I was hurt in an accident while visiting Illinois. Do I need a local injury lawyer?

If you were hurt in an accident in Illinois but you live out of state, you may be wondering if it is worth hiring a lawyer. Chicago is a very popular place to visit and because traffic can become quite congested, we do unfortunately see many road accidents.  The decision as to whether or not you need a personal injury lawyer is determined by many things, only one of which should be where the accident happened in relation to where you live. The fact that you were only visiting should not be the sole determining factor.

You certainly have the right to file a claim or even sue, if necessary, even if you don’t live in Illinois. Most injury cases can be successfully completed without your ever having to set foot in a courtroom and if a lawsuit is not filed, it is unlikely that you will even need to come back and be physically present in order to have a good outcome. That being said, it does not mean that you can remain completely uninvolved.  As with any case, you need to be in touch with your attorney and actively cooperate in the process, but much of that is done by telephone and email anyway. Depending on how many steps need to be taken to complete your case, it may not make much of a difference that you live out of state. It is possible that you might be asked to return to either give a sworn statement, deposition, or maybe even appear for an arbitration but if you would rather do so by telephone, this is sometimes possible with an agreement from the other side or by way of court order.

Can I use a lawyer in my state if the accident happened in Illinois?

Your case will be in Illinois and Illinois laws apply. If you were hurt here, you should hire an attorney who is not only licensed here but who is familiar with local rules and custom. Every state has their own set of laws and even if your case doesn’t “go to court”, you will want a lawyer who understands how laws are applied in our state. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, a local lawyer in your own state would need to find an Illinois lawyer to work with, making your case more complicated than it needs to be. 

Will I have to travel back to Illinois for my injury case?

As mentioned above, it is possible and in fact likely that your entire case can be wrapped up without your needing to return. However, if your case has to go as far as a trial, it would be a very good idea for you to come back and it is possible that a judge may require you to return. Depending upon the severity of your accident, this may or may not make it worth it for you. Keep in mind though, that while the insurance companies always want to rush people through the process so that they can get out as cheaply as possible (or pay nothing), you should take your time. There are time limits called statutes of limitations that you must be familiar with- for example, two years for most Illinois car accident cases, which should give you plenty of time to heal your body before you even need to think about traveling.

What Should I do if I think I might want to pursue an injury case in Illinois?

The first thing that you should do if you were hurt in an accident in around the Chicago area that was not your fault is to speak to an injury attorney in the State of Illinois. You can have a consultation over the telephone at no cost to find out what your options are. You should consider a number of factors like how the accident happened, whose fault it was, how badly you were hurt, if you had to miss time from work, the availability of insurance and so forth, before worrying about the fact that you don’t live in Illinois. If you “have a case”, the simple answer is that you should hire an Illinois attorney to get the job done.  If you aren’t sure- a Chicago area attorney will be happy to talk it over with you to explain the process so that you can make the best possible decision for yourself. If you live outside of the State of Illinois but were hurt here, give us a call at 630 250-8813 to talk about your options.

Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Injury & Accidents, Disability Insurance.