Taking the Confusion Out of Common Injury and Estate Planning Worries: Answers to Your Frequent Questions

The most important job for any attorney is making sure that his client understands every aspect of her case. Although some lawyers are comfortable keeping their clients in the dark, we feel that you deserve more. You deserve to have all of your questions and concerns addressed in order to pursue your own case confidently and successfully. This is why we take the initiative to answer common questions that you may have even before you even step into our office. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact our office at 855-522-5291.

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  • What does it mean when a lawyer offers a free consultation?

    A Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney in MissouriAttorneys usually want to schedule an initial consultation with a plaintiff before deciding whether or not to take a particular case. Many injury attorneys who take contingency fees offer free consultations to victims, since their goal is to lighten the victim’s financial burden. No matter what kind of case you have, the purpose of the first consultation is the same: to determine whether you and the attorney can work together.

    What to Look for in a Free Consultation With an Attorney

    Free consultations offer many benefits to injury victims, such as allowing the victim to learn more about the case without paying out of pocket and without the obligation of hiring the lawyer at the end of the meeting. In essence, the consultation is like a job interview—you ask questions to see if he or she is a good fit for the job.

    Here are a few things to expect during your injury consultation:

    • Undivided attention. An attorney should listen to your problems and concerns without distractions, such as answering calls or reading emails.
    • Courtesy. An attorney and his or her staff should treat you with respect, no matter if you are visiting the office in person or speaking over the phone.
    • Honesty. Even if the answers you get may not be what you wanted to hear, a good lawyer will be honest rather than give you false expectations.
    • A brief overview. The consult is an opportunity to get some initial thoughts about your case, not a complete legal strategy. The attorney will be able to give more definitive answers once he or she has been hired and can dig into the specifics of the case.
    • Next steps. At the end of the meeting, the attorney should lay out your options for what to do next, whether or not you hire the firm. If you decide to hire the lawyer, he or she should explain any fees and conditions before you sign an agreement.
    • Referral options. In some cases, an attorney will decide that he or she cannot help you with your problem. If this happens, the attorney should be prepared to refer you to a lawyer who may be able to help.

    If you have been injured due to someone else's negligence, our attorneys can provide perspective on your case at no cost to you. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to schedule an appointment, or download your FREE copy of one of our books: When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases or The Missouri Car Crash Guide: Don't Wreck Your Car Crash Case!.

     

  • When should I consider hiring an injury attorney?

    A Personal Injury Attorney Meeting in IllinoisSome people will know right from the start that their case requires an attorney, but many attempt to cope with the aftermath of an injury on their own, only seeking out a lawyer when it becomes clear that an insurer will not pay their claim. If you have been involved in an accident, there are a few factors you can use to determine whether you should hire a personal injury attorney.

    How Victims Can Tell When an Injury Case Requires a Lawyer

    In general, it is best to consult a lawyer as soon as possible after an injury. A fast response allows important evidence to be preserved and ensures that the victim can file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. Involving a lawyer early on also allows the attorney to protect you at each phase of the claim.

    You may benefit from an attorney’s representation if:

    • Your injury has changed how you live your life. If your injury required hospitalization, surgery, time away from work, or resulted in permanent scarring or disability, you will likely need an attorney to get you the full value of your claim. You should also seek an attorney’s advice if the accident resulted in someone’s death or involved extensive property damage.
    • Someone else could be responsible for your injury. If someone’s actions directly led to your injury, a personal injury attorney can walk you through the legal steps to establish negligence in an injury case.
    • An insurance company is refusing to pay. If your insurer is denying payment for your injury costs, has offered a low settlement, or is unreasonably delaying payment of your claim, an attorney can act on your behalf throughout the claims process.
    • An insurance representative has requested more information. Insurance companies often use underhanded tactics to deny or undervalue injury claims, including getting victims to supply evidence that can be used against them. If your insurer has requested access to your medical records or asked you to give a recorded statement, it is likely that you have a valid injury claim—and you should speak to a lawyer before responding to an insurer’s requests.
    • You are not comfortable representing yourself. Victims who represent themselves may be asked to supply evidence, calculate the value of their losses, negotiate their own settlement amounts, and perform other legally-binding duties to resolve their claims. An attorney can ensure that this is done correctly, getting you the compensation you need now as well as in the future.

    Our lawyers take injury cases on a contingency basis and offer free consultations to victims—so there really is no downside to getting an attorney’s advice soon after an accident. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to schedule an appointment, or download your FREE copy of our book, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases.

     

  • How can I verify that my employer has workers’ compensation insurance?

