Chicago Personal Injury FAQ
The personal injury attorneys at Curcio Law Offices have produced millions of dollars for its clients who have suffered personal injuries. Our firm represents individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice incidents, workplace injuries, product liability claims and wrongful death throughout the Chicagoland area including Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, Will, and LaSalle Counties.
If you or a member of your family needs the legal support of experienced lawyers with a proven track record, please contact us at Curcio Law Offices.
A tort is a civil wrong (wrongful act) which unfairly causes someone to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. Criminal acts may also be tortious acts but not all tortious acts are criminal acts. Separate court proceedings address the criminal charges and the victim can obtain redress in civil proceedings by the filing of a lawsuit in the civil court. A personal injury attorney can help you file a claim for compensation regardless of whether the defendant in the criminal proceeding is found guilty. The most common types of tortious incidents are motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice matters, product liability claims and wrongful death incidents. The general goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to compel the responsible party to compensate the injured person for the losses he or she sustained. Personal injury laws vary from state to state and may be difficult for a layperson to interpret. An attorney who specializes in this area of the law can help you determine your legal rights and evaluate your chances of receiving compensation for your losses. If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence or deliberate malice of another, you should contact a personal injury attorney to assess your legal rights.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009. The economic impact is also notable: the lifetime costs of crash-related deaths and injuries among drivers and passengers were $70 billion in 2005.
In the year 2010 in Illinois alone, 927 people died in 858 motor vehicle crashes and an additional 88,937 were injured; 115 pedestrians were killed and an additional 5174 pedestrians were injured; and 4013 motorcycles crashes were reported.
Medical malpractice is professional negligence by act or omission by a health care provider in which the treatment falls below the accepted standard of practice in the medical community causing injury or death to the patient. Standards and regulations for medical malpractice vary by jurisdiction. There are many types of medical malpractice including birth injury, missed diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, medical device errors, medication errors, dental malpractice and nursing home negligence.
A Birth Injury is a physical injury that takes place during the birthing process. Birth Injuries may also result in a cognitive impairment or developmental delay in the child as a result of trauma to the brain or cranium. As medical technology has advanced over the past few decades, birth injuries have decreased significantly. Unfortunately, mistakes may still sometimes occur due to a medical professional’s negligence that result in a Birth Injury.
Nursing Home Negligence
As the population of people in nursing homes has increased over the years, so too have the incidents of nursing home negligence and abuse. In recognition of this unfortunate fact, Congress enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act in 1987 as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 which established a Resident’s Bill of Rights to ensure that residents of nursing homes receive quality care that will result in their achieving or maintaining their “highest practicable” physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being. Nursing homes receive Medicaid and Medicare payments for long-term care of residents only if they are certified by the state to be in substantial compliance with the requirements of the Nursing Home Reform Act. Illinois has also enacted legislation to ensure the safety and security of its nursing home residents.
Every person has the right to a safe workplace. However, workplace injuries are far too common an occurrence. In 2010, over 4,500 American workers were killed on the job while millions more suffered serious non-fatal injuries. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis wrote, “Every day in America, 12 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, 3.3 million people suffer a workplace injury from which they may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy.”
Individuals injured in the workplace have a right to pursue compensation through a workmen’s compensation claim but they may also have a right to file a lawsuit against a third party responsible for causing the accident in some way.
Construction Site Accidents
Workers or visitors to construction sites may be injured as the result of the inherent dangers present at the worksite. Power tools, partially built structures, scaffolding, ladders, lifts, heavy machinery, cranes, trucks and rotating crews of tradesmen account for some of the obvious hazards on construction sites. Determining the cause of any particular accident is often a complex process best left to the management of an experienced construction accident attorney. If you or someone you know has been injured on a construction site, you should speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following the accident. For more information, visit our section on Workplace Injuries.
