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Understanding the Discovery Process in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Web Admin - Thursday, February 07, 2019
Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyer discovery processIf you have suffered severe damages as a result of someone else’s negligence or malfeasance, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation from the at-fault party. In order to win your case, however, your lawyer will have to develop a strong set of facts and arguments through a legal process known as discovery

For example, if you are injured in a collision involving your car, an SUV, and a large commercial truck, some of the questions that will have to be investigated and argued include:

- What percentage of the fault for the collision should be attributed to each party involved in the crash, including the company that owns the commercial truck and employs its driver? 

- Exactly what physical injuries did you suffer as a result of the collision? 

- What are your reasonable medical expenses to recover from those injuries?

- Did the accident leave you with any permanent disfigurement or disability? 

- What other damages did you suffer, such as emotional trauma requiring psychotherapy or lost income from being unable to work?


The legal process through which the parties to a lawsuit exchange information and answer questions such as these is called discovery. Discovery has two phases: sharing of written documents and oral interviews known as depositions.

Written discovery typically involves three types of documents:

- Interrogatories - These are essentially questionnaires submitted by one party in the lawsuit to be answered in writing by another party. The questions may be as simple as asking for names, contact information, and relevant insurance information for everyone involved in the accident.

- Requests for production of documents - The other side may request documents such as your medical records, medical bills, records pertaining to your vehicle, and any photographs you may have of the accident scene, your vehicle, and your injuries. Your lawyer may, in turn, request such information from other parties to the lawsuit.

- Requests for admission - This document spells out certain facts of the case and asks that the other party admit or confirm that these facts are

true, so that these facts do not have to be further investigated or proven in court. For example, in an auto accident case, the request might seek to confirm the details of a negligent party’s personal liability insurance coverage, obtain an admission that they were not carrying out duties for an employer at the time of the accident, and seek an admission that it was their negligence that caused the crash.

The purpose of the written discovery phase is to lock down all possible evidence related to your case, including any evidence that the opposing parties may use to support their position. For example, there is typically an insurance company involved, and their objective will be to minimize the scope of your damages and thereby minimize the compensation they have to pay you. 

Depositions


Once written discovery has been completed, your legal team will use that information to ascertain the questions they want to ask in the oral interrogation phase known as depositions. Depositions are expensive, so your legal team will want to prepare a very focused list of questions to ask in each interview. Depositions are made under oath and are generally video-recorded and transcribed. 

You may be surprised to learn that the discovery process in a personal injury case can take as long as six months to a year. While this may seem like a long time to wait for a settlement, a thorough discovery process is crucial to prove who was at fault and demonstrate the full extent of your damages. Most cases are won or lost in discovery, and most cases are settled based on the information that comes out of the discovery process, saving you the additional time and expense of a trial.

A Schaumburg Personal Injury Attorney

  
If you have been injured in a car crash or other accident that was not your fault (or at least less than 50% your fault), be sure to select a Palatine personal injury lawyer who has the skill and experience to handle the discovery process for your type of case and advocate vigorously on your behalf. 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.



Sources:
http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/Rules/Art_II/ArtII.htm#206

What Happens If a Pet Bites Someone?

Web Admin - Friday, July 24, 2015

Illinois dog bite lawyer, dog bite liabilityFor many of us, pets are considered another member of the family. While pet owners love their pets, they may end up costing their owners money if they bite another person through personal injury lawsuits. Though dogs and cats are the typical animal involved, Illinois law is applicable to all living creatures, other than human beings, which may be affected by rabies.  

Owner Responsibility

Under Illinois law, an administrator is appointed to attempt to control the spread of rabies and the overpopulation of dogs and cats. The administrator uses sterilization, humane education, rabies vaccines, impoundment, and any other means deemed necessary to accomplish these goals. The administrator is usually a veterinarian licensed by Illinois.

In the event that an animal bites a person, the animal is confined under the observation of a licensed veterinarian for 10 days. Immediately upon confinement, the veterinarian reports the clinical condition of the animal to the administrator. The report contains the owner’s name and address, date of confinement, breed, description, age and sex of the animal, and whether the animal has been spayed or neutered.

