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

Have You Been Hurt in an Accident by a Negligent Driver?

After Auto Accident Not your Fault

Unfortunately, car accidents are a common occurrence. On average, there are 15,000 car accidents every day in the US. Some of these accidents are minor, but many are catastrophic. In fact, 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 held responsible.

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, we can be reached by phone at (855) 529-2442, 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.

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

Soft Tissue Injuries

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Personal Injury 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

In a personal injury 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 known as general damages) are damages that do not directly correlate to a cost or bill but are still considered damages. An example of a non-economic damage is pain and suffering. In reference to general damages, if your case goes to trial, the judge or jury will look at what your life was like before your injury as well as what it is like now. Based on 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, this number will be decided in negotiations with your attorney and the insurance company.

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 (855) 529-2442.

I Was a Passenger in a Car Accident. What Are my Rights?

Being injured in a car accident when you are the passenger is often unexpected and incredibly stressful. Not only did you have no control over the situation, but now you have to worry about your rights and options as an injured passenger.

After an accident in which you were an injured passenger, you’ll have to recover from your injuries, deal with insurance companies, and worry about mounting medical bills and lost income. On top of that, you also have to worry about how being a passenger in an accident fits into the whole mess. At Abels & Annes, we realize this is a stressful time. We understand your strife and will work to do everything we can to help you get the compensation you need so you can get on with your life.

[Learn more: How To Stay Safe While You’re A Passenger In A Car]

What if I Was Injured in an Accident While I Was a Passenger?

We often talk about what you should do after being in a car accident. But what if you’re not the one driving? What if you get into a car accident as a passenger? Are you able to sue the person who was driving the vehicle you were in, or are you limited to only suing the driver of the other vehicle?

Every day in the United States, around 90 people die in car accidents, including passengers. Being injured as a passenger can be extremely stressful, as you by default played no part in the accident occurring. When you’re one of the drivers in an accident, there’s always the chance you could be at-fault. But, when you’re the passenger it’s very unlikely that you could be liable for the accident in any way.

Read on to learn more about what to do after an accident, who you can get compensation from, what role insurance has to play, and what you can be compensated for.

What You Should Do After an Accident as a Passenger

Right after an accident occurs, there are a few key things that you should do to help protect yourself.

First, if anyone needs immediate medical attention, call 911. If you need to go straight to the hospital, then that should be your only priority. However, if you’re able to stick around at the scene of the accident, there are some steps you should follow.

Make sure one of the people who was involved in the accident calls the police. Don’t let the other driver talk you and your driver out of filing a police report. A police report acts as excellent documentation of your accident and some insurance companies won’t provide coverage if a police report wasn’t filed.

Also, make sure to talk directly to the investigating officer. Police sometimes forget to add the names of passengers to the report, and that can create issues with an auto insurance carrier.

After contacting the police, you should collect insurance information from all the drivers involved in the accident, including the person you were riding with. You should also get everyone’s name and contact information.

Next, gather contact information from anybody who may have witnessed the accident. If possible, ask them to stick around to speak to the investigating officer.

Now is also a good time to take as many pictures as you can of the accident. Take pictures of the accident scene, of both vehicles, and of any injuries you may have sustained.

Your next step should be to seek immediate medical attention. Even if you feel like you are not seriously injured, it is always a good idea to at least get checked out since the shock and adrenaline of an accident can mask even serious injuries. Be sure to tell your treating physician that you are there because of a motor vehicle accident. It is important that they document this in your chart.

After receiving medical treatment, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney for help with your case. You’ll want to do this before you speak with any insurance company to avoid saying or doing anything that could potentially damage your claim.

Filing a Claim Against the Driver’s Insurance

If you’re injured in a car accident and the driver of the car you were in was at-fault for the accident, your lawyer can file a claim with their insurance company. You’ll also want to file a claim through the medical payments portion of their insurance policy since Illinois does not have Personal Injury Protection coverage. As such, you’ll have to file through their medical payment insurance, if they have it. This can be used to pay off medical bills associated with the accident.

Filing a Claim Against the Other Driver’s Insurance

Filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy is necessary if they’re liable, but it can sometimes be complicated. If both you, your driver and others were injured, the other driver may not have enough insurance coverage to cover the cost of damages for all individuals. However, you often will be able to receive enough compensation through their bodily injury liability insurance.

It may also become complex to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance because determining liability can be tricky, especially with multiple drivers involved. Both drivers may appear to be at fault for the accident, making your lawsuit more complex.

However, this is one of many reasons to hire an experienced attorney. With complex cases like these, an experienced attorney can help you figure out exactly how to file your claim, who to file it against, and what you should expect in terms of compensation.

What If One of the Drivers Doesn’t Have Insurance?

If one or both of the drivers involved in the accident are uninsured, you may be able to file a claim with your own auto insurance company. This varies depending on the insurance company, but an attorney can help you figure out whether or not this is a claim worth filing. You may also be able to use your health insurance to cover some of the costs associated with your accident.

If the driver you’re trying to file a lawsuit against doesn’t have any insurance that could pay for your medical bills, you likely won’t be able to receive compensation from that defendant. However, talking to an experienced attorney is the best way to figure out a good plan of action.

Getting Compensation for Your Damages

After you suffer injuries as a passenger in a car accident, you are probably wondering how much compensation you can receive. After all, getting compensation for everything the accident has cost you is one of the main reasons that people file lawsuits. Medical debt, lost wages, and pain and suffering are a few of the many reasons compensation is necessary.

Personal injury compensation can be generally described as two separate categories: Economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages cover damages that are easily calculable, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Non-economic damages cover things that one cannot easily set a monetary value to but are still costly. For example, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement.

