Chicago Car Accident Lawyer
A car accident can completely upend the life of an unprepared victim. Many Americans don’t have enough savings to cover the financial impact of a traumatic accident. This is especially true in a post-pandemic economy. When a car accident causes serious injuries to a victim, his or her financial well-being is threatened due to the mountain of medical treatment costs and missed paychecks during recovery. The Chicago car accident lawyers at Ankin Law help crash victims recover financially in the wake of a crash.
If you were injured in a car accident in Illinois, your financial future is at stake. Call a Chicago car accident lawyer at Ankin Law to recover fair compensation. FREE consultations. 312-600-0000.
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What Are Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Fatal car accidents claimed nearly 1200 Illinois residents in 2020 alone. Accidents that don’t claim lives still leave victims facing catastrophic injuries and disabilities. In many cases, these accidents, and the subsequent injuries, are caused by negligent driving behaviors, and are preventable.
Determining the cause of a car accident can help a victim correctly identify the liable party. Finding out who is liable for a car accident allows victims to recover damages from the at-fault party. At Ankin Law, our Chicago car accident lawyers know how to prove you are not at fault for your accident by identifying the true cause of your crash.
Common causes of car accidents in Illinois include:
Hazardous Road Conditions
Though auto accidents caused by hazards on the road may appear to be faultless circumstances, poor road maintenance and driving recklessly for weather conditions are the result of negligence. Drivers have no control over pouring rain and icy roads. However, weather conditions do create circumstances that require cautious driving. When drivers fail to adjust driving behaviors for hazardous weather conditions, they run the risk of causing car accidents.
In some cases, hazardous roads are created through poor maintenance or poor city planning. When the responsible entity fails to repair or maintain roads and traffic signs, innocent drivers pay the price.
Speeding reduces the amount of time drivers have to react to hazards that may cause a car crash. It also increases the amount of time a vehicle needs to slow to a stop. In addition to contributing to the likelihood of a car accident, speeding also increases the severity of a crash., and the risk of severe injuries. When vehicles are traveling at higher speeds, the intensity of the impact is higher, causing more serious car accident injuries to the involved parties.
In addition to speeding, other forms of reckless driving contribute to car crashes. Unlawful passing, such as passing a stopped school bus, using the shoulder to pass, or passing on a double yellow line, raises the risk for auto accidents. Additionally, tailgating other drivers, engaging in road rage incidents, following other vehicles too closely, failing to adjust driving behaviors to meet road conditions, and weaving in and out of traffic all contribute to car crashes in Illinois. Running traffic lights or ignoring traffic signals are other reckless behaviors that cause accidents.
Distracted driving is a form of reckless driving. Driving while distracted is a top cause of car accidents in Illinois. Drivers who engage in distracted driving behaviors are negligent, and can be held liable for the injuries they cause to a car accident victim.
There are a variety of behaviors that qualify as distracted driving, including.
- Engaging with passengers – Interacting with passengers can pose a threat to safe driving and raise the risk of an auto accident. This is especially true when transporting rowdy passengers or unsecured animals.
- Interacting with technology – Technology use is a top cause of distracted driving. Whether a driver is focusing on a navigation system, messing with vehicle controls, texting while driving, making a phone call, or changing music on a device, these distractions take his or her eyes away from the road long enough to cause a car crash.
- Eating – Eating or drinking while driving can cause drivers to become distracted. Messy, hard to eat foods take additional focus. When spills occur, drivers may take their attention away from the road to clean up.
- Engaging in excessively negligent behaviors – Some driver distractions are caused by excessively negligent behaviors. Examples of this include applying makeup while driving, playing a game on a mobile device, reading a book, operating a laptop or tablet, watching videos, and changing clothes.
- Rubbernecking – Rubbernecking, or becoming distracted by scenes outside the vehicle, can cause a car crash. Drivers can become distracted by other auto accident scenes, bright light displays, and holiday decorations.
