Man putting his fingerprint on a piece of paper.

If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with a crime, it is essential that you know your Miranda rights. Knowing how and when you’re obligated to cooperate with police — and when you have the right to decline — is how to protect yourself against self-incrimination when you are the target of police questioning.

Police have the right to find, question, and ask you to come in without a warrant. Understanding your rights and their limitations is how you avoid making incriminating statements or even being arrested for a refusal to cooperate with law enforcement.

Can Police Bring You In with No Warrant?

The short answer is no. Police cannot force you to come into the police station if there’s no warrant out for your arrest. However, the police can ask you to come in for questioning. When this happens to you, you have a few options.

If the police have asked you to come into the police station and answer some questions, you can:

  • Decline to speak with the police
  • Go into the station for just questioning
  • Request to meet for questioning at a neutral, third-party location

In most situations, the smartest move is to agree to cooperate with the police — but only with a lawyer present. Speaking to the police without a criminal defense lawyer is a considerable risk, as it is far too easy for seemingly innocent responses to be used against you in court.

When Can the Police Force You to Come in for Questioning?

Police can only physically compel you to come to a police station if you’ve been placed under arrest.

Police have two valid grounds for arresting someone — a warrant and probable cause. If the police have probable cause that you’ve committed a crime, they can arrest you without a warrant.

Often, the “probable cause” police use to place someone under arrest isn’t enough to charge them with a crime. This is where people often make a grave mistake: answering questions just because they’ve been arrested.

If you give incriminating responses to a police officer, what you’ve said can be used to convict you of a crime. If you hadn’t said it, there may not have been grounds for a conviction.

When responding to police questioning, it doesn’t matter whether you were arrested due to a warrant or probable cause. Talking to police without a lawyer present significantly increases your chances of being convicted of a crime.

Do You Have to Respond to Police Questions if You’re Arrested?

In most situations, you don’t have to respond to police questions. You have the right to remain silent both before and after an arrest.

If you’ve been arrested, you’re most likely being charged with a crime. Your court outcome will determine whether you are convicted or not. You need a criminal defense lawyer at this point in the process.

Your lawyer will advise whether speaking with the police can help your situation. However, if you do answer police questions, do so only with your lawyer’s approval and with your lawyer present.

Can Police Question You if You Haven’t Been Arrested?

The police can question you if you haven’t been arrested. However, that doesn’t mean you must — or should — answer questions.

Police can stop you in public or come to your residence or workplace to ask questions. In nearly every situation, it’s best to protect yourself by declining to speak with them.

There’s one key exception to this. Many states, like Illinois, have “stop and identify” statutes. So if law enforcement suspects you’ve committed a crime or traffic violation, they have the right to ask you to identify yourself.

Refusing to identify yourself to the police can lead to further trouble, including arrest. If you have a valid concern that prevents you from giving identifying information to the police, you can request that the police call your lawyer.

Can the Police Prevent You from Leaving Without Arresting You?

In some situations, police use tactics like intimidation to coerce people into giving them the answers they want. If the police are trying to question you, ask if you’re being detained.

The only reason the police can force you to remain somewhere without placing you under arrest is if they are detaining you. Therefore, they need to have grounds to do so. If they don’t, they’ll tell you you are not being detained and can leave.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

Navigating interactions with police can be stressful and can have serious legal repercussions. Therefore, it’s best to keep police interactions courteous and brief—and involve a criminal defense lawyer at the first sign of trouble. If you need help understanding your rights, our experienced criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC can help.

Our Central Illinois law firm has two convenient locations in Litchfield and Nokomis. We also serve multiple counties in Central and Southern Illinois. Contact us today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

Man with a notebook and calculator doing accounting.

At the Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC, one of the most commonly asked questions we hear is, “Does an executor have to show accounting to beneficiaries?” The answer is, “Yes!”

As the executor of a will or administrator of an estate, you have a fiduciary duty toward the estate and its heirs. However, the role of an estate administrator can be complicated, and it’s best to fully understand your obligations before making decisions on behalf of the estate.