If You Were Injured as a Passenger, Hire a Chicago Car Accident Attorney

If you are a passenger that has injuries from a Chicago car accident, speaking to a good attorney is your best chance to get proper compensation. At Abels & Annes, we have years of experience working with both car accident drivers and passengers. We can help you to get the money you need to recover from your injuries and rebuild your life. For more information or a free case evaluation, please contact us online, through our chat feature, or by calling us at 312-924-7575.

Why Getting Medical Treatment after an Injury is So Crucial

Getting into a car accident that causes injuries is always stressful and confusing. For some people, their injuries are minor and require little to no recovery time. For others, they are not so lucky. Some car accidents cause serious injuries, like brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and crushing injuries. These injuries can leave victims with permanent disabilities and a lifetime of trauma.

Finding out that you’ve been severely injured because of a car accident can be scary. But it can be just as scary to be seriously injured and not know it. Some people question how it’s possible to be seriously injured from a car accident and not know it, but this happens all the time. Vehicle collisions are often sudden, jarring, and shocking. This leads to a massive amount of adrenaline being pumped to the brain that can easily mask all types of injuries. Of course, this shock eventually wears off and injuries are revealed. But it’s crucial to get medical treatment shortly after an accident for this very reason.

When Should I get Medical Treatment after a Car Accident?

According to Driver Knowledge, more than 90 people die in car accidents every single day. Additionally, some 3 million people are injured every year in car accidents. Of those, 2 million people experience permanent injuries because of their car accident. Serious injuries from car accidents are not rare. Millions of people experience it every year. And if it happens to you, you need to know what to do.

After you are involved in a serious car accident, getting medical attention should be your first priority. Personal injury attorneys recommend sticking around after your accident to collect evidence, but this only applies if you are able to. If you know or suspect that you are seriously injured, you should immediately go to the emergency room or to a primary care physician.

Make sure to tell the treating doctor that your injuries occurred because of a car accident so they can note this in your medical records. This is important for a multitude of reasons that involve insurance coverage and evidence for a potential car accident injury claim. Once you receive initial medical treatment, it is important to take your doctor’s advice and begin focusing on your health.

You Need to Take Care of Yourself and Your Health

bedrest - Why Getting Medical Treatment after an Injury is So Crucial - abels and annesTaking care of yourself should be your number one priority after your accident occurs. Car accidents can cause significant injuries, they may cause significant emotional damage, and they can lead to extensive medical treatment, lost income and huge medical bills.

With personal injuries, it is important that you make your health your main priority. Follow all your physician’s orders, like taking your medicines, getting bedrest, or attending physical therapy. Also, make sure that you are not rushing back into your daily routine and that you are taking the proper time to recover. This could mean following your doctor’s orders of not going back to work too soon.

Injuries from a car accident are already devastating enough. And failing to properly take care of yourself after the incident will only make things worse.

Avoid Giving Insurance Companies a Reason to Deny Your Claim

When you delay medical treatment after a personal injury incident, insurance companies may try to argue that your pain and injuries aren’t as valid since they weren’t severe enough for you to seek treatment right away. Because insurance companies want to settle your claim for the least amount of money as possible, they may use your delay in receiving treatment as an argument against your case.

For example, they might say you shouldn’t receive as much compensation because your injuries weren’t severe enough to warrant an immediate trip to the emergency room. Or they may use the argument that if you really had a severe injury, you would have known immediately. As we know, there are many reasons someone may delay their treatment or not notice an injury, but no matter how valid the reason is, the insurance companies will likely try to use it against you.

Delaying Treatment May Make It More Difficult to Link your Accident to Your Injuries

An insurance company may use your delay in treatment as an excuse to offer you a low settlement. They may attempt to push the narrative that there is a disconnect between your accident and your injuries.

Let’s consider if you were injured and then waited a week to receive medical treatment. In certain cases, this could make it more difficult to prove that the injury you are claiming occurred because of the car accident. If you delay treatment, insurance companies may try to cast doubt on your injuries by proposing that your injuries may have been caused by some other event that happened after the accident. This can be argued against by an experienced attorney using evidence like property damage photos and police reports. But if your injuries are internal or not clearly visible, it may become more challenging to argue. Seeking medical treatment as soon as practicable after an accident helps rule out any possibility of a “delay” being used against you.

Medical Treatment Establishes Critical Evidence for a Lawsuit

Thinking about how you are going to handle your potential injury claim isn’t usually at the forefront of a person’s mind immediately after an accident. But knowing what steps to take to protect your claim before the accident ever happens is important in making sure you can establish a strong case if and when an injury occurs. One of the elements that helps your claim is documentation of your injuries through medical treatment right after the accident. Medical treatment means medical records, which are an important piece of evidence later. Everything that happens to you medically–whether it be conversations with a specialist, physical therapy appointments, surgery, or a diagnosis–will all be documented in your medical records. These records will likely also include diagnostic imaging, doctor’s notes, treatments, prognosis, medications, and more.

This medical documentation will provide lots of evidence to support your injury claim. And it will make it much easier to create a timeline of your injuries.

Making Sure to Follow Up with Treatment Ensures Your Long-term Recovery

Not only is immediate medical attention incredibly important, but so is receiving necessary follow-up care. You should listen to any advice that your doctors give you and meet with any specialists they suggest. If your doctor asks you to return for follow-up treatment or a check-up, you should make it a priority not to miss these appointments. Not listening to their advice or not following up with your care might make insurance companies suspicious that your injury wasn’t as serious as you claim it to be. Of course, this follow-up care also helps to ensure that you have a smooth recovery.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Immediately After a Car Accident

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, it’s important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident. After you receive ER or immediate care medical treatment, and before you file an insurance claim, you should contact an attorney to discuss your rights and options. The lawyers at Abels & Annes have years of experience working on personal injury cases that result in catastrophic injuries. Further, we are ready to put that experience to work for you. For more information or for a free case evaluation, please contact us online, by using the chat feature below, or by calling 312-924-7575.