Dangerous & Defective Products
A person injured as the result of using a product manufactured or marketed in a defective or dangerous way may have a claim against the manufacturer or distributors of the product. Product manufacturers are held to a standard known as strict liability which means that the injured person need not prove negligence or intentional wrongdoing on the part of the manufacturer. Demonstrating that the product is defective in some way which resulted in an injury is sufficient to win the case.
Pharmaceutical Companies are responsible for educating physicians and patients of the potential harmful side effects of their products. Some drugs have been found to be dangerous even after receiving FDA approval and their release to the public; FDA approval does not guarantee a safe product. Often times, the drug companies negligently or knowingly withhold information about a drug’s potentially harmful side effects. When the pharmaceutical companies are found to have failed to meet their legal obligation of full disclosure to the public, they may be required to compensate individuals who have become ill from taking the drug as prescribed.
Slips, Falls and Other Premises Liability
Premises liability refers to the legal obligations of property owners and occupiers to prevent injuries to people on their property. The most common cause of premises liability claims is injuries resulting from a slip and fall or a trip on an uneven floor surface, ice, spilled liquid or other debris. The liability of the property owner and/or occupier varies significantly depending on the state in which the accident occurred.
Each year, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs, half of them children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Although few people die as a result, one in five dog bites is serious enough to seek medical attention. In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as the result of a dog bite. Additionally, other animals both domestic (cats, ferrets, birds) and undomesticated (large cats, reptiles) ordinarily found in the wild but owned by some people as pets have also been known to attack both children and adults.
Trains travel more than 1.5 million miles in the United States each day. Although trains are one of the oldest means of transportation, and widely considered to be safe, collisions, crashes, and employee related accidents frequently occur resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of serious injuries each year. Human error, mechanical malfunction, improper operating procedure, inadequate safety devices, and negligence may be causes of railroad accidents.
Railroad Employee Accidents
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) is a law passed by the government in 1908 to protect railroad workers injured in railroad accidents. Designed to calm public anger over the devastating injuries and loss of life on the rails, the law gives engineers, brakemen, switchmen and other railroad employees the right to sue for on-the-job injuries in state or federal courts. Over the years the railroad law has been strengthened, both by Congress and U.S. Supreme Court decisions, to provide real protection to injured railroad employees.
A wrongful death claim is unique in that it alleges that a person died as the result of someone else’s negligence. The claim may be the result of any type of accident that results in (1) the death of a person (2) as the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions whether it be from a motor vehicle accident, medical malpractice, or any other type of occurrence which would otherwise be considered a personal injury matter.
Assault and Battery
Assault and Battery are offenses in both criminal and civil law; therefore they can give rise to criminal or civil liability – or both. Assault refers to an attempt to physically harm another person and battery is the actual infliction of harm. In the civil context, assault and battery are treated as separate offenses.
Assault and Battery are different from other personal injury cases in that they are “intentional torts” – meaning the person accused acted with the intent to cause a certain result whereas the typical personal injury case requires the injured party to prove negligence or willful and wanton conduct.
Toxic Exposure and Poisoning
A toxic tort is an injury to a person’s bodily integrity, financial situation or other interest caused by the negligence or carelessness of another which ultimately leads to exposure to a toxin or chemical. Many of the effects of toxic exposure are permanent, and often victims are not aware that the medical problems they have experienced are directly related to that toxic exposure.
The effect of toxic exposure on a community and the legal crusade to root out the cause of the pollution was the subject of the movie Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts. The attorneys held the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. responsible for polluting drinking water for the entire town of Hinkley, CA with the chemical hexavalent chromium resulting in an inordinately high rate of cancer among the residents. The case resulted in the largest settlement ever paid in a direct action lawsuit in US history. To learn more about dangerous substances polluting the water table, contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.
Toxic exposure may also be the result of working conditions. Many occupations carry with them the risk of harmful exposure to toxic chemicals by workers who come in contact with them. Employees laboring in industries such as photo developing, fabrication, hospital work, airline work, mechanical repairs and construction are often vulnerable to toxic exposure.