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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.

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

Can I Sue for Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?

Victims who suffer injuries in car accidents due to another driver’s negligence can sue for physical injuries and damages they sustained. While physical injuries often make it difficult for car accident victims to go about their daily lives, so does emotional trauma. Most people often forget the debilitating effects a car accident has on someone’s mental and emotional health.

After a traumatic car accident, you may find yourself experiencing anxiety or emotional distress. Perhaps you might even have a hard time getting behind the wheel or riding in a car. Experiencing flashbacks of the crash can be emotionally draining, and the recovery from emotional distress brought on by a motor vehicle crash can be difficult.

Car accident victims suffer can significant emotional trauma that hurts their day-to-day lives. If the emotional trauma you sustained in a car accident affects your ability to function as you normally would, consider suing the at-fault party for emotional damages. Recovering compensation for emotional distress is complex. You need a personal injury attorney on your side who can build a strong case on your behalf and recover the compensation you deserve.

What Types of Damages are Available in Car Accident Claims?

Victims of car accidents often seek compensation for their losses through a personal injury claim. In some cases, filing a lawsuit against the party or parties liable for the crash is necessary. Damages in an automobile accident can be separated into two types: compensatory and punitive. In most car accident cases, only compensatory damages apply and refer to losses sustained by the accident victim. Compensatory damages are grouped into economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages

Economic damages are the easiest to calculate and consist of quantifiable money losses like medical bills or lost wages. These types of damages may also include objective losses that can take place in the future.

If you sustained an injury that affects your ability to do your job, you should receive compensation for lost wages incurred immediately after the accident or in the future. There are several other expenses that car accidents can incur.

You may seek compensation for any loss you can verify monetarily and qualify as economic damage. Examples of additional costs may include the cost of towing your vehicle or purchasing special equipment that assists in your recovery.

Non-economic damages

Not all damages in car accident claims include a price tag. While emotional damages can be challenging to quantify, they can feel just as real to the victim as their physical injuries. Victims of a car accident are entitled to compensation for the emotional impact an accident has left on their lives. Some common examples of non-economic losses include pain, emotional suffering, or reduced quality or enjoyment of life.

How Does the Law Define Emotional Distress?

Even if you do not sustain physical injuries in a car accident, it can be incredibly traumatic and put you at risk of developing an emotional disorder. If you witnessed severely injured people being pulled from their cars or saw a death, suffering from psychological aftereffects is not uncommon. The emotional damage victims suffer can be just as impactful to their lives as physical injuries. Emotional distress is as any emotional impact an individual suffers in a particularly distressing situation like a car accident.

Every accident victim is unique, and being in a car accident will impact everyone’s emotional and mental state differently. Someone involved in a motor vehicle collision may find it difficult to get behind the wheel again or even ride in a car as a passenger. Panic attacks, depression, and potential feelings of guilt or hopelessness brought on by the accident can make it difficult for you to accomplish day-to-day tasks.

If you were in a car accident and are experiencing emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, or depression due to loss of companionship, discuss these feelings with your doctor to receive proper treatment as soon as possible. Not only will speaking to your doctor help you heal from emotional trauma sustained in the aftermath of a crash, but it can also provide evidence to support your car accident lawsuit.

What Does Emotional Distress Following a Car Accident Look Like?

Identifying the specific emotional stress that stems from your car accident is the first step you should take to claim compensation for emotional distress. If you had a diagnosis of depression before the accident happened, it is unlikely that you can claim compensation to cover the cost of treating it. You have the right to be compensated for emotional or psychological distress directly related to the accident. You can only receive compensation for the cost of treating depression if you can prove that it is a new diagnosis.

Examples of emotional distress or disorders that can arise in the aftermath of a car accident may include:

Post-traumatic stress disorder

A sudden collision between two vehicles is chaotic and can be mentally scarring. This mental and emotional suffering only grows for accident victims who sustain severe injuries or become trapped in their car in the middle of traffic.

PTSD can interfere with your daily life in more ways than one. It can make it difficult to get behind the wheel or even drive past the location where the accident took place. In severe cases, people with PTSD experience triggering flashbacks and must relive the accident.

Anxiety

Feeling unexpectedly tense or having new or increased anxiety after a car accident is common. On the surface, experiencing feelings of anxiety may seem to have little or nothing to do with the accident. You may feel uncomfortable when you hear a sudden loud noise and not even realize that this trigger relates to the car accident. Working with a qualified therapist is the best way to ensure that anxiety developed in the aftermath of a motor vehicle crash doesn’t interfere with your everyday life in unexpected ways.

Depression

After a car accident, you may feel that your life will never improve. Depression may impact your ability to sleep, eat, or perform tasks at work. It might also make you reluctant to socialize or engage with loved ones, further contributing to depressive feelings and thoughts. Sustaining injuries that have upended your life can intensify symptoms of depression and make it difficult to complete everyday tasks.

