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Is Car Technology Leading to More Distracted Driving?

There is no question that technology makes our lives easier. Whether you use technology for work-related purposes or your hobbies, there is not one aspect of our life where we do not rely on technology to become more productive. Technology is supposed to make our tasks more manageable, but is that always the case?

When it comes to driving, for example, is the task made easier when there are different types of technological features added to the vehicle? Does the addition of these technological features lead to an increase in distracted driving? Continue reading to lean more about distracted driving, car technology, and liability law from our Chicago car accident lawyers.

New technological advances

There once was a time when drivers considered the addition of rear-view cameras inside a car as cutting edge. Now, several technological advances get installed into all types of vehicles. There is nearly a technological feature for every type of driving situation. Some of the standard technological features inside the new vehicles include:

Blind spot detection

Blind spot detection is a feature that helps a vehicle detect the presence of another vehicle in the driver’s blind spot. This alert often appears on the driver’s side mirrors. This feature is beneficial for all drivers and can potentially reduce the possibility of blind spot accidents.

Lane departure signals

Another technological feature is the lane departure signal feature. The advancement helps to warn drivers when they steer or drift into another lane. This signal obviously helps to warn drowsy or distracted drivers when they are potentially drifting into another lane and hitting another driver.

Forward collision warning features

This technological feature prevents drivers from colliding with the car ahead of them. Some vehicles have forward collision warning features that can sense a few cars ahead if there is a potential collision. If the car in front of you stops abruptly for whatever reason, this feature can ignite an automatic emergency brake to stop your car. Other aspects of this feature include display lights, sounds, or a change in the brake pedal.

360-degree cameras

Some vehicles come equipped with 360-degree cameras inside. Like rear-view cameras, 360-degree cameras get placed on every side of the vehicle. This feature provides a complete view of your vehicle from the top down and helps prevent a driver from hitting anything while parking. The view from 360-degree cameras allows you to see difficult locations for drivers, such as the parking lanes and the sides of the garage.

Distracted driving

Incorporating these features into every new vehicle can significantly reduce the risk of car accidents. Ironically, these new features can increase car accidents as well. Drivers who heavily rely on these types of technological advancements are at risk of engaging in distracted driving. Distracted driving is a phenomenon that results in the loss of many lives.

Causes of distracted driving

Distracted Texting and Driving

Some of the common causes of distracted driving include:

  • Using a cell phone. Drivers fail to notice the presence of other drivers or safely react to the changes in traffic when they check their cell phones. Cell phone usage texting and driving is one of the most common distractions on the road.
  • Interacting with other passengers. Aside from using a cell phone, talking with passengers is another common distraction that takes drivers’ attention away from the roads. While some passengers can help a driver stay awake while driving, passengers can also divide a driver’s focus away from the roads.
  • Adjusting the features in a car. Whether it is adjusting the GPS in the car or manipulating the Apple Car play features on the cell phone, adjusting the car’s features can be a distraction. Even adjusting a car feature for a second can distract a driver and cause a severe accident.
  • Eating or drinking. Another common distraction is eating snacks or drinking beverages while driving. It is common for drivers to sneak a snack during “slow times” on the road. Instead of trying to eat a snack or consume a drink and risk hitting someone, it will be better to pull over to the side of the road or park somewhere safe where you can enjoy your food or drinks in peace.
  • Rubbernecking. Another common distraction is rubbernecking or pausing to view something distracting. For many drivers, rubbernecking is common when a car accident happens during traffic, and drivers want to see the graphic scene. Rubbernecking is an activity that not only increases the flow of traffic but increases the possibility that another traffic accident can happen.

Types of distractions While Driving

Three distractions can draw drivers’ attention from the road:

  • Cognitive distractions. Cognitive distractions are the mental distractions that take the driver’s attention off the road. These distractions can mean innocent distractions like daydreaming or thinking about everyday errands to get done.
  • Manual distractions. Manual distractions are physical distractions that take a driver’s hands away from the wheel. Some manual distractions include eating, applying makeup, smoking, and checking social media on your cell phone.
  • Visual distractions. Visual distractions are the distractions that take a driver’s eyes off of the road. Some examples of visual distractions include checking to see what the children are doing in the car’s back seat, viewing a text message on your cell phone, and responding to a cell phone notification or a particular car feature.

How new technology features lead to distracted driving

With new technological features like lane detection and crash avoidance technology, it will seem as if car accidents will decrease. Unfortunately, these features can also aid in the rise of car accidents. Drivers can become too dependent on these features and allow their focus to wander while driving.

Even worse, some of these features can become additional visual distractions and take the driver’s eyes off the roads. Like a cell phone, these new features can come with notifications that can easily distract the driver.

While many drivers assume that hands-free vehicle systems are safer, they still cause distractions. Hands-free calling, texting, GPS, and other tech features of your vehicle might seem safer than using handheld devices, but they are still not completely safe and cause serious distractions. Drivers should avoid using these as much as possible.

Legal liability

When you have been in a car accident that a distracted driver caused, you can hold that driver responsible for your injuries. Becoming distracted behind the wheel is another kind of negligence a driver can commit and be liable for resulting crashes. When that driver’s negligence causes you or other drivers serious harm, you now have the right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against that driver. However, other parties can also be responsible for your injuries.

Car manufacturer

Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you can also hold the car manufacturer liable for your injuries. While the driver is the main party responsible for your accident, the car manufacturer can have also displayed negligent behavior that contributed to your accident. For example, the feature installed into the vehicle may have been defective and failed to work as expected, leading to your accident. The features may have been too distracting to the point where the driver cannot focus on the road and crashes into you.

Tesla autopilot recall

One of the most recent examples of a company causing defective safety features in vehicles is the Tesla autopilot recall. The recall has become such a problem that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stepped in and enforced a mandatory probe into the car manufacturer’s system. Tesla incorporated an autopilot system to assist drivers with regular driving features like lane changing, parking, and braking.

Unfortunately, drivers have reported a braking issue where the car unexpectedly stops while the car is moving. These issues have caused 16 car accidents that have involved emergency vehicles, 15 injuries, and one death so far. The recent recall has affected 830,000 Tesla vehicles.

Preventing distractions while driving

While safety features are nice to have in your vehicle, you want to ensure that you do not become too dependent on these safety features while driving. Even more important, you do not want to allow these features to distract you while driving. If it comes down between you and the car manufacturer, you are more likely to be liable for a car accident.

To prevent distractions while driving, preparation is critical. You want to make sure that your phone is in a location that is not easily accessible and that your notifications are off. You also want to ensure that any distracting features associated with the safety technology in your car get turned off.

 

How a car accident lawyer can help

Before filing a lawsuit, there are several factors to consider. In addition to determining whether it is worth filing a lawsuit, you must also consider the parties you want to sue and the damages you want to receive.

You must also consider how you will hold these parties liable and present the best case as to why you should get compensation. While all of these factors can be overwhelming to figure out on your own, you can consult with a car accident lawyer to help you with your lawsuit. There are many ways that a car accident lawyer can help with your lawsuit.

Whether your lawsuit is worth pursuing

During your consultation, your lawyer will determine through the facts of your accident whether your lawsuit is worth pursuing or not. There are certain factors that lawyers can use to determine the worth of your lawsuit. Some of those factors include the extent of your injuries, whether you have a possibility of recovering from your injuries, and how possible it is to prove the parties you’re suing liable for your injuries. Your lawyer will weigh these factors and consider whether you will be successful in proving the other parties’ liability.

Holding the right parties accountable

A lawyer can also help you determine which parties you should hold liable in your lawsuit. If there is a more substantial chance of holding the driver liable for your injuries, your lawyer can help list the driver as the liable party. Suppose there is strong evidence that you can use to prove that the car manufacturer’s negligent actions caused your accident. In that case, your lawyer can also file a lawsuit against the car manufacturer.

Evaluating the damages in your lawsuit

Another benefit your lawyer brings to the table is evaluating the damages in your lawsuit. You can request multiple damages in your lawsuit if you demonstrate causation by the accident. Typical damages include medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and property damage. Your lawyer can assess the cost of each damage you will like to be compensated for, including non-economic damages like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

Ways to resolve your lawsuit

Your lawyer can also decide the best course of action to help you receive the maximum compensation from your lawsuit. With lawsuits, you can resolve them through two methods. You can resolve your lawsuit through a settlement or a trial.

Regardless of how you want your lawsuit resolved, your lawyer should have the skills to present the most robust case for you. You want a skilled lawyer to deny settlements that will not benefit you in the long run. You also want a confident lawyer to take your lawsuit to trial if the opposing counsel does not want to mediate and reach a mutual decision.

Presenting the best case for you

Your lawyer can also gather the best evidence for you and prove the liability of the other parties. The more evidence you have that can prove how negligent the other party acted towards you, the greater your chances are of being rewarded your compensation.

Your lawyer can design the most robust case for you to remove any doubt that the other parties are legally responsible for your accident. Your lawyer also has the skills to dispute any counterarguments the opposing party will make toward you.

Speak to a car accident lawyer today

Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Gary Annes
Chicago Car Accident Lawyer, Gary Annes

If you have been the victim of an accident caused by a distracted driver, consult with a lawyer. Distracted driving is a negligent act that drivers can prevent, and when they cause accidents, they should be liable. Contact a car accident lawyer today about your case.

An Illinois Medical Marijuana Card Is Not a License to Drive High

Driving While High is Still a Crime in Illinois

Medical marijuana became legal in the State of Illinois on January 1, 2014. However, it is important to note that Illinois law applies strict regulations for using medical marijuana, especially when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana.

Driving while drunk or drugged can significantly alter the driver’s perceptions and reaction times, leading to serious accidents and catastrophic injuries. If you have sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drugged driver, a lawyer can determine whether or not you are eligible to recover monetary compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. may be able to represent you in your case and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Cannabis laws in Illinois

While the state enacted medical marijuana laws in Illinois in 2014 and legalized recreational marijuana in 2020, medical marijuana users must follow regulations. Many restrictions govern the possession and consumption of medical marijuana. In terms of possession, all Illinois residents must carry only up to 30 grams of cannabis flower on their person. Medical marijuana users may not consume or smoke marijuana while driving in a motor vehicle, even if the driver possesses a medical marijuana card.

Driving While Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana in Illinois

While an individual with trace amounts of medical marijuana technically can drive, it is best not to do so. Specifically, a medical marijuana card does not prevent the police from arresting the driver for operating the vehicle in a reckless or careless manner.

If a driver is operating their vehicle recklessly with marijuana in his or her system, Illinois DUI laws will still apply. Illinois had adopted a set of roadside tests designed to determine if the driver is impaired by marijuana, as well as threshold limits for blood and saliva levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Drivers who need to be taken somewhere while they are still under the influence of their marijuana prescription should consider letting a friend or neighbor drive them, or grabbing an Uber or Lyft. Another option is to take public transportation.

