Why Did My Case Take So Long To Settle?

Why Did My Case Take So Long To Settle?

A common question we get all the time is “how long will it take to settle my case?” The easy answer is that it depends on how long you require medical treatment.
Illinois law provides that when you are injured by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to full and fair compensation for the nature and extent of your injury.  If you think about that, it becomes clear that a major factor in any compensation is the extent of your injury, which of course includes how long you require medical treatment.
After all, an injury that lasts a month is generally smaller than an injury the lasts a year, which is smaller than an injury that lasts a lifetime.  Injuries that result in permanent impairments require the greatest compensation.  With permanent injuries, however, we don’t have to wait a lifetime to settle those cases since doctors routinely can make that decision at some point within a reasonable amount of time, and document the permanency of the injury in their records.
We recently settled the car accident case for a client in approximately 13 months of the date of the injury.  He treated for his injuries for about 6 months and it took an additional 4 months for the bills to be paid by his health insurance.  He asked me why it took so long to settle his case.  I explained to him that we actually got the case settled very quickly, since we had to order the records from the medical providers, which can take 60 to 90 days, review them, and then send them to the insurance company.  Insurance companies routinely want 30 to 60 days to review them before they call us with an offer.  Then the offer is communicated to the client and, with the client’s input, we begin the negotiating process.   Once the bills were paid we were able to settle the case within 3 months.
We had a car accident case once where it was clear the other driver was at fault and that our client was severely injured to the point he would need major surgery.  There was a $100,000 policy at issue, which we were confident we would be able to get once the client was done with his treatment.  For some reason we had a falling out with the client, and he decided to hire a different lawyer, one who had helped a family friend with some family law issues.  It took that new lawyer 5 years to get the case resolved, even though the client was done treating within a year and a half.  To me, there was no excuse for taking three and a half years to resolve that case.
The moral of the story is, getting a case settled within 3 months from the last medical treatment for full value is very good legal work.  It takes a lot to get cases settled like that: experience, aggressiveness, legal knowledge, and a good reputation with the insurance companies against whom we fight these cases.  We have that at MacCloskey Kesler and Associates.
To be sure, not all cases can settle this quickly.  There may be additional medical records to get, bills to be paid, statements to get, a dispute about liability, or some other issue that comes up.  But more often than not we have the know how to get cases settled quickly for top dollar.
So if you’ve been severely injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident, or injured in some other manner caused by someone else’s negligence, put our personal experience to work for you.  Call MacCloskey Kesler and Associates today for a free consultation at 815-965-2000.

How Much Car Insurance Should I Have?

How Much Car Insurance Should I Have?

car-insurance-calculatorObviously, your car insurance policy covers you for claims made against you or any other family member with whom you reside. But how much is enough?  The easy answer is to get as much as you can afford.  It may be cheaper to do so than you think!
Medical costs have risen faster than any other costs in the country. When I started driving in the 1960’s, I was advised to carry coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person with $300,000 per accident.  That was plenty of coverage then.
In the fifty plus years since then, medical costs have skyrocketed. Because of that, when I began practicing law, I checked out larger policies, and I was able to get a policy in the amount of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident for about $200 more per year.   Even larger policy limits are available for similar premium amounts.
So if you can afford more coverage, do it. And remember, your Uninsured and Underinsured provisions cover YOU (see our blog about these car insurance provisions).  Ask your insurance agent to give you a quote on larger policies.  I think you’ll be surprised at how inexpensive it is to increase your insurance coverage limits.  And if there are youngsters in your household driving your car, it’s even more important.  Here’s a real life example to illustrate just how important that can be.
Gene (not his real name) was a passenger in a car that tried to make a left turn at an intersection way too fast causing an accident. The car hit the traffic light post at about 50mph, and Gene was seriously injured.  His medical bills were over $400,000 for his two week stay in the hospital and at the Rehab Hospital, and for the multiple surgeries he required over the next year.
The at fault driver only had $100,000 in coverage and was otherwise judgment proof (he had no assets beyond his car insurance policy that we could access that wouldn’t be covered by his Bankruptcy). But luckily for Gene, he had his own car insurance policy that provided Underinsured coverage in the amount of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident.  This means that Gene was covered by car insurance in the amount of $250,000.
But his medical bills were over $400,000, right? True, but his health insurance paid those bills in full.  And when health insurance pays a medical bill, they get a discount, sometimes as big as 60%.
Additionally, when we pay the health insurance companies back, we have ways to use the law to force them to take even less than they actually paid. So, Gene had medical bills of over $400,000 and a total insurance recovery of only $250,000.  Yet when we settled Gene’s case, he paid us our attorney fee, our costs, and paid the health insurance company back in full and Gene was still able to receive over $100,000 in cash compensation to him.  But if Gene would have had $500,000 in per person Underinsured Motorist coverage, we would have been able to get twice the recovery for him.
The good news is we can do the same for you. So if you’ve been injured in a car accident or sustained another personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, call MacCloskey Kesler & Associates today at 815-965-2000 for a free consultation.  We’ll give you the same level of service and attention that we gave Gene.
 