If you’re experiencing a diminished quality of life, seeking the help of an experienced therapist who can diagnose your condition is the only way to determine if the emotional pain you’re suffering from is tied to the car accident. Obtaining a diagnosis by a medical professional will also be crucial in proving any claims for pain and suffering you make in your car accident lawsuit.

Steps You Should Take if You Suffer an Emotional Injury After a Car Accident

Taking immediate action to protect your health and rights after a motor vehicle collision is crucial. If you think your emotional or mental well-being has suffered after being involved in a car accident, your priority should be to seek help from a mental health professional. Getting the help and treatment you need will not only put you on a path toward recovery, it can also create evidence that supports your emotional distress claim

While keeping track of everything going on after a car crash can be difficult, you should do your best to write down all relevant information about your physical or emotional injuries.

Keeping a log that details your experience will make it easier to assess how you felt in the aftermath of the crash, even weeks or months down the line. Following the recommended treatment plan set out by your mental health professional and medical team is essential to your recovery. Whether or not you adhere to this plan can contribute significantly to the outcome of your case.

How to Prove an Emotional Distress Claim

Establishing emotional distress in your car accident case often involves backing up your claims. Putting your trust in one of our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you determine the extent or severity of the emotional impact a car accident has left on your life.

Building a case to sue for emotional distress can become complex.

To strengthen your claim:

  • Document your experience: Medical records or reports often serve as evidence to support claims for physical injuries; however, emotional suffering isn’t as easy to detect. Determining the severity of the emotional impact a car crash has on a victim’s life varies greatly from person to person. Maintaining medical and work records, keeping a personal journal, or logging an irregular sleep schedule can help build your claim. Submitting statements and evaluations by a mental health professional or medical provider that has treated you for symptoms of emotional distress may also be beneficial in establishing your claim. Witness testimony on your well-being and the impacts of the accident on your everyday life can serve as another critical piece of evidence in your case.
  • Speak with an auto accident attorney: Before you file an emotional distress claim, you should seek advice from a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can help build your case by collecting evidence of emotional distress on your behalf. Partnering with an experienced car accident attorney can alleviate some stress from the situation and allow you to better understand if you should seek compensation for emotional suffering after a car accident.

What Types of Emotional Distress Claims Exist?

The infliction of emotional distress can be divided into two different categories: intentional and negligent.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

When the defendant commits an act that causes unintentional emotional distress to the victims, it is considered a negligent infliction of emotional suffering. Most automobile accidents are caused by negligence. An example of this might be if the other driver breaks the law or violates a statutory duty by texting while driving or running a red light. You do not need to sustain physical harm to file this type of claim. Instead, you must prove that an emotional injury occurred and resulted directly from the negligence of the at-fault driver.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

If another driver purposefully collides with your vehicle in an act of road rage, their actions may be interpreted as intentional infliction of emotional distress. When the defendant’s behavior in a car accident case is especially shocking or extreme, the court may conclude that they intentionally or recklessly inflicted emotional harm upon the victim.

What Compensation Can You Claim for Emotional Distress Following a Car Crash?

Quantifying the emotional impact of an accident is usually complicated. When it comes to a personal injury claim, however, you must determine the monetary cost of the emotional distress caused by the at-fault party. The process for calculating the damages available in your case for emotional distress doesn’t involve an exact formula. It will vary considerably based on methods used between the insurance company, attorneys involved in your case, and the court. Consulting with a skilled auto accident lawyer can give you the best chance at recovering fair compensation for emotional distress you suffer after a car accident.

Some common costs victims of emotional distress claims following car accidents may include:

  • The financial cost of seeing a mental health professional or taking prescription medication to manage symptoms of emotional traumaƒ
  • Missing wages or the loss of a job due to emotional distress
  • Loss of quality of life because of your car accident injuries

Recovering compensation for emotional distress after a car accident will depend on the type of insurance policy coverage carried by the liable driver and your attorney’s ability to argue the cause of emotional distress and the impact symptoms of mental anguish have had on your life. Reaching out to a lawyer who has the right resources and experiences can help you better understand the type of damages you may pursue in your claim.

Our Compassionate Car Accident Attorneys Are Here to Help

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

Most people feel anxious, overwhelmed, and unsure of their next steps after a car accident. Instead of attempting to handle your legal claim on your own, you should consult with an experienced auto accident lawyer who can increase your chances of receiving full and fair compensation for your emotional distress.

Our lawyers understand that emotional and mental suffering can be just as detrimental to a victim’s well-being as physical injuries, which is why we dedicate ourselves to building strong cases on behalf of our clients. Don’t hesitate to call our office today for your free consultation with one of our auto accident attorneys!


