Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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Car accidentAs a Chicago car accident lawyer, I’m often asked what a car accident case is worth and what determines the value.

Short answer:

  • Liability;
  • Insurance; and
  • Damages

This is not an all-inclusive list, but in my opinion these are the big three.

Liability:  Good Facts Win Cases

Liability, meaning who’s at fault? Which driver caused the accident? Is it easy to determine fault, or is liability contested? Liability is very important. You don’t need to be totally free of negligence to pursue a claim, but it’s a lot easier to prosecute a case if it’s clear the defendant caused the accident.

For example, normally a rear-end accident is a much easier case to pursue than a contested “he said, she said” red light case. A drunk driver crossing the centerline is a better case than trying to figure out who had the right away coming out of a four way stop sign. It’s always better to have good facts on your side.

Great Auto Insurance Helps

Quality auto insurance is very important. There are good auto insurance companies, middle of the road, and substandard carriers. Continue reading →

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Car accidents are a common occurrence and many people who live in our nation will be involved in a car accident at some point in their lives. Some car accidents are insignificant and provide little cause for concern, but many car accidents cause devastating injuries and property damage. Often people who suffered harm due to a car accident will wish to file a lawsuit to seek compensation from the party that caused the accident, but it seems as if there are countless lawyers in your town to choose from and choosing the right lawyer can seem like an insurmountable feat. If you were involved in a car accident it is vital to choose an attorney with the skills and experience needed to provide you with your best chance for a favorable legal result under the facts of your case.

One of the most important elements to consider in choosing a car accident attorney to represent you in judicial proceedings is the attorney’s experience in handling car accident cases. Each state has different procedural laws and each type of case has unique elements that the plaintiff must prove in order to present a successful case and it is essential to choose an attorney who is well-versed in what it takes to help you set forth a strong case. As such, it is important to determine how long an attorney you are considering hiring has been practicing law, what percentage of the cases the attorney handles are car accident cases, and how many car accident cases the attorney has litigated. Some attorneys will choose to settle a case prior to trial, which may not always be beneficial to his or her client. Thus, it is critical to hire an attorney who will try your case if it is warranted under the circumstances.

Moreover, it is important to retain an attorney who will thoroughly analyze your case and give you an honest assessment as to its value and any obstacles to your recovery. The majority of car accident cases allege that the plaintiff suffered harm due to the negligence of the defendant. To prove negligence you must show that the defendant owed you a duty, which he or she breached, and the breach caused the accident. You must also show you suffered damages as a result of the accident. In many cases, the defendant will argue that the plaintiff was negligent and thus should be precluded from recovering damages. For example, in Illinois a plaintiff can be found negligent and still recover damages, however, as long as his or her contributory negligence is not more than 50%. Your attorney is the liaison between you and the judiciary system and he or she should not only be able to present effective arguments that the defendant should be held liable, he or she should also be able to anticipate and address any obstacles to your recovery.

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Car accidents are often shocking and traumatic experiences. While some collisions are purely accidental most car accidents are caused by negligent driving, and the negligent driver should be held accountable for any harm he or she caused. Many people involved in car accidents are stunned by the accident, however, and in the midst of trying to process what happened, they may fail to consider what actions they should take to preserve their rights and any evidence that may be needed to prove liability or damages in the future.  If you were involved in a car accident it is important to know what actions to take to protect your right to seek compensation in the future.

The first thing you should do following a car accident is contact the police. Calling the police is important for several reasons. First, and most importantly, the police can help assess whether anyone was injured in the accident and assist anyone that sustained injuries in receiving the appropriate care. Secondly, the police will likely conduct an investigation into the cause of the accident and issue a report setting forth their findings following the investigation. The investigation will include taking the statements of the parties involved in the accident, and any witnesses to the accident. It is also helpful to obtain the contact information of any witnesses and take pictures of any damage to the vehicles involved in the accident or marks on the roadway. You should also obtain the insurance information of the other driver involved in the accident.

In certain circumstances, you are also required to report a car accident to the Department of Transportation (DOT), depending on which state you reside in.  Fore example, in Illinois an accident must be reported if it results in injuries or death, or property damage exceeding $1,500. A crash report must be filed within 10 days of the accident and must include certain information such as when and where the accident occurred, information regarding the parties involved in the accident and an explanation of what happened. If a person required to report an accident fails to do so it can result in the suspension of his or her license. Thus, it is important to report accidents to the DOT in a timely manner.