 

Why Won’t You Take My Case?

Why Won’t You Take My Case?

Unfortunately, we cannot help every person who contacts our office. Our firm has made it our goal to help injury victims.  This means we handle cases which we believe we can successfully resolve favorably for our clients.  This also means we must decline representation at times.
In order to proceed on a personal injury case you must prove the following: liability, proximate cause and damages. If we do not prove all three of these items we lose at trial.  Attorneys invest time and money into every case they take on a contingent agreement.  We do not get paid if we do not win.  Therefore we must be selective in our representation.
Liability means that we must prove someone else is at fault. This can be difficult in slip in fall matters.  Just because you are hurt on someone else’s property does not mean they are legally responsible for causing your injuries and have to pay for your injuries.  We must prove they did something wrong.   An injured person can also be found part at fault and still recover money, unless a jury determines the injured person is more than half at fault for causing that injury.  The ability to prove liability depends on the specific facts of every case.
Damages include but are not limited to medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. These items are awarded a specific monetary amount.  In order to recover damages, we must prove the damages are a result of the crash, fall, or other event claimed.  This is called proximate cause.  It does not require the event to be the only or nearest cause.  Cases where someone has a prior injury can be difficult.  Also, older individuals often have degeneration or arthritis.  Insurance companies often try to use these non-painful prior conditions against injured people.  Damages and proximate cause must be proven through medical treatment.  Good medical treatment is therefore essential to proving our case.
We are proud to represent injury victims. We have helped thousands of them.  We cannot take every case that comes through our door, only cases where we can prove liability, causation and damages.  This sometimes upsets people.  We always advise potential clients that are not retained to seek a second opinion of another attorney, since they may view the facts differently.  Also, cases can change after our first appointment if the facts are determined to be different than we were advised.
It is our position that we would rather have a client leave disappointed after the first visit than find out later that we see problems that make their case unprovable. This means we take the time to discuss the case with the client at that first visit.  We never send a non-lawyer “investigator” to your home.  You meet with a partner of the firm. If you have been injured, contact our office for our honest opinion from one of the partners of our firm.   We assure you that you will always get our honest opinion on your case based on our history of handling thousands of injury cases just like yours.

Has a lawyer called you about your recent injury?

Has a lawyer called you about your recent injury?

No Soliciting from AttorneysBelieve it or not, lawyers are held to a strict set of ethical rules that they must follow or they could be sanctioned.   Sanctions, if issued,  can be anything from a written warning to a revocation of a lawyer’s license.
In Illinois, it is unethical for a lawyer to contact you personally about a potential injury claim unless the lawyer represented you before, is a family member or a close personal friend.   If you have been injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, and a lawyer you don’t know calls you on the phone, or has their “investigator” call you on the phone, be aware they are potentially engaging in unethical behavior.  And if that lawyer is acting unethically before you even hire them to represent you, what does that tell you about the kind of representation you can expect from them?
Here in the Northern Illinois area, we have heard of many instances where an injured person has received an unsolicited telephone call from a lawyer they don’t know or that lawyer’s representative shortly after being injured.   Some of these calls come from out of state lawyers, who send a non-lawyer “investigator” to talk to you.   The goal of this meeting is to get you to sign a Retainer Agreement for them to represent you.   Once you sign a Retainer with them, they will likely receive a fee regardless of the quality of the representation and even if you fire them later.
At MacCloskeyKesler & Associates, we don’t make unsolicited phone calls to injury victims, and we don’t use “investigators” to meet with you.   When you meet with us for a free initial consultation, you meet with a lawyer, not a paralegal or “investigator”.   When we give you advice, it is advice you can count on.  We have heard of instances where an “investigator” gives advice that is just plain wrong.   Needless to say, it can be damaging to your rights and to your settlement to rely on advice from a non-lawyer that turns out to be bad advice.
So if you’ve been injured in any manner of vehicle accident, call us at 815-965-2000 for a free consultation.   You will meet with a lawyer, not some “investigator” with questionable credentials.   You can rest easy knowing that the advice you get will be good advice, based on Illinois law, and the experience gained from representing thousands of other people who have been hurt just like you.
 