Can I Refuse a Sobriety Test?

A person might refuse a sobriety test following an accident, which can have consequences. Commercial drivers generally must undergo drug testing after they crash, though non-commercial drivers can choose to accept the penalties of a refusal. This means that you might not have concrete evidence of the drugs in their system at the time of the accident. However, a skilled car accident lawyer can still seek evidence of negligence and liability for the crash.

Medical Marijuana DUIs in Chicago

Chicago and the whole State of Illinois considers a medical marijuana card an automatic authorization to submit to field sobriety testing. If the officer reasonably believes that the driver is impaired, the test will go forward. If the driver refuses, the State may suspend or revoke the driver’s license. Moreover, if the State suspects that the cause of the DUI was medical marijuana, the State can prosecute the driver under the State’s normal DUI laws.

A police officer is also allowed to testify against the offending driver in court – and to confirm the driver’s level of impairment at the time the driver was pulled over. The offending driver may also be subject to the State’s reckless driving laws, and a conviction can result in criminal fines or penalties.

Reckless Driving while Driving on Marijuana

Drugs, including medical marijuana, can seriously impact a driver’s abilities while behind the wheel of a car. Drugs and alcohol can cause blurry vision and may also affect a person’s perception – including depth perception – while on the roadway. Other common symptoms associated with drugged driving include bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, slurred speech, and a dazed look.

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs can result in collisions with roadway objects, including guardrails, walls, or buildings. Pedestrian collisions are also possible, as are collisions with other motor vehicles on the roadway.

What is an impaired state?

When drivers consume marijuana while driving, their mental and physical abilities are significantly limited. The driver’s alert state begins to dwindle, and the driver’s ability to physically react to any changes on the road will diminish as well. Simple tasks that a driver can perform when they are sober will be challenging while they are under the influence of cannabis. As the driver’s abilities decrease, the chances of a car crash increase.

Proving Reckless or Impaired Driving in Illinois

Reckless driving is one form of negligent driving. In reckless driving cases, the injured accident victim has the burden of proving negligence and damages. The injured accident victim must be able to show that, as a result of the presence of drugs in the driver’s system, the driver operated a vehicle in a careless or reckless manner. A driver must ordinarily operate a motor vehicle as a “reasonable” driver would under the same or similar circumstances.

Arguably, if the driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, including medical marijuana, it violates the “reasonable person” standard of care. This is because an impaired driver poses a potential hazard to all other motor vehicle drivers on the roadway at that time.

The injured accident victim must also be able to show that the impaired driver’s violation of the standard of care directly resulted in certain injuries and damages. Available damages may include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those types of damages that can readily be calculated in dollars and cents – such as medical bills and lost wages. On the other hand, non-economic damages, such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, and permanency, are more subjective and do not have a hard-and-fast number associated with them.

What should I do if a person who was high or on drugs caused my car accident?

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and suspect that the other driver was impaired by medical marijuana, there are several steps you can take. Immediately call the police and tell them that you were involved in an accident with a suspected drugged driver. When the police officer arrives on-scene, he or she may be able to administer the necessary tests and should also be able to compose a police report or incident report.

Moreover, if you have sustained an injury in the accident, it is best to travel in an ambulance to the nearest hospital. In the alternative, you should have someone drive you to an emergency room or urgent care facility. You should seek emergency medical care even if you do not believe that you sustained a serious injury in the accident. This is because many injuries do not come to light immediately, and it is usually best to have a medical professional diagnose your condition.

What can a car accident lawyer do for you?

Maybe you are a victim of a car accident caused by a medical marijuana user who wants to hold the driver accountable. When you decide to fight for your compensation, you need the proper legal representation for your case. You do not want to go through the legal process by yourself. This point is where the counsel of a car accident lawyer comes in. A lawyer can benefit your car accident case in several ways.

Properly estimating your damages

After a car accident caused by a medical marijuana user, you will likely suffer some injuries that hinder your life in costly ways. You can suffer other damages due to your car accident outside of medical expenses and lost wages. Even after receiving medical attention for your injuries, your condition can impact your physical and mental health in ways that are not noticeable yet.

Your car accident lawyer can calculate all of the damages associated with your case and even calculate the costs of potential damages in the future. With medical care, in particular, a car accident lawyer knows how to calculate the costs for future medical costs or future lost wages.

Defend your legal rights

Your car accident lawyer can also defend your legal rights against insurance companies. The medical marijuana user’s insurance company will be the primary party responsible for your compensation. Because of this, insurance companies will poke various holes through your argument of liability. They might even insinuate that you bear some responsibility for your accident.

Your car accident lawyer can counter these arguments by effectively proving the other driver’s liability. An attorney is skilled in conducting investigations and gathering the necessary evidence for car accident claims, including those stemming from driving under the influence of marijuana.

Reach fair settlements

Depending on various factors, you may not have to participate in a trial to receive your compensation. If the insurance company admits to the liability of its policyholder, the adjuster might make a fairly quick settlement offer. This settlement might be an attractive option if it did not come with a string attached.

In exchange for a settlement offer, you will have to surrender your right to sue the other driver for any future compensation related to your accident. To add insult to injury, the insurance company’s settlement amount is usually much lower than what you actually need for your injuries.

With a car accident lawyer to represent you, you can avoid being tricked by insurance companies in this manner. With their experience, they can assess the insurance company’s offer and determine whether it is worth accepting or not. Most of the time, it never is. If you still want to pursue the settlement route, you can still negotiate after you have denied the insurance company’s offer. Your lawyer can negotiate for the settlement amount that you actually deserve.

Experienced court representation

Even if your lawsuit does result in a trial, you can rest assured that you are in the best hands with an experienced car accident lawyer. Your lawyer is skilled in preparing for each step in the trial process, from depositions to witness testimonies. Your attorney is like the legal coach of your personal injury case; they will prepare you and all witnesses for the defendant’s arguments. Even if the defendant’s lawyer requests to cross-examine you, your lawyer can object to any ridiculous statements made and prepare you in the best way possible.

Contact a car accident attorney for a free case evaluation today

Dave Abels Personal Injury Lawyer
Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer, Dave Abels

Medical marijuana users do not have free reign to drive in any condition they want. Like all drivers, the law prohibits them from driving under the influence. Still, some medical marijuana users take that chance and put their lives and the lives of other motorists in danger. An accident due to impaired driving can change a victim’s life in an instant, resulting in costly injuries that alter your life in many ways.

When you have suffered an injury in a car accident caused by a medical marijuana user, that driver deserves to be responsible for your injuries. This liability is in addition to any criminal penalties the driver faces. While you have the right to represent yourself in a car accident case, you should never do so.

A skilled car accident attorney can alleviate a majority of the stress associated with your case. Do not wait to consult with an attorney after a car accident. You might lose out on the chance to recover compensation for your injuries if you delay too long.

Injured in a Car Accident? Get a Lawsuit Settlement

You need a lawyer if you suffered an injury in a car accident. Car accident attorneys help those injured in car accidents get the money they need to fully recover from their harm. If you have suffered an injury in an accident, you should contact a car accident lawyer immediately to help protect your legal rights. There is no reason to pursue a car accident claim alone. Call (312)924-7575 an experienced car accident lawyer in your area today if you have suffered an injury in a car accident.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Every driver must follow the rules of the road. If they do not follow the road rules, they can cause an accident. Call (312)924-7575 to discuss your accident with a local car accident lawyer to discuss your claim if you have suffered an injury in a car accident. Some common causes of car accidents include:

Carelessness

If a driver operates their vehicle carelessly, they can cause a tragic accident. Careless driving includes a motorist making avoidable mistakes. If a driver fails to check their blind spots, does not look before changing lanes, or fails to yield or stop at stop signs.

Recklessness

A driver operates their vehicle recklessly when they drive with disregard for the safety of others. A reckless driver may receive a citation for a traffic offense. If someone gets pulled over for reckless driving, they may have a court date in criminal court and face a car accident lawsuit in the future if they cause an accident.

Speeding

Speeding is a major cause of traffic accidents. If you are driving over the speed limit, you may not stop quickly enough to avoid an accident. An accident caused by a speeding driver is avoidable. Call (312)924-7575 a local car accident lawyer to discuss your injuries if a speeding driver injured you.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving includes anything that takes your mind off driving. Distracted driving includes texting, talking on the phone, eating, changing the music, focusing on the navigation system, and talking to your passengers. It only takes a second of inattention to cause an accident. Every driver should put all their attention on the road while driving.

Fatigued Driving

Drivers should not operate a vehicle when they are tired. A fatigued driver has a slower reaction and response time. A sleepy driver may start to microsleep. Microsleep is when a person falls asleep for seconds from exhaustion. Unfortunately, fatigued drivers cause accidents across the country daily.

Impaired Driving

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and illegal. Driving while under the influence can cause a deadly accident. Everyone that shares the road with an impaired driver is at risk.

Poorly Maintained Roads

You might have a claim against the city if you were in an accident caused by a poorly maintained road. If your city has roads with cracks, potholes, or other problems, you may get into a single car accident or an accident with another driver that may not be either driver’s fault. In that case, speak to an accident attorney immediately to learn more about your right to pursue compensation against the city.

Defective Parts

Sometimes accidents can be caused by defective parts. All manufacturers are required to put safe products into the marketplace. If your car has a defective part, you may be at risk for an accident. If you get into an accident because of a defective part, you may have a claim against the manufacturer. Call (312)924-7575 an experienced accident attorney to discuss your options if you find yourself in this situation.

Bad Weather

The weather can be a contributing factor to a car accident. Drivers must adjust their speed if the weather calls for it. A driver might be liable for negligence even if they were traveling the speed limit if they fail to slow to a safer speed.

What Increases the Value of My Settlement?

Every settlement is unique. Many factors increase the overall value of your case, including your specific injuries. Your attorney will help you determine your case value. If you suffered an injury in a car accident, call (312)924-7575 a local car accident lawyer to discuss your case and determine its value.

Who Is Liable?

The liable party is responsible for paying for the injured party’s damages. Often the responsible party will rely on their insurance to pay a judgment, and their insurance policy may not be enough to pay all your bills. Still, if a business or another party with deep pockets is responsible, you can get more of your damages covered. Your attorney will talk to you about your injuries in detail. Accident victims tend to downplay their injuries. An attorney will anticipate future damages as well as the currently apparent ones.

Insurance Policy Limits

You must name every potentially liable defendant in your lawsuit because each defendant may have different insurance policy limits. Insurance policy limits represent the maximum amount of money that the insurance company will pay for any one accident settlement.

Insurance policy limits may restrict the money needed to pay the victim’s medical bills and other damages. That is why you must name every possible defendant in your lawsuit. You have a greater chance of fully recovering financially from your injuries.