Your duties involve making financial decisions to sell assets, pay creditors, and eventually allocate the estate to the deceased’s beneficiaries. Your county probate court requires an accounting of the estate and all of the actions that you, as the administrator, took on its behalf. Let’s dive into further detail below.

Estate Administration Compliance and Your Responsibility to Its Beneficiaries

Does estate administration compliance include showing an accounting of the estate to its beneficiaries? Yes, unless the beneficiaries waive this requirement.

However, even if the beneficiaries waive the accounting disclosure requirement, you will likely still have to produce an accounting of the state with the probate court. In addition, it may be necessary to help you pay any taxes the estate owes. Remember, an experienced probate and estate administration lawyer can help guide you if you’re unfamiliar with estate accounting processes.

Duties of the Executor

The role of the executor is to follow the terms of the will and represent the interests of the deceased. Although the will may indicate certain assets and benefits for the deceased’s heirs, as the executor, you only have an obligation to the estate.

But beneficiaries have a vested interest in the executor’s activities — every transaction the estate administrator makes affects their inheritance. If the estate had debts, the beneficiaries would want to know what these debts are; they may even have insight into the debt’s validity. They have the right to understand all transactions made out of the estate.

In Illinois, if the deceased left a valid will, then its executor must provide a full accounting of the estate, including how the assets are distributed. The executor must also be able to produce complete estate accounting to any legitimate interested party or person.

What Is Included in Estate Executor Accounting?

The complexity and details of estate accounting depend on the size of the estate, including its investments, physical assets, and how organized the estate plan is. Executor accounting covers every transaction made on behalf of the estate, including settling debts and valuing and selling assets.

Before an estate is finalized in probate, the executor must submit a final accounting, which includes the following:

  • An itemized list of all assets
  • Any property or funds the estate receives during its processing
  • All expenses of the estate, including the executor’s pay, funeral and burial expenses, debts, and taxes
  • Pre-planned distributions to beneficiaries

The estate administrator must also provide supporting documentation with the estate accounting, including:

  • Tax returns
  • Receipts
  • Closing statements
  • Account statements of all accounts, including retirement investments
  • Copies of any checks received or issued

There may be other supporting documentation, such as real estate closing paperwork, depending on the estate’s contents and the indications of the will.

All beneficiaries and interested parties (such as the lawyer representing a beneficiary) have the right to review the estate accounting and request more information about any actions taken.

Receipt and Release Documents for Executor Accounting

Usually, the estate administrator prepares an informal accounting for the heirs. This may include a simple spreadsheet where they keep track of estate transactions. It can also include a receipt and release.

Once the heirs review the accounting, they sign the receipt and release document, which confirms that they have been shown the estate accounting and release the administrator from future liability regarding their handling of the estate.

If a beneficiary objects to the accounting, they have the right to petition the county probate court for additional information about the administrator’s actions. A probate judge may hold a hearing to determine whether fraudulent activity occurred or explore alleged mismanagement of the estate’s assets.

Get the Help You Need Today

So, does an executor have to show accounting to beneficiaries? YES, and we hope this article helped answer your question! As the estate administrator, keeping accurate and meticulous records is essential. However, some people may be thrust into the role of an estate administrator and need help figuring out where to start.

The estate administration attorneys at the Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC can help you inventory the estate, understand the terms of the will or how to proceed without a will, and answer your questions about your obligations to the estate. We can also assist with the transactions necessary to process the estate and provide legal advice about settling estate debts.

Our Central Illinois law firm has two convenient locations in Litchfield and Nokomis. Contact us today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with a knowledgeable estate administration attorney.

Face of a $5 bill

When facing dire financial straits, bankruptcy can sometimes be your only relief from crushing debt, but where do you even begin? If you’re considering filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Illinois, our team at the Law Offices of Glenn & West is here to help. Read on for a few tips to ensure that your filing avoids some of the most common pitfalls. Or, if you are an Illinois resident searching for assistance, contact us today to schedule a free one-on-one consultation with a member of our legal team. You deserve relief, and we’re here to help guide you back to the path to financial freedom.