    Knowing if You Have Workers' Compensation Coverage in IllinoisEmployees, contractors, and all other parties can easily verify if an employer has workers’ compensation in Illinois. The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC) has provided a searchable online database of employers and their workers' compensation insurance policies. If your employer and insurer are not listed, you may be able to take action.

    Why an Illinois Employer May Be Missing From the IWCC Database

    While the IWCC database allows free access to workers’ compensation information for each company, some employers may not be listed in the database. For example, a company may not be listed if it is:

    • Based in another state. Out-of-state employers may not be listed on the statewide database, but that does not mean they are exempt from providing workers’ compensation insurance. Even if an employer’s headquarters is in another state, the company is required to secure workers’ compensation for employees who live and work in Illinois.
    • Self-insured. Illinois employers are allowed to provide self-insured coverage, meaning that payment for work injuries is provided directly from the company rather than a third-party insurer. Although employees in these cases must pursue a work injury claim internally, the employer is required to provide coverage similar to the benefits included in state workers’ compensation laws. If employees are having trouble securing injury payments from a self-insured employer, they can file a complaint with the Illinois Division of Insurance and may have grounds to file a lawsuit. 
    • Committing fraud. Some employers knowingly violate the workers' compensation insurance requirement by failing to secure coverage or lying about the policy information. The IWCC has the ability to investigate and report companies who do not have coverage according to law, so employees should communicate any coverage concerns to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission.

    Work injury claims in Illinois can quickly become complicated, especially for employees who are still struggling to overcome the effects of an injury. Our experienced workers' compensation attorneys can explain your options and advise you on your next steps at no cost to you. Contact Tapella & Eberspacher today at (855) 522-5291 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Is workers’ compensation state or federal law?

    Injured Federal Worker Filling Out PaperworkMost Illinois employees are covered under state workers' compensation statutes. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires all public or private employers, state agencies, firms, school districts, and cities and villages that have any person in service to provide workers’ compensation coverage—even those with only one employee. However, there are a few exceptions depending on the job description and the work performed.

    Exemptions to Illinois State Workers Compensation Laws

    Illinois workers who are not covered under state workers' compensation may qualify for benefits through a federal law. On the other hand, some residents may be exempt from both forms of workers’ compensation, and may have to file a lawsuit to receive payment for a work-related injury.

    For example, state workers’ compensation benefits do not apply to:

    • Federal employees. Postal workers and other U.S. government employees can collect medical costs, wage replacement, vocational retraining, and disability benefits through the Federal Employees' Compensation Act.
    • Chicago police officers. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act covers all police officers and firefighters in cities with fewer than 500,000 people. As a result, Chicago firefighters and police officers will have to seek payment under the Illinois Pension Code, the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act (PSEBA), and other legislation.
    • Real estate brokers. State law specifically bars real estate brokers, salesman, or any person performing real estate services who is paid by commission only from collecting workers’ compensation.
    • Independent contractors. Independent contractors are not considered employees under state law, and are therefore ineligible for workers’ compensation. However, just because your employer has classified you as an independent contractor does not mean you are exempt from benefits.
    • Farm workers. Many farm workers are exempt from workers’ compensation benefits, but some may be eligible for payments depending on the nature of their employment.

    If you have been injured on the job, we can examine the facts of your case and advise you on your next steps at no cost to you. Contact the Illinois workers' compensation attorneys at Tapella & Eberspacher today at (855) 522-5291 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • What are my options if the car accident settlement offered by my insurer isn’t enough?

    It Is Important to Get All the Compensation You Are Owed in Serious Car WrecksMany victims are tempted to accept low settlement offers in order to get payment for their crash expenses as soon as possible. However, you should be careful about accepting a settlement if your injury has not yet stabilized or you are unable to go back to work. Once you accept a settlement payment from an insurer, you cannot ask for more money later—even if you are unable to earn a living or are permanently disabled.

    What to Do If Your Car Accident Settlement Is Too Low

    The important thing to remember is that you only have one chance to collect payment. You will have to sign paperwork when you accept a lump-sum settlement stating that you will not seek any future damages stemming from the accident. With this in mind, if you have been offered too little, you have the following options:

    • Reject the offer. Insurance companies will rarely provide everything you need in their initial settlement offer. You can choose not to accept in order to begin negotiations, or until you know the full extent of your injuries.
    • Negotiate. Insurers have years of experience reducing the amount of claims, while victims will have to gather medical records, repair bills, pay stubs for lost income, and other evidence to prove their losses. If you plan on making a counteroffer to an insurer, it is best to have an attorney perform negotiations on your behalf for the best possible chance to get what you need.
    • File a lawsuit. If the insurer refuses to provide adequate payment, you may have to take the matter to court. You can continue to negotiate with the insurer as your lawsuit progresses, and may even seek additional compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress.