The Severity of the Injury

The more severe the injuries are, the more valuable your accident claim. A person with whiplash, sprains, strains, or other minor injuries will not receive the same settlement amount as someone who lost a limb or suffered another permanent injury. More severe injuries usually require invasive or long-term treatment like surgery or physical therapy. An accident victim that requires surgery or other major treatment for their injuries may receive more money when their case settles.

Your Injury Affects Your Job and Earnings

If your injuries keep you from working, you are entitled to damages for your lost income. To prove lost income, keep a record of the days you missed because of your injuries. Your medical records may include a notation of excuses from work or directions to not work for a period so that you can recover.

You may also be entitled to future lost wages and loss of earning capacity. Your attorney will work with you to prove these damages.

Intangible Effects of Your Injuries

Pain and suffering damages compensate an accident victim for injuries that they suffered. Victims usually prove pain and suffering damages through testimony. You can testify about how the accident has affected your daily life, and your family members and other loved ones can testify how you have changed since your accident and injuries.

An accident victim’s spouse can also claim intangible damages, similar to the pain and suffering of the victim. This claim compensates your spouse for losing your companionship, including sexual intimacy, due to injuries and related effects.

What Damages are Available After a Car Accident?

After you get into an accident, one of the first things you want is to ensure that your injuries get treatment. The next thing that you focus on is getting compensated for your injuries. But what damages are available after a car accident?

Examples of damages that are available after a car accident include:

Medical Bills

You may recover the medical expenses you suffered in an accident. You must see a doctor immediately after the accident. Follow your doctor’s instructions and if they recommend seeing a specialist, do so.

In addition to your current medical bills, you deserve compensation for future medical expenses. Some injuries require you to have long-term treatment like physical therapy. Your settlement from the insurance company should include money to pay for ongoing medical care.

Lost Income

If your injuries caused you to miss work, you are entitled to compensation for your loss. Loss of income is compensable both now and in the future, just as medical care is. You are also entitled to compensation for lost earning capacity. You can continue working after the accident, but the type of work you can complete may be different. For example, if you were a firefighter before the accident but can no longer do the job, but you can work at a desk job, you can receive the difference in salary as compensation.

Pain and Suffering

An accident victim is entitled to pain and suffering damages. Pain and suffering are intangible damages; sometimes, it is hard to prove that you have sustained this kind of harm. An accident attorney can help you prove your pain and suffering injuries.

Loss of Consortium

If you are married, your spouse may have a claim for loss of consortium. A loss of consortium claim compensates the spouse of an injured person for the loss of their spouse’s companionship.

Some injuries from a car accident can lead to the spouse being unable to spend time with their loved one, have sexual relations, or may become emotionally unavailable because of the stress of the injury. If your spouse believes they have a loss of consortium claim, they should speak to your car accident lawyer immediately.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

If this is your first accident claim, you will not know what to expect, and you may fall into common, avoidable pitfalls. An accident attorney can help you avoid common problems that accident victims face as they pursue recovery. Some common issues that unrepresented clients face include:

Prematurely Signing a Document from an Insurance Company

Never accept an offer from an insurance company before speaking to an attorney. An insurance company is a for-profit business, and it is concerned about its bottom line. To protect its bottom line, the company will offer a quick settlement offer that may not cover all your injuries.

Failure to Include All Potential Defendants

You may leave money on the table if you do not name all potential defendants in a lawsuit. One defendant may be unable to pay for all your injuries, but if another defendant is responsible, that defendant may have more resources so that you receive full compensation.

Settling a Claim Before Your Injuries are Fully Treated

It makes sense that you want to settle your claim quickly and return to your life. However, the instinct to accept the first offer may hurt your case. Often, accident victims do not know the extent of their injuries at the beginning of their case. A car accident lawyer knows how to negotiate with the insurance company anticipating future medical bills and future lost wages.

Failure to Comply with Procedural Rules

You must follow procedural rules in car accident cases. You may lose your lawsuit if you fail to follow the statute of limitations, which sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. An injury lawyer understands civil procedure, evidence, and local court rules. You can avoid dismissal for a technical error if you hire an accident attorney.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today

Dave Abels Personal Injury Lawyer
Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer, Dave Abels

Car accident injuries can lead to a long and confusing road to recovery. You need a lawyer if you suffered an injury in an accident. You do not have to go it alone after a car crash. You need someone with experience helping people who suffered injuries like yours and who will fight to get the money you need to recover in peace. Call (312)924-7575 an accident lawyer in your area today.

How Much Money Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Recover?

Depending on who is at fault in an accident, you might be reluctant to sue, particularly if you were a passenger in the car of a friend or family member who caused the accident. If you get into an accident while riding in a car with a friend or relative (other than a household member), you can sue to recover damages for your injuries.

Your friend or relative does not pay for your injuries and losses if they were at fault. Instead, their insurance company pays. Even if you have to go to court because the insurance company denies your claim or offers an inadequate settlement amount, your friend or relative is not likely to pay out of pocket.

The person at fault for the crash may have insurance coverage to cover you. Never pay for your medical bills and other losses if you were a blameless passenger. Seek legal advice to discuss your options with a Chicago personal injury lawyer.

Illinois Accident Statistics for Passengers

Illinois roads have many accident risks, including distracted drivers, aggressive drivers, stop-and-go traffic, speeding drivers, impaired drivers, and more:

  • Of the 311,679 accidents in Illinois in one recent year, 93,517 people sustained injuries, and 12,003 people suffered incapacitating injuries.
  • 1,090 suffered fatal injuries, of which 213 were passengers in motor vehicles.
  • 23,840 passengers sustained injuries, while 61,514 drivers suffered from injuries in an accident. Of the passengers who sustained injuries, 2,703 suffered incapacitating injuries.
  • Nationwide, passengers represented 63 percent of motor vehicle crash fatalities in one year.

Drivers and passengers are in similar positions during a crash. Both can hit their heads, twist their joints and soft tissue, and suffer other circumstances due to an impact that causes serious injuries. Whether you are a passenger on Lake Shore Drive, the Dan Ryan Expressway, or streets in the suburbs, there is a chance you can sustain life-changing injuries if an accident occurs.

Common Injuries That Car Passengers Suffer

As a passenger, you can suffer severe injuries in a car accident.

Some of the most common injuries that passengers suffer are:

Depending on the injury and its severity, a passenger can face significant bills and pain and suffering due to no fault of their own. Because of this, passengers in a motor vehicle accident can seek compensation for their damages.

#1. Traumatic brain injuries

A traumatic brain injury (also called a TBI) is any injury to the brain when the head strikes something, or an object penetrates the skull. Head injuries are common in car accidents because of how the body and head are thrown around during a collision. During an accident, it’s not uncommon for the head to strike the side or front of the vehicle’s interior. A head injury can also occur without direct impact when the force created during the collision causes the brain to move inside the skull.

TBIs can significantly affect one’s quality of life. They may require intense medical treatment, can cause lifelong cognitive and physical impairments, and can severely strain a sufferer’s finances.

#2. Spinal cord and back injuries

Spinal cord injuries are also common in motor vehicle accidents because of the force exerted on the body during impact. These injuries refer to damage to the bones or nerves that make up the spine.

Injuries to the back and spine can result in everything from a mild pain that heals on its own to permanent and life-changing paralysis.

Spinal cord injuries, especially paralysis, can significantly affect a person’s life. They may cause the injury victim to miss work, rack up medical bills, and endure pain and suffering. A paralyzed accident victim may find themselves forced to rethink their career, family life, and how they do daily tasks. Partial or complete paralysis will completely disrupt a person’s entire life.

#3. Internal injuries

Internal injuries are some of the most severe consequences of trauma caused by a car accident. Common internal injuries include internal bleeding and damage to internal organs resulting from trauma. But internal injuries can also occur without apparent symptoms, leading to delayed treatment or severe complications.

Internal injuries may result from blunt trauma, which occurs when a part of the body collides with something else. They may also occur due to penetrating trauma when an object pierces the body and damages blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs.

No matter how internal injuries occur, they are serious injuries that negatively affect accident victims.

#4. Neck and shoulder injuries

Pain in the upper body, especially the neck and shoulders, is a common complaint of car accident victims. That’s because how we sit in cars and seat belts cross the chest causes a significant force on the neck and shoulder areas.

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries associated with car accidents. This injury can lead to chronic pain, which affects a person for the rest of their life. This may mean not staying in the same career or not caring for your family in the same way. Whiplash can cause significant life changes though some call it a “minor” injury.

#5. Paralysis

Paralysis often occurs because of damage to the spinal cord. However, it may also occur because of damage to the brain.

Paralysis can occur in many different forms. Some forms of paralysis cause a person to lose just their ability to grip, while others destroy a person’s sensory abilities and motion of all four limbs (called quadriplegia). The fact is that any paralysis can change someone’s life since they have to relearn how to move, speak, and carry out everyday tasks.

#6. Simple and compound fractures

Fractured bones in the arms and legs are common injuries caused by car accidents. There are two types of fractures we commonly see in car accident victims: simple and compound.

Simple fractures cause the bone to crack without the bone piercing the skin. These are usually easily repaired. Compound fractures completely break the bone and can often cause the bone to pierce through the skin. Compound breaks can also cause other complications, like infections and damaged nerves. They may also require multiple surgeries to repair, which creates additional costs for the injury victim.

#7. Sprains, strains, pulled muscles, and other soft tissue injuries

Even appropriately treated soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, pulled muscles, and torn ligaments can result in chronic pain. Depending on the soft tissue injury, a victim can require physical therapy, medications, injections, and other costly and time-consuming treatments.

#8. Wrongful Death

​Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?In severe collisions, the driver or passenger may not survive. Death can occur at the point of impact or later due to complications from injuries sustained.

Some severe injuries are fatal even with the best medical treatment. It can be frustrating and devastating when a loved one dies in a car accident due to negligence. And although money cannot solve everything, a wrongful death claim can at least prevent a tragic situation from becoming a financial burden.

Protections Designed to Keep Passengers Safe

Technology designed to keep drivers and passengers safe continues to advance with every new car model. Features like automatic braking, blind-spot alerts, lane departure warnings, and even self-driving cars are helping to prevent collisions from happening in the first place. And when a collision inevitably occurs, other technologies step in to minimize injury.

Even with these features, the passenger is still the most vulnerable person in the car. Studies have shown that accidents are more likely to injure or kill passengers. Some theories include that a driver’s natural inclination is to protect themselves and that safety features are more focused on the driver’s safety.

Vehicles contain several airbags and safety features to protect passengers, including:

  • A front passenger airbag in the dashboard
  • Driver and front passenger knee airbags
  • Seat-mounted and roof-mounted airbags in the front and rear for the outboard passenger seats
  • Alerts that let you know when someone is too light (or too young) to be riding in the passenger seat
  • Advanced seatbelts
  • Shatter-resistant glass
  • Specially designed and positioned seats to minimize injury.

