Like the rest of the United States, Chicago has experienced a rise in car accidents. Whether you want to blame the increase on the number of cars traveling on the road or other factors, one thing is certain: your car accident can result in costly losses. Many people suffer severe injuries in crashes that require medical treatment, and others never recover fully.
Seeking compensation in a car accident case is critical for victims to become whole again financially. However, these claims can be challenging, and you need to know key factors for receiving total compensation. While each car accident case is different, here are some general tips you want to keep in mind when starting your Chicago car accident lawyer.
Important factors in a Chicago car accident case
Each Chicago car accident case is different and has its own worth. Certain factors increase the value of a claim and give you a greater chance of success in receiving total compensation. To maximize the worth of your Chicago car accident case, you want to keep several of these factors in mind.
Liability in a car accident
Liability is one of the most critical factors in your case. Liability is the legal responsibility that the defendant has towards the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. In an insurance claim, an injured victim will file a claim against a liable party’s insurance coverage.
You must determine and prove the liability of the other driver or parties in your car accident. The more evidence you have that can prove that the other person or organization was negligent towards you, the greater your chances of a successful claim. To prove the other person’s negligence, you must prove different legal elements.
Negligence in a car accident
Negligence is the legal concept that determines liability in many personal injury cases, including car accident claims.
To show negligence, you must establish:
- Duty of care. This element establishes the reasonable care that the defendant owes towards you. For a driver, this duty of care will be a responsibility to drive a vehicle reasonably safely. For a car manufacturer, this duty of care will be to design a reasonably safe vehicle for each driver to use.
- Breach of duty of care. This element establishes how the defendant’s actions violated the duty of care owed to you. You need to show the driver engaged in careless actions that deviated from the duty of care, such as violating a traffic law.
- Causation. This element establishes that the defendant’s breach of the duty of care caused the plaintiff’s accident. You need evidence showing how a driver’s negligent actions contributed to your accident and why they should be liable.
- Damages. This element establishes the harm and damages that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff. You can show economic damages such as medical expenses and lost income, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
If another driver crashes into your car, it might seem fairly straightforward that they were negligent and should be liable. However, proving a breach of duty and causation can be more challenging than most people think. This is a requirement for a car accident claim, so you need legal help to ensure you can prove this key factor in your case.
Damages in a car accident
Your damages are another key factor in your car accident case. The amount of damages you demand helps determine the settlement you will receive. If you demand too little, the insurance company will not point out that you deserve more. You need to determine an accurate value of your losses.
Your damages will directly depend on the nature and severity of your injuries. If you suffered catastrophic injuries from your car accident, you will need larger amounts of damages than for a relatively minor injury that heals with time.
You always want an attorney to calculate your damages, as victims often underestimate the value of their claims. Once you settle your case, you cannot go back and request more if you miscalculated your damages. You need to get it right the first time.
Insurance companies in a car accident
Insurance companies will play a major role in your car accident claim. When you seek compensation from another driver, you are not seeking it from their bank accounts. Instead, you want to receive payment from their auto insurance provider.
Drivers must carry certain liability insurance coverage under the law. Like each insurance policy, there is a limit on each type of coverage the defendant possesses. If the other driver’s insurance policy does not cover the full extent of your damages, it can affect the overall compensation you might receive.
Your car accident attorney may have to consider other means to obtain your compensation, such as identifying other parties that share liability. Your attorney should always review the policy limits and determine whether a policy is adequate to cover your losses.
Insurance companies commonly make the claim process difficult for injured accident victims. They use many tactics to minimize claims, as doing so saves the company money. While you might feel confident that you can handle insurance adjusters, you should never communicate with them on your own. Always hire an attorney to handle the entire insurance process.
Causes of car accidents in Chicago
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) reports that 246,752 car accidents happened in Illinois in a recent year. Many of these occurred during the day and during good weather conditions, showing that crashes can happen anytime and to anyone. You can never predict when another driver will be negligent and crash into your car, so you should always be prepared to file an injury claim should a crash cause you injuries.
Some of the common locations where car accidents are prone to happen in Chicago include:
- Kedzie Avenue at West Belmont Avenue. The confusing design of this intersection has led to dozens of car accidents a year. One of the most confusing aspects of this intersection is the diagonal crossroads that appear on both sides of the underpass.