What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal process that helps folks carrying too much debt compared to their current income; it can also provide recourse for businesses to collect their debts from the person filing bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is one of two forms of bankruptcy that individuals may file (the other is Chapter 13). In a bankruptcy filing, the person filing for bankruptcy is the “debtor,” and the party the debtor owes money to is called the “creditor.”

The bankruptcy filing protects the debtor from collections through an automatic stay and may be able to remove all or some of the debts owed. The name Chapter 7 Bankruptcy comes from the bankruptcy law rules for each type of bankruptcy. In this form of bankruptcy, many of your debts may be canceled, or discharged, meaning you no longer owe those monies.

In most Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases, debtors can keep their personal property. There is always the possibility of private property being sold to pay debts through the case or debtors having to come up with the money to keep that property. Still, we are often successful at protecting assets by having them considered “exempt property.” To qualify for filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you must have a low income and few assets.

Why Would You File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

When you look at everything you have to give up in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, you may wonder if it is worth it. Remember, though, you may still be able to keep your car, home, or valuable items of sentimental value. In addition, your bankruptcy lawyer may be able to negotiate on your behalf to make as much of your property as exempt as possible.

Some advantages of Chapter 7 bankruptcy include the following:

  • Most of your debts are discharged
  • Collection agencies cannot contact you or collect debts
  • Wage garnishment ceases, meaning you can get back on your feet faster
  • Repossessions, including foreclosures, cannot proceed unless an Illinois bankruptcy court approves
  • You can restore utility service or stop utility shut-offs
  • Your driver’s license may be reinstated if it was suspended for a debt

Bankruptcy also protects you from retaliation from an employer, creditor, or other parties. Remember: If you are experiencing retaliatory behavior after a bankruptcy, contact your bankruptcy attorney immediately.

The Disadvantages of Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Although many people benefit from bankruptcy filing, there are a few drawbacks that you should understand. Before proceeding, be aware of the following:

  • It remains on your credit report for seven years and affects your credit rating
  • You may have difficulty finding new lines of credit, including a loan
  • Property that isn’t paid for in full may be relinquished
  • You may have trouble securing a mortgage or leased home

Furthermore, you can only file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Illinois once every eight years, so be prudent about your filing. You may also have other options to protect your income and property, which a bankruptcy lawyer can explain in more detail during a free one-on-one consultation.

Undischarged Debts in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not discharge all debt. If you owe one of the following, then your obligations remain, and you may have to make payment arrangements on your own:

  • Child support payments or alimony and spousal maintenance payments
  • Fines, including criminal restitution (such as for fraud or embezzlement)
  • Divorce property settlement payments
  • Student loans
  • Federal and state income taxes

Bankruptcy cannot relieve a security interest, such as a car payment or mortgage, or stop an eviction once an eviction order is in place. Your individual bankruptcy cannot protect anyone who co-signed a loan for you, either, unless they also file for bankruptcy.

Some credit card debt may not be discharged, either, if it happened too close to the bankruptcy filing. Finally, no debts you incur after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy are covered by the filing. Sometimes, the bankruptcy court may decide that you have to pay some of your debts if it determines you have enough disposable income.

How Can You Begin the Bankruptcy Process?

If you are an Illinois resident and think Chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you, contact our knowledgeable bankruptcy attorneys and staff at the Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC. We can help you explore all your debt relief options so you can make an informed decision that works for your budget and your lifestyle. Remember, bankruptcy is nothing to feel ashamed about. It happens to more people than anyone knows.

If you are over your head with debt and want a fresh start, our legal team is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free one-on-one consultation. Thank you for visiting our blog, and we hope to help you soon!

Two people shaking hands: how to choose an estate planning attorney

A competent and caring estate planning attorney can provide more than just estate planning services. They can also offer the peace of mind that comes from knowing your affairs are in good hands. Finding the right professional can be difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. Read on for five helpful tips on how to choose an estate planning attorney.