Even with these protections, passengers can still suffer life-changing injuries in a crash.

Does Insurance Cover Injured Passengers?

If you are riding in a vehicle that caused an accident, your lawyer will contact that driver’s insurance company to make a claim. If the driver is a spouse or another family member of your household in Illinois, you can still sue the driver’s insurance company. You can sue the driver’s insurance company if a friend or relative drove.

If someone else causes the accident, your lawyer will contact that driver’s insurance company. Furthermore, if more than one driver is at fault, including the driver of the vehicle you are riding in, you may file claims with the insurance companies of all at-fault drivers.

Passengers can recover the same damages as a driver that suffers injuries in a car wreck, including special, general, and punitive damages. To do so, they must take proper action against the correct parties. Always do this with help from a car accident lawyer.

You want a car accident attorney to handle all insurance claims and communications. Even though an insurance company should cover passenger injuries, injured parties regularly struggle to receive the compensation they deserve. Having a lawyer handling your claim from the beginning will signal to the insurance companies that you plan to fight for full financial recovery, and it prevents mistakes that can jeopardize your claim.

Compensation for Injured Passengers

Injured passengers can seek compensation for any damages they suffered because of the accident. This is true regardless of who caused the accident since the passenger in a vehicle typically cannot be at fault. A car accident attorney can fight for your rights if you suffer an injury while a passenger.

We list some of the most common damages below.

Special Damages

Economic damages, also known as special damages, involve expenses that an injured individual has had to pay out-of-pocket, including:

  • Past medical costs incurred because of the accident.
  • Future medical expenses for follow-up appointments and additional surgeries
  • Past and future therapy expenses for physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and/or psychological therapy
  • Past lost wages for the time you missed from work because of your initial injuries.
  • Future lost wages for the time you will miss from work because of the injuries, surgeries, or long-term or permanent injuries.
  • Replacement or repair of personal property
  • Burial and funeral expenses

General Damages

Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are those that do not have a price tag, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of companionship
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of use of a body part or function

Punitive Damages

Courts order general and special damages to make injured individuals whole again. Punitive damages do not make individuals whole again but punish a defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional behavior if that behavior caused your injuries. A jury might find the defendant grossly negligent if they drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs, texted while driving, or, in some cases, sped excessively.

Wrongful Death Damages

If your loved one dies in a car accident caused by negligence, you can recover damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Damages from a wrongful death stem from the bills the deceased left behind, how much they suffered, and how much their direct family members suffered after their death.

Some common damages for a wrongful death claim include:

  • Funeral costs
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages (yours and theirs)
  • Loss of consortium (the legal term for the loss of your spouse’s intimacy)
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and suffering (yours and theirs)

Whether you suffered injuries as a passenger or lost a close family member who was a car passenger in a crash, the amount you can recover will depend on your circumstances. These include the severity of the injuries, the cost of treatment, any lasting effects, or whether an injury was fatal.

Knowing even a ballpark figure can be challenging without having a car accident lawyer assess your situation, what happened, and your specific losses. Never wait to learn whether you can recover financially from your losses and how much you might expect.

Who Is Liable for an Injured Passenger’s Losses?

For a passenger to obtain compensation for their injuries and losses, they must identify who was responsible for causing the accident. Many parties might cause crashes, and multiple parties might share liability. Your insurance claims will depend on your lawyer identifying the negligent parties.

The Driver of Your Vehicle

Sometimes, the person driving the vehicle in which you are a passenger causes the crash. This is likely someone you know, such as a family member, friend, or coworker. While it might feel uncomfortable to file a claim against someone close to you, you will file the lawsuit against their insurance, not the individual. The driver should not have to pay out of pocket for your losses, as their policy should cover everything up to their policy limits.

Another Driver

Other drivers can be negligent and hit the car you are riding in, causing you injuries as a passenger. In this situation, the negligent driver’s insurance should cover your losses. If you suffered injuries in a multi-vehicle pile-up, more than one other driver might share responsibility, leading to multiple insurance claims.

Companies

There are many situations when companies can have liability for passenger injuries from a crash.

These include:

  • If the driver was a rideshare driver and had an active fare, Uber or Lyft should provide coverage for injuries and losses.
  • If the driver was on the job when they caused the crash, you could hold their employer strictly liable for any resulting losses.
  • Trucking companies negligent in maintenance, hiring, or other matters.
  • Repair shops that conduct faulty work can be liable if it leads a driver to crash.
  • Car or truck manufacturers if a defective auto part caused the accident and injuries.

When a company is liable, it can provide higher insurance policy limits, which gives you a better chance of recovering compensation for the full amount of your losses. Always have a lawyer determine all liable parties and go up against consumer and corporate insurance companies for you.

Time Limits on Car Accident Claims

Dave Abels Personal Injury Lawyer
Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer, Dave Abels

In most cases, you have two years tofile a personal injury lawsuit. However, if a passenger is under 18, they must file the lawsuit two years after their 18th birthday. If the claim is only for property damage, you must file in five years under Illinois’s statute of limitations.

A one-year statute of limitations applies to certain defendants, like municipalities, so consult an accident lawyer as soon as possible after a collision.

Some insurance companies attempt to require that you file an uninsured or underinsured claim much sooner than that. The time frame depends on the insurance company’s policy, so filing a claim within a few days of the accident is advisable. If you contact your insurance company, tell the representative that you were in an accident and give the representative the other party’s contact and policy information and your attorney’s contact information. However, always let your lawyer contact the insurance carriers instead of doing so yourself.

Because insurance companies look for any reason to deny a claim or offer the least compensation possible, let your attorney talk to the adjuster. Otherwise, the insurance company will try to twist your words to lay the fault on you. Should you decide to take your case to court, the insurance company may also attempt to use your words to sway the jury.

If You Suffered Injuries as a Passenger in a Crash, Contact a Car Accident Law Firm

If you suffered injuries from a motor vehicle accident while you were the passenger, you might deserve compensation for your damages. A free consultation with a car accident lawyer can answer your questions and help you decide whether you have a viable case. The sooner you take action, the better protected you will be from the insurance companies and the loss of your rights. Contact a car accident attorney right away for a free consultation.

PTSD Can Develop After a Serious Accident

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition that is most often associated with military members who were involved in traumatic events during active duty. However, PTSD can develop in anyone who experiences a trauma.

You may not realize that many victims of serious accidents—such as commercial truck or car crashes—can develop PTSD following the event. PTSD can cause many difficulties in the victim’s life and can significantly add to the overall cost of the accident. The following contains some additional information about PTSD in accident victims from our experienced personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD can have a serious effect on a victim’s life because of the nature of the symptoms of the disorder. While symptoms vary from person to person, the following are some of the common effects of PTSD:

  • Sudden and realistic flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Nightmares and difficulty sleeping
  • Irrational fears of benign objects
  • Intense fears of anything associated with the event, such as fear of driving or riding in a vehicle after a car accident
  • Lack of emotional control, often leading to angry and aggressive outbursts
  • Physical effects, such as sweating or racing heart
  • Severe anxiety
  • Emotional numbness

These symptoms often lead PTSD victims to try to avoid anything that may remind them of their accident. This can keep them from engaging in regular activities, working, or even leaving their house.

Costs of PTSD and how To Recover

PTSD can be costly in many ways. First, due to the emotional effects and irrational fears that can develop, PTSD symptoms can prevent a person from being able to perform his job duties. This can result in a substantial amount of lost income until the condition is properly treated. Next, like any medical condition, treatment for PTSD is costly. Bills for psychological treatment for PTSD—such as Eye Movement Desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—can add up quickly.

Ensure that you have a law firm on your side—one that understands that PTSD is a real injury that can result from an accident, and that knows how to help you recover for your associated losses.

Causes of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe mental condition that most people commonly associate with military personnel who survive traumatic events, usually while on active duty. However, PTSD can develop in anyone who experiences trauma.

Many people don’t know that victims of serious accidents—such as commercial truck or car crashes—can develop PTSD following an accident. Victims of violent crimes may also develop PTSD. PTSD can cause many difficulties in the victim’s life and treating it can significantly add to the overall cost of the accident.

Seeking Legal Help After Suffering from PTSD

Although a lawsuit cannot remove the pain or anguish of PTSD, it can help reduce your financial burden.

If you meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis from a therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health expert, you may sue to recover compensation for your injuries. Your best claim is to seek pain and suffering damages.

Economic and Non-Economic Damages

Usually, in personal injury cases, you can recover two different damages: economic damages and non-economic damages. An injured person can recover these damages whether they were in a car accident or slipped and fell.

Economic damages are easier to calculate, while non-economic damages are harder. Pain and suffering damages are subjective, and juries often receive little to no instruction on how to award them.

Pain and suffering damages fall under the category of non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages refer to compensation for monetary losses, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Loss of past and future earnings
  • Loss of use of property
  • Costs of repair or replacement
  • The economic value of domestic services
  • Loss of employment
  • Loss of business opportunities

A plaintiff must objectively verify monetary losses. In other words, facts independent of personal feelings or opinions must prove the monetary losses to qualify as economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages refer to compensation for non-monetary losses, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Humiliation
  • Inconvenience
  • Emotional distress and anguish
  • Worsening of prior injuries
  • Reputational damage
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Non-monetary losses are subjective. In other words, the non-monetary losses are related to or based on beliefs, attitudes, and opinions instead of verifiable evidence.

Seeking Non-Economic Damages for PTSD

It’s normal to experience PTSD after a traumatic and frightening event. Triggering experiences such as an assault, a car crash, or another injury can PTSD or aggravate an existing PTSD diagnosis.

PTSD often gets overlooked. Remember that there is nothing to be ashamed about, so honestly discuss your symptoms with your medical professionals and attorney.

The injuries you sustain due to a personal injury accident can affect different aspects of your life, whether it be your quality of life, personal relationships, or ability to participate in work or leisure activities. PTSD is the most common mental disorder experienced by trauma survivors, including survivors of motor vehicle accidents.

Generally, if the traumatic or frightening event was a car accident, you will need to show:

  • The at-fault motorist breached the legal duty to exercise reasonable care for others while driving
  • Your PTSD is ongoing and pervasive
  • The conduct of the at-fault motorist is a direct cause of your distress
  • You also suffered physical injuries

A medical expert can prove that you developed PTSD after a frightening or traumatic event.

A medical expert who can focus on your emotional well-being will assess your condition and adequately report your distress. Medical reports, notes, and visits will significantly help your case.

You deserve compensation for this emotional trauma. No one should continuously live life with fear and anxiety from an accident without holding the at-fault party responsible.

Whether you cannot drive a motor vehicle due to your PTSD (and the fear and flashbacks that come with it), or you experience other symptoms while going about day-to-day activities, seek help.