- Searching for an object or device – Drivers can become distracted when looking for objects inside the vehicle. Often, the object is something that the driver dropped, such as a cell phone or wallet. When drivers take their eyes off the road to search for something within the vehicle, their attention is pulled away from the road for an extended amount of time.
Driving While Intoxicated
Drunk driving significantly increases the risk of serious injury accidents. DUI accidents are especially around holidays and late at night. A driver is considered incapable of driving when his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches .08 or higher. The consumption of this amount of alcohol limits a driver’s decision-making ability, cognitive reflexes, and motor skills.
Though driving while intoxicated typically refers to the consumption of alcohol, it can also include the use of recreational drugs or prescription medications. Consuming drugs inhibits a person’s cognitive abilities to the same degree as alcohol. Many prescription drug labels warn against driving while on the medication. When combined with drinking, drivers create an additional risk of causing a a serious car accident.
Fatigued drivers run just as much risk of causing a car accident as drunk driving. Drivers who spend a significant amount of time traveling are also susceptible to highway hypnosis. Driving while fatigued reduces reaction time and can cause individuals to fall asleep at the wheel.
Driver fatigue is especially common among truck drivers, who spend a significant amount of their day on the road. When driving for long periods of time, drivers should take regular breaks, trade off with passengers, and ensure that they are not pushing themselves past their limits to avoid a crash.
Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers at Ankin Law:
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Common Car Accident Injuries
Car accident injuries can range from mild to severe. In some instances, victims may face lifelong changes or extended recovery times. Injuries caused by car accidents can be immediately apparent, or they can be latent, taking weeks or months to be noticed.
The cost of treating such injuries can be significant, leading many victims and their families to face financial hardship during recovery. An experienced car accident lawyer helps accident victims recover damages for the injuries they suffered, making them as whole as possible after their lives are upended.
Common car accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries – A traumatic brain injury (TBI) often leaves victims permanently disabled. These injuries are most commonly caused by car accidents, and occur when the victim’s head forcibly comes into contact with parts of the vehicle during impact.
- Head, neck, and spinal cord injuries – In addition to TBIs, victims can sustain concussions or other head injuries from the impact of the crash. The jolt of the accident can also cause a victim to sustain a neck or spine injury. These injuries can lead to paralysis and lifelong pain.
- Broken or fractured bones – Bone breaks and fractures are temporary injuries that frequently result from car crashes. Though recovery times are lower for these injuries, they can take victims away from work for a prolonged amount of time.
- Burns, scarring, and disfigurement – Car accident victims often sustain severe burns that can lead to infections, scarring, and disfigurement. These injuries can have a permanent effect on a victim’s ability to live a normal life.
- Internal injuries – Car accidents can cause damage to a victim’s internal organs. In some car accident cases, a victim may experience internal bleeding, which requires immediate medical attention. Often, internal injuries are harder to identify and treat than more apparent surface injuries.
- Amputations – Car accidents frequently cause amputations. When a victim loses a limb in a crash, he or she can recover damages to compensate him or her for the newly-acquired disability.
- Emotional Injuries – Not all car accident injuries are physical. Victims can recover damages to compensate them when they sustain emotional injuries. Emotional injuries that typically arise from car accidents include PTSD, anxiety, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Car Accident
The steps you take immediately after a car accident have a substantial impact on your ability to recover maximum compensation. Acting quickly to preserve evidence and seek medical attention can provide you with the documentation necessary to prove you were not at fault for your crash.
If you are involved in a car accident, you should:
- Check yourself and other victims for injuries. After the accident, check yourself for injuries. Next, check passengers in your vehicle, and other involved parties. If injuries are serious, seek immediate medical attention, or call 911.
Even if your injuries do not require emergency medical treatment, schedule a visit with your primary care physician as soon as possible. Getting medical treatment early on helps to provide documentation of your injuries from the beginning, providing you with the necessary paper trail to prove the legitimacy of your claim.
- Relocate to safety. If the location of the vehicle is creating a hazard, relocate yourself, your passengers, and the car to a safe nearby location. Otherwise, the police may help you block off the scene and redirect traffic once they arrive.
