If you or a family member sustained an injury in a car accident in Illinois, you could be wondering what rights you have to recover compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life, which is often called pain and suffering. You also might be wondering what steps you should take to protect those rights. Among the many important rights that you and your family have, you have a right to file a lawsuit against every person or entity that caused your injury, in whole or in part. You must be sure to comply with the Illinois statute of limitations because missing that deadline will prevent you from recovering a damage award.
A lawsuit begins with filing the appropriate pleadings in the correct court. For example, if a trucking company that has its place of business outside of Illinois, but you were injured in a truck accident in Chicago, you could file your case in the federal court if your damages exceeded $75,000.00. However, you have the choice of filing your case in Cook County courts as well. If the other driver is an Illinois resident, then you will be limited to filing your complaint in Cook County or another county in the state.
The defendants have a right to respond to your complaint within a specified time after you formally serve them with your complaint and notice to respond. You can ask the court to enter a default if they fail to respond in a timely fashion. You will then have to appear before the court to ask the court to order damages. However, an insurance company will be aware of the pending legal action and file a response as required. The insurance company’s lawyers will deny your allegations and set out affirmative defenses.
After the pleading stage is over, then the discovery phase of the litigation begins. You and the defendants have a right to ask questions under oath and require the production of documents. The discovery process serves two purposes. The first is to give each party a chance to learn about the evidence the other has in their possession. Secondly, discovery allows each side to size up their case against the other side. After discovery is complete, then the case can go to trial where a jury or judge can decide if and how much money you should receive for your injuries.