What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Pain and suffering is a legal term Illinois law uses to describe the physical and emotional anguish and distress of a bodily injury.

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages

A wide array of factors come into play when determining damages for pain and suffering, including:

  • The nature of the injuries
  • Any physical and mental pain and suffering, both past and future
  • Any disfigurement caused by the injuries
  • The extent of impairment of the ability to perform usual activities
  • Aggravation or worsening of any pre-existing conditions or illnesses

Lawyers generally calculate pain and suffering damages with the multiplier method or the per diem method.

The Multiplier Method

The multiplier method multiplies your economic damages by a number. The chosen number (known as the multiplier) will depend on factors that your personal injury lawyer will consider.

The most common factors that will affect your multiplier will include:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The extent of your pain and suffering
  • Your predicted prospects for a quick and complete recovery
  • The impact of your injuries on your normal day-to-day life
  • Whether the other party clearly caused your injuries
  • How obvious the other party’s fault for the accident is
  • Unquestionably observed or detected injuries by formal medical examination
  • How painful and dramatic your injuries are, including whether you need surgical treatment or you can successfully recover from your injury
  • Diagnosis and treatment that primarily come from physicians and hospitals
  • Prolonged recovery of six months or more
  • A medically documented, permanent consequence like pain, weakness, scarring, discomfort, or immobility
  • Clear indication from physicians that you will have recurring, future, or degenerative problems from your injuries

For example, if a personal injury accident resulted in two broken limbs, that might cause about $50,000 in economic damages. Due to the severity of your injuries, you may get a multiplier of four, which would add to your damages.

In another example, if you suffered $100,000 in lost income because of your injury, your personal injury attorney may argue that you should recover four times that amount, equalling $400,000 for pain and suffering.

The Per Diem Method

Some personal injury attorneys will use a per diem method to calculate pain and suffering damages. “Per diem” is Latin for “per day.”

When using this method, your personal injury lawyer will evaluate your average pain and suffering for each day, then assign it a dollar amount. Then, your lawyer will multiply that dollar amount by the total number of days that you suffered.

For example, if your attorney believes that your day-to-day pain and suffering are worth $200, and it lasted for one month (or 31 days), the per diem method would generate $6,200 in noneconomic damages.

The hardest part of the per diem method is justifying the daily rate you or your personal injury attorney choose. To ensure that your daily rate is reasonable, use your actual daily earnings.

Here, the argument is that enduring and dealing with the pain and suffering caused by your injuries every day, at the minimum, compares to the effort of going to work each day.

The per diem method usually doesn’t work well with permanent or long-term injuries. If you have a permanent or long-term injury, contact a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer would most likely base your settlement demand on related verdicts in your jurisdiction.

Limits on Damages

Illinois sets no cap for how much a victim can recover for pain and suffering against private parties. Illinois law, however, caps most claims against the state at $100,000.

Despite the lack of a cap on damages, however, limits still exist.

1. Comparative Negligence

The comparative negligence rule decreases your damages if you partially caused the accident by your percentage of fault.

2. The Defendant’s Inability to Pay

If it turns out that the defendant’s insurance will only cover a certain amount, in most cases, you cannot recover more from them.

3. Evidence of Pain and Suffering

The multiplier or the estimates that determine pain and suffering often depend on the victim proving the extent of their injuries. In other words, you will need substantial evidence.

Without substantial evidence, you have a significantly lower chance of winning a court trial and may need to settle for far less than you expected.

Statute of Limitations

The Illinois statute of limitations is two years for personal injury and medical malpractice cases and one year for claims against state or local governments.

In other words, after someone else commits a careless act that results in your injury, you have two years to file the initial documentation in court. The clock starts ticking on the date of the accident that caused the injuries.

If you miss the filing deadline, you lose your right to ask the court to award you damages for your injuries.

A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Dave Abels Lawyer
Dave Abels, Personal injury lawyer

Many personal injury damages come from pain and suffering. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can represent you and fight for the proper compensation you deserve.

If you suffer from PTSD after an accident, you may seek non-economic pain and suffering damages. If your therapist or medical professional evaluated your symptoms and diagnosed you with PTSD, discuss those records and diagnoses with a personal injury lawyer.

Personal injury lawyers have experience representing and serving victims who have developed PTSD. They understand how PTSD can develop after experiencing an accident and how debilitating it is.

If you or a loved one experiences PTSD after a car crash or other personal injury accident, do not hesitate to reach out for help.

Call an attorney for a free consultation to learn more about potential damages and find out how you can receive the justice you deserve.

Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney

If you have suffered any type of injury in a car crash, truck crash, slip and fall, or another type of accident, the personal injury lawyers of Abels & Annes are here to help you.

Please call our office for a free consultation at 312-924-7575.

 

Are You at Fault if Someone Pulls out in Front of You?

Many things can go wrong if a car suddenly pulls out in front of you and into your path. Not only will the accident leave you with a damaged car, you can sustain injuries that require extensive and ongoing care. After a crash where someone pulls out in front of you, you may wonder who was at fault. If the other driver did not have the right of way and pulled out in front of you, you may hold them liable for your damages.

However, determining liability in a car accident case can be complicated, and the answer will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. An experienced auto accident lawyer will determine liability in your case, pursue a personal injury claim against the other driver’s insurance company, if necessary, and help you secure the compensation you deserve to cover the cost of your losses.

Steps You Should Take After a Car Crash

Obtaining a Police Report

Understanding what steps you should take if you get into an accident where someone pulls out in front of you is essential and can affect your legal rights. If the accident results in injuries or property damage, you should call law enforcement to the scene of the accident. A police officer will collect all accident-related evidence, indicate preliminary fault, and write a police report containing essential information about the crash.

In some cases, failing to contact law enforcement is considered a violation of your legal obligations as a driver. A police report can substantially benefit your car accident case. Your lawyer will often request it when filing your insurance claim. Before leaving the accident scene, the investigating officer will likely provide you with an identification number for the accident report.

Seeking Medical Care

Even if you feel fine, scheduling a medical evaluation with your primary care provider can help you prevent an injury with dormant symptoms from becoming worse. Potentially severe injuries like brain trauma and organ damage may not manifest right away but can kill people if left untreated. Get a checkup within 24 hours after the accident.

If you sustained serious injuries, call an ambulance to the accident scene, and let an EMT check you over. Visit an emergency room if necessary. Seeking prompt medical care is not only the best option for your health, but it creates medical records that serve as key pieces of evidence in your car accident claim.

Maintain Evidence to Support Your Claim

Maintaining documentation of the accident is crucial in supporting your claim and determining who was at fault. Be sure to keep copies of your medical records, proof of lost wages, photos of your injuries or damage to your vehicle, and any other evidence that proves your economic and non-economic losses.

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially in car accident cases, so you should be sure to take photos of the crash from all angles. Taking pictures from as many angles as possible will increase your chances of capturing an image that best illustrates how the accident occurred.

Written witness statements may also be beneficial in your case and provide significant details into how the crash happened and what the damages are from a third-party perspective. Writing a demand letter is another great way to summarize how the accident occurred and show the value of your case. In your demand letter, you can detail the severity of your injuries, itemize damages, and list all enclosed pieces of evidence supporting your claim.

When Should I File a Claim?

If you were in an accident and believe the other driver who suddenly pulled out in front of you was at fault, you should consider filing a claim against their insurer. Never admit fault straight away – instead, consult with a skilled auto accident attorney who can also speak to the at-fault driver’s insurer on your behalf.

Examples of documentation you should bring to your initial consultation with your lawyer include:

  • Evidence of your injuries, such as doctor’s reports, scans, or medical center tests.
  • Proof of damage to your vehicle, including repair or replacement costs.
  • Evidence of loss of wages or earning capacity.
  • Proof of any other non-economic damages like emotional suffering.

When Is a Driver Who Pulls out in Front of You at Fault?

Car accidents are not pleasant, and if another driver who doesn’t have the right of way suddenly pulls out in front of you, their negligent actions risk causing an accident.

An example of this is someone pulling out of a driveway. When a driver exits a driveway, they must exercise care and yield to oncoming traffic.

Suppose you’re driving down a residential speed at the posted speed limit and are also keeping your eyes on the road. Another driver quickly whips out of their driveway without warning, and you are unable to react quickly enough to avoid hitting them. In this case, the other driver will be liable for your injuries and damage to your car.

You have the right of way when traveling down a road unencumbered by stop signs or red lights, which means that any vehicle that enters your lane must only pull into traffic when it’s safe to do so and adhere to all traffic signs and signals.

When another driver pushes into your lane, you can hold the negligent driver liable for failing to yield the right of way and the cost of your losses. Consulting a car accident lawyer  with experience dealing with cases like yours will give you the greatest chance at receiving the full and fair compensation you need to recover as soon as possible.

A driver who pulls out in front of you may be liable for:

  • Failing to use their turn signal
  • Being drunk or tired
  • Pulling out in front of you at a high or low speed
  • Intentionally causing the accident
  • Being distracted and not paying attention to the road
  • Pulling into traffic from a driveway or alley when it is unsafe
  • Driving through a stop sign or red light
  • Failing to yield to oncoming traffic
  • Pulling out in front of you because of road rage
  • Crossing in front of you and slamming their brakes
  • Smartphone use

How Do You Determine Fault After a Car Accident?

Determining who was at fault for your accident, especially if the responsible party is seemingly apparent, might feel like adding insult to industry. Assigning fault plays a central role in car accident cases by managing the risk of liability for an accident.

The basic principle behind determining liability in car accident claims is if a person acts carelessly and causes harm to others, they should pay for their wrongful actions.

Factors used to decide fault in these types of cases may include:

  • How fast the at-fault driver was traveling
  • Whether they failed to adhere to a stop sign or red light
  • Whether either party could have seen the other coming
  • Whether the at-fault driver’s car was functioning properly at the time of the accident

If a driver cannot stop in time due to faulty brakes and crashes into another car, they may not be liable for the accident – instead, the brake manufacturer can be responsible. The at-fault party is usually the person or entity whose actions most closely contributed to the crash. To allocate payment to the victim of an accident, courts and insurance companies utilize the concept of fault to determine liability.

Who Determines Fault After an Accident?

Will a police officer or lawyer decide fault?

While police officers commonly respond to the scene of an accident to collect information, make observations, and interview witnesses, they do not have the last word on fault. The traffic accident report that the investigating officer submits will include their opinion of who caused the accident.

Even though their opinion might carry some weight in your claim, it won’t settle the issue with the insurance company entirely. A lawyer’s job is to collect evidence, form an opinion about fault based on that evidence, and make an argument about who may be responsible for the crash. People usually hire auto accident attorneys to safeguard their best interests. They do not have the authority to make a final determination concerning fault.

Does an insurance company assign liability?