- Report the accident. Once immediate medical emergencies and safety issues are resolved, report the accident to the authorities if you haven’t yet. This can be done by dialing the non-emergency number for the nearest police station. Reporting the accident is a crucial step, as it will provide you with a police report that helps to legitimize your accident claim.
- Collect evidence. Gathering sufficient evidence from the accident scene is a vital step in building your claim. Evidence to support your car accident lawsuit includes photos of the accident scene, medical reports documenting your injuries, bills showing your treatment costs, pay stubs showing your lost income during recovery, traffic camera footage, eyewitness testimony, copies of a police report, and data from car accident reconstructionists.
- Swap information with the other involved party. Without admitting fault, exchange insurance information with the other driver. Additionally, gather his or her contact information, and that of any witnesses.
- Call a Chicago car accident lawyer. As soon as possible, retain the help of a car accident attorney. Claims represented by an experienced car accident attorney have a higher chance of securing a favorable settlement. A car accident lawyer will take over negotiations with the auto insurance company, calculate a fair damages award, and, if necessary, represent you in court to prove your case to a judge or jury.
What to Do if an Insurance Company Wrongfully Denies Your Claim
The insurance company is not on your side after a crash. They will do everything in their power to dispute your claim and keep your settlement offer low. Often, the insurance company’s tactics will result in an unfair settlement award or the denial of your claim. Unsuspecting auto accident victims without legal representation may be tempted to accept an unreasonable offer, or give up after a claim denial. However, an unfavorable initial outcome is not the end of the road.
If the insurance company offers you an unfair settlement, a car accident lawyer can negotiate on your behalf. He or she can collect evidence to demonstrate the true cost of the damages you sustained and bypass the insurance company’s low-balling tactics. If the insurance company denies your valid Chicago car accident claim, the attorneys at Ankin Law can help you appeal the decision. If they still don’t budge, your attorney won’t hesitate to take your case to court.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney at Ankin Law Help Your Case?
Retaining a car accident attorney with Ankin Law helps you secure a favorable outcome for your case. A study conducted by the Insurance Research Council revealed that claimants who retain an attorney achieve 40% higher settlements. In addition to helping you recover maximum compensation, our car accident attorneys help your case by:
- Offering you a FREE consultation to help you figure out how to get started in the claims process.
- Calculating a fair damages request based on your injuries and the other evidence in your claim.
- Negotiating on your behalf with the insurance company, so you don’t fall victim to their tactics.
- Gathering the right documentation to support your claim, and retaining expert witnesses when necessary.
- Aggressively representing your case in court when the insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement.
What You Should Know About Car Accident Claims in Illinois
Knowing the basics of how an auto accident claim works in Illinois can help you prepare for your upcoming legal battle. How long you have to file your claim, how your claim value is calculated, how long your claim will take, and what laws govern your claim are essential pieces of information to have when getting ready to file a claim. At your free consultation, your car accident attorney will answer these questions for you.
How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Claim?
Car accidents are considered a type of personal injury accident. This means the same laws that govern personal injury claims pertain to car accident injury claims. The statute of limitations determines how long accident victims have to sue or file a claim. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for personal injury and car accident claims is 2 years. The statute goes into effect on the day the accident occurred. However, in some car accident cases, there may be exceptions to the statute of limitations.
When a pause is implemented on the statute of limitations, it is referred to as “tolling.” Tolling applies only under select circumstances. For example, tolling may apply to an accident case where a victim is temporarily or permanently incapacitated. In these car accident cases, the 2-year deadline will begin when the victim is no longer incapacitated. Additionally, the statute of limitations is paused for victims who are minors. Instead, minors will have until 2 years after their 18th birthday to file a claim.
How Much Is my Car Accident Claim Worth?
The value of a car accident injury claim is based on the severity of the victim’s injuries. This is because the more severe a victim’s injuries are, the higher the amount of damages he or she will sustain as a result of those injuries. In some cases, the actions of the at-fault party can also influence the value of a claim. This is because especially reckless driving behaviors may result in punitive damages.
