If you were injured in an accident, one of the first steps you’ll take to pursue compensation is filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This stage of the process involves presenting your case to the insurance carrier and negotiating to seek a fair settlement. Although you might have a compelling case, the company might offer a low settlement amount or none at all.
So what happens if the insurance company denies your claim?
You can take your case to trial. This means that you will go to court and present the matter before a judge or jury. After hearing both sides, they will decide the outcome.
Trial is a lengthy process involving:
- Filing the lawsuit,
- Pretrial disposition, and/or
You must file your lawsuit by the statutory deadline. Otherwise, you could lose your right to pursue compensation. A personal injury lawyer can help prepare your case and ensure that all documents are submitted timely.
The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process in Illinois
Essentially, a personal injury lawsuit is a request to have your matter decided by the court. Various steps are involved before your case is resolved.
Filing the Complaint
The first thing you must do to start your lawsuit is file a complaint with an Illinois civil court. The complaint is a document stating why you are asking the legal system to get involved and what remedies you seek.
After you’ve submitted the complaint, your case will enter the discovery phase. Discovery allows you (or your personal injury lawyer) to prepare for trial.
Your attorney will exchange information with the other party’s legal representation. This information includes evidence and documents the other side has. Sharing evidence prevents surprises in court, as each party will know what the other has before entering the courtroom.
During discovery, your lawyer and the other party’s legal representation will depose witnesses, meaning they will be questioned under oath.
Considering all that is involved, discovery can be a lengthy part of the process.
Any time before the trial begins, you can attempt, once again, to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. You can seek to resolve your case by pursuing alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation.
In mediation, a neutral third party (the mediator) facilitates discussions between your lawyer and the insurance company’s legal counsel. The mediator keeps conversations on track and assists both sides in understanding the needs and goals of the other.
If your case is not resolved through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution methods, it will go to trial. At trial, your attorney and the insurance company’s representatives present their arguments in court. They present the facts of the case and offer interpretations to support their assertions.
A judge or jury hears both sides’ cases. They will decide whether you should receive compensation and the amount of the financial recovery.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Cases in Illinois
Illinois has a 2-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases. That means you have only 2 years after your car accident to file a lawsuit.
Although this might seem like a long time, when you consider the steps that must take place before you can get to this point, that deadline comes up fast.
If you attempt to pursue compensation after the two-year deadline has passed, the other party could file a motion to dismiss. The court may throw out your case and you will not be entitled to receive financial recovery.
Contact a Lawyer Today
An attorney experienced in handling accident cases can provide the guidance you need at every stage in your matter. They can negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to seek fair compensation through a settlement. They can also take your case to court if the insurance company denies your claim or offers a low amount.
At McHargue & Jones, LLC, we work to protect the best interests of those injured in accidents in Chicago. Schedule a consultation by contacting us at (312) 487-2461.