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

Car Versus Bicycle Accident Statistics

car accident lawyer versus bicycle accident lawyer

Bicycling has been popular for hundreds of years in the United States, including in Illinois. Today, children are not the only bicyclists that a driver of an automobile may see near a road. In fact, the number of adults cycling for pleasure or sport is increasing every year, as is the number of Illinois workers who chose to commute by bike.

Indeed, Illinois can be dangerous if you’re in a car or a bicycle. In the state, 26 bicyclists were killed in the last year for which statistics were available, and 2,663 were injured, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Car crashes were responsible for 700 deaths that year, and 93,517 injuries.

Collisions between the two can be especially dangerous. Bicyclists, even if helmeted, are relatively unprotected if they are struck by a car. They can be thrown immense distances or knocked off the bike into oncoming traffic. Even a minor accident can result in broken bones and spinal or head injuries for the bicyclist. Car drivers tend not to register the presence of bicycles as much as they do cars, and can turn in front of them, sideswipe them, or even rear-end them.

In fact, a common bicycle accident is caused by car drivers opening their doors and getting out directly in the path of an oncoming bicycle. The bicyclist, in a “dooring” accident, can be thrown over the door or crash as a result of having to brake or swerve to avoid the door.

Car and bike accidents may be on the rise, especially in Chicago. Unfortunately, the climb stems in part from the Windy City’s success as a bike city. Chicago have created bicycle-only lanes of traffic, protected bike lanes, bike-sharing programs, as well as increased availability of bike parking and space for bikes on public transit. We won tenth place in BikingExpert.com’s list of the top bike-friendly cities in America-and that’s on top of winning Bicycling magazine’s top honor for Best Bike City in America in 2016. These awards stem from the number of bike paths and trails in the city-more than 200 miles worth, including the 20-mile trail on the side of Lake Michigan. And by next year, the city is estimated to have a whopping 600 miles of dedicated bike lanes.

The city has invested heavily in increasing bike paths and lanes over the three decades. People have responded. Many Illinois residents bike to work in Chicago and other cities, and many bike for leisure as well.

Despite these safety increases, bicycle accidents remain an extremely serious form of personal injury. The very nature of an unprotected cyclist vs a car leads to a situation in which the cyclists is almost surely going to suffer severe injuries or worse. And with more bike riding and ubiquity, especially on city streets, comes more potential for accidents causing fatalities and injuries.

Even a Chicago Sun-Times columnist wondered if great bike city awards were entirely accurate, given the city’s reputation for unsafe car drivers and roads under construction. Both can prove fatal to bicyclists.

Riding a bicycle is a popular way to get around Chicago and other cities in Illinois. Cycling is an eco-friendly, cost-efficient, and healthy alternative to driving a car. However, sharing the road with car drivers can be dangerous, which is why car versus bicycle accidents are so common in Illinois and other states.

Even a low-speed collision between a car and bicycle can result in catastrophic or deadly injuries to the rider, while car drivers often leave the scene of the crash unscathed. Unlike car drivers, bicyclists have very little protection in the event of a collision, which is why they are considered some of the most vulnerable road users.

If you or your loved one suffered injuries in a car vs. bicycle accident, consider contacting an experienced lawyer to help you pursue the compensation to which you are entitled. Below, we will discuss the car versus bicycle accident statistics and what makes these collisions so common in Illinois and across the country.

What Should I Do if I’m in a Car-Bicycle Accident?

If you are in a car-bicycle accident, follow the same procedure as a car accident. If you are injured, call 911. They will alert emergency responders and police. The police will issue a police report, which can be used as evidence of what happened, who was injured, and what caused the accident.

If you are not injured seriously enough to need immediate medical attention, call the police. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s). Do not leave the scene of the accident unless you need to go to an emergency room via ambulance.

Take pictures of the accident scene with your smartphone, if you are carrying one. Pictures can be very helpful in determining the causes of the accident, via the trajectory of the vehicles, any skid marks, and other environmental markers. If you don’t have a smartphone with you, take notes on what happened, what you remember, and similar facts.

It’s also a good idea to take pictures of your injuries, your bicycle or car, and any other personal or property damage. Be sure to get a copy of the police report. Police reports are evidence of what happened.

Even if you don’t believe you are seriously injured, see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. A doctor can examine you to make sure you do not have serious injuries, and can treat any injuries you did sustain.

Determining Who Is at Fault for the Accident

Determining who is at fault for a car-bicycle accident is the same as determining fault in all accidents involving vehicles. The person or other entity whose actions (or failure to act appropriately) caused the accident to occur is usually considered at fault. In other words, even if the bicyclist is much more injured than occupants of the car, or the bicyclist is the sole person injured, the injuries have no bearing on the fault. The law looks at behavior that was a causal factor in the crash.