When Do I Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2018 there were 319,146 crashes involving motor vehicles in Illinois. In the United States, there are approximately 37,000 car accidents deaths that occur each year. These accidents often occur on busy streets such as highways, interstates, and other major roads. They also can occur in parking lots, side streets, and neighborhoods.

However, these accidents don’t always involve two cars. They can also involve commercial trucks, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists. In 2014,there were 19,945 accidents involving large commercial trucks in the state of Illinois. Truck accidents are often more severe than car accidents simply because of the size of trucks in comparison to the size of vehicles.

So, after you’ve been injured in a car accident, what is your next step? What are you supposed to do and when are you supposed to hire an attorney?

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer Immediately After my Accident?

If you choose not to hire an attorney right away, you may be jeopardizing your legal rights when it comes to your case. Without the guidance of an attorney, you may sign the wrong form or accept a deal that is way worse than what a talented attorney could have gotten you.

In general, it’s the best idea to hire an attorney as soon as you can. After you’ve received immediate medical treatment you should start looking for representation. If you choose not to hire an attorney from the get go, it’s important to not sign any documents or offer a recorded statement to the insurance company of the at-fault party. The sooner your attorney can start building your case, the better. And it is highly recommended that you retain counsel before contacting any auto insurance carriers.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Hiring a lawyer is one of the best things that you can do for your car accident case. An experienced attorney will investigate your case, determine liability, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Getting you a good settlement is often the best part of having an attorney, and if not that, then winning your case in court. But very few cases make it all the way to trial.

After a thorough review of the facts of your case and your medical records and bills, your attorney will submit a settlement demand on your behalf. The insurance company of the at-fault party will then return with a first offer. This will continue back and forth until you’ve received the adjuster’s top settlement offer. If you do not reach a settlement offer that you’re happy with, your case will go to court. In trial, your attorney will argue on your behalf, presenting your case to the judge and jury.

There are people who have tried representing themselves in court, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s not a good idea. Court without a lawyer typically doesn’t go well.

Most attorneys don’t take a payment up front and will only charge you if you obtain a settlement or you win your case at trial, so you have nothing to lose by hiring an attorney. They’ll also check up with you while you’re receiving medical treatment and generally help to keep the weight off of your shoulders while you’re recovering.

What Settlement Can a Car Accident Lawyer Get Me?

Your settlement depends on your attorney’s negotiations with the insurance company. When choosing an attorney, you’ll want to pick one with a known track record. When it comes to your settlement, there are two values, your settlement value and your case value. If your case (a combination of your economic and non-economic damages) has a value of $300,000 dollars, you can find your settlement value by looking at your chance at winning the case.

If you have a 75% chance of winning the case, your settlement value will be an estimated 75% of your trial value, $300,000 dollars. This would mean that your settlement value would be $225,000 dollars. If you had a lower chance of winning, your settlement would be lower. Your attorney can also help to advise you on whether or not you should take the settlement or allow your case to go to trial.

Case value can vary, depending on a combination of liability, insurance policy limits, and the severity of your injuries and other damages.

How Will My Lawyer Prove Liability?

Negligence is used to prove liability in personal injury cases. Most accidents occur because a party drives negligently. This means that they failed to act responsibly and reasonably to another human being, and in doing so, caused another person harm. There are four legal elements to liability that need to be proven to hold a party liable:

  • Duty of Care. Your attorney must be able to prove that there was a specific duty of care that the driver had to abide by. In the case of a car accident, this could mean following the rules of the road, not texting while driving, drinking, or driving recklessly.
  • Breach of Duty. They then have to prove that there was a breach in this duty. For example, that they were acting carelessly in some way.
  • Causation. You have to prove that the defendant’s carelessness directly caused your injuries.
  • Actual Damages. Finally, there must be actual monetary damages that occurred because of the incident.

What Compensation Can my Attorney Help me Receive?

Your attorney can help you receive both economic and non-economic compensation for your injuries. Economic compensation refers to any monetary damages you incurred because of the accident. This includes hospital bills, surgery costs, ambulance rides, therapy costs, in-home care, and lost wages.

Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and any compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement. Because these aren’t based on a specific number, the insurance company (or judge/jury if your case goes to trial) will look at how much your quality of life has changed before and after the accident occurred. The greater the change, the higher the compensation.

Speak with a Chicago Car Accident Attorney

If you or your family member sustains injuries in a car accident, hiring an experienced attorney is your best bet at a settlement offer you’re happy with. Our experienced attorneys at Abels & Annes have years of experience working on car accident cases, and are ready to help you get the compensation that you deserve. For more information or a free case evaluation, please contact us online or at (312) 924-7575.

How to Get Paid After a Car Accident

car accident settlement lawyer in chicagoIf you suffered injuries in a car accident, then you are probably already aware of how quickly expenses can start to pile up. Many car accident victims face a sudden and unexpected avalanche of medical bills and extra expenses, while also missing work to heal. Some find they cannot return to work at all because of a disabling injury, and must confront a lifetime of added costs of living.

Victims of car accidents caused by someone else’s unreasonably dangerous decisions and actions deserve to get paid for their damages. In this blog post, we briefly discuss how they can take steps to make sure that happens. If a car accident is making your life more difficult and expensive, contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer today for a free case evaluation.

Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible

This could be the single most important thing anyone can do after getting hurt in a car accident. Standing alone, just seeking immediate, necessary medical attention can go a long way to ensuring that a victim gets paid for injuries and losses.

Seeking immediate medical attention:

  • Protects your health, which is the most important priority;
  • Identifies the scope and nature of your injuries; and
  • Creates medical records that your lawyer can use later to prove those injuries the damages you deserve for them.

Seek medical attention even if you do not think you have suffered a serious injury. Many severe injuries do not necessarily show significant symptoms right away. By going to the doctor as soon as possible (preferably immediately, but hopefully no more than 24 hours after the crash), you protect yourself against an injury worsening and causing serious, even fatal, complications.

