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High Point Plaza, 4415 West Harrison Street, Suite 213
Hillside, IL 60162

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when-insurance-companies-do-the-wrong-thing

Insurance companies often claim that with them, you're in "good hands," or that they are on your side, "like a good neighbor." But when you need to make a claim, the opposite is sometimes the case, and it's therefore important for accident victims to get legal help promptly. Here are some real-life cases that show how insurance companies sometimes try to delay - or avoid - paying valid claims.

  • Joe R. was badly hurt when the motorcycle he was a passenger on got in an accident. Under the law, Joe was entitled to collect money from the motorcycle driver's insurance company. But when Joe asked about the driver's insurance, the insurance company first said he was not covered. Then, after a long time passed, they told Joe he could receive money - but said the time limit for his claim had expired. Joe took the insurance company to court, and won.
  • Julie H. was hurt when her car was hit by a drunk driver. The drunk driver's insurance company offered Julie a very small settlement though it knew she deserved a much higher amount. Julie took the insurance company to court, and won her damages plus an extra amount to punish the company for not promptly settling her claim for a fair amount.
  • Barbara T. bought a $1000 life insurance policy on a family member. When the person died, Barbara made a claim, but the insurance company recklessly refused to pay her the $1000. Barbara took the company to court, and received her $1000 - plus a big punitive damage award. The court said the punitive damage award was needed to dis-courage this kind of wrongful con-duct by insurance companies.

These are just a few examples of insurance companies trying to avoid or delay paying valid claims, and offering unfairly low amounts to settle claims. Because of the way some insurance companies operate, accident victims should get legal help promptly. They should not speak to the insurance company, but rather refer it to their lawyer. Their lawyer will deal with the insurance company, and make sure the accident victim receives full - and prompt - payment for injuries and losses.

what-to-do-in-case-of-an-auto-accident

You're driving along when suddenly a car hits you. It's hard to think clearly at this time, but the information that you obtain right after an auto accident - and what you say - can have a big impact on your recovery. Here are some steps to take when you are in a car accident. They will reduce the hassles and help make sure you get the maximum recovery that you are entitled to.

  • Call 911 to get help for anyone badly hurt.
  • Write down the name, address, phone and driver's license numbers, and insurance company of the other driver and the other car's owner (if the other driver does not own the car).
  • Write down the other car's make, year and license number.
  • Write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all witnesses (including passengers in both cars).
  • Make a diagram of the accident. Show the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident. If possible, measure skid marks, and show them on the diagram. Be sure your diagram includes stop signs, traffic signals and cross walks.
  • Make notes on weather and road conditions, and where and when the accident happened.
  • Do not take any blame for the accident. Things you say can be used against you later. Also, even if you think you caused the accident, witnesses may have seen something proving the other driver was more at fault.
  • Do not discuss the accident with the other driver.

If a dispute arises regarding the accident, or if you have questions about making a claim for your injuries or property damage, call your attorney. Procedures for obtaining compensation can be complex. It's best to call as soon after the accident as possible, as there are time limits for making claims.

Posted on in Personal Injury
what-negligence-means

At one time or another, everyone thinks of making a claim against somebody for "negligence." Usually this happens after being in an accident. What exactly is "negligence?"

The legal concept called "negligence" has evolved over many centuries. Depending on the case, it can be easy or hard to apply. Here is a summary of the many elements courts consider to decide if someone was "negligent."

Breach of Duty and Damage. In short, negligence exists when someone causes damage by failing to perform a duty owed to someone else. For example, everyone has a duty to be careful when driving a car. A driver who is careless and gets in an accident may be "negligent."

"Damage" is the legal word for injuries suffered because someone was careless. Injuries include physical harm, emotional distress, damage to property, and lost wages.

One more aspect of negligence is "foreseeability." A person is liable for negligence only if the resulting damage was a foreseeable result of his or her actions.

How Courts Decide. To decide if someone breached a duty in a particular case, a court looks at all the facts to find out what happened. Then it asks what a "reasonable person" would have done in the same situation. If the person accused of being negligent did what an ordinary person would have done in the same situation, there is no liability. But if the person's actions were not what a reasonable person would do, then he or she will probably be found liable for acting negligently.

If you are hurt in an accident where the other party may have been negligent, seek legal help to find out about your right to recover damages. Act quickly, since there are time limits for making claims.

Posted on in Personal Injury
watch-out-for-the-dog-that-bites

Watching out for dogs that bite is good advice for pet owners and animal lovers alike. Dogs may be man's best friend. But anyone who has been bitten will agree that the bite is worse than the bark. While there are many sayings about dogs and their owners, once a bite occurs, the law too has something to say -about responsibility for the injury, and damages.

The old saying that "every dog gets one free bite" was once a correct statement of the law. Owners were liable for the acts of a pet only if it was known to be vicious. Before a pet bit someone, the owner could deny knowing its vicious tendencies. So the first victim of a dog's teeth might have no legal remedy. The old rule began changing many years ago, at least as to pet dogs.

Some states passed laws making owners responsible to anyone bitten by their dog, whether or not it was known to be vicious. Today, most places hold dog owners responsible for damages caused when their dog bites someone. But even this simple rule has exceptions. For example, a dog's owner may not be liable for injuries the dog inflicts on a person who ignores adequate warnings that the dog is vicious and may bite.

For animals other than dogs, the old rule still applies. Thus, an owner may be liable for injuries caused by a domestic animal - a horse, cow, sheep, pig, chicken, and so forth - only if it is known to have a propensity likely to cause injury. Prior actions can put an owner on notice that the animal may be considered "vicious" if it hurts someone.

Animal owners should always take care to protect others from being bitten or attacked by their pets. But everyone can reduce the risk of injuries from vicious animals by being careful. If an injury does occur, it is comforting to know that the animal's owner is usually responsible for the damage that is caused.

using-a-lawyer-means-better-insurance-settlements

If you've been in an accident, you must decide whether to get a lawyer's help in making your claim. Insurance adjusters want you to settle your claim without getting legal help. But settling too fast with an adjuster usually means you won't get all the money you should. That's why if you're in an accident, you should get a lawyer's help, even when (especially when) the adjuster is anxious to pay you a modest amount to close your matter quickly.

When you make a claim to an insurance company, they assign it to an "adjuster." Adjusters work for the insurance company, not you. Their job is to close the file on your claim without paying too much money.

Many adjusters are polite to talk with. They handle many claims so they may understand the problems you face. But whether the adjuster is pleasant or not, remember that his or her job is to act in the insurance company's best interests, not yours.

After an accident, the adjuster may tell you a quick settlement will get you money faster. The adjuster may tell about his or her own experience and say with confidence what your claim is worth. The adjuster may try to talk you out of calling a lawyer, by saying a lawyer would cost you money or can't get your benefit increased.

Adjusters say these things because the insurance company can close the file on your claim for less money if you don't have help from a lawyer. The adjuster may try to persuade you to accept a small payment and sign a "Release," even though you don't yet know the full extent of your claim. This is especially common in accidents, where many physical injuries don't show up until much later.

Using a lawyer almost always results in a higher settlement than you'd get by relying on the adjuster. Recently, a car insurer tried to settle an accident claim for a small amount of money. After the policyholder hired a lawyer, the insurer settled the claim for over 10 times the original offer.

If you've been in an accident, seek a lawyer's help when dealing with the insurance company. Using a lawyer makes recovering damages easier, and you'll likely get more money. Never forget that insurance adjusters - no matter what they say - work for the insurance company, not you.

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