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Articles Tagged with courts

courtroom-898931_1920-3-1024x771Courts across the State of Illinois have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All civil cases have been continued for several weeks in an effort to enforce social distancing policies and reduce the impact of the virus. Importantly, all civil jury trials have been suspended for March and most of April.  So what happens to your case when the Courts are closed and jury trials are suspended?

Our firm is working hard to ensure that your case continues to move forward in a timely fashion. Individuals and businesses need access to the Courts, and the ability to settle disputes has not declined because of the pandemic. Here’s what happens with the Courts closed:

Electronic Filing is Available

It has previously been discussed on this blog that you should be careful what you sign, as you may not realize you are waiving your rights to recover for a personal injury you suffer due to someone else’s negligence. But, it is not just outright waiving your right to recover for injuries that you need to be aware of these days. There are more and more things out there that people are being asked to sign that restrict their ability to have a jury of their peers decide what they are entitled to as compensation for personal injuries. Waiving your right to a jury trial means that while you may be able to sue for your injuries, that lawsuit will be decided by a judge, and not a jury. This is not always the best way for you, or your attorney on your behalf, to get you the maximum recovery you are entitled to. The right to a jury trial in a civil case for personal injuries is an important one that should not be waived without serious thought. The same is true of mandatory arbitration provisions. These often force an injury victim to pursue compensation in a non-court, private setting. This could result in a situation where you, the injured victim, are forced to incur tens of thousands of dollars in costs to pay an arbitrator to decide if you are entitled to any compensation for your injuries. In many instances, a personal injury lawsuit is a better option for an injured victim to seek justice. Before you sign any document that affects your rights, make sure you understand what you are agreeing to. If you do not understand what is presented to you, talk to an attorney. He or she can advise you about the consequences of what you are being asked to sign, in terms of personal injury claims, and other legal issues.

Mediation is a form of “alternative dispute resolution” where the parties agree to let a person outside of the proceedings (often called a “neutral”) get involved to try and settle the matter. It can happen at any time during a personal injury matter: before a personal injury case is filed, during the discovery phase, or right before trial. Mediation usually takes place in a conference room, and not a courtroom, as it is not an adversarial proceeding, but an attempt at settlement and compromise. Most mediators or neutrals in personal injury cases are retired judges or lawyers with extensive experience handling personal injury matters. A mediator does not decide a case. Rather, s/he hears the positions of the parties and then works to help both sides reach an agreeable settlement. The mediator cannot require any party to settle, and is not there to decide who is right and who is wrong. Here is how the process works: Typically, at the outset of a mediation, each side makes an initial presentation, and sets out an opening settlement position (either a demand or offer). Following the initial presentations, the mediator shuttles back and forth between the parties, presenting positions conveyed to her or him by the other side, asking for responses. More importantly, an experienced mediator will also inject ideas for how the case may be settled, and the mediator will highlight for each party the weaknesses in their case, as well as the strengths, so that the parties themselves can appreciate the realistic chances for success if the injury matter progresses all the way to a trial. Sometimes mediations are successful, and the case settles and progresses no further. Other times a mediation fails to result in a settlement but can lead to ongoing negotiations to try and settle the case before the case is determined by a jury. And, of course, sometimes the parties simply cannot settle the dispute and a trial results. An experienced personal injury attorney can properly advise you as to if and when you, as the injured victim, should consider agreeing to a mediation proposed by the defendant (and more typically its insurance company) or if you should propose a mediation yourself. Mediations can be very effective in injury cases in which pre-trial settlement is in both parties’ interests, but for whatever reason, they have been unable to reach a settlement on their own. Whether you chose to pursue mediation as a way to settle your injury case or not, having a lawyer on your side who is familiar with the process and can give you an accurate estimation of your chances for success, is an invaluable resource in getting you the compensation you deserve.

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