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In many cases, a person involved in a car accident will suffer significant financial losses treating injuries and repairing property damage caused by the accident. These people may wish to pursue a claim against the party that caused the accident but may be hesitant due to uncertainty regarding the cost of an attorney. If you suffered harm or economic damage due to a car accident it is in your best interest to talk to a car accident attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to recover and the cost of representation.

Attorney Fee Structures

There are multiple different ways in which an attorney may be compensated for representing a person in a lawsuit arising out of car accident. One of the most common fee arrangements is a contingent fee agreement. Under this type of agreement, the attorney does not receive any compensation unless he or she obtains a financial award on behalf of his or her client. If the attorney is able to successfully recover damages, the attorney’s compensation will be a percentage of the total damages award. Damages typically awarded include not only the cost of medical bills and repairing damage to a car, but also compensation for pain and suffering and loss of a normal life. A contingent fee agreement can vary in the percentage the attorney will receive, but it is most common for the percentage to range from 33 1/3% to 40%.  Please note that most car accident lawyers, including our office, typically don’t charge a fee for collecting property damage unless the damages are collected in litigation.

Another method in which attorneys are paid is via an hourly rate. This is not common in personal injury lawsuits, but in some cases a person and his or her attorney may find this arrangement to be more suitable.  Under an hourly billing arrangement, the attorney will receive an agreed upon amount for each hour worked.  This is risky for the plaintiff.  If the case falls apart for any reason, he or she may have already paid a significant amount of money for hourly legal fees.  But with the above discussed contingency fee, it’s no fee unless you win, so the risk is on the lawyer and the plaintiff does not have to worry about how they are going to pay for their legal services.

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Car accidents are unsettling, and when a person is injured in a car accident the person often does not know what things are important to consider when it comes to filing a lawsuit to seek compensation.  While the majority of people are rarely involved in car accidents, experienced car accident attorneys handle car accident lawsuits on a daily basis, and are knowledgeable as to how a lawsuit arising out of a car accident should be handled and what compensation the injured party may be able to recover. If you suffered harm in a car accident, it is critical to know what questions to ask an attorney to assess whether another party should be held responsible for your harm and the potential value of your case.

The first and most important thing to ask an attorney is how long you have to pursue damages. While it is prudent to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident, if you do not, it is critical to know when the time will run on your opportunity to file a lawsuit. For example, in Illinois a party seeking compensation for personal injury must typically file a lawsuit within two years of the date of harm, however there are exceptions with shorter one year statute dates. Next, you should ask the attorney who may be liable for your harm. While in many car accident cases one of the drivers involved in the accident causes the accident, in some cases, the accident may be caused by an unsafe vehicle or a roadway that was improperly designed or maintained, or a combination of factors. Thus, there may be multiple parties responsible for causing the accident.

You should then ask the attorney if there are any hurdles to your recovery of compensation. Factors such as your own liability and the loss of evidence may make it more difficult to recover damages, and it is important to have realistic expectations regarding the outcome of your case. You should also ask the attorney what damages you may be able to recover if you are successfully able to prove liability. If you were injured in a car accident, you may be able to recover the cost of any treatment for your injuries, the cost of repairing the damage to your vehicle, and damages for loss of earnings. You may be awarded compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced due to the accident as well. Last, you should ask the attorney what to expect in terms of the timeline for the resolution of your case. The attorney should explain the procedural manner in which a case is handled, and explain each step of the litigation process.

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Car accidents occur countless times per day. In some accidents,  it is clear which driver involved in the accident is responsible. For example, in rear-end collisions the second driver the struck the first driver is almost always the one who caused the accident. In many cases, however, liability for an accident is disputed. Additionally, it is not uncommon for the party that is injured in a car accident to be partially responsible for causing the accident.  If you suffered injuries in a car accident and you believe you may be partially at fault for causing the accident you should speak with a trusted car accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances surrounding your collision and whether you may be able to recover compensation.

A party seeking to recover compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident must prove another party is liable for his or her harm. The majority of car accident cases pursue damages via a negligence claim.  Negligence is comprised of four elements: a duty, breach, causation, and damages. In car accident cases, the duty owed is typically the duty to drive in a safe and reasonable manner under the circumstances that were present at the time of the accident, and the breach is the failure to do so. To prove causation you must show that the breach of the duty caused the accident. It is not necessary to show that the breach was the only cause of the accident, but you must show that the accident would not have occurred if the defendant did not breach his or her duty. Lastly, you must show that you suffered damages that can be quantified.

