Just because the world has become consumed with Covid-19, and the economy has ground to a halt, does not mean the justice system has stopped working.
Sure, the court systems in Illinois are mostly shuttered to varying degrees. While there are some provisions allowing for motions to be heard (electronically) by judges, trials simply are not going to occur for the next several months (at the earliest).
For cases that are ripe for resolution, that means we lawyers have to find creative methods to “bring them home.” This is true at all times, but especially so when the world is turned on its head during a global pandemic.
A little over a year ago, my 31-year-old client fell on ice that she could not see because there was a dusting of snow on top of it. Snow and ice cases are very difficult, since the plaintiff must demonstrate that the property owner or manager had a duty to remove the snow or ice and that it was done improperly.
Clara’s case was somewhat unique. My client, a writer and photographer, took photos of the backed-up drain in the courtyard of her apartment building, both before and after her accident. It was obvious that the problem was long-standing and that the landlord knew, or reasonably should have known, about it.
In addition, if Clara knew about the condition, she had a duty to be extra careful when walking near that area. Since the entire courtyard walkway often flooded during heavy rain or snow, there was no available alternate path around this ice. All she could do was walk as carefully as possible, fearing there might be ice below the snow layer.
In late February of 2019, that’s precisely what she was doing. She walked very carefully over the dusting of snow, only to lose her balance and fall on her hand and wrist, fracturing her wrist.
The doctors at Illinois Masonic Hospital set her wrist. She was “lucky” in that she did not require surgery. But wrist fractures are painful and often heal with a bump, which was the situation for Clara.
More importantly, Clara is a publisher and writer. If you have ever tried to use a keyboard or a mouse with one hand, it is next to impossible. While it can be done, it is at best very slow and inefficient. The business she had worked so hard to build barely hung on for several months while she healed.
As soon as Clara was fully recovered, I obtained all her medical records and bills, as well as her tax documentation to demonstrate her lost earnings. Once I had everything, I emailed it all, including the photos she had taken of the defective drainage and sidewalk, to the apartment building owner’s insurance adjuster.
The shelter-in-place order had the adjuster and everyone else getting used to working from home. The adjuster admitted to me she now had much more time to devote to evaluating demand packages than she did before with constant meetings and oversight. It actually turned out that the global pandemic made the environment more efficient for settling cases.
My arguments were persuasive. I received an offer to settle the case within weeks. After discussing Clara’s expectations with her and breaking down the numbers of the offer, we decided on a strategy to achieve her goal.
The adjuster and I went back and forth for several days. Eventually, we arrived at a significant five figure settlement that fairly compensated my client for her medical bills, pain and suffering, disfigurement and loss of a normal life, and lost earnings. While a settlement never restores the injured person to their pre-injury state, it should compensate them so that they are made whole.
In Clara’s case, she came out quite well and was very satisfied with the settlement.
As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, if you suffer injuries on another person’s property or place of business, immediately get medical treatment, report the accident to the property owner or business, and contact a lawyer with expertise in premises liability.
If you've been injured in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything upfront and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day, contact Stephen now.