#1 Make a Needs List

Before you begin your search, you must first define what your needs are. Doing so will set some important parameters for your search. When it comes to estate planning, some of the most common needs include:

  • Creating an entire estate plan from scratch
  • Modifying an existing estate plan
  • Taking action on specific terms of a pre-existing plan
  • Tax-liability planning and structuring
  • Strategic trust fund planning and structuring

Remember to carefully consider every aspect of your life and take into account all of your assets and debts. Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, you can confidently begin your search for an attorney who has the level of experience you need.

#2 Ask Around

Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to find a competent attorney. Although it is not a subject often spoken of, estate planning is something that many have done or are looking to do. Friends and family are excellent sources of information. Their experiences with attorneys will be valuable when narrowing down your choices—especially if their estate needs are similar to yours.

#3 Keep Your Search Local

In today’s technology-driven world, you can connect with professionals around the nation with the click of a button and a simple Google search. However, when it comes to estate planning and most other forms of law, jurisdictional issues prevent you from using professionals outside of your state. The rules and regulations vary widely between states and even localities within states, which means the more local the attorney, the better. A local estate planning attorney will almost always be better equipped to provide the tailored service you need. “Canned” forms online are also risky.

#4 Interview Potential Choices

After narrowing down your list to a manageable set of attorneys, consider interviewing each one as a final filtering process. By this point, the only candidates on your list should be attorneys who come highly recommended, either through word of mouth or by plentiful web reviews. Because the interview will likely be the last stage of your search, it’s wise to create a thorough list of questions. Here are a few questions you may want to ask:

  • How many years of estate planning experience do you have?
  • What is your range of services?
  • What are the costs and methods of billing (e.g., by-the-hour or flat rate)?
  • What is the timeframe for your services?
  • How will we communicate?

And remember, how you feel during this interview is just as important as the answers to the questions above. Choose someone who makes you feel at ease, comfortable, and confident about the future.

More Tips on Selecting an Attorney

  • The worst possible way to hire an attorney is to call the first lawyer you spot on TV.
  • Check references. Google reviews can be an excellent place to start.
  • Ask who will do the work. Your lawyer may delegate some work to his or her staff. Remember to ask how much of the work the attorney will do to ensure their answer is in line with your expectations.
  • Understand the legal fees involved. Always ask questions to make sure you understand your lawyer’s fees for the services they are going to provide so you know what you are agreeing to.

Schedule Your Estate Planning Consultation

Now that you know what to look for when hiring an estate planning attorney, it’s time to begin the interview process! A consultation with an experienced attorney is an excellent place to start. For residents of Central Illinois, our firm offers two office locations in both Nokomis, IL, and Litchfield, IL. If you’re ready to begin your estate planning journey, contact our team today to schedule your one-on-one consultation. We hope to help you soon!

Woman sitting at a coffee shop table: six questions to ask a probate attorney

After the loss of a loved one, hiring the right attorney is essential for handling the process of estate administration. Without the experience of a professional to guide you during this process, several issues can present themselves. An experienced attorney can help protect your decedent’s assets from:

  • Being pillaged: This is when property is appropriated without the consent of the owner, or in this case, the consent of the will executor.
  • Wasteful dissipation: This is also known as asset dissipation. Simply, it is intentionally wasting money. The goal is to spend as much as possible so that when it’s time for the court to divide assets, there isn’t much to work with. This may leave one family member with less than they deserve.
  • Being frozen: The process of preventing objects owned by your loved one from being sold or traded because they have been locked by someone else that is owed money.

As you begin interviewing attorneys, don’t make the mistake of hiring someone based simply on a recommendation. Yes, recommendations from family and friends are great places to start. However, it is your responsibility to ask the right questions during interviews to help ensure that you find the best probate attorney for your specific case and budget. To help you start the process on the right foot, read on for six questions to ask a probate attorney.

At the Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC, we understand that losing a loved one is an emotional and often heartbreaking experience. In addition to the grief that you may be experiencing, the estate administration process can be a huge task to undertake. If your loved one lived in Illinois or owned real estate in Illinois, our experienced attorneys can help make this process as stress-free as possible. Contact us today to schedule a one-on-one consultation.

