingly take into account when developing their trial arguments. Younger generations do not have the patience to sit through days of oral testimony by technical experts. Attorneys need to use more graphics, videos, and even virtual reality recreations of an accident scene in order to make testimony more compelling and impactful to jurors. 

Attorneys must also be sensitive to the way the injured person is portrayed and the way their story is told. Juries who are emotionally touched by a well-told story can be swayed toward one side or the other. For example, when jurors see that the injured party is part of a likeable, hard-working family that they can relate to, they are more likely to favor the injured party. The injured person’s attorney may also encourage jurors to look at the injured person and think, “What if it were me?” When such feelings are strong enough, they can cause jurors to override arguments that the defendant acted according to reasonable standards of care.

Consult a Des Plaines Personal Injury Attorney  

If you have been injured through another person’s or corporation’s negligence or wrongdoing, you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit and be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. The first step is to discuss your case with an experienced Barrington personal injury lawyer. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC have decades of experience obtaining due compensation for our clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a free consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


How Much Is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Web Admin - Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Schaumburg personal injury attorney pain and sufferingWhen you or a family member has suffered a personal injury as the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you have probably suffered serious financial losses as well. Even if you had good health insurance, or the person who caused the accident had insurance that paid some or all of your medical bills, there are almost always uncovered costs.

Your uncovered losses may include: 

- Medical costs for treatment of the injury when it occurred.

- Costs to buy special equipment or even to modify your home to accommodate a disability.

- Costs for rehabilitation services which could be needed for months or even years.

- The cost of round-the-clock, long-term care provided in your home or at an assisted living facility.

- Costs for mental health treatment.

- Loss of income the person would have earned had they not been injured.

- Costs for your family to travel and visit the injured person.

- Non-economic costs, which are often lumped under the broad umbrella of “pain and suffering.”

Measuring the Non-Economic Costs of an Injury

An attorney can tally up the financial costs listed above, make future projections, and come up with an appropriate figure as compensation for those losses. However, the calculation of the value of non-economic losses is much more difficult. Some of the specific factors that need to be weighed include: 

- Is the person permanently disfigured or physically impaired, such as by an amputation or paralysis?

- Will they have to suffer through numerous surgeries over the years to try to restore their appearance and/or function?

- Is the injury such that it results in long-term pain to the victim? This is often the case in spinal cord injuries or when a part of the body, such as a leg, suffers multiple fractures or fragmentation.

- Has the person suffered severe emotional distress, perhaps from seeing friends or family killed in the same incident?

- Has the victim suffered from severe insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder?

- Are there beloved hobbies or activities that the person can no longer participate in as a result of the injury?

- Have family members of the victim suffered loss of consortium or companionship due to the victim’s injuries?

The more of these factors that you can prove, the more non-economic damages you may be able to recover. Documentation will be important to prove that these factors are real, including physician reports, medications prescribed, and your own personal documentation, such as a diary noting how the victim was feeling from day to day.

An attorney who has handled many personal injury cases will likely have developed their own formula, or chosen useful formulas developed by others, to translate these non-economic costs into a dollar figure to cite in the lawsuit. One common method is to apply a multiplier to the total financial damages. For example, if the victim and family’s financial losses totaled $500,000, you might triple that figure and claim an additional $1.5 million for non-economic losses. The multiplier, of course, would depend on the severity of the injury suffered and the extent of the non-economic losses. 

Is There a Legal Cap on “Pain and Suffering” Damages in Illinois?

The Illinois legislature passed a law in 2005 to limit awards for non-economic losses in medical malpractice cases to $500,000 for physicians and $1,000,000 for hospitals. However, in 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court subsequently ruled that law unconstitutional. Thus, Illinois currently places no limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded for non-economic losses.  

Consult a Rolling Meadows Personal Injury Attorney 

If you are wondering whether you should file a personal injury lawsuit, consult an experienced Palatine personal injury lawyer. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC will determine the best legal strategy for your case and fight aggressively to see that you are compensated for your losses. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a no-cost, no obligation consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


Dealing with Insurance Companies: Examinations under Oath

Web Admin - Saturday, January 04, 2014

If you recently filed an insurance claim, then you may have just received a request to participate in an examination under oath (“EUO”). An EUO is an interview that an insurance company’s lawyer conducts to investigate a recently filed claim. While receiving an EUO does not mean that the company will deny the insurance claim for sure, it tends to signal that the company found some issue that they would like to investigate further.