At the end of the confinement period, the veterinarian submits a written report to the administrator indicating the final disposition of the animal. If the animal has been inoculated against rabies and the veterinarian deems it satisfactory, the animal may be confined to a house or in any other manner in which it will be prohibited from biting a person for a period of 10 days. At the end of this confinement, the animal is examined by the veterinarian.

An owner who is aware that his or her animal has bitten someone must inform the administrator. It is illegal for the owner to euthanize, sell, give away, or otherwise dispose of the animal until it is released by the administrator.

If an animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures a person, the owner of such animal is civilly liable to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused by the attack or attempted attack. This places owners under strict liability, meaning they can be ordered to pay damages without the victim proving negligence or any fault on the part of the owner; all that needs to be proven is injury caused by the animal.

In certain circumstances, a determination may be made as to whether a dog is considered a dangerous dog. This determination must be proven by a preponderance of evidence. The decision is made after meeting with the owner, gathering medical and veterinary evidence, and interviewing witnesses. A dog is not considered dangerous if the conduct that led to the inquiry was justified. Some examples of justified behavior is when the threatened person was harming the dog or the dog was protecting itself.

A determination that a dog is dangerous is appealable. The owner must file a complaint against the administrator in circuit court within 35 days of receiving the notice of the determination. The determination that a dog is dangerous places more responsibility on the owner, including mandatory spaying or neutering, microchipping, and adult supervision anytime the dog is in public.

Personal Injury Assistance

If you have been bitten by another person’s pet, it is possible that you have a valid claim for personal injury against the owner. For more information, speak with an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. Our firm proudly represents individuals in areas such as Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows, and Arlington Heights.

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.

Natural Gas Explosion Prevention and Liability

Web Admin - Friday, December 26, 2014

Illinois natural gas liability, Buffalo Grove personal injury attorneyNatural gas explosions can be some of the most devastating types of home accidents. Flammable mixtures of air and gas can severely injure and even kill unsuspecting homeowners. In fact, natural gas explosions can cause hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage every year, according to government statistics. Natural gas fires are often difficult to prevent, and may require the intervention of skilled professionals. Still, there are some steps that people can take to help keep themselves safe. In the unfortunate event that a natural gas explosion does occur, people should also understand their legal rights as far as pursuing recovery is concerned.

Preventing Gas Explosions

Natural gas explosions are notoriously difficult to prevent because gas is so difficult for people to detect. One of the key ways to prevent gas explosions is by smell. Although the gas is naturally odorless, gas companies add a special molecule to the gas known as an odorant. It is this extra odorant that provides gas with its distinctive smell of rotten eggs. If a person does detect that smell, it is important to leave the house immediately. People should not risk doing anything that would create a spark, which includes using a telephone or turning on a light. Instead, people should call emergency services from a neighbor's home.

People can also take preventative measures to avoid gas leaks in the first place. These include installation of gas appliances by qualified professionals, and the use of gas appliances that meet recognized safety standards. Additionally, people should consider installing natural gas detectors in their homes, especially in places where the gas is likely to build up, such as in a basement.

Gas Explosion Liability

Natural gas is a complex utility that requires a lot of different people to install properly, so many different people may be liable for a natural gas explosion. For instance, a gas leak could occur as a result of a faulty appliance. If that happened, then the homeowners could pursue a product liability action against the appliance's manufacturer. However, natural gas explosions can also occur with properly manufactured equipment. This could be the result of a faulty installation of the appliance or improper maintenance by repair professionals. It is important to conduct a thorough examination after a natural gas explosion in order to determine who was really at fault. That will make it easier to make sure that they cover the costs of the damage that they were responsible for.

Natural gas explosions are complex legal issues that can have serious effects on people's lives. If you have recently been the victim of a gas fire or gas explosion, contact an Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our team of dedicated lawyers helps people across northwest suburban Illinois, in towns like Buffalo Grove, Deer Park, and Des Plaines.

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.

Swimming Pool Accident Injuries and Legal Concerns

Web Admin - Thursday, April 24, 2014

illinois swimming pool injury attorneyNow that the warm weather is finally on the way, people across Illinois are starting to look forward to a nice summer swim. However, this relaxing summertime activity can quickly turn dangerous if people are careless. Hundreds of people each year die as a result of water related injuries, according to information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control. Young children are at especially high risk for these injuries, accounting for approximately 20 percent of those deaths. Yet, people who suffer swimming injuries like this are not without recourse. There are a variety of legal claims available for the different injuries that may occur due to a swimming accident.