Make sure that you tell the physician about every pain or symptoms you’ve experienced since your car accident. Do not downplay what you have felt. Even a minor ache can signify a major health issue.

Follow Your Doctor’s Orders and Continue Treatment Until Fully Recovered.

This is also very important advice. Following your doctor’s treatment plan to-the-letter as much as possible:

  • Maximizes your chances of making a full recovery, and of spotting and treating any emerging complications;
  • Ensures that no one can ever say you made your injuries worse by failing to follow doctor’s orders; and
  • Helps your doctors testify more effectively if your lawyer needs to prove how your recovery progressed.

By getting and following medical care, car accident victims protect their own wellbeing and legal rights. If you take nothing else away from this blog post, remember these two, critically-important pieces of advice: see a doctor immediately, and do what the doctor tells you.

Follow the Rules at the Accident Scene.

The rules of the road tell you what you should do after getting into an accident.

At the scene of any accident that injured you or someone else, you should always:

  • Stop and stay there;
  • Call 911 and report the accident to the police and first responders;
  • Render reasonable first aid, if possible; and
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver.
  • Gather contact information from independent witnesses.

These rules exist for your and others’ protection, so follow them as closely as you can. By doing your part, you ensure that victims get emergency medical care, the police prepare a report (which may prove useful to your lawyer), and that no one can claim that your actions should prevent you from getting paid.

Take Pictures/Video at the Scene, if You Can Do so Safely.

This advice is not essential, but it can certainly help you get paid.

If injuries or other circumstances keep you from getting photographs and videos at the scene of your accident, that’s okay. Car accident lawyers have plenty of experience working with clients who couldn’t get that evidence.

If you can get pictures and/or videos, though, you should. They’re an extremely simple-to-capture form of evidence that capture the accident scene exactly as it was immediately after the crash. Your lawyer can often use that visual evidence to prove how the accident happened and who has a liability to you for your injuries.

Within reason, try to capture:

  • Points of impacts on any vehicles and nearby objects or structures;
  • Vehicles’ location after the crash;
  • The surrounding area;
  • Skid marks, damage, etc., nearby; and
  • Your own injuries (photographing others’ injuries could land you in hot water—don’t do it without their permission).

Remember, only do this if you can do so safely and without getting in the way of first responders. Safety first.

Keep Everything.

To get you paid, your lawyer needs evidence of your injuries and losses. Much of that evidence is probably already in your possession.

It consists of:

  • Medical bills from the treatment of accident injuries;
  • Insurance statements relating to covered expenses;
  • Invoices for services you needed after the accident;
  • Receipts for extra expenses your injuries caused you;
  • Police records from the accident scene;
  • Payroll information from your employer;
  • Physical objects big and small, from your damaged vehicle to personal items like broken eyeglasses.

Broadly speaking, you have the right to recover compensation for virtually any expense you incur, and any difficulty you encounter in your life, because of your accident and injuries. But you need to prove them. So keep everything. If you lose a bill or doctor’s report, let your car accident lawyer know about it, and he or she can obtain a copy for your legal claim.

Typically, your lawyer will want to order his or her own copy of your medical records and bills directly from the medical providers. That being said, we highly recommend that you send your lawyer a copy of anything you receive related to your accident claim.

Consult an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Right Away

Getting paid the full amount of your damages after a car accident requires the skill, experience, and resources of a car accident injury attorney. The sooner you meet with that type of attorney, the better your chances of obtaining every penny the law allows. Waiting to talk to an attorney puts your legal rights at risk and often makes your claim harder to prove.

Do not wait. If a car accident injury has caused you or a loved one expenses and losses, then you deserve to get paid. Contact an experienced car accident injury attorney as soon as possible for a free case consultation to discuss your rights.

Drunk Uber Drivers – Who Can Be Held Responsible?

Drunk Uber Drivers – Who Can Be Held ResponsibleWere You Injured by a Drunk Uber Driver?

Under Illinois law, it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more. In fact, it is against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol generally, so it is possible to face DUI charges with a BAC of less than .08. Of course, these limits apply to everyone on the road – including people who drive others for money.

What is Uber and Lyft and How Are They Affecting Society?

Uber and Lyft are two of the most popular ridesharing companies around. These companies virtually have the whole market when it comes to inexpensive, reliable, and safe transportation. This is especially true for individuals who are traveling to and from airports, train stations, and other transportation centers.

Uber riders can download an app onto their iPhones and other smart devices. Further, when using the Uber app a rider can request and pay for rides and keep track of a driver’s physical location at all times. Riders are also told the amount of their fare and can store their payment information online for added convenience.

Despite the advantages and convenience that ridesharing companies like Uber have offered consumers, there are always risks associated with getting from place to place. For example, drunk or drugged drivers. Impaired drivers are at an increased risk of involvement in motor vehicle accidents. Further, serious injuries and damages may result to everyone in the vehicle(s).

In these cases, several individuals, companies, and/or insurance carriers may share in the potential liability to the injured passenger or passengers. This is known as a third-party injury claim.

If you sustain injuries as a result of an Uber drunk driving accident, you may be eligible to pursue monetary compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can investigate your case. If necessary, we can name all necessary (and potentially responsible) parties in a claim or lawsuit. By working with a rideshare accident lawyer, you will maximize your chances of recovering monetary compensation for your injuries in the accident.

Are Rideshare Drivers in Chicago Employees or Independent Contractors?

To drive for Uber, the company requires all prospective drivers to complete a background check. Drivers are also responsible for maintaining and paying their own motor vehicle insurance when they are not on the clock. While en route to a far or transporting a far, Uber provides the active insurance.