What Happens at an EUO?

An EUO is a formal process involving the insurance company’s lawyer as well as a court reporter who will transcribe everything said at the examination. The examination begins with a swearing in, making it a felony to lie under Illinois law. After that, the company’s attorney will start asking you questions. These questions will probably start out with basic questions of your or your family’s background including things like employment or criminal histories. It may then move into an examination of your finances, such as credit history or past bankruptcy filings.

Once the other side’s attorney establishes a baseline, the questions can move on to the specific event at issue in the claim. These questions can include a recounting of your story of the events and questions about your policy choices. In some instances, like fires insurance, the questions may even relate to whether you have an alibi. In this part of the process, the insurance company will look for inconsistencies with your prior recorded statement, so a consistent retelling of the facts is important.

Before the EUO, the company will do some investigation of its own surrounding the circumstances of the claim, as well as any irregularities from past claims. Consequently, you should be prepared for unexpected questions or inquiries into facts you did not know they had access to. Additionally, at the EUO the company can make you produce certain other documents to aid them in their investigation of the claim. These documents include tax returns, credit card statements, and cell phone records among other things.

Do I Need an Attorney?

While the law makes no formal rule saying that you need an attorney to participate in an EUO, having one present to represent you is advisable. The insurance company will have an attorney there, so having one of your own can help even the odds. Additionally, these examinations take place without a judge present, so an attorney on your side can help keep the company’s lawyer in check.

If you have recently received a request for an EUO, contact an experienced Des Plaines insurance dispute attorney. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Rolling Meadows, Deer Park, and Schaumburg.

The Hazards of Electricity in Workplace Accidents

Web Admin - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

By Ken Apicella

847 934-6000



Electricity is a common part of people’s everyday lives. Because it is so accessible, people often forget how dangerous it can be. In fact, hundreds of people die each year in accidents related to electricity, many of them while at work. Even though Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations mandate safe insulation or grounding around all electrical circuits, workers can still benefit from knowing the types of injury that electricity can cause and how electrical injuries happen.

Types of Electrical Injury

Electricity can cause three very different types of injury: burns, muscle contractions, and internal injuries.

Electricity causes burns in two ways. First, if a person suffers an electric shock, the electricity can heat up their body to the point that it burns the body along the path of the current. Second, faulty electrical equipment can overheat, or give off electrical arcs. These can cause burns to those nearby, even if the person does not actually come in direct contact with the source of electricity.

It also interferes with muscle function. Because our bodies trigger muscle contractions through electrical signals, electrocution can cause severe, involuntary muscle spasms. These can lead to muscular damage or even broken bones.

Electrocution also affects the function of a person's internal organs. Depending on the strength of the electrical shock, it can lead to internal bleeding and nerve damage. More serious shocks may even lead to cardiac arrest, which can be fatal in some circumstances.

How Electrical Injuries Happen

Electrical injuries may occur in a variety of different ways. For instance, extension cords can lead to electrocution if used improperly. Careless use of extension cords can cause them to fray or loose insulation, which exposes dangerous live wires. Additionally, some extension cords do not come with built-in ground wires, which can add to the danger.

Improper use of other equipment can also lead to electrical injuries. Modified tools or wires, jury-rigged extension cords, and improperly rated circuit breakers can all cause electrocution. One common yet dangerous modification is the removal of ground pins from wires. This allows a three-pronged plug to fit into a two-pronged outlet, but it puts the tool at a higher risk of malfunction. Of course, these examples represent just some of the many ways that improper safety precautions can cause electrocution.

If you or a loved one recently suffered an electrical injury that you believe may qualify for compensation, contact a Des Plaines personal injury attorney today. Our experience can help you get the payment that you deserve. We serve many areas in the northwest suburbs including Palatine, Inverness, Buffalo Grove, and Arlington Heights.

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