    Our car accident lawyers have offices in Illinois and Missouri, helping victims understand the injury laws that apply to their case and maximizing the amount of available compensation. Contact the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm via our online contact form to schedule an appointment.

     

  • What does an attorney do for me?

    An Attorney Offering His Hand to a ClientMost victims are overwhelmed by questions after an accident, and many wonder where they can turn for reliable advice. Some have even considered asking a lawyer for help, but are afraid of incurring additional costs. In order to help injury victims, we want to explain a little about the role of an attorney in an accident case.

    An Attorney’s Responsibilities in a Personal Injury Case

    The majority of attorneys who represent injury clients take cases on a contingency-fee basis and offer free initial consultations. Since you will not have to pay anything up front and will walk away with many questions answered, it is virtually risk-free to speak to a lawyer after an injury.

    Attorneys can also benefit your case by:

    • Protecting your rights. Injury laws are complicated, and people without any legal training are at a disadvantage after an accident. Victims who share blame for an accident may not know that they can still collect payment for an injury, denying them the compensation they need. Your attorney can examine your position and tell you what to expect given your circumstances, and can protect your rights against the defendant or the defendant’s lawyers.
    • Using their experience and connections. Attorneys have years of experience gathering evidence, ensuring that all evidence and statements are legally obtained, and hiring experts to testify on their clients’ behalf.
    • Taking over the legal battle so you can heal. Victims not only need to prove the extent of their losses by gathering evidence and contacting witnesses, they also need to meet filing deadlines and follow court procedures. Your attorney can ensure that all legal documents have been filled out and filed correctly, maintain correspondence with third parties, and meet deadlines while you are incapacitated by your injury.
    • Negotiating on your behalf. An experienced lawyer is likely to have seen cases similar to yours, and knows how they will play out if they go to court. This can be invaluable in settlement negotiations, determining whether the amount offered is fair, or knowing when to take your case to trial.

    Our injury lawyers have offices in Illinois and Missouri to help victims who have suffered a variety of accidents. We can help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim, maximize the amount of available compensation, and we don’t collect a dime from you unless we win your case. Contact the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm via our online contact form to schedule an appointment.

     

  • How is lost income calculated?

    Car Crash Attorney Calculating Lost IncomeIf you are injured in a crash and are unable to work for several weeks, you can get compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your lost wages. Your lost wages can include your regular weekly salary, but also any overtime, commissions, bonuses, promotions, and paid time off you would have accrued if you hadn’t been injured. In addition, you may be able to recover an amount for future lost income if your injury has forced you to change jobs or leave the workforce altogether.

    How to Estimate the Amount of Future Income Losses in a Car Accident Case

    If your injury has resulted in permanent limitations that affect your ability to earn a living, you should not be forced to live on a restricted income because of someone else’s negligence. When you file your injury claim, you can include the amount you will lose each year as a result of your work restrictions, your ability to find a suitable job, and other work-related costs of your disability.

    Some factors that will be considered when determining your lost earning power include:

    • The number of years left before your retirement age
    • Any injuries or impairments you had before the accident
    • How long you have held your current job
    • How much you made while working for past employers
    • The nature of your work and the job skills needed to perform that work
    • Your age and educational background
    • Your role as a breadwinner in your home
    • Your economic lifestyle

    Lost income can make up a significant portion of an injury victim’s damages, so it is vital that these calculations be done correctly. The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm can gather all of the necessary medical and financial evidence you need to support your injury claim, and can ensure that your demand for employment losses is thorough and well-documented. To learn more about your legal rights after an accident in Illinois, contact us via our quick online form to schedule an appointment, or download your FREE copy of our book, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases.

     

  • What if the other driver didn't have insurance?

    Driver Talking to the Insurance Agent After a Crash on an Illinois RoadIn 1989, the state of Illinois passed a law making it mandatory for all drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 of bodily injury insurance. Although it has been illegal to drive without insurance for decades, some drivers continue to break the law—leaving many injury victims out-of-pocket after an accident.

