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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.

Who Is at Fault in a T-Bone Car Accident?

A T-bone car accident, sometimes referred to as an angle collision, occurs when the front end of one car strikes the side of another car, forming a T. Some also call T-bones broadside collisions, if the impact occurs on the passenger side of a car. T-bone accidents are among the most deadly and dangerous of traffic crashes; they often occur at intersections, and determining fault is not always an easy task.

When a T-bone car accident occurs, multiple different parties can be at fault. In some situations, one party can be fully liable for a T-bone accident. In other crashes, two or more parties can share liability. We cover each of the potentially liable parties in a T-bone car accident below.

Putting your case in the hands of a trusted and experienced Chicago car accident attorney can help ensure as speedy and productive of a resolution to your claim as possible.

The Other Driver

T-bone car accidents can occur at large and small intersections alike. Some intersections have traffic control devices like stop lights or stop signs, and others are uncontrolled intersections. Remember that an intersection doesn’t only refer to where two roads meet, but can also refer to where a driveway and a road meet, or the entrance to a store or parking lot and a road.

No matter the type of intersection, one person has the right of way and the accident occurs because another driver did not yield to that right.

Specific driver behaviors that lead to a driver entering an intersection without the proper right of way include:

Who Is Liable for My Bills Following a T-Bone Accident?

While an attorney can help ensure the person responsible for the accident compensates you for damages (such as medical bills), you will still likely receive invoices for payment shortly after the crash.

This is why hiring a personal injury attorney is so important: Like many other victims of T-bone accidents, you likely have mounting medical bills, may miss time from work, and have enough to deal with focusing on your recovery. The sooner you can obtain compensation from the responsible party, the sooner you and your loved ones can get back to normal.

Your attorney can negotiate aggressively on your behalf to secure a fair settlement for your injuries. If necessary, your attorney can argue your case in court and ensure the best possible chances of a successful recovery. If you have trouble managing your bills in the meantime, your attorney can work with providers to ensure your care is delivered uninterrupted (such as asking the medical provider to file a lien or place your account on hold) while you work toward a settlement.

Holding even the most irresponsible of drivers accountable for their actions can require navigating a minefield of challenging and time-consuming insurance representatives, law enforcement professionals, opposing counsel, and possibly a judge and jury.

Third Parties Who Contributed to Driver Actions

Numerous negligent drivers choose to drive without insurance, and even then, many do not have the means to compensate the victim of a serious accident they cause. Even if your attorney successfully proves that the other driver was responsible for the accident, what happens if the other party lacks insurance or the resources to collect from?

The driver of the vehicle responsible for the collision may not be the only party potentially liable for damages—and if so, a car accident lawyer can work to hold third parties partially or fully liable for a T-bone car accident when their negligence contributes to driver behaviors that lead to an accident.

Possible scenarios where an attorney names a third party in a T-bone car accident claim or lawsuit might include:

  • Alcoholic beverage service. Under Illinois’s dram shop law, The Liquor Control Act of 1934, commercial establishments who serve alcohol, such as restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, open themselves up to liability if a patron drinks too much and gets behind the wheel. Private social hosts are excluded in Illinois law unless the drunk driver is underage.
  • Employers. Those organizations that allow or require employees to drive company vehicles can be held liable for an accident under a theory of agency. Further, they have a responsibility to perform background checks on their employees and train them properly if they are driving special equipment or vehicles. When an employee causes a T-bone accident in a company vehicle, Illinois courts can hold the employer liable. Similarly, employers have a responsibility to properly maintain company vehicles. Mechanical failures can lead to dangerous T-bone accidents and open an employer up to liability for a car accident.

Uninsured Motorist Claims

If an at-fault driver is without auto insurance, the most likely scenario is an uninsured motorist claim (UIM claim) with your own auto insurance carrier. Here, your auto insurance company steps into the shoes of the other motorist and pays on the claim. Due to the high rate of uninsured drivers, UM claims are very common and our lawyers handle them regularly.

A Car Accident Lawyer Can Make All the Difference

If you were in a T-bone car accident, you deserve compensation for your injuries when another party caused the accident. An experienced car accident attorney can investigate the facts of your case, handle negotiations with insurance companies, and ensure the party or parties responsible for the accident pay what you are owed under the law. Contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.