Factors that determine the value of your settlement include your medical bills, the amount of time you missed at work to recover, the lifelong impact of your injuries, and the degree to which the injuries impacted your financial and physical wellbeing. A Chicago car accident lawyer at Ankin Law can help you calculate the value of your claim and draft a demand letter for the other party’s insurance company.
How Long Will My Car Accident Claim Take?
An auto accident claim can take months or years to resolve. The speed at which a claim reaches a conclusion depends on how willing the insurance company is to offer a fair settlement. If the insurance company fights your claim, it will likely take longer to resolve, and may even become a lawsuit.
Claims represented by car accident lawyers tend to resolve more quickly and favorably than those that are self-represented. This is because your Chicago car accident lawyer knows how to bypass the insurance company’s attempts to delay your claim.
Having sufficient, well-organized evidence ready to support your claim can also reduce the amount of time your claim takes. If liability is easy to prove in your car accident case, then your claim may also settle faster. Finally, the amount of time it takes to resolve your claim can be influenced by how long it takes you to heal. This is because the final value of your medical expenses will depend on how long that treatment takes.
What Laws Govern Car Accident Claims?
Car accident claims are governed by the same laws that control personal injury cases. The primary element of the law that allows a person to recover damages after a car accident is tort law. Under tort law, those who are found at-fault for causing harm to victims are required to compensate them. Torts fall under three main categories.
- Negligent torts – A negligent tort occurs when the liable party fails to exercise a reasonable level of care to prevent harm to others. These are the torts that car accident injury claims, as well as other personal injury claims, are often based on.
- Strict liability torts – Strict liability torts usually pertain to cases involving defective products. These torts do not rely on the level of care exercised by the liable party. Instead, they focus on the act that caused the injury. This means even if a company does not intend to cause harm, and exercises a reasonable amount of care, they may still be liable for the act of producing a defective product that caused harm.
- Intentional torts – Intentional torts are exactly what they sound like: acts that willfully cause harm to a victim. This is typically applicable in fraud or assault cases.
What If the at-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If the driver at fault for the car accident doesn’t have proper car insurance, you may need to file an insurance claim against your own underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. In Illinois, motorists are required to retain car insurance. Part of this required coverage is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which protects victims if other drivers fail to meet insurance requirements. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage also covers hit-and-run accidents when the a negligent driver can’t be found.
Illinois Car Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been in an accident, our attorneys will help you pursue compensation for your damages. Call us now for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
How to Prove You’re Not at-Fault For a Car Accident
Fault in a car accident injury claim determines who is responsible for paying damages. As such, establishing fault is an essential element in building a successful insurance claim. To prove you are not at-fault for a car accident, you can use the following evidence:
- A copy of the police report
- Witness statements
- Pictures of the accident scene
- Traffic camera footage
- Your state’s traffic laws
- Other supporting evidence, such as the at-fault driver’s BAC or a truck driver’s black box.
What Damages Can You Recover After a Car Accident?
The damages available in your car accident claim depend on the extent of your injuries and the circumstances of the crash. Generally, damages in a car accident claim fall into three categories.
Economic Damages: Economic damages are the victim’s direct financial consequences of the accident. These are usually tied to a paper trail, and can be proven with receipts, bills, and wage statements. Costs that can be claimed as economic damages include initial medical expenses, lost wages, future lost income, long-term care costs, and medical equipment and prescription expenses.
Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages are harder to prove. This is because they aren’t tangible. Instead, non-economic damages are represented by the invisible injuries and costs of an accident. These include emotional injuries, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are rarely awarded in accident claims. They differ from economic and non-economic damages because they don’t exist for the purpose of compensating the victim. Rather, punitive damages are intended to punish the liable party for his or her actions and prevent future torts. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases involving egregious negligence or intentionally harmful behavior.
Victims request damages from the liable party’s insurance company through a demand letter. A car accident attorney helps victims calculate the damages available in their claim, and then drafts and submits a demand letter to the insurance company.
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