Types of Swimming Pool Injuries

Swimming pools can be responsible for a several different types of injuries. One of the most common is, of course, fatalities caused by drowning, but swimming pools can be dangerous in other ways as well. For instance, even if a person survives nearly drowning, the oxygen deprivation can cause permanent brain damage. Further, people diving into pools can often injure themselves by failing to check the depth of the water, which can cause them to strike their heads on the bottom of the pool. This can result in traumatic brain injuries like concussions, as well as damage to a person's spinal cord.

Types of Legal Claims for Swimming Pool Accidents

When a person sustains an injury in a swimming pool, they have two legal claims that they can pursue: premises liability and products liability. Premises liability, probably the more commonly used argument, takes effect when a person injures themselves on someone else's property. The law gives landowners a duty to use reasonable care to ensure that others do not injure themselves because of defects or hazards on their property. That means that pool owners may be liable for a person's injuries if they failed to properly maintain or secure their pool and someone was injured as a result. For example, if a pool owner failed to properly label the pool's shallow end, and a child dove in and injured their head or spine, the pool's owner may be liable for that injury.

Products liability claims do not attempt to hold the pool's owner liable, but are instead aimed against the poo's manufacturer. These claims occur when there is some inherent defect in the pool's manufacturing or design that made it unsafe for public use. Suppose the manufacturer improperly designed one of the pool's drains, and someone got their hand stuck in it, resulting in an injury. That injury might give rise to a products liability claim against the manufacturer since they should have made sure that their product was safe before bringing it to the market.

If you or your child has recently been injured in a swimming pool accident, seek help from a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney. Our firm lends its experience to clients across the northwestern suburbs, including Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and Crystal Lake.

About 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.

Jet Ski Accidents and Injury Lawsuits

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

illinois jet ski injury lawyer

With the warmer months approaching, people are once again going to start taking advantage of Lake Michigan, the Fox River, the Chain of Lakes and other inland waterways. Among the many popular waterfront activities available are the use of jet skis, also known as personal watercrafts (PWCs). While these PWCs are a fun way to spend a summer afternoon, they can also turn dangerous if riders do not take proper precautions. In fact, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, hundreds of people each year are killed or injured in PWC accidents. Many of these accidents are caused by careless PWC operators, but there are also other people who could be held responsible.

Responsibility for Jet Ski Accidents

The majority of lawsuits related to jet ski accidents proceed against the PWC’s driver based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is a legal doctrine that requires people to pay for harm that they caused through their own carelessness. Common negligent causes of PWC accidents include excessive speed, distracted boating, and operating a PWC while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

However, more people than just the operator of the jet ski could be responsible for the crash. For instance, many companies rent PWCs to tourists or beachgoers. These companies are responsible for properly maintaining their jet skis and making sure that the people to whom they rent are competent pilots. A failure to fulfill either of these requirements could make them liable for damage that their jet skis cause.

Courts may also hold the manufacturers of the jet ski in question responsible for harm that comes to users. This would happen under the products liability doctrine, which requires companies to pay for dangerous products that they make. There are several types of flaws that could give rise to a products liability lawsuit: design defects, manufacturing defects, and failures to warn:

  • Design defects occur when the producer of the jet ski fails to design it safely enough. For instance, a jet ski designed so that a hot wire next to the gas tank presents a fire risk might qualify as a design defect.

  • Manufacturing defects occur when the company designs the PWC properly, but fails to build it to the right specifications. A flawed manufacturing process that led to the jet ski having a leaking hull could be a manufacturing defect.

  • Failures to warn are slightly different. Rather than resulting from an inherent danger in the product, they arise when the manufacturer fails to warn the user about a possible danger in the product or fails to provide enough instructions about the safe way to use the device.

If you have been injured in an accident with a PWC, seek the counsel of a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney. They can examine your specific case and identify different parties who may be responsible for your injuries. Our firm helps clients in a variety of northwest suburban towns including Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, and Inverness.

About 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.


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