    What to Do If You Are in a Collision With an Uninsured Driver

    Even if you have enough coverage under your own car insurance policy to cover your vehicle damage and injuries, you may see increased premiums and fight with the insurer to get the coverage you are owed. If you are rear-ended or struck by a driver who is clearly at fault, you should:

    • Never take cash. If another driver offers you an immediate cash payment instead of calling the police or involving insurance companies, there is a good chance the driver is uninsured. The reason it is a bad idea to accept cash in lieu of contact information is because it can be difficult to estimate damage in the moments after a crash—both to you and to your vehicle. If you accept $300 in cash from a driver and your car repairs are over $1,500, you have no way of tracking the driver down to collect the rest.
    • File an uninsured motorist claim. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage provides payment for any injuries sustained in an accident with an uninsured at-fault driver. It also allows victims to collect an additional sum under their own policies if the at-fault driver had only a small amount of insurance.
    • Report the driver. If you suspect that the other driver does not have insurance, you can report him or her to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. If the police are called, the police officer will establish insurance compliance at the scene. Officers may write the driver a citation for uninsured driving, which can result in a $500 fine and a 30-day driver’s license suspension.

    Want to know more about your legal rights after an accident in Illinois? Download your FREE copy of our book, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases, or contact The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm via our online contact form to schedule an appointment.

     

  • Can I recover damages if I was partially at fault for a car accident in Illinois?

    Car Accident in Illinois Where Both Drivers Share FaultEven if they were partially responsible for a crash, victims can still suffer weeks of medical appointments, lost income, and increased financial stress. While Illinois law allows at-fault drivers to recover payment for their losses, there are limits on the maximum amount of damages they can be awarded.

    How Fault Affects the Amount of an Illinois Car Accident Claim

    The state of Illinois follows a modified comparative fault law, meaning the driver who caused the accident is liable for any damages. However, if both drivers are considered to be at fault, each one will receive damages based on his or her degree of fault.

    If your actions played a role in causing your accident, you may still collect compensation under the following conditions:

    • You are less than 50 percent at fault for crash. You must be able to prove that you were less than 50 percent liable for the accident. Otherwise, you will be barred from compensation altogether.
    • Your judgment is reduced by your amount of fault. Once the percentage of fault has been established by the judge in your case, your damages will be reduced by that percentage. For example, if your judgment is $100,000, but a judge determines that you are 30 percent at fault, you are only entitled to $70,000.
    • The other driver was uninsured. If you were partly to blame for a car accident in which the other driver was uninsured (or the other driver fled the scene), you may be able to collect payment under your own uninsured motorist policy.

    As you can see, the amount you may recover in these types of cases relies heavily on the specific factors in the case. Our Illinois car accident lawyers can help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim, allowing you to maximize the amount of available compensation. We can also examine your own insurance coverage to see if there are other potential sources of payment, such as MedPay, comprehensive coverage for vehicle repair, or uninsured motorist coverage. Contact The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm via our online contact form to schedule an appointment, or learn more in our FREE book, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases.

     

  • What is uninsured motorist coverage?

    Illinois Drivers Talking About Insurance After a WreckIn Illinois, the driver who is at fault for a car accident is responsible for paying for any injury and property damage costs that stem from the crash. Since it is up to each driver to choose the amount of his or her own liability insurance, crash victims may not be fairly compensated if they are struck by a driver carrying the minimum amount of coverage. This is where uninsured motorist coverage can be extremely beneficial.

    Car Accidents That May Be Covered by Uninsured Motorist Insurance

    Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is a form of insurance that gives drivers more control over the amount they can collect after an accident. UM coverage is purchased under your own policy, allowing you to easily make a claim after an accident by dealing with your own insurance provider.

    Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you if you are struck:

    • By an uninsured driver. Although all drivers are required to carry car insurance in Illinois, many people drive without coverage, leaving victims with no way to pay for their injuries. UM insurance allows you to collect coverage for your medical bills and income losses up to the amount of your policy.
    • By an underinsured driver. If the driver who struck you was only carrying the minimum required insurance and your injuries exceed those limits, your UM coverage may be used to make up the difference.
    • By a rental vehicle. UM coverage can be used if an at-fault driver was driving a rental car or moving van, but declined to purchase additional rental coverage.
    • While walking or bicycling. Many UM policies can be used to collect payment for injuries sustained by victims who were not inside their vehicles during the accident. If a victim is struck while biking or walking, UM coverage can be applied to cover the cost of their considerable injuries.
    • In a hit-and-run. It may be impossible to determine the insurance limits of another driver if the at-fault party fled the scene. In these cases, UM coverage victims who have been struck by a passing vehicle.

    Want to know more about your legal rights after an accident in Illinois? Download your FREE copy of our book, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases, or contact The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm via our online contact form to schedule an appointment.