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Chicago personal injury lawyersA serious auto accident can leave a person with painful injuries and mounting debts. If you or a loved one were injured in a car crash, motorcycle accident, or truck accident, you know firsthand the financial devastation that an accident can bring to a person’s life. Fortunately, a personal injury lawsuit may allow you to recover financial compensation for the damages you suffered. Compensation for monetary losses as well as the non-monetary harm caused in the accident may be available. The amount of financial compensation that you could recover depends on several different factors.

The Severity of Your Injuries and Your Prognosis

Medical expenses and lost income from missed work are often two of the largest expenses a car accident victim suffers. Typically, the worse your injuries, the greater your medical costs. Injuries that lead to long-term or permanent impairment often lead to greater personal injury payouts. If your injuries reduce your ability to work, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm to your earning potential.

The amount of compensation you could receive for your pain and suffering is also directly linked to the severity of your injuries. In many personal injury cases, the compensation an injured person receives for non-economic damages is determined by multiplying financial damages by a factor of 1.5 to 5. For example, if your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage totaled $30,000, you may recover $45,000 – 150,000 for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

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Chicago personal injury lawyerAuto accidents are among the leading causes of brain injuries, accounting for approximately 14 percent of all non-fatal concussions and about 26 percent of all brain injury fatalities. At more than 2.5 million cases per year, that “small” percentage equates to thousands of TBI sufferers each year. If you have experienced an auto-accident-related brain injury, a qualified personal injury lawyer can help you understand the risks, and your right to compensation. 

Brain Injuries Are Often Serious and Long-Lasting

Each year, around 2.5 million people visit the emergency room for a traumatic brain injury (TBI). More than 50,000 of those result in death. The remainder eventually recover, but to varying degrees and over an unpredictable timeline. Some take months; others take years. Then there are those who never fully recover. Their memory or cognitive abilities may be permanently impaired, or they may suffer from sensitivity to lights and sound. Others are unable to read for long periods of time or stare at a screen for more than a few minutes, which can greatly hinder their ability to work.

A brain injury can also increase a victim’s risk of depression and other mood disorders. Some studies have even linked it to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s later in life. Children, who are also at risk for a TBI during an auto accident, have been found to have an even higher risk of lifelong emotional, social, and psychological issues after a brain injury. In short, brain injuries often have lasting and sometimes serious effects on the life of the victim. For this reason, it is critical that TBI sufferers understand their legal right to seek damages, and that they know how to improve their chances of full and fair compensation.

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Chicago personal injury lawyerEstablishing fault in a car accident is not always straightforward. Often, when motorists are involved in a car crash, there are a number of factors at play. For example, outside distractions, such as pedestrians, construction work, closed lanes, or heavy traffic, can make an accident more likely to occur. Car accidents often involve several vehicles, and it can be extremely difficult to determine which car actually caused the accident.

Proving who was at fault for a crash is crucial for several reasons. First, the at-fault party's car insurance company is usually responsible for paying repair costs for other vehicles involved in the accident. Secondly, if another person was injured in the accident, the at-fault party may be responsible for that person’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

No-Doubt Liability

Generally, it is up to the car insurance companies of the individuals involved in an accident to determine financial liability for a car accident. The insurance companies use the help of claims adjusters and police reports to determine which of the drivers involved in an accident was at fault.

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Chicago motorcycle accident lawyerIllinois is one of the few states in the country that does not have a motorcycle helmet law. Our state leaves it up to individual riders to decide for themselves whether to wear a helmet. At Livas Law Group, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwarz, we represent many motorcycle accident victims who have suffered terrible injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). With this in mind, we encourage riders around the state to consider some of the evidence around the safety and effectiveness of motorcycle helmets.

Helmets Do Not Meaningfully Restrict Vision or Hearing

Many riders refuse to wear a helmet because they believe it will restrict their vision or ability to hear. These are certainly legitimate concerns. A rider’s safety would be compromised if they could not see or hear as well, in which case a helmet could be counterproductive and could, in fact, cause an accident.

However, research has shown that these fears are not well-founded or supported. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stated, a person’s range of vision, including peripheral vision, usually covers between 200-220 degrees. Helmets provide up to 210 degrees of vision—so that is very slight impairment if any at all. Further, more than 90 percent of accidents happen within a 160-degree range, which means that vision impairment caused by a helmet will not contribute to most collisions. A rider can easily counter any slight restriction in peripheral vision by simply moving her head a little bit more in either direction.

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Chicago personal injury lawyerThe actions motorists take can often contribute to the severity of their injuries in the event of a collision. Refusing to wear a seat belt is a classic example. At Livas Law Group, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz, we routinely field questions about whether the refusal to wear a seat belt will harm a person’s personal injury lawsuit. In particular, accident victims want to know whether the seat belt defense is valid in Illinois.

Why the Seat Belt Defense Matters

Illinois recognizes the concept of comparative fault. Under this concept, a motorist cannot receive compensation if he or she is “more” at fault for an accident than all defendants combined. Put simply, a victim can be up to 50 percent responsible for their injuries—but not more—to collect compensation.

Failure to wear a seat belt probably sounds like a form of negligence. After all, seat belts have been proven to reduce the risk of injury and save lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing a seat belt reduces the number of serious injuries by approximately 50 percent. In one year alone (2016), seat belts saved approximately 15,000 lives. Furthermore, wearing a seat belt is the law in our state. Everyone ages 8 or older must buckle up, even if the car is equipped with airbags.

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