Considering a Personal Injury Lawsuit? Follow These Helpful Tips

Web Admin - Tuesday, November 06, 2018
Rolling Meadows personal injury attorneyIf someone in your family has suffered severe injuries and financial hardship as a result of someone else’s negligence, you are probably wondering if you should file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses. 

Yet, like many people, you may hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer about your situation for reasons such as:

- You believe the insurance company should handle everything.

- You feel intimidated by the legal system.

- You can see yourself in the other person’s shoes, and you do not want to cause problems for them.

- You do not have the energy to deal with a lawsuit while you are in the midst of dealing with serious medical and financial issues. 

If you find yourself in this situation, here are some helpful things to know: 

1. You Have to Act Quickly to Protect Your Family for the Long-Term

In the aftermath of a serious injury, you may feel like you have more important things to do than find a lawyer. However, there are two reasons why you might need to put a personal injury lawsuit at the top of your priority list right now. First, while insurance may cover your immediate medical costs, you have to consider both the long-term costs of caring for the injured person and the loss of income that will be suffered by both the injured person and any caregivers. 

Second, each state has a statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. Your lawsuit usually must be filed in the state where the injury occurred, not the state where you live. For most personal injury cases in Illinois, you must file your lawsuit within two years of the incident that caused the injury (735 ILCS 5/13-202).

2. It Will Be Easier If You Prepare Before You Call 

Before you contact an attorney, write down a summary of your case, including:

- The cause of injury, such as a car crash or dog bite. Be prepared to provide additional details that demonstrate the other person’s negligence, such as police reports indicating the other person was drunk driving or that the dog had bitten people before.

- The date and location of the incident. 

- The type of injuries, such as cuts, broken bones, paralysis, brain damage, etc. 

- Whether full recovery is expected, or whether there is some type of permanent damage such as loss of mobility, mental or psychological damage, or chronic pain.

- How long the injured person was unable to work as a result of the incident, and whether they will have long-term income loss and/or incremental healthcare expenses as a result of their injuries.

Once you have these basic facts on paper, you will feel more confident and ready to make that first call to an attorney.

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 loss. 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.


Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

pain and suffering, Rolling Meadows personal injury attorneyWhile advances in technology have greatly improved vehicle safety, severe injuries still occur in automobile accidents. When an individual’s injuries are the result of the fault of another person, it is possible for that individual to file a personal injury lawsuit. A difficult, but important, part of a personal injury damage award to determine is an individual’s pain and suffering.

What is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a form of non-economic damage, which means, unlike a person’s medical bills, for example, it is not readily quantifiable. Pain and suffering may be requested as part of a personal injury claim, in addition to other claims, such as medical expenses. Critically, an individual has two years from the time of the accident to file a lawsuit, which is known as the statute of limitations. There are two forms of pain and suffering: physical and mental. Physical pain and suffering involves a person’s actual physical injuries, like pain or discomfort.

Mental pain and suffering involves the negative emotions that are connected with physical pain or the trauma associated with the accident and the injuries that result. These emotions may include, but are not limited to, mental anguish, emotional distress, fear, anger, humiliation, or anxiety. If the mental pain and suffering is severe enough, it may result in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Because pain and suffering is subjective, it can be difficult to value. Different individuals will respond differently to injuries and trauma they experience. As a result of the subjective nature of valuing pain and suffering, it is common that the judge will not have specific guidelines to give to the jury. In Snover v. McGraw, the Supreme Court of Illinois held that, “an award for pain and suffering is not as readily calculable…and jurors must draw on their real-life experiences in making an award.” As a result, it is critical to present as much evidence as possible to best convey to the jury the pain and suffering endured.

One way to determine the value of pain and suffering is to multiply the total medical bills and lost earnings (known as actual or special damages) by some factor, usually between 1.5 and four. For example, if an individual’s actual damages are $50,000 and the multiplier is two, the pain and suffering award would be $100,000. The multiplier is usually determined after considering various factors, such as the severity and long-term health consequences of injuries sustained.

There are some other factors that can affect a plaintiff’s pain and suffering award, including:

  • - Whether the plaintiff is credible and likeable;
  • - Whether the plaintiff’s testimony relating to his or her injuries remains consistent; and
  • - Whether the opinion of the plaintiff’s physician supports the plaintiff’s claims of pain and suffering.