Even though drivers work for Uber, there is a debate over whether they are employees in the strictest sense. Uber tries to argue that they are independent contractors. Chicago Uber accident lawyers argue that they are employees due to all the rideshare rules and regulations that drivers must follow, and the way Uber controls the payments.

When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, the distinction between employees and independent contractors becomes very important. In prior years, Uber has tried to distance itself from problem drivers who cause accidents. They attempt to avoid being considered an employer to avoid responsibility for larger cases with values in excess of $1 million.

Uber’s Company Policies

Uber tries to claim their drivers are independent contractors, rather than company employees. However, these companies still have considerable control over their drivers’ activities. When it comes to drunk driving, Uber has a zero–tolerance policy. Uber does not permit alcohol or drug use by individuals who use the Uber app and who drive under the Uber name.

Uber’s company website even encourages riders to share their experiences publicly online. They do this in order to keep the ridesharing community safe. Specifically, the Uber site states that if you believe your driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should immediately terminate your trip.

Moreover, you should report any feedback in the app by clicking on the Help Menu and selecting your issue. The website also encourages riders to email Uber’s customer complaint department at customercomplaints@uber.com.

Liability for Drunk Uber Drivers

If you have injuries from an Uber accident, several individuals or entities may share in the potential liability. The most obvious at-fault party is the drunk or negligent Uber driver.

As a prerequisite to driving with Uber, applicants must have and maintain their own motor vehicle insurance. Generally speaking, insurance coverage follows a vehicle, rather than the driver. Consequently, if a drunk Uber driver causes an accident while on the clock, Uber’s insurance policy will be available to provide some or all of the necessary insurance coverage.

Taking Legal Action Against Uber

Taking legal action against Uber directly can be complicated. In many cases, ridesharing companies like Uber will try and make you sign an agreement which limits your settlement or which precludes you from filing a claim or lawsuit directly against the company. You should never sign one of these agreements – under any circumstances – without first consulting with a personal injury lawyer. By signing one of these agreements, you can potentially lose out on recovering a large amount of compensation.

Uber’s liability policy limits for accidents which are caused by the driver of a ridesharing vehicle include:

  • $50,000/$100,000/$25,000 worth of contingent coverage by Uber in-between fares. Uber will only pay this amount if the Uber driver’s personal automobile insurance policy refuses to pay anything to satisfy an injured passenger’s damage claim.
  • $1,000,000 of liability coverage per accident when the Uber driver is on a ride or going to pick up a fare and is the cause of an accident.
  • $1,000,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits. This amount only provides insurance coverage for Uber passengers and drivers who sustain injury when another driver (i.e. not the Uber driver) causes the collision. Further, the at-fault driver must be uninsured or underinsured for the coverage to apply.
  • Finally, if the app is not in use at the time of the accident, Uber will not provide coverage. A party with injuries would have to pursue the at-fault driver’s personal auto policy.

Call a Chicago Uber Accident Lawyer to Discuss Your Case

If you suffer an injury in an Uber car accident where the driver was DUI, you may be able to recover monetary compensation. This money is for all of your damages from the accident, including:

  • medical and physical therapy bills
  • lost wages
  • pain and suffering
  • loss of enjoyment of life
  • emotional distress and mental anguish

The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can review your case and make the necessary legal claims against all potentially responsible parties. To schedule a free legal consultation and case evaluation with a Chicago, Illinois personal injury lawyer, please call us today at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online.

Chicago-Drunk Driving Accidents Lawyer

When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

Finding yourself the victim of a car accident is truly no fun. Not only can it ruin your day, but in the worst of cases, it has the potential to forever alter your life. Depending on the type of car accident you were in and the injuries you suffered, your life may never be the same. What’s more frustrating is that it did not have to be this way: Your life has changed because someone else did not act reasonably or responsibly.

When you suffer injuries in a car accident, the last thing you may think about is hiring a lawyer. In reality, that should be one of your first actions. Your first thought should center around your health and physical recovery. Then, you should not wait to hire a lawyer to help you recover damages against the at-fault driver.

Using the services of a trusted car accident injury attorney can give you the peace of mind you need to know that even if the accident alters your life, you will not bear any financial burden as a result.

Lawyers Can Increase Your Recovery

Hiring a seasoned car accident injury attorney after you suffer injuries is important to ensuring you recover every dollar you deserve for your injuries.

Many car accident victims do not even realize all the damages to which they may be entitled, including:

Each of these damages can help to increase the amount of money you eventually receive. While no amount of money will bring your old life back or make your pain and suffering disappear, it will help to make sure you do not end up in financial hardship because of an accident you did not cause. Medical expenses can reach astronomical amounts. The biggest reason people file bankruptcy in the United States? Medical bills.

The best way to avoid this scenario for yourself is by speaking with a skilled car accident injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. With every day that passes, witness memories fade and evidence is lost. Further, critical mistakes often get made by those without counsel. Give yourself the best chance of making a complete recovery by speaking with a lawyer today.

Proving Liability Presents Challenges

In just one recent year, more than 1,000 people died in Illinois car accidents. While not every car accident results in death, it shows the severity with which your life can change in an instant. To combat that change, as a car accident injury victim, seek compensation from the at-fault driver so you can live your life as best as possible without worrying about your medical expenses.

To prove the other driver was at fault, however, requires more than simply saying so. You need to show:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care to drive safely.
  • The other driver breached that duty of care by driving in an unsafe manner.
  • The other driver’s unsafe driving caused an accident where you suffered injuries.

Again, this might seem simple to you, but nothing in the law generally is so simple. Proving this will require a full investigation by your lawyer. They will speak with witnesses, possibly expert witnesses, review medical records and police reports, and make sure your case is filed timely.

To give yourself and your lawyer the best chance of proving the other driver is to blame for your injuries, get a lawyer on the case soon. The more time your car accident injury attorney has to review and investigate your case, the better your chances of making a full recovery.

