Frequently Asked Questions

Auto Accidents

How much money is my case worth?

Your case is worth either what you agree with the insurance company it's worth or the amount of a cash award granted by a judge and jury. We examine all of the conditions surrounding your case in order to arrive at a figure we believe the insurance company must pay for your injuries. Generally, the dollar value is dependent upon the type and extent of your injuries. Other factors influencing the dollar value of your auto accident case are the amount of medical bills, length of treatment, frequency of treatment, future medical bills, permanent disabilities and any other damage that can be documented. We study every detail so you get the money you deserve for your injuries.

How long will it take to get a fair and reasonable settlement offer?

Auto accident cases can vary in length from weeks, months and even years in some instances. Typically, you will get paid after you have healed from your injuries and have been released by the doctor. This is the best way you can be assured of receiving full value for your injuries. We want you to get this compensation for your injuries, so we wait until treatment is completed before telling the insurance company how much your case is worth. We never rest, however. While we wait for your treatment to be completed, we gather the information that increases the value of your auto accident case. We constantly do everything we can to move your case forward toward settlement.

Will I have to go to court?

In most cases, settlements can be negotiated without filing suit or going to court. Through strength gained in preparation, we can better negotiate a fair settlement of your claim. Insurance companies know which lawyers never try cases and tend to offer those lawyers smaller settlements. We are qualified to advise you when your negotiated settlement is fair and, more importantly, advise you when it is not fair. When a settlement offer is not fair, we are prepared on the spot to take your case to trial.

Should I hire an attorney?

The law does not require that you have an attorney. However, handling an accident case requires a high degree of skill and experience. Our attorneys are well versed in analyzing the legal issues of liability, types of insurance coverage, and the amount of settlement you should receive. If you do decide to hire an attorney it is recommended that you seek a person or firm that concentrates in personal injury or workers' compensation. Will I have to pay for a consultation? Your initial consultation with The Law Offices of David C. Thomas, P.C. is free. You only pay a fee if you receive a settlement. What is the Statute of Limitations for settling an auto accident case? For most auto accidents in Illinois a lawsuit must be brought within two years, but there are many exceptions to this rule. Contact an attorney to be sure you are filing within the specific time period relevant to your case type. If I was involved in a car accident and do not have health insurance how can I pay for my medical bills? The negligent driver's insurance company will not pay your medical bills until you settle your case. Therefore, if you do not have health insurance your own vehicle insurance company may provide coverage for your medical bills regardless of fault. There may also be other possible coverage, consult your attorney. Many insurance policies have a $5,000.00 medical payments provision. If this is the case with your insurance, regardless of fault, your insurance company will pay up to $5,000.00 in medical bills. If you do not have health insurance or medical coverage under your vehicular policy check with the Illinois Department of Public Aid to see if you qualify for assistance. If I was involved in a car accident and my car is considered a total loss is the negligent driver's insurance company responsible for paying the balance of my car payment? The insurance company is only responsible for paying for the fair market value of your vehicle. Any debt you may owe in excess of the fair market value of the car is your responsibility. If I was involved in a car accident and the negligent driver's insurance company is delaying in paying for the damages to my vehicle, what are my options? You may contact your own insurance company to have them estimate the damages to your vehicle. You will be responsible for paying for your deductible, however, your insurance company will subrogate your claim in order to reimburse you for that payment. If I am unhappy with my current attorney and retain another attorney, do I have to pay both attorneys? The two attorneys will split the total fee. The two attorneys should be able to apportion the fee. If I was hit by a driver who does not have enough insurance to pay for my damages what are my options? If you have underinsured motorist coverage you may proceed with a claim through your own insurance. Our firm recommends that you have at least $100,000.00/$300,000.00 in liability, uninsured/underinsured coverage. This type of coverage protects you and your family in cases where you are injured by an uninsured motorist or by a motorist who carries low liability policy limits. You may also want to investigate the negligent driver's assets. It is rare that someone with large assets would have low vehicular liability policy limits but, not unheard of. If a negligent driver has a large amount of assets you may waive your rights to his/her policy limits and proceed directly against him/her. How long will it take for my case to be concluded? All cases are different and some require more time and expertise than others. The length of time it takes to resolve a case is a function of, to name of few, the type of injury, liability issues, amount and quality of insurance, amount of damages sought, and strategies of the parties involved. You can be assured that our firm will handle your case skillfully and professionally. It is our goal that we obtain a settlement or verdict on your behalf that compensates you fully under the law.