An accident can be a frightening ordeal, even if no injuries result. If you have been involved in an accident caused by another person that resulted in harm to you, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC provides representation to individuals located in the northwest suburbs, including Rolling Meadows, Palatine, and Barrington.

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.

Automated Cars, Legal Liability, and Trolley Problems

Web Admin - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

driverless car liability, Rolling Meadows car acciddent lawyerAlthough driverless cars were squarely in the realm of science fiction until recently, Google and other companies are moving towards making them a reality at a surprisingly rapid pace. As beneficial as these cars may prove to be, there are also concerns about them from a legal standpoint. One of the major issues is the question of who the law should hold responsible in the event of a traffic accident. There are also separate concerns about legal liability and ethics when driverless cars face difficult decisions, such as in the famous Trolley Problem.

General Liability Issues

One of the biggest legal issues related to driverless cars is the question of liability for accidents. With ordinary cars, liability is usually limited to one of the drivers, but that system would not work with driverless cars for obvious reasons. Many people's first instinct is to place liability on the company that makes the car. However, there are a variety of issues with that. First, it is possible that the accident with a driverless car was not the result of error by the manufacturer, but a problem with upkeep on the part of the owner. If the car's owner did not keep it properly maintained and that resulted in an accident, it would be unusual to put liability on the car's manufacturer. Beyond that, placing that much possible liability on the company could potentially cripple the development of the driverless cars.

The other competing theory is to treat driverless cars much like we treat cars now, and require people to insure them. This would remove liability from the possibly innocent owners, but it would come at the cost of increasing how expensive driverless cars are.

The Trolley Problem

A related issue is the question of how driverless cars would deal with the Trolley Problem. The Trolley Problem is an ethical dilemma in which a person is standing at a railroad switch, and they see a train coming. They know the train is going to hit five people on its current track, but the person at the switch has the option to throw the switch, sending it down a different track and only killing one person. Although it is an ethical dilemma, it may have important legal ramifications.

For instance, suppose a child darts out in front of a driverless car, and the car’s only option to avoid the child is to crash into something else, likely injuring the passengers. The car would need to make that decision, and definitely injure either the child or the passengers. The law would then need to determine whether the victim of the car's decision would have a claim against the manufacturer.

Although driverless car accidents are still a few years off, ordinary car accidents can still cause serious injuries. If you have recently been hurt in a car crash, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves clients in many northwest suburban towns, such as Rolling Meadows, Palatine, 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.

Liability for Accidents on the Golf Course

Web Admin - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

illinois golf accident lawyerWith the warm weather finally here, many people have already begun making their way back to the golf courses. Yet, the sport is not without its legal liabilities. Errant golf ball strikes are a common hazard that can result in damage to nearby property, harm to other players, and even death in some more serious circumstances. Additionally, many golf games involve the players drinking during the game or at the clubhouse afterwards. While the players themselves should always monitor their own intake and drink responsibly, the golf course may also be responsible for damage caused by their drinking if it sells them the alcohol.

Errant Golf Balls

The question of liability for errant golf balls hinges on whether the person or property that was damaged was actually on the course or simply nearby.  One of the most common types of accidents on the course occurs when one player injures another. The occasional poorly aimed shot can go awry and hit another player on another hole or standing off the course. Ordinarily, landowners, like the golf course, do not have a duty to protect people on their land from obvious dangers, like errant shots on a golf course, but such a duty does arise when the owner can reasonably anticipate the danger. Consequently, if there is an area, such as a clubhouse deck, where missed shots land with some frequency, the course may be liable to the injured player.

Importantly, this protection does not necessarily extend to people who have purchased homes near the golf course. Errant shots do occasionally hit those homes or the people in them, and when that happens courts have found it to be the homeowner’s responsibility. One example of this happened in 2005 when a missed drive struck a woman sitting in her garden. The court refused to award damages based on the legal doctrine of “assumption of risk,” which means that homeowners who buy houses near a course are aware that shots may occasionally land on their property and they accept that risk when they buy the house.

Alcohol on the Course

That golf courses tend to sell alcohol also implicates something known as “dram shop laws.” These are laws that make alcohol distributors liable for the damage caused by drunken patrons in certain circumstances. These laws allow people who have suffered injury or property damage because of a drunken person to sue the business that furnished the liquor, provided that the business sold enough alcohol to be responsible for the person’s drunkenness and that the drunkenness was the cause of the damage.