Who Pays Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

car accident lawyer in chicago illinoisAccording to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), more than 67,000 crashes on Illinois roads resulted in injuries in just one year. In severe car accidents, medical bills often pile up for those who are injured. This creates undue stress and economic uncertainty for many accident victims and their families; those who suffer injuries often cannot work, at least in the short-term. In the most extreme cases, some families may need to file bankruptcy, lose their homes in foreclosure, amass debt, and sometimes do not have enough money to cover even basic needs.

You are responsible for paying all medical bills you receive that are related to the treatment of injuries sustained in a car accident. Yet, the source of the funds you use to pay your medical bills will vary based on the circumstances of your accident, your insurance coverage, and the coverage of the other driver.

If you have sustained injuries in a car accident in Illinois as a result of another party’s careless actions, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced Illinois car accident attorney. Below, we provide an overview of Illinois insurance requirements and information about who pays medical bills in different insurance coverage scenarios.

Illinois Auto Insurance Requirements

Illinois has a fault-based insurance system, which means the party who causes an accident is liable for property damage and injuries related to the accident. Under Illinois law, all drivers must meet minimum insurance requirements. Coverage that applies to medical bills falls under bodily injury coverage.

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage (BIL)

Bodily injury liability pays for costs related to the injury or death of a driver or occupant in another vehicle or a pedestrian. In some cases, BIL also covers passengers in your car, if they are not a member of your household. Illinois law requires that drivers carry at least $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage and a total of $50,000 per accident. Additionally, Illinois drivers must carry a minimum of $20,000 in property damage coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

Uninsured motorist insurance coverage is similar to bodily injury coverage to the extent that it covers medical bills after a car accident. UM coverage kicks in when an uninsured driver causes your car accident. Illinois drivers must carry a minimum of $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage per person $50,000 per accident.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

Illinois underinsured motorist insurance covers the gap in insurance that occurs when the at-fault driver does not have high enough insurance limits to cover the bodily injury or death in the accident they caused. Illinois only requires UIM coverage when policyholders purchase higher limits of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.

Who Pays When You Don’t Have Car Insurance?

If you did not cause the accident, the at-fault driver’s BIL coverage will kick in to cover your medical bills up to their policy limit. Keep in mind that even if insurance covers your medical bills, you likely will have to wait months before you see a penny of reimbursement. Make sure to keep your medical providers informed of your situation, so they do not send your account to a collection agency.

Who Pays Your Medical Bills When the at-Fault Driver Has No Insurance?

If you are in a car accident with a driver who isn’t insured or doesn’t have enough insurance, you will initially have to pay all of your medical bills. Fortunately, Illinois requires uninsured motorist coverage. If you are compliant, you can file a claim under your UM coverage to receive compensation for your medical bills up to your policy limit.

Once you have met or exceeded your UM coverage limits, your lawyer will have to negotiate with your medical providers and work to reduce your medical bills accordingly. This typically includes using the Illinois Health Care Services Lien Act (770 ILCS 23/). Here, hospitals and doctors can only collect certain percentages of your settlement.

Uninsured motorist coverage also covers hit-and-run accidents. Hopefully, if an at-fault driver leaves the scene of an accident, law enforcement can track him or her down. This, however, is not usually the case, so your UM coverage will kick in to cover your medical bills up to your policy limit.

Who Pays When You Have Exceeded Auto Insurance Coverage Limits?

A wide array of expenses falls under the umbrella of car accident-related medical bills. An ambulance ride, emergency department visit, and a short stay in the hospital can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you have suffered multiple traumas and severe injuries, expensive and lengthy hospitalization is likely. Medical bills also include surgery and accompanying costs, diagnostics, lab testing, rehabilitation, aftercare, and medication. Severe injuries can easily lead to medical bills totaling well into six figures, which can quickly exceed BIL and UM policy coverage limits.

You can rely on your health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare to cover some costs for specific things, but sometimes you have to exhaust all other insurance alternatives before health insurance will start paying. After you have met or exceeded your health insurance limits, you could be asked to pay your medical bills out-of-pocket.

For some, this could mean amassing credit card debt, draining bank accounts, and selling personal items to earn more money. However, for those smart enough to work with an experienced accident lawyer, it means having that attorney negotiate your medical bills. There are no guarantees, but typically medical providers will want some portion of a bill paid over an unrealistic debt collection, and they will often settle.

If you were in a severe car accident that led to a stack of medical bills, you can get the help you need by consulting an experienced car accident attorney. An auto accident lawyer can help get the compensation they need and deserve for their medical bills. An attorney can investigate the facts of the case, gather necessary evidence, and build the strongest case possible against the at-fault party.

