My question involves Illinois personal injury law with regard to a minor. I am dealing with my neighbors homeowners insurance because their daughter threw a phone out from behind the couch and it broke off 3/4 of my daughter's adult top front tooth. There will be ongoing cosmetic dentistry needed in my daughters lifetime, with the first crown not being able to be placed until she is 17 or 18 years old. I know that Illinois law provides my daughter till 2 years past her 18th birthday to file suit on this if I do not settle on her behalf. But if we opted to go this route, would the insurance company have to pay any direct dental costs incurred as a result of this injury during the period till she turns 18? she is only 11 now.
3 Answers from Attorneys
You really should hire an attorney. Minor cases with significant injuries have special nuances and you will have to obtain court approval of any settlement. In further answer to your question, once settled, it is settled. The insurer will not agree to ongoing payments. You either have to build in those costs for recurring expenses in the settlement now, or will have to obtain reimbursement for past payments and also build in costs for the future. Hope this helps.
No insurance carrier will pay anything until the case is settled, whether that is now or nine years from now. This is a tremendous nuisance but it is NOT a viable case. A crown will last an average of 10 years and cost around $500.00. If the tooth degrades and she needs an implant, the single tooth could cost $7,000.00. The only way to know is to wait and see what happens.
As indicated above, the insurance company does not have to pay anything now or on an ongoing basis unless there is an actual settlement. If there is a settlement, you need proof of the needed future expenses via expert testimony and/or evidence. This is likely something you are not equipped to deal with unless you do this sort of work on a daily basis. The adjuster knows the law and its limits and is trained to short change you. Without an attorney, likely you will not end up with a reasonable settlement. Even if you do settle, because your child is a minor, you will need court approval of the settlement--a process that can be complicated and time consuming--again if you are not in the business of doing this sort of work on a daily basis.
The best advice I can give you is to consult with a personal injury attorney to figure out what is the best way to proceed. Initial consultations are generally free and we work on a contingency basis--that is you do not pay any fees unless we collect. Insurance Industry's own research shows that settlements are always higher and the end result in the plaintiff's pocket is more-even if they have to pay the 1/3 fee.
I hope this helps-