Getting into an auto accident is a terrifying experience for everyone involved, and depending on a number of factors the injuries that result from the crash can have serious, long-term impacts on the victims that go well beyond a few weeks or a few months of recovery. However, working with an insurance company to be compensated for your damages can be extremely difficult, especially when you are trying to make sure that you are financially protected for the long-term impacts of the accident. If you did not cause the accident, then there is no reason that you should be held accountable for any of the damages that the accident caused, but insurance companies have had decades honing their abilities to push back on legitimate claims and ultimately settle for much less than is rightfully owed.
Trying to go through the insurance claims process on your own can be extremely difficult, and the emotional toll that trying to fight for what you are due on your own can have detrimental effects on your recovery, among other significant issues that you may encounter. The laws and regulations on the books for Chicago auto accidents are complex and widespread, and the insurance company will try to use these laws and unclear legal language in order to attempt to avoid paying specific damages – all with the goal of saving money instead of meeting your needs. Hiring lawyers for car accidents is one of the recommended steps that anyone can take after an auto accident to make sure that their case is taken seriously by the insurance companies.
Contact Balkin & Mausner Injury Lawyers, LLP For a Free Consultation After a Chicago Auto Accident
The sooner you are in contact with our Chicago law firm, the sooner you will know that there is a team of lawyers available to help you through this difficult time in your life and fight for the money that you deserve. When you contact the insurance company and they know that you are partnered with Balkin & Mausner Injury Lawyers, LLP, you can be certain that they know you mean business, and that you know what it takes to get the money that you deserve. Oftentimes, people will file insurance claims on their own, only to realize once the claims investigation process is concluded and the first offer is sent that they should have hired an attorney sooner.
Instead of making the common mistake of filing your insurance claim before speaking with an attorney, contact our law firm today to learn about how we can support you from the first contact with the insurance company all the way until we either accept an out-of-court settlement or when we are by your side to fight for your compensation in the Illinois courts. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you do not pay anything unless you win – hiring experienced and aggressive legal support could not be any simpler.
Steps To Take After a Car Accident in Chicago
Your top priority after being involved in a car accident is your own health and safety, followed by the health and safety of your passengers. Try to stay as calm as possible, which can feel nearly impossible when your body is coursing with pain and adrenaline, but panicking will only make things worse. The following steps are meant to give you a general guideline of how you can handle the minutes, hours, and days after an accident, but are in no way meant to be a comprehensive guide.
Get To Safety
After the accident, you may still be in the road and in the way of oncoming traffic. Assess the situation, and determine whether it is safer to stay put or to get to the side of the road, such as onto a sidewalk or median strip, parking lot, breakdown lane, or road shoulder. Remember that moving someone with a suspected spine or neck injury is the last resort, and if at all possible these victims should be left where they are until the EMTs arrive and are able to give them the proper support that they need to be moved. In many cases, it may be safer to stay put.
Whether you, one of your passengers, or someone else at the scene makes the call, it is absolutely essential that you call 911. In relatively minor accidents, it can be easy to feel pressure to handle the accident without the help of police, fire, and EMT support on the scene, but there are many reasons that you will benefit from having these emergency professionals available to help. For starters, the police will fill out an accident report that will be a central document during your insurance claim. If you do not call the police and do not have an accident report, stories can change once a claim is filed, and it can quickly become your word against the other driver.
Get Medical Attention
The EMTs at the scene will be able to provide you with emergency care, but their capabilities are limited to what they can fit into the ambulance. They will give you a medical exam and provide you with the limited care that they can, but they may suggest that you take an ambulance to the emergency room for immediate and more comprehensive medical attention. It is important that you listen to the EMTs so that you get the care that you need, when you need it.
Follow Up With Your Doctor
If you leave the scene of the accident without taking an ambulance to the emergency room, it is absolutely essential that you book an appointment with your primary care physician for the earliest time possible. Of course, the main benefit of this appointment is that you will be getting the medical attention that you need in order to make a recovery, but equally important is the fact that you will be generating paperwork and documentation that proves each of the injuries that you will soon be seeking compensation for. Your accident attorney will make sure that this is one of the first things that you do when you begin working with them, if you have not taken this step already.