Causal factors can include driving unsafely or not obeying traffic laws. If a car and a bicycle approach an intersection, for example, and the car is facing a yield sign, it should yield to the bicyclist. If it does not, the car’s driver will likely be considered at fault. Bicyclists have many of the same rights that cars do. But conversely, a bicyclist riding outside of a designated bike lane may be considered partially at fault, because safe driving practices recommend staying in a designated lane.  Please note that being partially at fault is not bar recovery for a bicyclist, but it could reduce the amount of damages awarded.

Factors other than a driver can also be at fault for an accident. Shoddy manufacture of either the car or the bicycle may result in defects that cause an accident. Manufacturers can be at fault in these accidents. Inadequately repaired or marked streets can cause an accident. The entity responsible for street maintenance can be at fault.

If you or a loved one are injured in a car-bike accident caused by another party, that party may be deemed liable. You can attempt to recover damages for your injuries from that party. There are two ways to recover damages: by going directly to the other party’s insurance company, or bringing a personal injury lawsuit.

What Damages Are Available in Car versus Bicycle Accidents?

When someone gets injured in a car vs. bicycle accident, they may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault party. A victim of a collision between a bicycle and motor vehicle can obtain compensation for their economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages refer to any financial losses and monetary costs the victim has incurred after the accident, while non-economic damages are the emotional distress, suffering, pain, and other intangible losses.

Depending on the severity of your injury, you might recover damages for:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • The cost of repairing or replacing property
  • Pain and suffering
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Disfigurement
  • Permanent scarring

Illinois law also allows victims to recover punitive damages when they can prove that the defendant’s conduct can be described as outrageous, willful, or wanton (735 ILCS 5/2-1115.05).

If a victim of a bicycle accident died, their surviving family members might obtain compensation for funeral and burial expenses. Proving damages in the aftermath of a car vs. bicycle accident requires the injured party or surviving family members to gather evidence and documentation. Calculating non-economic damages can be difficult because there are no receipts, bills, or invoices to prove intangible losses.

Do I Need a Lawyer if I’m Dealing With an Insurance Company?

While most people are familiar with the need to contact an attorney for a personal injury suit, it may be tempting to think you can make an insurance claim against an at-fault driver on your own. Insurance companies try, always, to mitigate any risk to themselves-and that includes trying to minimize payment to you.

An unrepresented claimant is substantially easier for an insurance company to handle than one with an attorney. They may claim you are at fault for the accident even if you bear no responsibility at all. They may claim that your injuries are less severe than they are. It’s always prudent to contact an attorney who is experienced in negotiating car-bike accidents.

Bicycle Accidents by the Numbers

One of the most prominent reporters of bicycle safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported the following bike accident facts in one recent year:

  • 677 bicyclists were killed in accidents in the United States (up from 623 in 2010);
  • 48,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents (down from 52,000 in 2010);
  • Bicyclist fatalities represented 2.1% of all traffic crash deaths, and bicyclists also represented 2% of all people injured in all traffic accidents;
  • Nearly one out of ten bike riders killed were between 5 and 15 years old;
  • Age 43 was the average age of a cyclist killed on the road;
  • Age 32 was the average age of a cyclist injured in an accident;
  • There were 66 bicyclists age 15 and under killed;
  • Among bicyclists age 16 to 34, there were 174 fatalities;
  • Among bicyclists ages 35-54, there were 235 fatalities;
  • Among bicyclists age 55 and older, there were 198 fatalities;
  • The majority of bicycle fatalities occurred in urban settings (69%) and at non-intersections (59%);
  • The deadliest time to ride a bicycle was between 4:00 p.m. and 7:59 p.m., followed by 8:00 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.;
  • The majority of bicycle riders who were injured (78%) or killed (85%) were males;
  • Alcohol was involved in more than 37% of bicycle accident deaths.

The NHTSA further reports that more than 51,000 bicyclists have been killed in traffic crashes since 1932, the first year that bike accident fatality data was recorded.

In addition to the national statistics, the State of Illinois gathers and maintains its own facts related to bicycle accidents. The Illinois Department of Transportation reported the following statistics for the year 2011:

  • There were 3,107 bicycle accidents of which 2,912 resulted in injuries;
  • 27 bicyclists were killed in accidents;
  • Over 40% of those killed were 65 years old or older;
  • Bicycle riders under the age of 15 accounted for 14.8% of bicycle deaths and 18.7% of bicycle injuries.

Statistics Show Bicycle Accidents Are Common in Illinois

Indeed, Illinois can be dangerous if you’re in a car or a bicycle. In the state, 26 bicyclists lost their lives in the last year for which statistics were available, and 2,663 sustained injuries, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Car crashes were responsible for 700 deaths and 93,517 injuries that year.