Insurance companies determine fault by assigning adjusters to investigate accidents, collect evidence, and help inform their final decision. An insurance company will use fault to decide whether to pay out a claim to an accident victim and the amount of compensation they should receive. However, the insurance company’s determination is not binding.

If you are unhappy with an insurance company’s decision, in most cases, you may take your case to court. In other words, the final authority on the question of fault is judges and juries. Courts may decide to ignore the opinion of an investigating police officer or overrule the insurance companies’ decision after hearing your evidence.

How is liability determined when multiple vehicles are involved?

When a driver pulls out in front of you suddenly, resulting in a car crash, multiple parties may be involved in the accident. If you swerve to avoid hitting a driver who cuts in front of you and, in the process, collide with another car, the driver who pulled out in front of you may bear full responsibility for damages and injuries sustained by you and the driver you hit.

Similarly, if you collide with a driver who pulls out in front of you and a car traveling behind you rear-ends your vehicle when you brake, the driver who performed the negligent maneuver will be held responsible. Assigning liability in car accident cases involving multiple drivers is complicated. Determining who may be responsible for a car accident where additional cars are involved requires the use of expert witnesses and guidance from a skilled car accident lawyer.

Recovering Compensation If the Other Driver Was At-Fault

When the facts in your case conclude that another driver who pulls out in front of you is responsible for causing your injuries and damages, you are entitled to receive compensation to cover the cost of your losses.

Because so many questions arise in car accident claims, determining how much compensation you will receive will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. Consulting with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer will ensure that you safeguard your best interests.

You have a legal right to seek:

  • Non-economic losses like pain and suffering
  • Lost income or wages
  • Diminished earning cap acting
  • Medical expenses for injuries caused
  • Any out-of-pocket expenses that resulted from the accident

Your auto accident attorney may also request that the at-fault driver pay punitive damages if the act of pulling out in front of you was intentionally harmful or especially egregious.

Consult an Auto Accident Lawyer Today

Car Accident Lawyer, Dave Abels
Dave Abels, Car Accident Lawyer

Don’t try and take on the insurance giants on your own. Consult a car accident attorney as soon as possible after a car crash to give you the best chance at a successful outcome. During your initial consultation, a lawyer will review your case and estimate a fair value for your claim.

A team of exceptional car accident attorneys understands that insurance companies don’t tend to play fair and look for any reason to deny a victim’s claim or pressure them into accepting a low-ball settlement offer. Let a lawyer help you learn more about your rights and options – call to consult a car accident attorney today.


Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

Do Most Car Accident Cases Go to Court?

Most car accident cases settle out of court through negotiations with the insurance company. Going to trial is costly and time-consuming for the parties involved and their insurance companies. For this reason, settling car accident claims out of court is often the best option unless the at-fault driver denies causing the accident or their insurance company refuses to pay the victim a fair settlement award.

Insurance companies have many tactics they use to limit settlement offers. Even if your claim is valid, they can challenge your injuries or accuse you of being partially liable for the accident. For these reasons, some claims do not settle, as insurers refuse to offer a fair amount.

In cases where the parties cannot reach an agreement, the only way to recover compensation for accident injuries is by going to trial. One party essentially forces the other to solve an issue in whatever way a judge decides by going to court. Hiring a lawyer to represent you in a car accident case will give your case the best chance at a successful outcome

Why do insurance companies want to settle car accident claims?

Insurance companies tend to make quick settlement offers to save time and money. The settlement award included in these offers often fails to cover the entire cost of your losses. Before accepting a quick settlement offer, you should talk to a lawyer who can offer sound advice and explain why you must reach a certain state of physical and medical improvement before accepting any offer. When you accept a quick settlement offer, you sign away your right to sue for the full value of your claim.

Going to court is typically not in the best interest of insurance companies because it ends up costing them, and they hate the unpredictability of the process. Insurance companies are in the business of calculating risks, and because juries are difficult to calculate, they try to avoid them at all costs. Valuing your claim on your own is nearly impossible because of this, and it is essential to contact an experienced auto accident lawyer as soon as possible after a car crash.

Insurance companies want to scare car accident victims away from going to court, as well. An adjuster might tell you that there is a good chance you will lose at trial, so your best bet is to accept whatever they are offering. This offer is usually far lower than you deserve, and you should never accept anything without having a car accident attorney evaluate your case.

Don’t let the insurance companies take advantage of your vulnerable position and bully you into accepting an unfair settlement award. Put your trust in a team of auto accident lawyers who are ready to advocate on your behalf. The right lawyer will negotiate as high an offer as possible, and if it is not adequate, they should not hesitate to file an injury lawsuit and begin the litigation process.

Filing a lawsuit does not mean you will go to court

Most people associate “going to court” with filing a lawsuit. However, much has to happen between filing your claim with the court and heading into trial. Most cases resolve at some point in between.

Filing your injury lawsuit begins the litigation process, and there are many stages of this process that progress according to the Rules of Civil Procedure. The defendant will have the opportunity to file motions to dismiss your claim, which the judge will need to rule on.

Next, the discovery process starts. During this stage, both sides exchange information and evidence they intend to use to support or defend the claim. They can do this through depositions, interrogatories, requests to produce physical evidence, and requests for admissions.

Often, once all the evidence is out there, both sides can see the strengths and weaknesses of the case. The defense might determine that you have such strong evidence that you will likely win at trial. In this situation, the defendant’s insurance company will want to avoid going to court, so it will likely make a favorable settlement offer.

If the settlement offer is still too low, your car accident attorney can engage in another round of settlement negotiations. Using the evidence you exchanged, they can argue that you deserve enough to cover all your stated losses. If you have strong evidence, the insurance company will often agree to a fair amount.

Settlement negotiations can take time, but they can avoid the need for a time-consuming and stressful trial. You want a car accident attorney who is a skilled negotiator to improve your chances of settling pre-trial.

What should I expect in a trial for a car accident case?

If your case does not settle during pretrial litigation, you may need to go to trial. Your lawyer will have time to prepare for trial before you head into court.

Either a judge or jury will decide car accident cases that go to trial. Your lawyer will begin by presenting all pertinent evidence in your case. They may call any police officers who responded to the accident, expert witnesses, and eyewitnesses to testify during the trial. These witnesses will testify to support your claims that the other driver caused the accident, and all testimony must comply with the Rules of Evidence.

When your case goes to trial, you typically also have to get on the stand and describe how the accident happened. You might need to testify at trial regarding the nature and extent of your injuries and how they affect your life, including your work and home life. Taking the stand can be stressful, but you will have plenty of time to prepare with your attorney.

The defendant’s attorney will do everything possible to discredit your claims, which is why having a knowledgeable car accident lawyer by your side is so important. Your lawyer will work with you before a trial to prepare you to answer any difficult questions from the opposing side. Not only will your testimony help establish fault, but it will also show the full extent of damages you suffered due to the defendant’s negligent actions.

The defendant might also call witnesses to the stand to defend against liability. They might hire expert witnesses to challenge the extent of your injuries and losses. Testimony that discredits your claim can produce stress, but this is part of the process. If you have a strong case, the defense testimony should not sway the judge or jury’s minds.

The judge or jury decides the case once they hear all testimony and closing statements from both sides. Remember that the judge or jury may not rule in your favor; you may appeal the decision if this happens.

To win your case, the jury or judge must determine that it is more likely or not that:

  • The driver was liable for your accident
  • The accident caused your injuries
  • You have losses from your injuries

This burden of proof is called a preponderance of the evidence, and it is the lowest burden of proof in our legal system. This makes it possible to win a car accident trial even if the driver did not receive a criminal conviction for their conduct. An experienced lawyer will know how to meet the burden of proof whenever possible.

How long does a car accident trial last?

The time it takes to resolve a car accident case will depend on the seriousness of your injuries, the complexity of the accident, and how many parties were involved. In some cases, a trial for a car accident case may take just a few days – however, the process of heading to court can take up to a year or more.

Before going to trial, the defendant is served with a complaint and given time to respond. Both sides exchange evidence and interview witnesses during the discovery phase, which typically takes a few months to complete. If your case is successful and the defendant decides to file an appeal, this will further delay the outcome of your trial. If you wish to receive compensation in a matter of months, hiring an auto accident attorney to conduct successful negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company is your best option.

How do insurance companies decide to offer a settlement?

Insurance policies almost always come into play when you’re injured, especially when the accident was someone else’s fault. When handling a claim, the insurance company attempts to minimize costs and risks, and it will do everything it can to resolve the claim before it goes to trial. What this often means is reaching a settlement agreement with the victim. The best way to recover a fair settlement award is by hiring an experienced auto accident attorney to represent your case.

I suffered injuries in a car accident. Should I file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver?

Our lawyers may suggest that you file a lawsuit to recover compensation for costs related to your injuries if you suffered them because of:

  • Another driver’s deliberate or negligent actions
  • Defective equipment
  • Road hazard

You may claim both economic and non-economic damages in an auto accident lawsuit. Some examples of economic damages include medical expenses and vehicle repair or replacement costs. Non-economic injuries are not as simple to calculate and can include intangible things such as emotional pain, suffering, or mental stress.

How should I handle my medical bills after a car accident?

When it comes to car accident claims, several factors determine how to cover the cost of your healthcare-related expenses. Determining who will cover the cost of your medical expenses typically relies on the question of legal fault. Once your lawyer determines liability, the responsible party will have to pay for damages and injuries incurred by the victim. After suffering injuries in a car crash, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Get a complete medical examination to not only support your case but benefit your health. If another negligent party was responsible for your injuries, you have a right to seek compensation from them. However, until your case settles, your health insurance or medical payments coverage through your auto insurance policy can help you cover the costs of your treatments in the meantime.

Let a Car Accident Lawyer Guide Your Case

Car Accident Lawyer, Dave Abels
Dave Abels, Car Accident Lawyer

While no one wants to go to court, some car accident victims must do so to obtain the full compensation they deserve. You should keep an open mind and listen to the guidance of your car accident attorney regarding the best path for your claim. If they suggest you file a lawsuit, you should not hesitate. They will handle every step of the process, so you can remain focused on your treatment, even as your case winds its way through the civil court system.

While most cases settle before trial, some make it into the courtroom. Your lawyer can prepare you for what to expect and how to handle yourself in court. They will be there every step of the way, so you do not have to feel intimidated by the prospect of going to court. Put your rights and future in the hands of a trusted legal professional.

When you call a car accident law firm, they should consult with you and evaluate your case at no cost. This is also your opportunity to ask the lawyer about their experience handling car accident claims.

You might ask:

  • How many of your cases settle out of court?
  • How many lawsuits have you filed?
  • How much trial experience do you have?
  • Do you think my case will go to trial?

The answers you hear can give you a better idea of what to expect in your case, as well as whether that lawyer is the right one to represent you.


Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

What to Do After a Car Accident That Was Not Your Fault

 car accident lawyer

Have You Suffered Injuries in an Accident Due to a Negligent Driver?

Unfortunately, car accidents are a common occurrence, and on average, there are 15,000 car accidents every day in the U.S. Some of these accidents are minor, but many are catastrophic, and over 100 people die in car accidents daily. The fact is, driving a car is dangerous. Therefore, when someone is negligent and makes driving that much more dangerous, they deserve to be responsible for any injuries or losses.

Car accidents can change a person’s life forever. The injuries from a car accident can range from bruises and scrapes to permanent disabilities, paralysis, or even death. Those with severe injuries often have substantial damages and piles of debt that seem too high to ever pay off.

Car accidents can greatly affect a person’s life depending on the severity of the accident and the injuries that they sustain as a result. One car accident can change a person’s life forever. The injuries from a car accident can range from bruises and scrapes to permanent disability, paralysis, or even death. Those with severe injuries are often left with substantial damages and piles of debt that seem too high to ever pay off.

When a car accident isn’t your fault, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. This is your best bet at receiving compensation for your damages, like medical bills, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you may have gone through because of those injuries. As these accidents can be life changing, the more severe your injury is and the more it has affected your life, the more compensation you often need to rebuild your life.

In 2017, there were 34,247 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Of these, 1,005 fatal crashes happened in Illinois and 133 happened in Chicago. These statistics are alarming. Drivers who are distracted, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or driving recklessly cause many of these serious or fatal accidents. Car accidents are always traumatic, even if the accident was not your fault. In any event of a car accident, reaching out to an experienced car accident attorney can help you determine your options.

If you’re wondering what to do next, keep reading. Our talented attorneys are here to help you get back on your feet after your accident. If you are interested in speaking with an attorney during a free consultation, you can reach us by phone at (312) 924-7575, by filling out our online contact form, or by using the chat box below.

Causes of Illinois Car Accidents and Negligence

The first step in your car accident case will be figuring out who was at fault for your accident. If you weren’t at fault, it’s likely that another driver was engaging in some sort of negligence that caused the accident.

Negligence is defined as a breach of the duty that other people have to keep others safe. As a motorist, we have the duty to follow the law and to drive safely on the roads. The breach of this duty can cause an accident, and that crash can lead to injuries or death.

Negligence in car accidents can take many forms. It can be as simple as not paying attention, running a stop sign, or merging into another lane incorrectly. Accidents are also often due to texting while driving and driving under the influence.

Some causes of accidents that are another’s fault include:

  • Distracted driving – This is a leading cause of car accidents in Chicago and across the U.S., despite laws that prohibit using handheld devices while driving. Drivers still regularly text while driving, or they might have distractions that are not technological.
  • Driving under the influence – Illinois, along with every state, strictly outlaws driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, people still make the highly dangerous decision to drive while intoxicated, and they can cause serious and fatal crashes.
  • Running stop lights or signs – Traffic signals and signs are critical to keeping order at intersections, and all it takes is one driver failing to follow the stop signals to cause a devastating intersection crash.
  • Failure to yield – Whether a driver is merging into another lane, making a turn, or entering the highway, failing to properly yield when necessary can cause serious crashes and injuries.

While some acts of negligence can be inadvertent, like not seeing a stop sign, some acts are clearly reckless, like drinking and driving. However, it doesn’t matter if the negligence was committed on purpose or with malice involved, it still puts the party at-fault for the accident.

Car Accident Injuries and Complications

#1. Soft Tissue Injuries

Car accidents can cause your body to twist, jolt, or stretch in unnatural ways, as well as hit objects inside the vehicle. Traumatic injuries can take many forms, including some of the common ones below.

Soft tissue injuries are defined as injuries that cause damage to connective tissue in muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This is a very common type of car accident injury. For example, whiplash is categorized as a soft tissue injury. Whiplash occurs because of the back and forth motion caused in the neck when a car is hit. It can cause serious pain for the accident victim.

#2. Lacerations and Cuts

Loose objects and broken glass can cause many injuries to a person. Lacerations and cuts may also be from broken parts of the car as the car crashes. These injuries are often minor, but can be more severe if the cut is deep enough or if a vital organ is penetrated. The loss of too much blood could lead to serious problems or even death if not treated right away. These injuries also occur alongside other injuries so the issues can compound.

#3. Head and Brain Injuries

Brain and head injuries can be extremely serious, leading to coma, brain death, vegetative state, and even death in some circumstances. Concussions from car accidents range from mild to severe. Sometimes they are treatable with little issue and sometimes they cause serious, life-long complications. Head injuries are often referred to as the “silent” injury, as many don’t realize they have one until it’s too late. As brain injuries can be incredibly serious, it’s important to receive treatment for them as soon as possible.

#4. Chest Injuries

Chest injuries are often mild injuries that include bruising or contusions. However, more severe injuries can cause internal bleeding or severe damage to internal organs. Seat belts commonly cause bruising in car accidents, as well as air bags. Chest injuries may also include broken ribs, as the small amount of space between the driver and the seatbelt can cause a strong impact when a car is struck.

#5. Arm and Leg Injuries

Arm and leg injuries are caused by the sudden movement that occurs when a car is struck. Depending on the severity of an accident, the crash may also cause an arm or leg to get trapped in the crushed car. Arm and leg injuries include broken bones, bruises, cuts, and even amputation in serious injuries. Sometimes fractures require surgery to repair.

#6. Neck and Back Injuries

So many of us take for granted the use of our spines to control our necks and back. But when someone’s neck or back suffers serious injury in a car accident, it can change their life forever. Not only are these injuries extremely painful, but they can also lead to complications that can leave injury victims with long term pain.

What Are The Insurance Requirements in Illinois?

In Illinois, registered vehicles must be insured with the following minimum limits:

  • $25,000 for the injury or death of one person involved in an accident;
  • $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one person in an accident;
  • $20,000 for damage to another person’s property.

A motor vehicle that is registered in another state but operating in Illinois is also required to carry liability insurance.

What Steps Should I Take Immediately After a Car Accident?

An accident can leave you feeling traumatized and unsure of what you should do next. Immediately after an accident, try to remain calm and take these steps:

#1.Safety first

Move to a safe area as soon as you can. Turn on your car’s hazard lights, and if you have any warning devices like flares or cones, place them around the accident scene. Do not drive away. Leaving the scene of an accident is against the law in every state. If the other driver leaves the scene, remain there and report the incident yourself.

#2.Check for injuries

If you or anyone else is injured, call 911 or ask someone else to call. You may think you have not been badly injured, but some car accident injuries don’t show up until later. It is always good to seek medical care after an accident.

#3. Call the police immediately

Even if the accident was minor, it is good to get an official police report. You may need it for insurance purposes or other legal proceedings. There are now some insurance policies that require a police report or notice within a certain amount of time. When you speak with the police, provide the facts to the best of your ability. When the police arrive, tell the officer exactly what happened. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so.

#4. File a written report with the State of Illinois

If you have been in an accident that requires a written report you must one with the Illinois Department of Transportation within ten days. A report is necessary when the accident is one which results in death, bodily injury, or property damage of $1,500 or more, or $500 or more if the vehicle is uninsured. The report you fill out is for statistical purposes only.

#5. Trade information

Everyone involved in the accident should exchange information. You should get as much information from the other driver as possible, including:

  • Names, addresses, phone numbers;
  • Driver’s license numbers;
  • License plate numbers;
  • Vehicle makes, models, and years;
  • Car insurance information; and
  • The location of the accident.

#6. Collect evidence

It is important to gather as much evidence as possible right away. Obtain contact information from any witnesses. Take photos of the accident scene from more than one angle. Include pictures of debris and road signs. Check for video cameras in the area.

#7. Be careful of what you say

When talking to anyone at the accident scene, avoid discussing fault. After the accident, the other driver’s insurance company may contact you. If so, be polite, but be very cautious. Do not provide a recorded statement or sign anything without consulting your lawyer. Your own insurance policy probably requires you to report your accident to your insurance company, as well. If your insurer asks you to provide a statement, consult with a lawyer first. If you decide to give a statement without the guidance of counsel (which we would not recommend), do not discuss fault or say you were not injured. Simply state the facts. Even your own insurance company may try to downplay your injuries to pay less.

#8. Be careful about talking with others

You will probably discuss the accident with family or other people you trust. However, be aware that conversations with friends and the general public may not be confidential. Do not discuss your accident on social media.

#9. Consult with a personal injury attorney

Do not discuss the accident with representatives of an insurance company without consulting with an attorney. Do not sign papers or release forms without getting legal advice first. For example, signing a medical authorization gives others access to all of your medical records, including those before your accident.

What Is a Car Accident Lawsuit?

Under personal injury law, if you can prove that someone else’s negligence caused your accident, you can recover damages from that person for any injuries you received in the accident. The law generally defines negligence as “A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” Therefore, fault is a critical element of your lawsuit.

Illinois utilizes the fault system, also referred to as a tort system, to decide who is financially responsible after a car accident. This simply means that the person who a court finds is at fault for the accident must pay damages for any harm resulting from the accident.

What Damages Can I Collect?

When a court awards monetary damages, it is an attempt to make the injured party “whole,” or as they were before the accident. The amount of compensation is based on the facts of each case and the extent of any injuries or property damage the accident caused.

If you were in a car accident that was not your fault, you have a legal right to seek compensation for any losses resulting from the accident, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Physical therapy and similar services
  • Lost wages from missing work
  • General pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Temporary and permanent disability.
  • Funeral and burial expenses (if you lost a family member in the accident)
  • Any other costs that are directly connected to the accident

IIn a car accident case, the two most common types of compensation are: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages (also known as special damages) refers to damages that you have a bill form, like medical damages, in-home care, lost wages, or any other cost that was directly related to your accident.

Non-economic damages (also general damages) are damages that do not directly correlate to a cost or bill but still qualify as damages. An example of non-economic damage is pain and suffering. This can include physical pain from your injuries and mental trauma from the accident or the effects of your injuries.

If your case goes to trial, the judge or jury will look at what your life was like before your injury andwhat it is like now. According to this evaluation, they will calculate a sum of money for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of normal life. If your case doesn’t make it to trial and you settle instead, your attorney and the insurance company will negotiate this number.

What Can a Car Accident Attorney Do for You?

A car accident lawyer can deal with the insurance companies, properly file all paperwork and documents, accurately calculate your damages, and represent you in court, if necessary. At the time of settlement, often they will negotiate with your doctors to reduce the amounts of your medical bills. They do this to put more money in your pocket.

Once you pick an attorney, you can focus on recovering from your injuries. Your lawyer will take over the task of dealing with the insurance adjuster.

Like all other states, Illinois sets a time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit. This is called the statute of limitations. If you do not file your claim within the appropriate time, you risk losing the ability to sue, so consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Doing so can ensure that you can recover all of the compensation you need to pay for your medical and other expenses.