Hire an Attorney
Many people would assume that the next step would be to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, but taking that step without the help of an attorney only benefits the insurance company. Personal injury attorneys with a history of successful accident cases are allies that you can have during this process, and starting from the moment you file an accident claim, they can handle all communications with the insurance company to ensure that you have the emotional space to focus on recovering from your injuries.
File an Insurance Claim
Once partnered with a car accident lawyer, they will be able to initiate the claim and handle communications with the insurance company. One of the things that insurance adjusters are skilled at is getting victims to make statements that are innocuous at first glance, but can ultimately interfere with the claim by being used as proof of the victim accepting some fault for the accident, downplaying their injuries, or other tactics that have the sole purpose of saving the insurance company money on your personal injury claim. Your accident attorney will fight to keep that from happening.
Common Causes of a Chicago Vehicle Accident
There are seemingly infinite possible ways for a car accident to happen, and even two accidents with the same root cause will be completely different from each other. Our auto accident lawyers understand that each car crash is unique, which is why we take a unique approach to each case that we handle. However, the following are some of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents in Chicago.
Distracted driving is an issue of nearly-epidemic proportions, as nearly every American adult has access to a smartphone, and roughly ¾ of all drivers admit to using their phone at least once while driving. Taking your eyes off the road to read or respond to a text message, check an email, clear a notification, or anything else is both physically distracting AND mentally distracting, and the results can – and often are – disastrous. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in texting and driving accidents in 2018.
Speeding can lead to all sorts of problems on the road that include things like losing control of the vehicle, the inability to brake in time to avoid a rear-end crash, causing other drivers to panic, and more. Speed limits are posted on roads because they set the safe maximum speed that a standard passenger vehicle can travel the roadway at, and take into account things like blind merges, obstacles, hazards, and more. Unfortunately, many drivers treat speed limits like suggestions, which is why speed is such a common factor in many car accidents across the country.
Drunk or Drugged Driving
When someone makes the reckless and dangerous decision to get in their vehicle and drive after consuming alcohol or other mind-altering substances, they put everyone else on the road at risk of a car accident. If you have been in an accident with someone that you suspect is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, contact 911 immediately and inform the operator of your suspicions so that they can relay this information to the Chicago police who will be dispatched to the scene.
Aggressive driving takes many forms, including things like tailgating, flicking high beams at a car in front, swerving to intimidate other drivers, brake checking, and many other dangerous behaviors. This behavior can lead to an accident for a number of reasons, and can create a tense and scary situation for the car accident victims. Aggressive drivers can be unpredictable, and it may be best to remain in your vehicle until the police have arrived at the scene of the car crash in order to keep you and your passengers safe from additional harm. Inform the 911 operator that the driver has exhibited aggressive behavior so that the police know what to expect when they arrive.
Mechanical failures of all sorts can lead to an accident, but determining who is responsible for the failure can be complicated. A car owner is responsible for routine upkeep of their vehicle, including things like ensuring that their tires are safe, brake pads, rotors, and calipers are replaced when necessary, and that all other necessary features are in functional order – in addition to having an Illinois inspection sticker, and more. Failure to keep up with these routine maintenance requirements falls on the vehicle owner, but mechanical failure due to a professional’s work means that the contracted professional may be liable for the accident.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Weather conditions, construction work, and a variety of other factors can create dangerous conditions on the roadways that a driver must be aware of. It is oftentimes the responsibility of the driver to ensure that they are operating in a manner that keeps themselves and others safe on the road, but there are certain cases where someone else is responsible – such as a construction company protected by a surety bond. In any case, proving who is responsible for the crash is the first step in working towards getting a fair award for your accident claim.
Common Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents in Chicago
The following are some of the most common types of Chicago car accidents, although this list is nowhere near exhaustive. Chicago car accident lawyers handle the following types of accident cases and many more, and our law firm will be happy to represent you throughout the entire process of your accident claim. Whether or not your car crash type is mentioned below, contact us now for a free initial consultation in order to explore your options with an experienced accident lawyer who can help you make sense of your situation and provide you with an understanding of the available options for seeking compensation.