Illinois Laws for Bicycle Riders

In Illinois, bicycle riders have the same rights and responsibilities as car drivers. However, there are also special rules that apply to bicyclists in the state.

Illinois prohibits the following:

  • Bicycles cannot have sirens unless the bicycle is for law enforcement or the fire department
  • A bicycle should not carry more persons than its design allowed
  • Bicycle riders cannot cling to motor vehicles while riding

Illinois does not have a statewide law requiring all bicyclists to wear helmets, though many municipalities across the state require children under  16 to ride with helmets. In Illinois, bicyclists can ride as close to the right side of the road as possible and practicable unless the rider is overtaking another cyclist or stopped vehicle or is preparing to make a left turn.

On one-way roads, Illinois requires bicycle riders to operate as close to the left-hand side of the road as possible.

Common Types of Car vs. Bicycle Accidents

There are many different types of accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles.

Some of the most common and dangerous ones include:

    • Riding against traffic. A large percentage of car vs. bicycle collisions occur when the cyclist is riding against traffic. As in other states, in Illinois, riding a bicycle in the opposite direction of traffic is illegal.
    • Exiting from a driveway, alley, or sidewalk. Cars may collide with bicycles when a rider exits a driveway, alley, or sidewalk and enters the roadway. Drivers may not notice a bicyclist who is trying to enter the roadway.
    • Failure to yield the right of way at intersections. Illinois law requires car drivers and bicyclists to come to a full stop at stop signs or red signals. Unfortunately, many fail to yield the right of way and blow through red lights or stop signs, causing preventable crashes.
    • Cars overtaking bicycles or vice versa. Many collisions between bicyclists and cars often occur as a result of overtaking one another.
    • Left-turn accidents. Drivers are likely to hit bicycle riders when performing a left turn, especially if the motorist fails to see the rider.
    • Right-turn accidents. Bicycles often linger in vehicles’ blind spots when the latter make right turns at intersections.
    • Drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 28 people die in accidents involving drunk drivers in the United States. Since driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs a driver’s ability to concentrate and slows down their reaction time, they are more likely to collide with bicyclists on the road.
    • Distracted driving. When a car driver fails to pay attention to the road, they are less likely to notice a bicycle rider and may end up hitting the bicycle. According to the NHTSA, texting while driving forces a driver to take their eyes off the road for five seconds.
    • Dooring accidents. Many bicycle accidents occur as a result of car drivers opening their doors and getting out directly in the path of an oncoming bicycle. The bicyclist, in a dooring accident, can be thrown over the door or crash as a result of having to brake or swerve to avoid the door.

The Dangers of Car versus Bicycle Accidents

Collisions between the two can be especially dangerous. Bicyclists, even if helmeted, are relatively unprotected if a car strikes them. They can be thrown immense distances or knocked off the bike into oncoming traffic. Even a minor accident can result in broken bones and spinal or head injuries for the bicyclist.

Car drivers tend not to register the presence of bicycles as much as they do cars, which is why they may end up turning in front of bicyclists, sideswiping them, or even rear-ending them. Bicycle riders are some of the most vulnerable road users because of the lack of protection.

While bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as car drivers, cyclists do not have a metal frame around them, seat belts, or airbags to protect them from injuries in the event of accidents.

Helmet Use in Car versus Bicycle Accidents

When an accident with a bicyclist does occur, a head or face injury is one of the most common injuries a cyclist can suffer. These are not only common but also very serious and often deadly. The best way to prevent a head injury while riding a bike is to always wear a properly fitting helmet whenever you ride.

According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, helmets reduce the chance of death in an accident. Studies show that up to 97 percent of riders who died in crashes with vehicles are not wearing helmets.

Despite the benefits, only a small percentage of riders chose to wear helmets in Illinois. In most areas of the state, it is up to the rider to decide whether or not she wants to wear a helmet; unlike some other states, Illinois does not have a mandatory helmet law that covers all riders. Some cities and municipalities require helmet usage by some riders, mostly children under 16, but the majority of cities have no such regulation, leaving it up to riders and parents to decide what is best.

Common Types of Injuries in Car versus Bicycle Accidents

According to the American Family Physician, bicycle-related injuries account for over 1.2 million physician visits per year. Bicyclists are more likely to suffer severe injuries in a motor vehicle collision, even if the crash occurs at low speeds.

While wearing a helmet may reduce the risk of a severe traumatic brain injury, helmet use may not protect against other types of injuries, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Head trauma
  • Brain contusion
  • Permanent scarring
  • Road rash
  • Disfigurement
  • Scraps and strains

Get checked out as soon as possible after the accident. Even if you do not feel any pain after the collision, it is still essential to visit an emergency room or physician to seek medical attention.