Filing a claim for your car accident can be a stressful process, but at Abels & Annes we’re here to help take the weight off of your shoulders. We will be there for you every step of the way and will work tirelessly to get you the best settlement offer possible. If your case goes to trial, we will use our decades of experience to win your case and to get you back to your normal life as soon as possible.

Hiring an attorney is the best first step that you can take toward receiving compensation for your injuries. For more information and a free case evaluation, please contact us online or at (312) 924-7575.

Bicycle Doorings: What You Need to Know

Getting Hit by a Door While Riding a Bike Causes Serious Injuries

Bicycle DooringsCyclists and bikers who ride in town are at constant risk of “doorings“. This is a type of accident that happens when a vehicle door opens unexpectedly in front of them, causing a collision. Doorings can result in death and severe injuries when riders fall over their handlebars or collide with the open door. Chicago dooring accidents are one of the most common and dangerous hazards cyclists and bikers face in urban riding conditions.

In large cities like Chicago, cars line the streets and cycling is a common way to get around town. When you combine these two factors, it is no surprise that car versus bicycle accidents are common. In this blog post, our Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyers discuss how doorings happen, how riders and drivers can take steps to prevent them, and what to do if you suffer injuries in a dooring accident.

What Causes a Bicycle Dooring Accident?

Imagine this scenario: a cyclist is riding on a busy Chicago street. In keeping with local traffic laws, the rider stays in the right-hand part of the lane. To the right of their bike is a line of parllel parked cars. Suddenly, the driver-side door of one the cars swings open so the driver can exit the vehicle. The door opens just feet in front of the cyclist and they don’t have time to stop. The front of their bike collides with the door, they go flying over her handlebars and crash onto the pavement. Luckily, their helmet protects their head, but the rest of their body isn’t protected and they land with the sickening crunch of broken bones.

This is how a typical dooring occurs. It’s quick and violent, and it happens because of a combination of factors. The driver getting out of their car doesn’t look behind them to see if a bike rider is coming. Or, maybe they simply don’t look long enough and miss the harder-to-see cyclist. The city streets often have lots of traffic, forcing the rider closer to parallel parked cars than they would like.

Doorings most commonly occur when a rider on the right collides with the door of a parallel parked car. They can also happen when passengers open their rear door into traffic. There can also be doorings when a car parks on the left side of a one-way street, or when anyone opens a car or truck door in a parking lot or similarly crowded area.

Our bicycle dooring accident lawyers in Chicago often work on cases where there are serious injuries due to a passenger opening a car door. This scenario is especially common with taxi passengers exiting on busy streets.

Are Doorings that Injure Cyclists Preventable?

Fortunately, car doorings that injure cyclists are preventable. Bike riders, car drivers, and passengers can take some simple safety steps. Following the suggestions below can prevent serious injuries to bicycle riders, so pay close attention.

Can Car Drivers Help Prevent Doorings?

Drivers and passengers can prevent doorings by being more attentive to their surroundings before opening their doors.

This advice sounds easy and obvious in principle, but it’s harder to implement in practice. Perhaps the most reliable way to ensure that drivers and passengers take heed of approaching riders is to practice what is known as the “Dutch Reach.”

Instead of opening a car door with the hand closest to the door, a driver or passenger using the Dutch Reach reaches across their body and opens the door with the hand further from the door. That simple behavioral adjustment forces drivers and passengers to turn their torso toward the street. The motion makes it easier and more intuitive to notice a cyclist or biker approaching from behind the car.

Data on the effectiveness of the Dutch Reach is still emerging. However, anecdotal reports suggest that when the Dutch Reach is practiced, doorings occur far less often.

Drivers and passengers not inclined to start using the Dutch Reach can still look over their shoulder before opening a door. It’s a little less comfortable to do so but not nearly as uncomfortable as causing a traumatic accident.

Whether or not they use the Dutch Reach, drivers and passengers can also reduce the incidence and severity of doorings by opening their doors slowly. The longer it takes for the door to open, the higher the chance the rider will see the hazard and have time to avoid it.

Can Bicycle Riders Help Prevent Injuries Too?

Cyclists and bike riders also have a role to play in preventing doorings and reducing their chances of receiving injuries in a cycling accident. These steps encompass the sort of safety strategies riders should be employing anyway, but they are especially important in urban environments where doorings are common.

  • Wear visible clothing and use lights. The more visible a cyclist is, the higher the likelihood that a driver or passenger will spot them before opening a car door. Wearing bright colored clothing and using front-and-back flashing lights, even in the daytime, can increase a cyclist’s visibility significantly.
  • Be vocal or have a bell. If a rider sees a car door about to open, yell “on your left!”. Ringing a handlebar bell can also be an effective way to alert incautious drivers and passengers to the rider’s presence.
  • Ride with a safe margin if possible. Riders typically have the right to occupy a full traffic lane if safety requires it. When traffic is light in an urban area, riders can reduce dooring risk by riding out of the reach of car doors.
  • Ride at a safe speed in urban areas. Riders flying down a city street just inches from parallel parked cars give themselves very little time to avoid a dooring. When riding in an urban environment, safe cyclists dial down their speed.
  • Wear a helmet. This is a no-brainer (pun intended). No one riding in a city (or anywhere else, for that matter) should go without a properly-fitted helmet. Helmets are the single biggest step bike riders can take to prevent traumatic brain injuries in accidents.

Failing to take the above precautions would not defeat a bike accident claim, however they are wise actions to take.

What to Do After a Dooring Injury?

If you sustain injury in a dooring accident, your first order of business should be to seek immediate medical help. Further, if possible, it can be helpful to collect information about the person who opened the door on you and about the accident scene. Take photographs of the street conditions, your bike, the car door, and your injuries. Also, collect contact information for any accident witnesses.

Then, contact an experienced attorney who has handled matters for clients who have been doored. You may be entitled to compensation from the driver or passenger who opened the door in front of you, and from other parties as well. Having an experienced attorney on your side can also help when dealing with insurance companies after an accident.

At Abels & Annes, PC, we understand the hazards riders face in urban environments and take seriously the rights of victims of doorings. To speak with our bike accident attorneys about your dooring injuries and your legal rights, contact us today online or by phone at (312) 924-7575.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Illinois and the Surrounding States

Whether you’re riding down Lake Shore Drive or a quiet country road outside the city, for many people, nothing can compare to driving a motorcycle on a nice day. Other vehicles just don’t provide that wind in-your-face connection with the road that a bike so easily can. If you have already had a dangerous encounter while on a motorcycle that left you with severe injuries learn what an experienced Chicago motorcycle accident attorney.

When it comes to riders on the road, few states have more motorcyclists than Illinois: In fact, only five states have more registered motorcycles than the Prairie State.

But while Illinois has more bikes registered in the state, Illinois’s neighbors, Indiana and Wisconsin, both have more bikes per capita. In fact, all three states rank high in ownership and ridership.

However, that’s where the similarities stop. When it comes to the law, all three states have different rules and regulations. If you plan on riding between the three states, it’s a good idea to know the laws and make sure you comply in each state you pass through.

Riding a Motorcycle in Illinois

Each state has its own rules when it comes to riding a motorcycle. However, one common theme that exists among most states—they require riders to wear a helmet while riding their motorcycles.

Three states in the United States have no laws that mandate helmet use while riding a motorcycle. Illinois is one of those three states.

While Illinois has passed no law regarding helmets, the Illinois Department of Transportation strongly recommends a helmet for all riders. Additionally, all riders must wear protective eyewear anytime they are on their bikes.

So where does Illinois stand when it comes to motorcycle safety? According to one report—about the middle of the road. A report conducted by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association found that 14.3 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in one year involved a motorcyclist. Comparatively, Nevada had the largest percentage of fatalities with 22.6 percent of fatalities being a biker. On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska had the lowest percent of motorcycle fatalities, with just 7.1 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities involving a motorcyclist.

What You Need to Know When You Travel to or From Neighboring States

Gary Annes Lawyer
Motorcycle Accident Lawyer, Gary Annes

While Illinois does not have any helmet laws, this is not the case for Indiana or Wisconsin. Both states mandate helmet use. However, neither state requires universal helmet use. In both Indiana and Wisconsin, all drivers 17 and younger must wear helmets. Wisconsin goes a step further and requires anyone operating under a learner’s permit to wear a helmet as well. Additionally, any passengers riding with a driver who has an instruction permit must wear a helmet, even if they are older than 17. For all other riders, helmet use is optional.

Both states have similar safety stats as Illinois in regards to fatality rates. In 2016, 12.3 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in Indiana involved a motorcyclist. In Wisconsin, the number was slightly higher at 14 percent.

Do Helmets Actually Work?

In a word, yes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmets are about 37 percent successful in preventing motorcycle rider fatalities. For passengers, effectiveness increases to 41 percent. Furthermore, when you look at the percent of known unhelmeted motorcyclists killed in 2017, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin all had some of the highest rates in the country.

While helmet use is optional for many riders in all three states, most safety experts agree that regular helmet use can help prevent serious injury or death. In addition to helmets, strong evidence supports the use of other protective equipment.

This includes:

  • Eye protection, including glasses, goggles, and face shields.
  • Protective clothing, including pants, jackets, and boots.
  • Protective gloves

Aside from safety equipment, all riders should take extra precautions to stay safe on the road. Safety tips include:

  • Do not perform stunts on public roads. Only experienced riders who know what they are doing should perform stunts—and they should do so away from other drivers and riders.
  • Don’t speed. Speeding makes it harder to control your bike and increases the risk of an accident.
  • Don’t weave in between traffic. Stay in your lane. Do not attempt to drive in between two vehicles.
  • Be seen. Wear bright or reflective clothing so other drivers can see you in low light or poor visibility.
  • Don’t drink and ride: According to the NHTSA, 28 percent of motorcycle riders killed in 2017 were drunk.

Learn more about general motorcycle safety from our motorcycle accident attorney resources, where we also discuss some of the most common motorcycle accident myths.

Helmet Use and Your Rights in a Motorcycle Accident Case

Your choice to wear a helmet—or not, in accordance with the law—does not absolve other drivers of the responsibility to see and respect motorcycles. Those drivers cannot tailgate motorcycles, must drive the speed limit, must drive sober, and otherwise obey the rules of the road. If they don’t, they remain liable for any injuries they cause—whether you wore a helmet or not.

Know Your Rights

Whether or not you wear a helmet every time you ride is your choice, at least in Illinois. After an accident, helmet use should play no role in your right to a fair and just recovery. However, this does not mean the insurance company will not try to make the process more difficult. If you were in an accident, you have rights. After an accident, surround yourself with people you trust and who will support you through your recovery.

If you have questions after an accident or need help with your claim, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney for more information about your legal rights.


Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575