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Are Your Injuries SIgnificant Enough to Warrant a Lawsuit?

Screen-Shot-2018-05-16-at-4.34.54-PM.pngPersonal injuries do not have to be severe in order for plaintiffs to pursue and secure compensation for their treatment and the pain and suffering they create. In Illinois, individuals can pursue compensation for minor injuries such as cuts and lacerations, broken bones, severe bruising, etc.  

Minor Injuries, Major Problems

Many injuries may at first glance appear minor. These can include cuts and scrapes, lacerations, strains, sprains, etc. They can also include broken bones and pinched nerves. These non-life threatening injuries are likely to heal with time. In the interim, they can still cause significant pain, diminished quality of life, diminished earning capacity, and potentially, permanent disfigurement. The fact is that even minor injuries can have a major impact on the individual's day to day life.    

Dealing with Delayed Symptoms

It is quite common that personal injuries are not readily apparent following an accident. Delayed symptoms can manifest themselves days, weeks, and even months down the road. These symptoms can become progressively worse over time. Or, they can suddenly manifest themselves only to abate and repeat themselves without warning.

Common delayed symptoms include persistent headaches, neck or shoulder stiffness and pain, progressive back pain, abdominal pain, swelling in the affected injury area, and physical numbness. Individually, these symptoms often go unnoticed. However, reviewed collectively, they can point to serious internal injuries including fractures within the spinal column or traumatic brain injury. 

Sometimes, the symptoms aren't seen at all. These unseen injuries can include changes in personality and mood such as are caused by traumatic brain injuries or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These injuries can severely impact the individual's quality of life and are likely to progressively worsen unless prompt treatment is undertaken.

Statutes of Limitations

Individuals must always remain mindful of the applicable statute of limitations. In Illinois, failure to file a lawsuit before the statute has expired will likely result in dismissal of the suit. While individuals can wait until the statute is set to expire, it is almost always better to try the case as early as possible.

In Illinois, individuals can file a medical malpractice suit up to two years following the date the individual becomes aware of the injury. However, the suit must be filed no later than four years after the date the injury occurred. 

Similarly, individuals can file personal injury lawsuits stemming from automobile accidents, etc. up to two years following the event. 

There are limited exceptions to these statutes of limitations. These exceptions may apply if the plaintiff was a minor at the time of the injury, or if the defendant took steps to deliberately conceal the damage they caused and these steps delayed the appearance of symptoms. 

Compensation for Economic Damages

Individuals can pursue compensation for economic damages even when the injuries are not severe. Economic damages can include funds spent on medical care and treatment, wages lost as a result of the accident, and property damage. 

Establishing economic damages is usually a straightforward process that involves tabulating receipts, comparing wage slips, and calculating repair bills. Thus, it is crucial to maintain thorough records that clearly show a direct link between the injury causing the accident and the economic burdens it has created for the plaintiff. 

Compensation for Non-Economic Damages

As with major injuries, minor injuries can cause significant non-economic damages. These include pain and suffering, emotional distress, the development of PTSD, loss of quality of life, and either temporary or permanent loss of quality of life such as through scarring or loss of range of motion.

Documenting non-economic damages is often done through a post-injury diary. The diary should include the day-to-day details of the impact the injury has caused. For example, missed celebrations, days called in sick to work, emotional moods, etc.  

When Injuries are too Minor

There are times when it isn't feasible to pursue a personal injury lawsuit for minor injuries. These include injuries that heal quickly with little to no impact on the individual's finances, ability to work, or their emotional/mental health.

For instance, cuts that heal quickly or injuries that require little more than an aspirin or brief bed rest to treat. A personal injury attorney in Chicago can review the injury and the circumstances that caused the injury to determine whether or not the individual has a viable claim against the defendant.   

When There are No Injuries

Even if no injuries were suffered, it may still be necessary to file a lawsuit. For instance, if the responsible party's insurance refuses to cover repairs to damaged property such as a home, vehicle, etc. In such cases, a personal injury attorney in Chicago can help plaintiffs determine who is responsible for property damage claims and the appropriate type of lawsuit to file.   

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