What Compensation Can You Seek After a Bicycle versus Car Accident?

Personal injury settlements after bicycle vs. car accidents vary greatly from one case to another. The value of your case depends on the circumstances of the accident, the extent and severity of injuries, whether the victim will require medical care in the future, and many other factors.

Victims who suffer severe injuries may require extensive medical care and may spend more time away from work. These two factors alone increase the amount of compensation they can receive following the accident. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, often account for a significant portion of the settlement amount.

Consider speaking with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to review your specific case and help you determine the full extent of your damages and losses after a bicycle vs. car accident.

Adults Increasing in Risk of Injuries from Bike Accidents

The average age of cyclist killed has been increasing over the past few decades with experts opining that the cause is the increased use of bicycles by older Americans and not a decreased use among children. While these adults are at an increased risk, unfortunately the traditional risk faced by children still exists with many kids being injured or killed on a bicycle every year.

Bicyclists have the same right to ride in Illinois roads as drivers of cars and therefore drivers must be willing to share the roads with the bikers. By paying attention, looking for bicyclists, and acknowledging the rights of bicyclists, accidents are much less likely and will be less likely to result in death or serious injury.

When an accident with a bicyclist does occur, one of the most common injuries to the cyclist is a head or face injury. These are not only common but also very serious and often deadly. The best way to prevent a head injury while riding a bike is to always wear a properly fitting helmet whenever you ride. Studies repeatedly show that helmets reduce the chance of death in an accident, and in fact, 91 percent of riders who were killed in 2010 were not wearing helmets.

Despite the benefits, only a small percentage of riders chose to wear helmets in Illinois. In most areas of the state, it is up to the rider to decide whether or not she wants to wear a helmet; unlike some other states, Illinois does not have a mandatory helmet law that covers all riders. Some cities and municipalities require helmet usage by some riders, mostly children under the age of 16, but the majority of cities have no such regulation, leaving it up to riders and parents to decide what is best.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?

Motor vehicle accidents involving cars and bicycles often involve complex legal issues. For this reason, victims of these accidents might need to hire a skilled attorney to help them recover compensation following the crash. Statistically speaking, bicycle accident victims who hire an attorney are more likely to receive the compensation to which they are entitled than those who do not seek legal counsel.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you pursue the compensation you need to move forward with your life by:

  • Collecting evidence
  • Talking to witnesses and gathering their statements
  • Consulting accident reconstruction experts to determine what caused the collision
  • Negotiating with insurance companies on behalf of the client
  • If necessary, filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party to maximize recoverable damages

If you or someone you love was in a car-bicycle accident, consider contacting a reputable and experienced attorney to discuss your options for compensation.

If you need additional information or help, contact an Illinois bicycle accident attorney.

What Happens When a Car Accident Causes a Permanent Disability?

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Car accidents can range from minor fender benders to devastating crashes. If you’ve been involved in a serious accident, you understand that the consequences can be physically, emotionally, and financially overwhelming. When a car accident leads to permanent disabilities, however, the stakes can be even higher.

An experienced Chicago car accident injury attorney can help.

U.S. and Illinois Car Accident Statistics

Below are some startling statistics related to car crashes in the United States and Illinois that makes clear how serious motor vehicle collisions are:

  • More than 37,000 people die in car accidents each year.
  • Another 2.35 million suffer injuries or disabilities.
  • More than 1,600 children younger than 15 die annually in car crashes.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in the United States for people under the age of 54.
  • Car accidents cost the United States $230 billion per year.
  • The average cost of a car accident that causes a disabling injury is $61,000.
  • The average cost of a car accident that causes paralysis is $515,000 for the first year and $68,000 each year for treatment, care, and equipment.
  • The lifelong costs of a brain injury from a motor vehicle accident can range from $85,000 to $3 million.
  • More than 1.2 million adults are living with a disability caused by a motor vehicle crash.
  • Disabilities from car crashes are highest for people ages 35 to 64.
  • 41 percent of people disabled by car accidents reported being unable to work because of their disability.

Because disabilities from motor vehicle crashes are most prevalent in people who are in their prime working years, their quality of life, productivity, ability to care for themselves, and self-worth can all suffer negative effects.

Liability for Your Severe Injuries

Car accidents happen for many reasons, and the cause of your crash will determine whether someone else is liable for your permanent injuries and life-long losses. In some cases, liability is fairly obvious, such as when a driver hits you and then stumbles out of their vehicle because they are drunk. In other situations, liability might not be clear, and determining who should be responsible requires investigation.