In many car accident cases, the defendant will attempt to refute liability by arguing that the injured driver caused the accident, and therefore, he or she should not be able to recover financially for the injuries sustained in the accident. If you were injured in a car accident, in most states if you are found to be partially liable for causing your car accident it does not automatically mean you cannot recover any damages. For example, Illinois law provides for modified comparative negligence.  Here a plaintiff in any lawsuit seeking compensation for personal injury is not barred from recovering compensation if he or she is not more than fifty percent responsible for causing the injuries for which he or she seeks to recover. Thus, as long as your fault in causing your accident is not greater than fifty percent, you may be awarded damages. Any damages you are awarded, however, will be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault allocated to you.  Twenty-three states use modified comparative negligence.

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Car accidents are never expected, and most people do not know what to do immediately after an accident. Many people focus on treating their injuries but fail to consider whether they may be able to recoup some of the losses caused by the accident until it is too late. If you were injured in a car accident and you wish to pursue a claim against the responsible party, it is prudent to speak with a skilled car accident attorney as soon as possible regarding your right to seek compensation for your harm.

While not all car accidents necessitate legal action, certain factors weigh in favor of retaining an attorney. Relevant factors to consider are whether you suffered a severe injury that required hospitalization, therapy, or any other treatment, or you are unsure of the significance of your injury. Another important factor is whether you were unable to work due to the injuries caused by the accident and you lost income as a result. If you were involved in a car accident in which one or more of these factors are present, it is probably in your best interest to hire an attorney promptly.

Additionally, you should retain an attorney if you have to deal with the insurance company for the other driver involved in the accident. In cases where the other driver is clearly liable his or her insurance company may attempt to take a statement from you or pressure you into agreeing to a settlement shortly after the accident. You cannot recover more than once and if you agree to settle your claim before the full extent of your damages has been evaluated, you may settle for less than your case is worth. An attorney can help you deal with insurance companies and assist you in assessing the full value of your damages and seek compensation for any harm you suffered.

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If you were involved in a car accident you most likely sustained property damage and you may have suffered injuries as well. If the car accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you have the right to pursue compensation for the damages you incurred due to the accident. You only have one chance to prove your case, however, and the attorney you choose can have a drastic effect on the outcome of your case. Thus, if you were in a car accident it is important to choose an attorney experienced in handling car accident cases to help you pursue your claim for damages.

Finding a Good Car Accident Lawyer

Determining whether an attorney is the right attorney to represent you in your car accident case depends on multiple elements. An important consideration in determining whether an attorney is a good fit is whether the attorney will provide you with an accurate assessment of your case and your potential damages. At your initial consultation, the attorney should ask you for the facts surrounding your accident and review any police report reviewed in the accident. The police report can provide strong evidence as to who was responsible for causing the accident, especially if the other driver was cited for a traffic violation. Most car accident cases set forth a theory that the defendant was negligent, and a violation of the motor vehicle code is prima facie evidence of negligence. It is important to note, however, that a good lawyer can identify not only the strongest aspects of your case but can also recognize and address any hurdles to your recovery, such as allegations that you were at fault in causing the accident.

Another critical element to consider is how many car accident cases the lawyer has litigated. Many attorneys work in a wide array of practice areas and do not have significant experience handling car accident cases. A lawyer that is proficient in handling car accident cases will understand the intricacies of how car accident cases are handled and will provide you with a better chance of success. Similarly, it is important to question any lawyer you are considering retaining regarding his or her success rate, and the range of verdicts and settlement awards the attorney has obtained on behalf of his or her clients.

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Any type of accident can confuse and upset the victims. You may not know how to handle the situation when the accident occurs, or what you’re supposed to do next. If your accident occurred when you used paid transportation, like a taxi, you may face even more challenges and complications.

These accidents are not unusual. Almost all of Illinois’s 5,271 taxi accidents took place in Chicago. According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2014, 4,129 crashes involved Chicago taxis, 830 of which produced injuries and three of which resulted in fatalities.

If you are a passenger in a taxi accident, here are the important steps to take.

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If you were in a car accident with a driver who was impaired by alcohol or illegal drugs, that driver may bear liability for your injuries and the damages that resulted. But what if the driver was impaired by legally prescribed prescription drugs? Do you still have a claim?

The answer is yes—but the case may prove complicated. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help. If you were in a Chicagoland car accident caused by a drugged driver, contact Abels & Annes, PC, for a free consultation at (312) 924-7575 or email us.

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