A rear-end auto accident is most common at traffic intersections, red lights, stop signs, yields, merges, or anywhere that traffic slows or comes to a complete stop. Distracted drivers, people who are speeding, and those with brakes failures are some of the most common types of people who cause these accidents, although the causes go well beyond these three simplified examples. Rear-end car accidents lead to injuries like whiplash, airbag injuries, and other impact injuries that can happen even at low speeds.
Head-on collisions happen when one (or, in some instances, both) driver swerves into oncoming traffic, striking another vehicle straight on from the front. These types of accidents are extremely dangerous, because the speed of the collision is increased since in many cases each vehicle is moving at the time of impact. Fortunately, there have been many improvements in head-on accident safety technology, such as better airbags, safer seatbelts, and more, but no amount of technology will be able to keep you completely safe from harm.
T-Bone Car Accidents
A T-bone accident gets its name from the way that the two vehicles collide, with one vehicle driving straight into the side of the other to form a “T” during the crash. These types of crashes can be particularly dangerous for the car accident victims in the vehicle struck on the side, because there is far less protective structure to absorb the impact. Side-impact airbags have come a long way in recent years, but even these can not guarantee that passengers will avoid serious injuries, which can include lacerations from broken glass, bone fractures, internal bleeding, traumatic brain injuries, and more.
A sideswipe accident happens when one vehicle swipes the side of another, either moving in the same direction or in opposite directions. While the impact injuries in these types of accidents may not be as severe as in others, there are many injuries that can be sustained during these collisions that can be serious, debilitating, or even fatal. Rest assured that our injury lawyers will be able to help you identify and fight for fair compensation for each of your injuries from this Chicago car accident.
A rollover accident is the most dangerous type of accident there is, for a range of factors. For one, the car accident victims are thrown around in unpredictable ways as the motor vehicle tumbles, meaning that the safety features in the car may not be able to function as they were designed to. These types of car accidents account for roughly 35% of all fatalities in car accidents, which should be a good indication of how serious they are.
Determining Fault After a Chicago Car Accident
One of the first things that personal injury lawyers need to determine while working on a Chicago car accident case is the issue of fault: who caused the Chicago car accident, and therefore who is liable to pay for the damages and the injuries that the victims sustained? There are many different ways that someone can determine fault after an auto accident, and your accident lawyer will be able to investigate the case closely in order to find the most appropriate way to do so in your unique situation.
You can help your car accident lawyer in Chicago by taking some early steps that will help to establish evidence, such as contacting 911 as soon as the auto accident takes place so that a police officer will get to the scene of the crash and complete a car accident report. In addition to relying on the auto accident report, your car accident attorney will be able to contact eyewitnesses for statements, pull records of your personal injury history to prove the severity of your injuries caused by your Chicago auto accident, and may be able to gather surveillance footage if there were any traffic cameras or security cameras in the area.
An experienced car accident attorney will be able to look at your case and identify all of the available ways to gather the information that will help to prove that you are the victim in the case, and will then be able to fight to get you the damages that you rightfully deserve after your Chicago car accident.
Calculating Damages After a Chicago Car Accident
The central question of your case will be that of compensation: how much money are you owed for a personal injury claim following a motor vehicle accident? Car accident lawyers focus on gathering the many damages that their clients have suffered, and ensuring that the insurance company accounts for each of them as they are going back and forth with negotiations. Without the support of an attorney, you will be left to gather evidence and fight for fair compensation on your own, all while trying to recover from your injuries while managing the stressful details of your case.
Economic damages are the main damages in a personal injury case, and apply to any damage that has a measurable dollar value. They seek compensation from insurance companies for things like medical bills and lost wages, as well as many other damages that may be unique to your case. These damages are easier for car accident lawyers to fight for, simply because they come with receipts, invoices, bills, and income statements that prove the true impact of the damage without needing to go through abstract calculations or by using subjective scales to measure the impact, which is necessary in the case of non-economic damages.
Your car accident lawyer will help you go through all of the details of your auto accident and the resulting impacts on your life in order to identify all of the economic damages that you have incurred. There are many costs and losses in your case that you may not even realize are related to your car accident, which the insurance companies would never point out to you if you do not bring them to the negotiation table on your own.