Insurance Companies are Not on Your Side

We all pay our insurance premiums every month. We expect that, when we need that insurance money, we will get it. We also expect that if someone else causes us harm, their insurance will cover our needs, just like after a car accident.

Unfortunately, insurance companies do not like to pay out claims. In fact, insurance companies’ usual goal is to make you go away for as little as possible. They attempt to do this by offering you a quick, lowball settlement offer. They hope you get excited by the quick sum of money and do not have a lawyer at your side to tell you that the settlement funds are not enough to cover all of your medical bills.

When insurance companies do this, they hope you take the money and run. When that happens, months or even years later, you may realize the settlement funds have run out, but you still have more medical bills and lost wages to cover. By then, it’s too late. When you signed off on the insufficient settlement offer, you waived your right to bring any future claims against the insurance company for this accident.

Give yourself the best chance of avoiding this tragic situation by speaking with a knowledgeable car accident attorney who can negotiate with the big insurance companies for you. Your job is to get better. Let your lawyer deal with the insurance companies; but, the only way to do that is to pick up the phone quickly after your accident.

Insurance companies love it when accident victims forgo retaining counsel. This is because they believe they will be able to settle the case for much less money. You will want to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to avoid getting taken advantage of.

You Must Meet Strict Deadlines

The most important deadline for you to understand is the time you have to start your lawsuit. In Illinois, in most cases, you only have two years from the date of your accident to file a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Further, you only have one year to file a lawsuit against certain defendants (municipalities, CTA, for example).

We do not expect you to understand all the nuances and strict guidelines that you must follow when filing a car accident claim. That’s what your car accident lawyer is for—to help manage the legal complexities. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries after a car accident, you deserve legal representation that has your best interests at heart.

How Much Will I Get for Pain and Suffering From a Car Accident?

When you’re injured in a serious car accident, friends and relatives share their opinions about practically everything. They give you advice about their doctors, their treatment, and their healing. They talk to you about settling your claim and how much money you should get for your pain and suffering.

While friends and family usually have your best interests at heart, there’s one major difference between their experiences and yours: Your injury claim is completely different from their claim, and anyone else’s.

Even when you have the same injuries, impairments, and healing time frames, your injuries affect you in ways that are unique to you. Your pain, anxiety, emotional distress, and other factors are specific to you alone. Your legal professional and anyone else involved in settling your claim must recognize this critical fact. They should consider your uniqueness as they decide how much money you should receive for your pain and suffering. Often, your car accident attorney is the only one to do that effectively.

Documenting Your Pain and Suffering

Even with an identical diagnosis, no one endures the same pain and suffering you do. Your pain is personal. Your injury manifests itself in your body based on your age, physical fitness, underlying medical conditions, and other factors. You are the only one who knows how much pain and suffering you have endured. It’s your job to convey what you know to those who will evaluate and negotiate your pain and suffering claim.

You can accomplish this by using a daily journal to document your experiences from the early stages of your injury until you reach maximum recovery. Simply record the details of your pain and suffering and how it affects your life. Use it as a reminder when you tell your story. Share it when you want to show how pain and suffering affected your life.

Include these and other daily encounters with pain:

  • Your pain and suffering immediately after the accident
  • Discomfort from treatment: surgical interventions, injections, therapy, etc.
  • Daily physical restrictions and accomplishments
  • Pain intensity and how it limits you
  • Family and household tasks you must avoid
  • Pain management shortcomings
  • Pain on the job, while relaxing, during recreation
  • How pain disrupts intimacy with your spouse

People Often See Claim Values Based on Their Perceptions

Insurers, self-insured entities, and defense attorneys often downplay serious injuries as mild or insignificant. Their perceptions often rely on traditional factors, but also include personal biases.

These perceptions are important, as they guide evaluations and often become stumbling blocks during negotiations.

  • Treatment protocols: Your physician’s treatment plan affects your pain and suffering, and also its perceived value. With the current emphasis on non-pharmaceutical relief, doctors sometimes hold off on prescribing pain medications. If you rely on acupuncture, meditation, and other alternate pain-reducing strategies, it may diminish your claim’s perceived value. This also occurs when your doctor prescribes a pain medication but you never fill the prescription.
  • Injury seriousness: A claims adjuster as no problem accepting that multiple fractures, severe burns, and other visibly serious conditions generate extensive pain and suffering. That same individual won’t always accept that a soft tissue back injury or mild traumatic brain injury also causes long-term pain. Because they can’t see the injury, it sometimes affects their perception of value.
  • Disabilities: The person evaluating your pain and suffering often has no problem sympathizing with you if your doctor orders you stay at home during a long-term disability. If you decide to return to your job and work through the pain, the person evaluating your claim may accept that as a sign of at least a recovery. That being said, if you can go to work, you should go to work. Especially if you have a desk job that would cause you no issues.
  • Spousal relationships: Serious injuries often affect your intimate relationship with your spouse. If you’re like many people, you prefer to keep your private relationships private. That often works against you when someone evaluates your claim. When you don’t talk about it, they don’t include it in their assessment.
  • Social media posts: Insurance claim people also use non-medical information when evaluating your claim. They look at your social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, and others. To undermine your case, they may try to find photos, videos, or posts that show you as active and pain-free. Your car accident lawyer will probably tell you to stop posting to social media until your case concludes. If you do choose to post, please remember that an insurance adjuster, defense attorney, judge or juror may eventually look at the information you provide online.
  • Credit reports: Your credit doesn’t affect your actual pain and suffering. Claims representatives may use adverse credit information to gauge your financial need if they can’t obtain this information. In some cases, adverse credit helps them recognize that you will likely accept a low offer.

The Opposing Sides Rarely Agree

When you’re injured in an auto accident, everyone has an opinion about your claim’s value. When it’s time to settle your pain and suffering claim, the only opinions that matter belong to the people at the negotiation table. Unfortunately, these people represent varying interests, so they rarely agree.