If you were recently injured on a golf course, contact a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our firm counsels clients in towns around the northwest suburbs, including in Crystal Lake, Buffalo Grove, and Deer Park.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Recovering in a Hit and Run Accident

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

illinois hit and run lawyerAfter a car accident, people have a variety of duties that the law requires them to fulfill. Among these duties is the requirement that the drivers stop and exchange insurance information. This allows the parties the opportunity to recover from the insurance companies for the damages once fault has been decided. However, some drivers ignore this duty and instead flee the scene of an accident. In fact, these hit and run drivers are responsible for over 1,000 deaths every year, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This trend of hit and run accidents is a particular problem because victims of these sorts of accidents can find it difficult to receive compensation from the driver who caused their injuries. Yet, such victims are not without recourse. People injured in hit and run accidents may be able to use a variety of resources to discover the identity of the other driver. Further, even if the other driver cannot be identified, the injured person may be able to file a claim with their own insurance company to help handle their medical costs and repairs.

Identifying the Driver

Hit and run accidents can be a chaotic experience, which makes it difficult for the victim to get any identifying information about the fleeing car. However, injured drivers do have some tools at their disposal. Oftentimes, there will be eyewitnesses on the scene who can help provide descriptions of the car or license plate numbers. Additionally, there may be video evidence of the accident from nearby traffic cameras that can help police determine the identity of the fleeing driver. Finally, some hit and run drivers experience remorse for leaving the scene. Drivers who flee the scene out of fear, especially those under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, have been known to turn themselves in to the police at a later date. All of these methods can help tie a person to the accident, and allow victims to receive full and fair compensation for their injuries.

Without an Identified Driver

In the event that the driver who perpetrated the hit and run cannot be identified, injured motorists may still have the ability to file a claim using their own insurance to receive help with their medical and repair bills. Many insurance policies include insurance for collisions with uninsured or underinsured motorists. These policies are mostly intended to come into use when the policyholder gets into an accident with someone without insurance or someone whose insurance will not cover all the damages. However, many of these policies count unidentified drivers as uninsured drivers, so it is possible that they would cover hit and run accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit and run accident, contact a Palatine personal injury lawyer. Our team of experienced attorneys serves clients in towns like Deer Park, Inverness, and Des Plaines.

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.

Pedestrian-Bicycle Collisions in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, March 06, 2014

illinois pedestrian bicycle accident attorneyPedestrians walking down the sidewalk or crossing the street know to watch out for cars, but many are unaware of just how dangerous a passing bicycle can be and what to do in the event that they end up in an accident with a bike. Collisions between bikes and pedestrians are surprisingly dangerous and more common than many people expect. While exact numbers are difficult to find, since many bike accidents go unreported, a study from Hunter College estimates that over 1,000 pedestrians are hospitalized each year for injuries resulting from bike collisions in New York State alone.

Part of the reason for this is a lack of understanding on by both cyclists and pedestrians about what rules of the road bikes must obey. This leads to confusion on the part of the pedestrian about what the cyclists will to do in any given situation. The Illinois Secretary of State maintains a good guide regarding how traffic laws apply to bikes, but the rule of thumb is that a bicycle in the street must obey all laws that any other vehicle would, and a bicyclist on the sidewalk must obey the laws and signals used by pedestrians.

Harm from Bicycle Accidents

While bicycles lack the mass and speed of a car, they can still do serious harm to unprotected pedestrians in an accident. Some of the most common severe injuries that result from these sorts of accidents are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Pedestrians can develop these types of injuries if they suffer a hard blow to the head after a bike knocks them down. The most common symptom of a TBI is a concussion, but they can also result in nausea, vomiting, headaches, seizures, and even coma in more serious cases. Bike accidents can also frequently cause broken bones, depending on the speed at which they happen and the way the pedestrian falls.

What to Do after a Bicycle Accident

The steps to take after a bicycle accident are similar to those that follow a car crash: make sure everyone is ok, call for medical attention if necessary, alert the police, and exchange information with the other party. The major difference is that bike accidents are more prone to turning into hit-and-runs. While bicyclists are obliged to stay at the scene of an accident just like drivers, many do not realize that they have that duty, and some who do know choose to flee the scene anyway. The best course of action here is to get as much identifying information about the fleeing cyclist as possible, and then make a report to the police.

If you have been the victim of a pedestrian versus bicycle accident, reach out to an Illinois personal injury attorney today. They can help you seek the full and fair compensation that you deserve. Our firm lends its experience and knowledge to clients across the northwest suburbs, in places such as Inverness, Deer Park, 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.