Schedule Your Consultation

#1 What is the focus area in your practice?

A lot can go wrong when it comes to probate and estate administration, including a decedent’s assets being heisted, pillaged, squandered, or frozen. For that reason, specialization in probate handling is the No. 1 thing to look for in your attorney. Remember, while estate planning experience is somewhat related, estate planning vs estate administration are two things that are entirely different processes.

You may very well already have an excellent estate planning attorney, but that experience alone won’t be enough to execute an estate plan or navigate Illinois intestacy laws. This question quickly helps you eliminate the chances of choosing a professional who very well may be clueless about handling cases like your own.

#2 Have you executed a will before?

It may be hard to believe, but many attorneys have little to no experience in will administration. Finding an attorney with experience handling will administration is a strong attribute that’ll help streamline the process.

#3 How do you charge for services?

You won’t find an attorney’s fee listed on their website, so remember to be upfront about your budget and expectations from the get-go. The last thing that you want to do is to find the perfect lawyer only to realize that the process was filled with unexpected fees. Most of the time, you’ll find that attorneys use standard fees or hourly rates. Get the answer to this question before you begin the probate process.

#4 How much time does probate take?

Probate cases can take anywhere from seven months to over a year or two years to complete. The answer to this question entirely depends on the size of your loved one’s estate. As you may have guessed, smaller estates typically take much less time than larger estates. Finding the answer to this question will help you understand more about what the process will look like for your case.

#5 Is there any way to reduce probate costs?

An experienced probate attorney who knows what they are doing will be well-versed in probate cost reduction strategies. As such, this should be one of the top questions to ask a lawyer during your initial consultation. Experienced probate attorneys often develop testator strategies such as paying debts and funeral planning, which will be extremely beneficial to you during the probate process.

#6 How do you avoid probate disputes?

Probate disputes are an unfortunate reality if you are an executor or administrator. Avoid discouragement by hiring an attorney with plenty of experience in the dispute arena. Your job will not necessarily be smooth sailing, but choosing the right attorney can make the process less stressful. If angry beneficiaries and family members are a part of your case, you can send all their questions to your attorney.

Have Questions? We Have Answers

You now know the basic questions to ask a probate attorney. Now, it’s time to find a lawyer who has what it takes to properly administer your loved one’s estate. A one-on-one consultation is an excellent place to start. If your loved one lived in Illinois or owned real estate in Illinois, our experienced attorneys are here to make this process as stress-free as possible. Contact us today to schedule a one-on-one consultation.

Note: This list is by no means all-inclusive. Rather, let it serve as a guideline for preparing yourself for an initial interview/consultation with a probate attorney.

A silver pen and notebook on a desk for planning.

When it comes to estate planning, there are so many misconceptions. For one, making an estate plan isn’t only for the wealthy. After all, no matter how many assets you have, nobody really wants the court to decide which family member or “friend” will receive them in the event that you pass.

Another common misconception is that estate planning is only for the elderly. But truth be told, many of us, to some degree, feel invincible. We never plan for our last day, and we never plan for the last day of any of our loved ones, even if we see it coming due to medical circumstances or age.

With that said, if you have ever dealt with the loss of a loved one, you understand the true weight of grief. While working through those heavy feelings and establishing a “new normal”, there often comes many other imminent responsibilities. Planning for a funeral, closing credit cards, and planning a return to the workplace are only the beginning.

The purpose of estate planning is to give your family and friends one less hoop to jump through. Grief alone carries a heavy enough weight, and an estate plan helps ensure that your loved ones can work through those feelings to remember your legacy without dealing with the trouble of working through your state’s court system.

Still curious about the purpose of making an estate? Read on to learn more. Or, if you have immediate questions about where to begin with your estate plan, contact our team at The Law Offices of Glenn & West to schedule a consultation.

The Top 5 Reasons to Make an Estate Plan

1.    Make Your Wishes Known

One of the main reasons for making an estate plan is to make your wishes known. It ensures your wishes are carried out in both the events of disability and death. Not only does an estate allow you to control the fortune of your assets and how they will be divided, but it also honors your choice in the event that you must assign power of attorney. We know very well that you know better to make these decisions than your state’s court.