Medical Malpractice

Do I have a case?

There are two elements that must be proved to have a medical malpractice case. First, the health care provider must have acted negligently. This means that the health care provider deviated from the normal standard of care for that particular type of medical provider. A medical provider includes hospitals, medical doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors, and most other types of health care professionals. Second, you must show that the damages were "proximately" caused by the malpractice. To ensure that your situation meets these requirements, consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

How long do I have to decide to file a law suit?

Any action for personal injury or death against a physician or hospital must be filed within two years from the date the claimant knew or reasonably should have known of the injury. There are many exceptions that apply to this rule so contact an attorney to make sure that you file your claim within the necessary time-frame.

Can the hospital be sued if the doctor is an independent contractor at the hospital?

A hospital is liable for the acts of an independent contractor physician if

The hospital represents to the public that the physician is it's agent or employee The hospital acquiesces in the physician's negligent conduct, and The plaintiff reasonably relied upon the acts of the hospital. Do I have to pay back my health, workers compensation and disability insurance out of the settlement of my medical malpractice case?

Illinois has adopted a modified collateral source rule applicable to medical malpractice cases only. If the losing medical provider applies within 30 days after judgment, the judgment against the medical provider will award will be reduced. Contact an attorney for the reduction percentages.

Are doctors who work for a public hospital protected by Governmental Immunities?

Medical negligence claims against physicians employed at state medical facilities are not considered to arise from their employment, but from their individual duties to their patients. Such actions are not subject to governmental immunity and may be brought in the Circuit Court.

The Act reduces the limitations period in actions brought against a local entity or its employees to one year from the date the injury was received or the cause of action accrued.

What is "Informed Consent?"

The doctrine of informed consent is a unique area of malpractice litigation. It does not follow strict negligence principles, in that the plaintiff need not show that the health care provider was negligent in failing to obtain his/her consent to treatment. The law grants to the patient the right to choose whether to obtain medical treatment and requires that a health care practitioner provide the patient with accurate information as to diagnosis and treatment. Failure to provide that information is a violation of the patient's rights and can substantiate a malpractice claim.

Slip and Fall

What is considered a slip and fall accident for filing a personal injury claim?

Slip and fall or trip and fall are the generic terms for injuries that occur as a result of dangerous or hazardous conditions on someone else's property.

Here are some common causes of slip and fall accidents; Water, Ice or Snow which was not naturally accumulated Flooring Level Poor Lighting Lack of Handrail where required Hidden Hazard such as a gap· Ripped or torn carpeting· Highly polished floors Who is responsible for a slip and fall case? Property owners are responsible for injuries that occur as a result of dangerous conditions on their property, which the owner created, knew about or should have known about. The hazard may be obvious (such as a broken stair) or hidden (like a hole under the carpet).

In general, an owner will be considered to have knowledge of a dangerous or hazardous condition if it is permanent. In case of temporary conditions, the length of time that the condition existed before the accident occurred has legal significance. For example, the discoloration of a piece of fruit on the floor, in the produce department of a grocery store, may be used to prove the length of time that the hazardous condition (piece of fruit) was on the floor.

What should someone do after they slip and fall?

Inspect the area where you fell. Attempt to understand what caused you to fall. If there are witnesses, be sure to write down their name and the address. If the incident occurred in a business, be sure to speak with the manager on duty. Have that manager fill out an accident report and be sure to have a copy made for your records. If an employee or a supervisor suggests, or admits, that this type of incident has occurred in the past, make a note of that and write that persons name on the copy of your report. Also, be sure to make note of the date that the accident on occurred.

You should also be aware that what caused you to fall may be repaired after your incident therefore you should keep record of the condition via picture or video.

What should I do about my Injuries resulting from my fall?

Get Medical Help. When needed, it is important that you receive medical assistance immediately. If you think you may be OK but begin to experience pain or discomfort, follow up with medical care. It will be quite difficult to assert a claim for injuries and pain and suffering without proper medical documentation. Since the insurance for the party at fault may pay your medical bills, you are not restricted by your health plans list of doctors.

How long do I have to file a claim?

Every state has a "statute of limitations" which limits the time you have to act. Be sure to check with an attorney for the proper "statute of limitations" and any other issues that must be addressed to protect your claim.