How Much Compensation Am I Entitled To?

How Much Compensation Am I Entitled To?

Fair Compensation Justice StatueMany people have asked what we mean when we say that you are entitled to compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident or other injury.  In Illinois, an injured plaintiff is entitled to full and fair compensation for the nature and extent of her injuries.
This means that the severity of the injuries and damages must be balanced against the proposed compensation until the Jury believes the injured person has received “full and fair compensation”.   A Jury determines the amount of fair compensation by looking at the injuries proven by the evidence to have been caused by the accident, fall, dog attack or other incident.
An injured person, called the plaintiff, has the burden of proving what those injuries and damages are.   So we, as the plaintiff’s lawyers, must bring forth the evidence of what those injuries are.   We get that evidence from the medical testimony, in the first instance being the information found in the medical records.
When you think about that, you can understand how very important it is for you, the injured person, to tell your medical providers what’s wrong, where it hurts, how it hurts and how you feel.   For instance, if you tell your doctor that you are “better”, with no qualification, they will believe just that, that you are better.   But that word can easily be twisted.  Are you “all better”, and no longer suffering from your injuries, or are you just “better” than you were the last time you saw your doctor?
That may seem petty, but I have seen Juries make decisions on just that type of evidence, resulting in good people not receiving the compensation to which they would otherwise be entitled.
You also need to follow your doctor’s orders.   If the doctor prescribes a course of physical therapy and you decide not to do it, the presumption will be that you didn’t need it and therefore weren’t really hurt.   If you were, you would have followed the advice of your doctor.   The same goes for other treatment recommended by your doctors.
Lawyers are asked all the time during an initial consultation to estimate how much compensation an injured person should receive.    I don’t believe it is possible to accurately estimate total compensation at that initial consultation.   In order to do that, you must conduct a full investigation, which involves determining all the evidence surrounding the event causing the injury and knowing what the extent of the injury is.   Many times it is impossible to know a week after a collision, for example, what the true injury is.   Will the plaintiff need surgery?  Will they recover fully, and if so, how long will it take?  What permanent residual problems will there be, if any?   Will the plaintiff walk with a limp, have a scar, or need more medical treatment a year from now?   The only way we as lawyers can determine this is after the doctors have treated the injuries.
In layman’s terms, nature and extent of the injury means what kind of injuries were sustained and how bad were they or how long will they last?  As you might imagine, the bigger the injury, the bigger the compensation needed.   That goes for the length the injury takes to heal too.  Generally speaking, an injury that lasts a month will result in smaller compensation than an injury that lasts a year or a lifetime.
Much thought and investigation goes into determining the amount of fair compensation to which you are entitled as compensation for an injury.   An experienced lawyer knows how to maximize the amount of your compensation.   At MacCloskeyKesler & Associates, we have represented thousands of clients who have been injured in all manner of injuries.   That is personal experience.  And that matters.   If you’ve been injured in any manner of accident or dog attack, put that experience to work for you.   Call our office today at 815-965-2000 for a free consultation and put our experience to work for you.

Boat Accidents

Boat Accidents

Boat AccidentRecreational boating is a favorite pastime of many, including members of our firm.  A lifetime of memories can be made on the lake.  Unfortunately, many boaters are not experienced at the operation of their watercraft.  Boating is a fun time to relax, but this can also lead to impaired operators.  With this in mind, it is important to insure that you and your family are protected.
Homeowner policies often provide liability protection on your boat, but this is generally limited by horsepower restrictions.  It is important to know whether your boat is covered, based on its motor and your policy’s restrictions.  We have handled cases where the boat owner and operator paid personally because their policy did not cover the horsepower of their boat’s motor.  More importantly, you want to find a policy that provides Uninsured and Underinsured boating coverage.  This means that your policy will pay you if the other person does not have enough insurance to cover the injuries they have caused.
Our firm has handled boating cases including several in the Rock River.  One of our partners spends a good deal of his summers on the lakes and rivers of Illinois and Wisconsin.  If you or a loved one has been hurt by a negligent or intoxicated boater, we can help.  Call 815-965-2000 today for a free legal consultation.
 

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