Some parties that are commonly liable for serious car accidents and injuries in Illinois include:

    • Distracted drivers – Despite Illinois laws that strictly prohibit handheld device use by drivers, many people text and drive or engage in other distractions behind the wheel.
    • Impaired drivers – Whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs, or even prescription drugs, they can cause devastating crashes.
    • Drivers who violate the law – Illinois has many traffic laws, and every driver should follow them. Drivers can violate different laws for different reasons, but they always put others in danger when they do so.
    • Aggressive drivers – If you ever drove in Chicago traffic, you know that many drivers are impatient and aggressive. Cutting off others, speeding, improper passing, and other behaviors cause many crashes.
    • Employers of drivers – If a negligent driver causes an accident during their work hours, their employer might also share liability for the crash.

While you receive medical care and deal with the aftermath of a permanent and disabling injury, the last thing you need to do is gather evidence of liability for your crash. Let our car accident attorneys identify all liable parties and gather evidence to support your claims as soon as possible.

What is a Permanent Disability?

A permanent disability is an injury that causes you to not be able to perform your normal work duties or engage in typical daily activities that you participated in before your car accident.

Permanent disabilities are ongoing and will affect you for the rest of your life. Such disabilities can range in degree, established by determining at what level (if any) you can continue to work and function in daily life despite your injuries.

Permanent disabilities can range from partial disability to total disability.

The Overarching Consequences of a Permanent Disability

While every car accident is potentially devastating, those that lead to permanent disabilities can be especially tragic. A permanent disability can adversely affect your work, personal life, and even your quality of life. As such, seeking complete and just compensation when your disability is caused by someone else’s negligence is paramount.

Permanent injuries not only lead to extensive medical and therapeutic treatment, hospital stays, and cascading expenses, but they also create ongoing, unpredictable future expenses.

Every case is unique and must be specifically evaluated in relation to the individual losses you have suffered, along with the projected losses of future earnings and quality of life.

This is where a skilled Chicago personal injury lawyer comes in your attorney will help you navigate the confusing terrain of establishing the extent of damages you have suffered and will fight for the compensation to which you are entitled.

Car Accidents and Permanent Disabilities

Car accidents can lead to permanent disabilities that relate to the circumstances and the severity of the accident involved, including:

  • Paralysis caused by spinal cord trauma
  • Complete or partial limb amputation
  • Sensory deprivations, including deafness or blindness
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Limb deformation that results in mobility impairment
  • Ongoing psychological trauma
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Severe burns

Such conditions are obviously catastrophic to the sufferer, but also have significant repercussions for the victim’s support system, including family and friends. If you or someone you care about has suffered a permanent injury in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you need an experienced Chicago car accident attorney.

How Permanent Disabilities Affect Your Life

A permanent disability will affect your life forever. Everyday tasks become challenges, like brushing your teeth, showering, or cleaning up around the house. Depending on the severity of your disability, you may have a hard time completing even simple tasks without assistance.

Financial Disturbance due to a Permanent Disability

Your finances will also be greatly affected by your disability, as you may no longer be able to work. Many disabled people are able to get some type of income from the government, but it’s almost never enough.

Whether or not you will be able to work depends on the type of disability you have and whether or not you were able to find a job with proper accommodations. There are accident victims who lose complete control over both their arms and legs yet are still able to find work as a software customer support agent.

However, for those who have skills that require them to use their bodies, finding another job may not be so easy.

Permanent disabilities are also known for having long recovery periods. This means it could take months or even years of therapy and treatment to get some semblance of normalcy back. During this time, you will not only be accumulating medical bills but you will have no way of generating income to pay them.

Expensive medical bills are a burden on the permanently disabled and their family. But the financial strain doesn’t stop there.

If the person that was injured was the main income earner for their family, their sudden injury could mean a sudden stop to all household income. This means that not only are there mounting medical bills and other related costs, but there is also no way to pay the mortgage, electric bill, or for everyday necessities. In situations in which the main income earner cannot work for a period of time or indefinitely the financial strain on a family can be nearly incalculable.

[Read: Who Pays Medical Bills After a Car Accident?]

Other Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents That Lead to Disabilities

Motorcycle accidents are known for causing permanent disabilities to riders because of the lack of protection motorcyclists have against other vehicles.

Truck accidents can also leave drivers with severe injuries that cause a disability. Since commercial trucks weigh so much more than passenger vehicles, these accidents are often severe. Drivers who are unlucky enough to be hit by a semi truck are at one of the highest risks of suffering a disability due to their injuries.

Pedestrian accidents occur when a motor vehicle strikes someone who is walking or crossing an intersection. As you can imagine, pedestrians have practically no protection from steel vehicles striking them at a high speed. Because of this, pedestrian accident victims often suffer from serious and debilitating injuries that can leave them with lifelong permanent disabilities.

Bicycle accidents occur when motor vehicle drivers aren’t paying close enough attention and hit a cyclist. Like pedestrians, bicycle riders have no protection from motor vehicles and therefore have a high likelihood of suffering a disabling injury.