- Western Avenue at Peterson Avenue. Located in the neighborhood of West Ridge, this intersection is plagued with outdated infrastructure. In addition to the outdated infrastructure, the lack of efficient traffic signals makes it extremely unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel through. This intersection usually experiences about 50 car accidents a year.
- Stony Island Avenue at South Chicago Avenue. This is one of the most dangerous intersections for drivers. This intersection witnesses large amounts of traffic traveling throughout the day and is extremely difficult to navigate. In the past, more than 60 car accidents have happened at this intersection.
- Milwaukee Avenue and North Avenue/Damen Avenue. This intersection is one of the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel through. Like other intersections, this intersection contains outdated infrastructure, worn paint, and defective signals that contribute to its dangerous nature.
Some common causes of car accidents include violating traffic laws, failing to obey traffic signs, drunk driving, distracted driving, and more.
Violating traffic laws
Chicago traffic often causes drivers to skirt traffic laws and rules to get where they are going faster. Speeding, tailgating, and other traffic violations regularly lead to crashes in the Windy City.
Failing to obey traffic signs
Another reason for Chicago car accidents is the calculated decision to disobey traffic signals. When a driver makes a conscious decision to run a red light or drive past an intersection without yielding the right of way, they jeopardize the safety of pedestrians and other drivers.
A driver operating a vehicle while impaired can be the equivalent of rolling around in a thousand-pound weapon. Even the simplest driving tasks and responsibilities become more difficult when a driver is under the influence.
Texting or even holding a handheld device is unlawful in Chicago. Yet, you see people driving around while looking at their phones every day. Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes.
Injuries from car accidents
Injuries after car accidents are like wild cards. You can suffer minor bruises and cuts. You may feel fine and then experience serious pain in the back or neck area. The impact of your accident might have been so serious that you suffered traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputations, or permanent nerve damage.
In any case, always get medical treatment for any injuries to protect both your health and your car accident case.
Who can be responsible for a car accident?
One or more drivers are usually the primary parties that can be held liable for car accidents. However, there are other parties whose negligence can contribute to a car accident. Another possible liable party is a car manufacturer. A vehicle defect might lead to a malfunction, causing you or another driver to lose control and crash. If that is the case, you can hold the car manufacturer liable for your injuries.
Another party you might hold liable for your injuries is the government agency responsible for road design. Government agencies have a legal duty to maintain the infrastructure of the state in a reasonably safe manner. That includes keeping the traffic signals and other road construction up to date and manageable for pedestrians and motorists to navigate safely.
When these design features become defective or worn down over time, that is a sign of negligence on the part of the government agency. While the process can become a little more complex, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the government agency for your injuries.
Legal representation for your car accident case
Another critical factor determining your claim’s success is whether you have the right lawyer representing you. Having a lawyer on your side can strengthen your chances of proving the defendant’s liability, showing your damages, and ensuring success in your case. Below are some legal services a lawyer can provide during your lawsuit.
Filing your claim
You must file a persuasive claim with strong evidence to support liability and damages. You must also file your claim within a certain time frame, as Illinois law prohibits car accident cases in court more than two years after the injury occurred (in most cases). With a lawyer, you have a legal advocate who can file your claim on time and include all of the necessary documentation and evidence with your claim.
Measuring your damages
Your lawyer can also provide a thorough estimate of your damages. With your car accident case, there are some damages that you may have a difficult time calculating. Your lawyer knows how to determine the proper amount of damages you deserve from your accident, including future estimated losses and intangible losses. Your lawyer can use the right methods to calculate the cost of your damages and ensure you seek maximum compensation.
Negotiating with insurance companies
The insurance company will be responsible for covering your compensation. Unfortunately, insurance companies will try all sorts of tactics to prevent you from receiving what you need and deserve to cover your losses. During your claim, your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance companies about the settlement amount they should offer you. You need a skilled negotiator who will never back down in the face of insurers and will continue negotiating until you receive a favorable offer.
Representing you in court
In addition to negotiation, you also want a lawyer who is skilled enough to present the best case for you in court. If you cannot settle directly with an insurer, you might need to escalate the case and initiate litigation. An experienced lawyer knows how to handle this process in line with the law.
Contact an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer today
To increase your chances of success in your car accident case, immediately reach out to a skilled car accident lawyer. You want representation from a lawyer who handles these types of claims in Chicago and the surrounding areas and can address all of the key issues in your case. Never wait to seek the legal help you need to get your car accident claim started.