In Illinois, hundreds of car accidents occur every day and thousands of people are seriously injured or killed every year. If you have been hurt in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.
This is true whether you were a driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian. Or, if your child, husband, or wife was killed in a car accident that wasn’t his or her fault, you may have a claim on his or her behalf for compensation.
Chicago Car Accident Attorneys: What to Expect
At the Scene of the Accident
If you are involved in an accident, what should you do at the scene?
- Be safe—get out of the way of traffic.
- Call 911, report the accident and wait for the police to arrive (unless, of course, you need to be taken to the hospital by ambulance). A police report is important to the insurance company’s determination of who was at fault.
- Stay calm and be civil to the other driver, any passengers, eyewitnesses, and the police.
- Do not admit any fault in causing the accident!
- Get the other driver’s name, address, telephone number, car insurance company and policy number, and license plate number.
- Photograph all vehicles involved, including shots showing damage to the cars or other vehicles, license plates, the roadway, and the broader scene.
What's Next after the Accident
- If you are injured or in pain, go to a hospital emergency room right away.
- If you don’t realize until the next day that you are hurt—which is common—go to the emergency room or a physician as soon as possible. It’s important not to put this off.
- Listen carefully to what the emergency room doctor or your own doctor tells you, and comply with all follow-up recommendations—this is important not only for your health but also to your legal claim.
- Call your own car insurance company and report the accident.
- Do not talk to anyone from the other driver’s insurance company.
- Photograph your injuries.
- Call an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible—the sooner you have a lawyer advising you and helping you, the better.
What Will a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Do for You
You will probably have many questions if you are injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault.
- Who pays for my medical bills?
- Should I talk to my own car insurance company’s representative?
- The other driver’s car insurance company is calling—what should I do?
- What about the damage to my car? Will a rental car be paid for?
- What happens if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t have enough?
- What insurance information should I give to my doctors and other healthcare providers?
- Should I submit any of my bills to my health insurance carrier?
- Do I have a claim against the other driver?
- How much is my case worth?
The answers to these questions and others depend on your particular circumstances. An experienced car accident lawyer will answer them and be your guide through the entire process of making a claim for compensation.
Your lawyer will collect all relevant documents and information; interview witnesses; hire any expert witnesses necessary to prove your case, including medical experts and accident reconstruction experts; and (with your authorization) resolve your case by getting you fair compensation. This could happen without filing a lawsuit, after a lawsuit is filed but before trial (by way of a negotiated settlement), or after a trial.
What Are You Entitled to Be Compensated For
The law determines the specific things you can include in your claim. Depending on the facts of your situation, you may be compensated for some or all of the following:
- Medical expenses
- Medical expenses you are likely to incur in the future, according to your doctors
- Lost wages
- Impairment or destruction of your capacity to earn money in the future
- Your physical and emotional pain and suffering
- The physical and emotional pain and suffering you are likely to have to endure in the future
- Property damage
- Occasionally, punitive damages (to punish the at-fault driver for conduct that is worse than “normal” negligence)
- In the event of a death, funeral and burial expenses
- Sometimes, a husband, wife, or child of the injured person is also entitled to compensation
What Determines What My Case Is Worth
The amount of compensation you will be entitled to depend on many factors. Here are some of the issues your lawyer and the insurance company will look at:
- Is there any dispute about who was at fault in causing the accident?
- How easy or difficult will it be to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident?
- Were you wearing your seatbelt?
- What are your injuries from the accident? Are they temporary, long-lasting, or permanent?
- Did the accident aggravate preexisting injuries?
- How have your injuries affected your ability to engage in normal daily activities? Will that continue in the future?
- What treatment have you had for your injuries, and who has treated you? Emergency room providers? Your primary care physician? A chiropractor, physical therapist, and/or massage therapist? Specialists, such as orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, and many others?
- What treatment will you probably need in the future, according to your healthcare providers?
- What are the total charges for the medical treatment you have had so far, and what is the anticipated cost of treatment you will need in the future?
- Have you missed any work because of your injuries? If so, what is the dollar amount of your lost wages and benefits?
- Has your ability to work in the future been destroyed or impaired by your injuries? If so, what is the dollar amount of your projected lost income?
- Was the conduct of the person at fault so bad that punitive damages are a possibility?
- Does the person at fault have automobile insurance that includes liability for your accident? Illinois law requires that every car owner have insurance, but some people don’t abide by this law.
- If the person at fault does not have insurance, do you have automobile insurance, and if so, is the uninsured motorist coverage that is part of your policy enough to cover your damages?
- If the person at fault has insurance, but not enough, do you have underinsured motorist coverage?
- If there is not enough insurance coverage available from all sources to cover your damages, does the person at fault have assets that could be collected?
- Will you and anyone else on your side of the case make good credible witnesses?
- Is the person who was at fault likable and credible? What about his or her witnesses?