2.    Save Time and Money for Your Loved Ones

Those who pass away without a will are said to have “died intestate.” As we have touched on, the state’s intestate laws decide what will happen to your assets in this event. Usually, when an individual dies without a will, the probate process ends up being both time-consuming and costly for surviving family members. It’s the last thing you want them to deal with while they are still processing grief and learning a new normal.

3.    Protect Your Children & Grandchildren

As a parent, it isn’t easy to imagine dying and leaving your child behind. However, the truth is that it does happen. It’s a heartbreaking reality that children in the United States deal with the loss of a parent at a very young age. Heart disease and stroke are two of the most common causes of premature death.

In your will, you can name a guardian for your child if you pass before your child reaches the age of 18. You can also make plans for distributing college funds. Truly, no parent wants to leave these decisions to the court. With that said, you have a spouse or partner, it’s equally important that they create a will of their own, too.

4.    Eliminate Family Messes

Greed can bring out the worst in people. In the event of death or disability, it’s a shame that greed sometimes results in families breaking up. For instance, after a parent becomes disabled, one sibling might feel that they should control their parent’s finances. Or, after a parent dies, one sibling might feel they deserve more than the other. Such arguments can quickly escalate with some siblings taking one another to court. Estate planning allows you to set guidelines that few can contest.

5.    Protect Your Loved Ones from Big Taxes

Estate planning provides a chance to protect your loved ones from the Internal Revenue Service. With an estate plan, you can ensure that your heirs do not face a high tax burden. Estate planning provides ways to ensure that your assets pass down to your heirs without the government taking a big slice of your assets first.

Your Estate Planning Checklist

Now that you know the purpose of estate planning, it’s time to start planning! Here is a checklist with the most common planning documents to help you on your journey:

  • Your will. The bare bones of this document determines who will manage your estate when you die and how your assets will be distributed.
  • Power of attorney (POA) grants another person the authority to make decisions on your behalf.
  • A living will communicates your wishes for medical care should a time come when you cannot communicate those wishes.
  • A trust is an estate planning tool that protects your assets.

Note: This list is by no means all-inclusive. Rather, let it serve as a guideline for preparing yourself with answers before a consultation with an attorney and/or financial advisor.

Have Questions? We Have Answers

Now that you know the purpose of an estate plan, you’re probably wondering where to begin. A consultation with an experienced attorney is an excellent place to start. For residents of Central Illinois, our firm offers two office locations in both Nokomis, IL, and Litchfield, IL.

To begin your estate planning journey, contact our team today to schedule a one-on-one consultation.

Person receiving medical attention: stages in a personal injury case

Being hurt in an accident can disrupt your life, and the financial losses and pain you experience can be life-changing. Fortunately, when you suffer an injury in an accident because of another person’s negligence in Illinois, a personal injury claim can get you the compensation you need to move on with your life. Compensation cannot undo the harm already done, but it can help you move onto a better path. Read on to learn more about the stages in a personal injury case.

If you need your questions answered directly, contact our team at the Law Offices of Glenn & West to request a free consultation.

Stage #1: Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney

If you’ve never had to file a personal claim, you might be feeling anxious about pursuing such a claim. However, you should know that not all personal injury cases go to court, and the process does not have to be stressful, especially if you work with a qualified attorney.

After receiving treatment for your injury, the first step is contacting an attorney. When you contact an attorney, you set up a free initial consultation to discuss your case. During your first meeting, an attorney will help you determine if you have a valid claim.

To make the most of this meeting, ensure you bring supporting documentation such as medical records. If a personal injury attorney believes you have a valid personal injury claim, they will explain to you your legal options.

Stage #2: Evaluating a Personal Injury Attorney

The attorney you hire to help you can make or break your case. Therefore, a crucial step in your injury case is ensuring you hire the right attorney. When you meet a personal injury attorney for the first time, ask them about their experience level. You should also ask for your attorney’s track record of success during your initial consultation. Additionally, Google can be an excellent resource for reading customer reviews.