Shopping Hazard: Icy Parking Lots in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, January 16, 2014

By Ken Apicella

With winter back in full force in Chicago, shoppers should take care when walking to from their cars through the parking lots full of ice and snow. In fact, tens of thousands of people every year suffer serious injuries sustained from severe falls, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control. The law surrounding such falls is somewhat complex, and who bears the responsibility of paying for the injuries depends on the precise circumstances of the case.

A lawsuit relating to slipping and falling in an icy parking lot would be brought under an area of law known as “premises liability.” Premises liability means that people who own land and allow people onto it have a duty to use reasonable care to ensure that people on their land do not come to harm. However, ice and snow pose something of a special case since Illinois has something known as the “natural accumulation” rule.

The natural accumulation rule states that property owners are not liable for those who slip and fall on the snow, provided they did not alter it in some way. For instance, suppose that it snows 11 inches and a person decides to go shopping. If the store chooses to do nothing about the snowfall and the patron slips, then the store would probably not owe them money, barring some sort of special circumstances. However, if the store plowed their parking lot, and the patron hurt themselves climbing over a mound of snow left by the snow plow, then the store would owe them for the injury. Incidentally, under Illinois law, laying down salt in an effort to prevent ice does not count as altering the snow enough to make a store liable for it.

Stores may also be liable for falls sustained in icy parking lots with “underlying defects.” An underlying defect is a problem with the premises that may exacerbate the issues of ice or snow. Improper lighting is a common type of underlying defect. If a store fails to light its parking lot well enough and a person suffers a fall in the treacherous, icy conditions because they could not see well, then they could have a case against the store.

Furthermore, parties who have agreed to remove snow may also potentially be liable for a shopper’s injuries in a fall. If the company that owns a mall promises the stores in the mall that it will clear the snow, and then fails to do so, the mall could be liable to a shopper who slips. This could even be true if the shopper falls in a natural accumulation of snow

Were you recently injured by slipping and falling in an icy parking lot? If so, contact a Rolling Meadows personal injury attorney today. We serve many areas in the northwest suburbs including Barrington, Buffalo Grove, and Schaumburg.

Common Work Accidents in Industrial Plants

James Speers - Friday, December 20, 2013

By Ken Apicella

847 934 6000



Workers in industrial plants often receive safety training, and most plants take precautions to prevent accidents from happening. Still, industrial accidents do occur, and workers would do well to stay aware of common hazards in their environment. Some of the most common accidents that occur in industrial plants involve explosions or asphyxiation. In fact, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board attributes hundreds of deaths and injuries to these types of accidents since 1980.

Explosions in Industrial Plants

Industrial plants are often full of reactive chemicals and hazardous machinery. Unfortunately, those two things often place workers at risk of harm from explosions. Though explosions come in many different forms and have many different causes, some of the most common are pressure vessel explosions, chemical explosions, and combustible dust explosions.

Pressure vessel explosions happen when a gas starts to build up in a sealed tank. This can happen through heating or through an ongoing chemical reaction. Eventually, either due to overpressurization or a flaw in the tank, the vessel bursts, releasing a powerful shock wave and possibly hot vapor as well.

Chemical explosions differ in that they involve reactive chemicals rather than simple overpressurization. These explosions happen when a chemical reaction runs unchecked or a leak releases a flammable chemical, such as hydrogen, into the environment. Then a stray spark or other heat source ignites the chemical, causing an explosion.

The final type of explosion, combustible dust explosions, often happen in factories that produce fine powders, such as flour or sugar. If the company does not take care to properly ventilate the area and ensure a clean work environment, dust can build up in the air. Because fine dusts are often flammable, contact with a heat source can cause the entire cloud to explode.

Asphyxiation in Industrial Plants

Workers in chemical plants are also vulnerable to the hazard of asphyxiation. Though less common than explosions, the threat can be equally dangerous. Workers often asphyxiate in one of two ways. Either a gas leak releases a dangerous chemical into the room that causes suffocation, or the worker ends up in a cramped space for long periods, depriving them of oxygen.

Gas leaks can cause asphyxiation by affecting the concentration of oxygen in the air. Even the release of an ordinarily harmless gas like nitrogen can cause workers to suffocate if it saturates the air and deprives workers from taking in enough oxygen. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a plant accident. Contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer today. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Barrington, Crystal Lake, Deer Park, and Rolling Meadows.

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