How to Get the Most Money From a Car Accident

chicago car accident lawyerSerious injuries from a car accident deserve compensation. Not only must you live with the limitations of those injuries, often for the rest of your life, but you may also need help paying your medical bills and managing the other expenses that go along with your injuries. How can you get the most money from a car accident?

Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

If you want to maximize the compensation you receive following a car accident, hire an attorney. You should contact that attorney as soon after your accident as possible. Hiring an attorney:

Prevents you from mistakenly minimizing your compensation. After a serious car accident, an insurance company could make a settlement offer. Often, this settlement offer fails to reflect the funds you really deserve for your injuries. In some cases, in fact, the insurance company may offer only a fraction of what you really deserve for your injuries. Some car accident victims may accept this offer because they believe they will not get a better one or because they think it represents the maximum compensation available for their injury. An attorney can give you a better idea of how much you really deserve for your injuries, preventing you from mistakenly minimizing the compensation you can receive.

Provides you with a full evaluation of all parties liable for your accident. Illinois drivers who carry minimum auto insurance may have insurance that provides only $25,000 in compensation for bodily injury as a result of the accident. The medical bills for many types of injuries, including burns, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injury, may far exceed that amount. You can file a personal injury claim against all entities that contributed to your accident, which may maximize your compensation.

An attorney can:

  • Seek video footage of your accident. Video footage may include dash cam footage, security footage from local businesses, or traffic camera footage that clearly displays your accident.
  • Speak to witnesses. Witness statements can help an experienced attorney or expert witness put together exactly how the accident occurred and what factors contributed to that accident.
  • Check truckers’ logs and evaluate the trucking company, including taking a look at the driver’s past tickets and accident history. An experienced attorney may learn that a trucker has exceeded the number of hours he can legally spend behind the wheel or that the trucking company has a history of expecting drivers to meet unrealistic expectations or drive in unsafe conditions, for example.
  • Take a look at the maintenance history of the vehicle and evaluate whether, if mechanical failure caused the accident, the manufacturer or a mechanic who recently worked on the vehicle may share liability for your injuries.
  • Take a closer look at any other factors that contributed to your accident, including a poorly loaded truck or a mechanical defect.

Increases your understanding of the compensation you deserve for your injuries. You may question how much compensation you really deserve following a serious accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can improve your understanding of the compensation you deserve and provide you with a highly effective plan to proceed with your claim.

Most car accident victims include several common aspects as part of their claims, including:

  • Medical expenses. Your medical expenses may mount quickly, especially in accidents that include burns, traumatic brain injury, or spinal cord damage. An experienced personal injury attorney will help you evaluate all medical expenses associated with the accident, including emergency transport, treatment in the emergency room, surgeries and procedures, tests, and durable medical equipment. An attorney will also advise you about other expenses that count as medical expenses for the purposes of your personal injury claim. For example, you may need to make modifications to your home to accommodate a wheelchair after a spinal cord injury or amputation, or you may need ongoing personal care as a result of a traumatic brain injury. An attorney can help you understand how and when to include those expenses as part of your personal injury claim.
  • Lost wages. Severe injuries can prevent you from returning to work long-term—or, in some cases, prevent you from returning to work permanently. If you face lost time at work due to your injuries, you deserve compensation for those injuries. Your attorney will help evaluate the terms of those lost wages, including how lost vacation time as a result of your injuries could increase the funds you deserve in your personal injury claim.
  • Pain and suffering. While pain and suffering does not represent a tangible cost, it can add substantially to your personal injury claim. Many car accident injuries not only cause significant physical pain and suffering, they may leave you suffering from isolation or struggling to return to the activities that normally bring you joy. An attorney can help you determine how to calculate the worth of that pain and suffering.

Provides support as you deal with negotiations, mediation, and even go to court, if necessary. You may go through numerous stages of negotiation before you reach a resolution in your personal injury claim. In some cases, you may need to go to mediation to reach a resolution if you and the liable party, usually an insurance company, cannot come to an agreement about the worth of your claim. Failed negotiation results in your claim going to court. At every stage in this process, your attorney provides vital support that can help increase the compensation you receive for your injuries.

If you want to maximize the compensation you receive from a personal injury claim, start by hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. Many clients find that simply retaining an attorney increases the compensation the insurance company will willingly offer. In other cases, an attorney will manage the negotiation process or proceed to court for your claim. Contact an car accident attorney to discuss your case and learn more about how to obtain as much compensation as possible after your car accident.