Stage #3: Hiring an Attorney

After meeting with several personal injury attorneys and evaluating the attorneys, the next stage is hiring an attorney. It’s always best to hire an attorney with experience handling personal injury cases similar to yours—and with a proven track record that shows success. Once you decide on the attorney you want to help you with your case, you’ll be asked to sign an agreement. Before signing anything, make sure you read carefully and never be afraid to ask questions.

Stage #4: Investigation

After hiring an attorney, they will gather evidence that helps them to understand how you suffered your injuries as well as the extent of your injuries. They will also gather evidence that helps them understand the extent of any other losses you suffered. Your attorney will also begin contacting expert witnessesm, if necessary.

When you choose the right personal injury attorney, they will focus on investigating your case so you can focus on getting the medical attention you need.

Stage #5: Filing the Claim and Beginning Negotiations

Next, your attorney takes steps to file your personal injury claim. At this stage, your attorney may contact the other party and their insurance company to give notice of your claim as well explain the other party’s liability and your injuries.

Generally, your attorney takes care of dealing with the insurance company and keeps you updated. Again, this allows you to focus on recovery and receiving medical treatment.

Stage #6: Settling Your Claim

If your attorney negotiates with the insurance company and the insurance company gives you a fair offer, your attorney may decide that it is best to settle your case at this stage. However, while your attorney can prove quite helpful when it comes to determining if an offer from an at-fault party’s insurance company is fair, the final decision about whether to accept a settlement offer is your decision.

If negotiations between you and the at-fault party’s insurance company are successful, your injury case will end at this stage. You sign a release form stating that you release the liable party from any liability and obligation to compensate you for the damages associated with the same accident in the future. Because of this, you must wait until you reach maximum medical improvement before accepting a settlement offer from an insurance company.

Stage #7: Filing a Lawsuit

If negotiations are unsuccessful, your attorney will move to file a lawsuit in court. Once your case is filed in court, it will go through several phases, all of which have a deadline.

Stage #8: Discovery and Mediation

The discovery phase is usually the first step after a personal injury lawsuit is filed in court. However, if a defendant files a motion asking the court to dismiss some of your claims or the entire case, the first step might be filing a response in opposition to the motion. In the discovery phase, each party collects information regarding the case from the other party and third parties.

Stage #9: Mediation

After the discovery phase and before trial, you may need to try mediation, which is an alternative dispute resolution method. If you come to an agreement at this stage, your case ends here. It is estimated that about 95% of pending personal injury lawsuits end in a pre-trial settlement.

Stage #10: Trial and Verdict

If you and the other party can’t come to an agreement during mediation, your case proceeds to trial. Here, your attorney presents your side of the case and the other party defends themselves, usually through their insurance company. Once that’s done, the judge or jury decides if the defendant is liable and, if so, how much they should pay.

Get the Help You Need Today

We hope you found this article on the stages in a personal injury case helpful.

If you’ve sustained injuries in an accident in Illinois because of another party’s negligence, you need a qualified attorney on your side. Contact our skilled and dedicated personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC, to discuss your legal options during a free legal consultation.

Car driving on the highway: the most common causes of car accidents in Illinois.

Statistics regarding motor vehicle accidents in the United States of America are shocking. According to the NHTSA, 36,096 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2019, and many others were left with injuries. In the same year, an estimated 1,010 people died, and 89,133 people suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents in Illinois.

While some car accidents are unavoidable, many car accidents are avoidable. Most car accidents in America are caused by driver negligence. Unfortunately, too many motorists engage in negligent behaviors while on the road, resulting in accidents that cause injuries and death.

Below are some of the most common causes of car accidents in Illinois and throughout the U.S.

1. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents in Illinois and throughout the U.S.

According to the NHTSA, more than 2,800 people in America died in 2019 in crashes that involved a distracted motorist. Distracted driving occurs when a driver engages in another activity that takes their attention away from driving. Many people know that texting and driving is distracted driving. However, not many people know that behaviors such as using a navigation system while driving, eating while driving, applying makeup while driving, and talking with other passengers are forms of distracted driving.