No book definitively tells them how much a person’s pain and suffering is worth when they sustain a certain injury. That gives claim evaluators permission to judge and attempt to settle your claim based on their own knowledge, experience, and personal perceptions.

Car Accident Attorneys

Your car accident attorney becomes your ally during the claim handling process. Your attorney monitors your progress, documents your economic losses, and reviews your physicians’ medical reports. Over time, your attorneys get to know you personally. Eventually, they develop the most accurate store of knowledge about you, your injury, and your pain and suffering. Your car accident attorney brings this knowledge to the negotiation table, but must often fight to convince others.

Insurance Companies

Insurance companies often represent the people or entities who are legally responsible for damages and injuries. From the moment their insured reports an accident with injuries, a claim representative begins investigating the liability and damage. This in-depth involvement gives them an advantage in evaluating your pain and suffering but that’s not always the case.

By the time you’re ready to settle your claim, there’s a strong possibility that your claim will have changed hands many times. After several rounds of claim file musical-chairs, the person negotiating your claim is sometimes inexperienced and uninformed. Insurance companies rely on several tools to make up for that.

Claim evaluation software. Some insurance companies follow strict negotiation strategies dictated by data-driven software. Programs, such as DXC’s Colossus, make up for a claim representative’s lack of experience. They simply collect information, input data, and wait for instructions. Claim software allows inexperienced insurance adjusters to negotiate consistently along company lines. Unfortunately, computer evaluations don’t always consider the human differences that make each person’s claim unique. After all, a computer can only work with the data an insurance representative provides.

Claim formulas. Insurance companies have been using claim evaluation and settlement formulas for decades. Although this technique never really addressed the injured person’s unique issues, it presented an evaluation method that didn’t rely on experience. Adjusters added up the injured person’s medical bills, lost income, and other economic losses. Then they multiplied the total by a random factor. The total becomes the basis for settlement negotiations.

These formulas eventually incorporated the insurance company position that increasing discretionary diagnostic costs (MRI, CT, etc) didn’t usually reflect injury severity.

Insurance company formulas helped settle cases, especially when the claim person was dealing directly with an injured person. When they relied on simple math problems, inexperienced claim handlers negotiated with authority. If called upon to explain the formula to an injured person, it often came across as reasonable. It’s no wonder that some insurers still use them, although they are nowhere near as generous as in the past. Although, an initial settlement offer of three times your medical bills for soft tissue injuries no longer exists. You may also see this simple math-problem evaluation style in online Claim Settlement Calculators.

Your car accident lawyer knows that computers and simple math formulas lack the human empathy to properly account for pain and suffering, and will fight for what you really deserve—not what some software or equation says you do.

Jurors

When injured parties, attorneys, and insurers can’t reach an agreement, cases often end up in litigation, and in some situations, at trial. If insurance companies and attorneys can’t agree, a jury hears the evidence and renders a decision. Of course, jurors often evaluate evidence based on their own personal biases. Still, it’s a system that often works, particularly when the plaintiff is aided by an experienced car accident attorney.

Do You Need a Lawyer To Settle Your Pain and Suffering Claim?

When you’re injured in an auto accident, you must wade through numerous opinions, perceptions, and biases to reach a settlement or judgment. Car accident lawyers know how to recognize and overcome these issues. They rely on experience to properly evaluate and present your injury claim. They create negotiation strategies that work. When you consult an attorney, you don’t have to commit to moving forward with your case. You simply present your information and listen to your legal options.

Smartwatches and Distracted Driving

distracted driving lawyer in chicago illinoisLong before there were electronic devices, there were driver distractions. However, as technology has developed, the problem has grown. At any given moment during the daylight hours, researchers estimate that over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone on a handheld cell phone.

In recent years, smartwatches have become the latest digital device that poses a distracted driving risk. Most people are aware of the risks of using smartphones while driving, but what about smartwatches?

What Is a Smartwatch?

A smartwatch is a wearable computer in the form of a wristwatch. In addition to telling time, smartwatches provide wearers with instant messages, texts, alerts of incoming calls, and social network updates. Smartwatch software may also include digital maps, personal organizers, and health-related applications. Like other computers, a smartwatch gathers information from internal or external sensors, and it may control, or retrieve data from, other devices or computers.

Using a smartwatch, a driver can receive notifications of text messages or emails, read and respond to them; send reminders or calendar notifications; either answer or decline incoming calls; play music; or operate a GPS. The increasing use of devices and the dangers of distracted driving have concerned people for a long time. The dangers of texting or using a smartphone while driving is well-publicized. However, smartwatches bring new issues to the world of distracted driving.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Careful driving can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Driving while distracted is far more difficult and more dangerous. Distracted driving is driving while engaging in any behavior that could potentially take your attention away from the most important area of focus: the road in front of you. Like reckless driving, driving while distracted endangers yourself, but also any passengers, other drivers, and nearby pedestrians. In just one recent year, 2,841 fatalities took place because of distracted driving.

These three risky forms of distraction make driving more dangerous:

  1. Visual distractions, which means anything that takes a driver’s eyes from the road or even for a split-second.
  2. Cognitive distractions, which includes anything that keeps your mind from focusing on driving
  3. Manual distractions, which are often combined with visual distractions. It means taking your hands off the wheel for any reason.

Some activities involve multiple distractions. For example, texting while driving requires you to look at a screen, type using your hands, and think about what you’re writing. The effect of using a cell phone, whether it is handheld or hands-free, adversely affects a driver’s reaction time. In some cases, it delays drivers’ reactions to the same degree as a blood alcohol level of .08 percent.