Common injuries that motorcyclists, drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists suffer that can cause a disabling injury include:

Car Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can be so physically, emotionally, and financially damaging that it is worth taking a closer look at this particular injury. TBIs occur when the brain is smashed against its protective cover the skull. They can be caused by blows to the head or by wrenching back-and-forth motions of the head both of which are common to car accidents. Because your brain is your body’s command central, any injury can lead to irreparable and far-reaching consequences.

Even a relatively minor car accident can lead to a traumatic brain injury, and these injuries can go initially undetected. For this reason, TBIs are often referred to as invisible or silent injuries.

The long-lasting repercussions of TBIs can be so traumatic that it’s important to understand what the symptoms might look like:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Unconsciousness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Newly acquired sleep disturbances
  • Sudden onset of incoordination
  • Sudden onset of confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness and weakness
  • Sudden mood swings or changes in personality
  • Sudden onset of speech problems

The permanent emotional and psychological effects of TBI can be just as if not more damaging as TBI’s physical effects. Some TBI victims, for example, find that they can no longer manage their emotions in a way that’s familiar to them. Such consequences can be emotionally and socially isolating, and can lead to mental health issues, including depression.

Car Accidents and Physical Paralysis

Paralysis is the loss of function of a muscle or group of muscles in the body that causes an impairment. Paralysis is the most severe type of permanent disability caused by a car accident.

Typically, a paralysis victim loses sensation and movement control in the affected areas. This loss of feeling and movement completely disrupt people’s lives at least until they learn to live with their new normal. Until that time however, physical paralysis is extremely painful, emotionally traumatic, stressful, and financially straining.

Paralysis caused by a car accident usually occurs when there is damage to the spinal cord. Depending on which part of the spinal cord is injured, victims can suffer different types of paralysis. It should be mentioned that paralysis can also occur from other injuries (like crushing injuries) in which a person’s limb or other body part is crushed so severely that they lose the ability to use it.

Physical paralysis injuries can be categorized as:

  • Monoplegia: one limb is paralyzed
  • Hemiplegia: the arm and leg on one side of the body are paralyzed
  • Paraplegia: both legs and some of the lower body are paralyzed
  • Quadriplegia: both the arms and legs are paralyzed

Not All Permanent Disabilities Are Visible

The permanent disabilities caused by car accidents can present in any number of ways, and not all of them are visibly apparent. If you remain physically healthy but your mental health, cognitive functioning, or emotional stability have been adversely affected, the consequences you suffer can be just as significant. You may require ongoing counseling and therapy. Furthermore, you could experience mental pain and suffering as well as a diminished capacity to enjoy your life. Never overlook or minimize these are serious consequences.

If you suffered injuries in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you might have the right to compensation.

If your injuries resulted in a permanent disability, you know how traumatic that can be. Do not rely on the insurance company involved to adequately and justly calculate your losses. Insurance companies are in the business of minimizing payouts, and they do not necessarily make your just compensation their top priority.

Because your rights and your fair compensation matter, you need experienced legal counsel who will negotiate with the insurance company, advise you against accepting lowball offers, and advocate for a fair settlement amount.

Temporary Disabilities Are Common After a Car Accident

Not all injuries that cause a disability are permanent. It is possible to suffer from a temporary disability.

Examples of injuries that may result in temporary disability include:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussion
  • Broken bones
  • Torn muscle fibres
  • Torn ligaments or connective tissue
  • Spine damage that can be repaired

Temporary disabilities will heal over time, unlike permanent disabilities. But they still have cost people their income, cause injury victims pain and suffering, create piles of medical debt, and cause serious problems for the person and their family that lasts for weeks, months, or even years.

Just because a disability caused by a car accident is temporary doesn’t mean the resulting damages should be overlooked.

Getting Compensation for a Permanent Disability

A permanent disability completely changes an injury victim’s life and that of their family. The financial costs of treating an injury that causes a disability is extremely high. The lost income is substantial, and the physical and emotional pain and suffering may seem limitless.

An experienced Chicago car accident attorney can help you file a personal injury claim so you can recover the damages associated with your injury so that you can get your life back to normal or as close to normal as possible.

A car accident claim can secure you compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future income
  • Lost earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, sex, and normal marital and family life

[Read: Timeline of a Personal Injury Case to learn more about the process.]

If You’ve Suffered a Permanent Disability, Call a Chicago Injury Attorney ASAP

If you’ve suffered a permanent disability in a car accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you are no doubt overwhelmed. You don’t, however, need to face this crisis alone. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Abels & Annes are here to help. We have the skill and commitment to fight for your case and your rights. If you’ve been injured and need legal counsel, please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call our office at (312) 924-7575 for a free consultation today.