Non-economic damages are more complicated than economic damages, simply because they apply to damages that do not have any inherent or measurable dollar value. They include things like the pain and suffering that you have to endure following injuries in a car accident, as well as a range of other physical, emotional, and psychological impacts that are directly related to your accident. As you can imagine, trying to quantify the monetary damage for something like pain and suffering can be complex, and given the abstract nature of these damages, insurance companies are much more likely to push back on agreeing to pay them in your case.
Car accident lawyers have a variety of tools and methods that they can use in your case that will help them quantify your non-economic damages, and then convert their findings into measurable dollar amounts. Just because you do not get a receipt for your pain and suffering does not mean that it isn’t a very real part of a car accident, and you should not need to take on the burden of these damages on your own – especially when someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior caused the car accident that created these damages to begin with.
Why You Should Work With Chicago Car Accident Lawyers
After a car accident, it can be confusing and overwhelming to think about where to go next with your case. Working directly with an insurance company without representation from auto accident lawyers is a recipe for disaster, as an insurance representative assigned to your case will spend the coming days or weeks looking for every possible way to poke holes in your claim. Without Chicago car accident lawyers building your own case, you will need to build your own negotiations once you receive the initial settlement offer.
Your car accident attorney will be able to handle all of the legal and administrative details of your case while you are able to focus on recovering from your injuries, which is the most important priority for you in the early days and weeks following a car accident. Any uncertainty or anxieties that you have about the future of your car accident claim can be eased by speaking with your attorney, meaning that you can stay stress-free while prioritizing your personal needs. The auto accident lawyers at Balkin & Mausner Injury Lawyers, LLP understand how important these early days are for long-term recovery, which is why we are so happy to take on these cases as soon as possible so that you can recover from your car accident in relative peace.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chicago Car Accidents
The following questions and answers are some of the most common that we are happy to discuss in greater detail with potential clients during a free initial consultation, and throughout the course of the work that we do together in order to settle your personal injury claim and get the money that you deserve after your car accident. Remember that the following answers are not meant to be taken as legal advice, and that we will only be able to get into the specifics of your case during our work together.
How much is my car accident case worth?
In order to calculate the damages that you are entitled to after you are injured in a car accident, you and your experienced Chicago car accident attorney will need to take a close look at all of the relevant information in order to determine the money that you are truly owed. However, simply calculating your damages does not mean that the insurance company will pay you what you deserve – for this, your attorney will need to go through a series of negotiations that will either end in an out-of-court settlement, or you and your lawyer will need to decide if it is worth filing a lawsuit with the Illinois courts and enlisting the help of a judge or jury.
Should I accept the settlement offer from the insurance company?
Under NO circumstances should you ever accept an offer from an insurance company without reviewing the offer with your attorney. Your case is no different to the insurance company than any other case, meaning that they will approach it with the sole intent of settling for as little money as possible. Insurance companies handle claims for hundreds or thousands of accidents each year, and are extremely adept at manipulating the situation to their advantage – your attorney will be able to help you understand what you are actually owed, and will fight on your behalf to get a settlement that makes sense.
Do I need an attorney to help me file a car accident claim?
You are under no legal obligation to hire a lawyer at any point during your personal injury claim, but the only group that benefits from you working alone is the insurance company. While you are trying to recover from your injuries, your attorney will be able to handle the legwork of the claims process, handle all communications to ensure that you do not make any innocuous statements that can impact your settlement, and ultimately ensure that each step in your claim is done to maximize the damages that you are ultimately compensated for as the victim of an accident.
Will I need to go to court in order to get the money I deserve after filing a car accident claim with an insurance company?
The goal for most personal injury claims is to reach a settlement agreement before needing to file a lawsuit (and, more importantly, before the statute of limitations expires). Personal injury trials are costly and time-consuming. In fact, some estimates indicate that nearly 95% of all personal injury claims are settled before trial, and that nearly 50% of claims are settled before a lawsuit is even filed. There is no way to fully verify these statistics, since the parties do not need to disclose the details of an out-of-court settlement, and there is no guarantee that your case will avoid court, but these numbers can be encouraging when you are trying to anticipate your own experience.