Distracted Driving and Smartwatches

Some people assume that smartwatches are safer because their features are voice-activated. However, safety experts say that hands-free devices can be just as dangerous as handheld ones because they divert the driver’s attention from the road.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), a U.K. based road safety group, warns that smartwatches are potentially more dangerous than smartphones, because while a driver can usually operate a smartphone with one hand, a smartwatch actually requires two hands. One hand wears the smartwatch and the other hand operates it. Even if the information just scrolls across the screen, you need to look at it, sometimes by raising the watch to eye level, to read the notifications.

Additionally, notifications and alerts are hard to avoid. The device on your wrist may be vibrating, making some kind of noise, or lighting up. Unlike phones, which can be left in a pocket or cup-holder and ignored, when a wearable device is going off, there is a strong temptation to check it.

The screens on many smartwatches are smaller than those on smartphones. It may take slightly more time to look at it. However, even a brief moment of inattention can be deadly. In one experiment done in the U.K., a driver’s reaction time was 1.35 seconds when he was holding a hands-free phone conversation. By comparison, reading a text on a smartwatch took an average of 2.52 seconds to react to an unexpected event, compared with 0.9 seconds when he was talking to a passenger in the car. He also veered out of his lane four times while using the smartwatch.

Distracted Driving Laws

Most states do not specifically discuss the use of smartwatches while driving. Is using a smartwatch a distracted driving offense?

Not in Illinois, for example, but there it does not make the use of such devices legal. Under Illinois law section 625 ILCS 5/12(b), “A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device.”

According to section 625 ILCS 5/12(a), “Electronic communication device” means any electronic device, such as a smartphone or laptop, but does not include a GPS or navigation system that is integrated into the car’s system.

This statute does not specifically list smartwatches as an example of an electronic device, but the statute may include electronic communication devices other than those specifically stated in the statute. Also, smartwatches are not specifically excluded in this statute. Therefore, the statute may characterize smartwatches as an “electronic communication device.”

Originally, under the 2014 law, a first offense for texting while driving was not a moving violation and thus did not affect the individual’s driving record. However, as of July 1, 2019, a person cited for driving while texting can receive a moving violation. The violation goes on their driving record and if a driver commits three moving violations within 12 months, their license may be suspended. In addition, the law established fines for first-time offenders. The penalty for a first offense is $75, $100 for a second, $125 for a third, and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense.

The Risks of Smartwatches and Distracted Driving

Using a smartwatch while driving increases the risk of an accident. It may only take a second to glance at a smartwatch, but a second’s inattention may be all it takes for a crash to happen. A car accident can result in a lifetime of serious consequences, such as severe or even fatal injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.

Seeking Recovery for Rideshare Drivers

Passengers are not the only people who can get injured in ridesharing accidents. Our Chicago rideshare accident lawyers often represent Uber and Lyft drivers that sustain injuries due to the negligence of other motorists. Rideshare drivers may find themselves involved in, and injured from, accidents and incidents behind the wheel. Physical injuries can lead to significant medical and economic consequences for rideshare drivers, particularly when the injuries keep them away from work and unable to earn fares. Property damage, typically to a vehicle, can put a driver out of work for the immediate future. Modern vehicles are becoming harder and far more expensive to repair.

Rideshare drivers have the same rights to the road as any other motorist. Unfortunately, pursuing compensation from an at-fault driver, a large insurance corporation, or a multi-billion dollar rideshare company is rarely a simple task for anyone, including a rideshare driver. When a rideshare driver is injured or suffers property damage on the job, they deserve to have someone in their corner. This is where the trusted car accident lawyers at Abels & Annes come in.

Drivers’ Rights to Compensation

Drivers for a rideshare service have a right to receive compensation for injuries they sustain in the course of their work, including:

  • The costs of medical care necessary to treat an injury, from emergency medical care through long-term therapy.
  • The economic impact of wages lost because an injury prevented the driver from returning to work, and of future economic opportunities the injury forced the driver to forego.
  • The expenses associated with services the driver needs to retain to manage day-to-day life while recovering from or living with an injury, such as childcare or keeping house.
  • The non-economic impact of an injury, such as the physical pain and emotional suffering it causes, and its detrimental effects on a driver’s quality of life and close, personal relationships.

At Abels & Annes, we believe hard-working rideshare drivers deserve this compensation. Rideshare drivers are skilled professionals, and an essential aspect of modern transportation—they deserve the same protections as any other motorist, particularly when providing a service to others. We can help drivers recover the compensation they deserve no matter if it requires chasing down insurance coverage, taking legal action against a rideshare company, or suing an at-fault party.

If you’re on your way to pick up a rider or carrying one in your vehicle, Uber covers you with a $1 million policy—more than the personal policies that most Uber drivers or other motorists carry. Unfortunately, Uber’s insurance company is no more likely to offer an adequate settlement on a valid claim than any other insurance company. That’s where the Uber accident lawyers at Abels & Annes come in.

Our Chicago Uber Accident Lawyers Can Help Uber Drivers, Too

The Chicago legal team at Abels & Annes can help you obtain the money you deserve after sustaining an injury as a rideshare driver. We are prepared to analyze your unique situation and to explore all paths available to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, our assistance can include:

  • Review of police reports;
  • Investigation of the accident scene;
  • Input from experts when required;
  • Consultation with witnesses;
  • Analysis of recovery options under all insurance policies and against all potentially liable parties;
  • Obtaining medical records and bills;
  • Preparing a settlement demand package and negotiating with the insurance carrier(s);
  • Negotiating and reducing medical bills;
  • Pursuit of an appropriate legal strategy, whether in or out of court.

Rideshare drivers are quickly becoming an essential aspect of our economy, and millions of Americans rely on rideshare drivers to get them where they need to be, whether for work or for pleasure. Accordingly, rideshare drivers should have an ally when the unexpected happens, even if that means going up against a large insurer or rideshare company to ensure you are made whole under the law. Contact Abels & Annes to protect your rights as a rideshare driver and to pursue the compensation you deserve.