Personal Injury FAQs

How long do I have to file a lawsuit for my injuries before the statute of limitations bars my claim?

Your personal injury claim has a deadline you cannot afford to miss. If you or a loved one has experienced a personal injury, it is good to know how long you have to pursue rights of recovery against the at-fault party. All claims are subject to various statutes of limitations and statutes of repose, which are time limits in which a lawsuit must be filed or it is probably lost forever.

Each state has its own statute of limitations for personal injury cases. If you live in Illinois, the general statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. Please be aware, however, that there are exceptions, such as a one year statute of limitations when filing a lawsuit against a unit of local government or when filing suit against a bar for injuries from an overserved patron under the Dram Shop Act. Regardless, you never want to wait until the final days to contact an attorney for several reasons. First, most cases settle, and many settle without having to file a lawsuit. Waiting until the end of the limitations period makes it difficult for an attorney to settle your case, and it also increases your cost by requiring court costs to be paid. Second, an attorney may not want to take your case at the last minute because it obligates the attorney to filing a lawsuit without first being able to review relevant medical and/or police records.

There are certain conditions in which the statute of limitations may be extended. Such an extension is called “tolling.” A common example is that minors typically have the statute of limitations tolled until they turn 18, which means they have two years after they turn 18 to file a claim even if the accident occurred several years prior. Similarly, people who are on active military duty or who may for some reason not realize that they were injured at the time of an accident can have the statute of limitations extended (think of a person being exposed to a toxic substance but not discovering it until a condition develops much later). Other examples also exist. Please be aware, however, that tolling is the exception to the statute of limitations and that tolling raises another potential concern with the statute of repose.

A statute of repose puts an absolute bar on how long a claim can be brought, even if the statute of limitations would otherwise toll. For example, an adult who is injured due to medical malpractice must bring a lawsuit within four years of the malpractice or the claim is lost, even if the person did not discover the injury until after the repose period expired. This may seem unfair, and indeed it can be harsh for an injured person to lose out on any claim against a medical provider prior to even learning that malpractice occurred. There are several other exceptions and nuances to the rules governing the statutes of limitations and repose, so everything should be discussed with an attorney rather than simply relying on an online summary of the law.

If and when you feel you have a potential claim, it is always best to contact an attorney immediately so that you do not lose any rights to file a claim. Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle offers a free consultation to discuss any personal injury or medical malpractice claim you may have. Our experienced attorneys and staff can help you through the entire process so you can focus on getting your life back to normal. To schedule a consultation, please contact us.

Can I afford legal representation for my claim?

Yes. Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis. That means you, the client, are not billed an hourly rate. Rather, Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle’s fees for services are based on a percentage (usually one-third) of any amount recovered in your personal injury claim either through settlement or through trial. If there is no recovery on your claim, there is no legal fee owed to Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle. Thus, there is no financial expense to you, the client, in pursuing your personal injury claim through our firm.

Am I better off trying to settle my claim directly with the wrongdoer’s insurance company?

Probably not. Oftentimes, the adjuster (claims handler) of the insurance company for the wrongdoer will contact you shortly after the incident which caused your injuries and advise of their willingness to settle your claim quickly and fairly with you directly without any need to involve attorneys. This is a standard strategy of insurance companies. Although the adjuster may come across as a nice person who is trying to get you a fair settlement, his or her sole interest is to protect the interests of the insurance company. That is accomplished by settling the case for the lowest amount of money possible.

Many people are unaware that in addition to reimbursement for reasonable necessary medical bills and lost wages, the injured person is entitled to monetary compensation for pain and suffering and disability (also referred to as loss of a normal life) related to injuries caused by the wrongdoer. Depending on the severity of the injuries, the monetary value of pain and suffering and disability can be significant.

An experienced personal injury attorney is in a far better position than a lay person to determine the actual value of a personal injury claim, and negotiate with the insurance company to ensure that it does make a truly fair settlement offer.

It is also extremely risky to accept a quick settlement from an insurance company before the true nature and extent of your injuries can be determined. Once you accept settlement money from the insurance company, you are forever barred from making a claim against the insurance company. If you accept a settlement but later on your injuries significantly worsen, you cannot then seek additional compensation from the insurance company. So it is extremely important that you receive a fair and full settlement that factors in any permanent problems that you may have due to your injuries.

Why should I hire Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle as my attorneys for my personal injury claim?

The attorneys of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, have many years of experience in personal injury litigation. However, Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle is a general practice firm that does legal work in many areas. This is important because many law firms which concentrate only in personal injury work rely on achieving quick settlements of their cases for economic survival. Many times these quick settlements are less than the full value of the claim, at the expense of the client.

At Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle we place the interests of our clients first and recommend settlements to our clients only when we believe the settlement offer is truly a fair one. If the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer, we insist upon proceeding to trial as quickly as possible.

ZRFM makes it its practice to provide the utmost professional, personal service to clients, including returning phone calls promptly, taking whatever time is necessary to meet with clients to make sure they understand all aspects of their claim, and accommodating the client’s schedule with weeknight and weekend appointments. The law firm works tirelessly to help clients get the best possible legal representation.