The CDC states that anything that takes a driver’s attention away from driving can be a distraction. There are three main types of distractions. They are visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. A visual distraction occurs when a driver takes their eyes off the road. A manual distraction occurs when a driver takes their hand(s) off the steering wheel. And finally, a cognitive distraction occurs when a driver takes their mind off driving.

2. Drunk Driving

A driver who gets behind the wheel while drunk is a danger to themselves and other road users. According to the NHTSA, approximately 32 people in America die every day in drunk driving accidents. That means that every 45 minutes, one person loses their life in a drunk driving accident. Here in Illinois, of the 938 fatal traffic crashes that occurred in 2019, it is estimated that 27.1% of them involved alcohol.

Alcohol impairs thinking and reduces the brain’s functions. It also impairs muscle coordination and reasoning. For a driver to operate a vehicle safely, they need to be thinking clearly, and their brain needs to be functioning well. To drive a car safely, a driver needs to be reasoning well, and they need to be able to coordinate muscle movements. For example, a driver must be able to execute and coordinate muscular movements to control the vehicle.

3. Drowsy Driving

Drowsy or fatigued driving is another common cause of car accidents in Illinois and throughout America. The human body needs enough sleep. When a driver misses many hours of sleep, it becomes hard for them to perform well when behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is especially a problem with trucks. Because trucks transporting cargo usually get paid by the load, truck drivers may choose to stay behind the wheel when they should be resting. Unfortunately, this can result in catastrophic accidents. For example, when a tired truck driver hits a passenger vehicle, the results can be disastrous because trucks are much bigger and heavier than passenger vehicles.

According to studies, missing many hours of sleep can impact a driver’s ability to drive the same way as drinking too much alcohol. Studies suggest that staying up for at least eighteen hours is the same as having a BAC of 0.05%. And staying up for at least twenty-four hours is the same as having a BAC of 0.10%.

4. Following Too Closely

Rear-end accidents are quite common in Illinois. Often, rear-end collisions happen because of an unsafe driving practice known as “tailgating.” When the car behind follows the car in front too closely, the driver behind is said to be tailgating. This behavior is considered negligent. According to Illinois law, it is an offense for a vehicle to follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent.

5. Speeding

Excessive speed is to blame for a lot of car accidents. Unfortunately, many drivers do not see the problem with driving faster than the posted speed limit. Drivers need to remember that the faster a person drives, the slower their reaction time. In other words, speeding increases the chances of an accident happening.

6. Unsafe Lane Changes

Before passing another vehicle, a driver must ensure they have enough room to get in front of the other car. If there is not enough room to pass a vehicle and get in front of them, it is best to avoid passing. Also, drivers should always use their blinkers when changing lanes to let other road users know they are about to change lanes. For example, if you change lanes without indicating, the other drivers cannot adjust their driving accordingly, and that can result in an accident.

7. Failure To Yield

In Illinois, “failure to yield” car accidents happen quite a lot. Unfortunately, such accidents can result in severe injuries and even death. According to the law, drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to avoid causing an accident. For example, in Illinois, when two cars approach an intersection from different roads at the same time, the driver on the left is required to yield the right-of-way to the driver on the right.

8. Aggressive Driving

Speeding, unsafe lane changes, failure to yield the right of way, and tailgating can be forms of aggressive driving. Other forms of aggressive driving that can cause accidents include;

  • Running red lights
  • Failing to obey stop signs
  • Ignoring signals from other motorists
  • Driving illegally on the shoulder

Contact the Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC for Legal Help

We hope you’ve found this information on the most common causes of car accidents in Illinois helpful. Injured car accident victims and surviving family members deserve compensation. It is your right as an injured car accident victim or surviving family member of someone who died in a car crash to recover compensation from an at-fault party.

If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an Illinois car accident because of another driver’s negligence, contact our qualified auto accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC.. We can help you recover the compensation you deserve.