Free Consultation: (312) 924-7575
Abels & Annes, P.C. Abels & Annes, P.C.
We've collected millions for our clients.
Let us fight for you.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Tips for Staying Safe on the Roads

In the United States, accidents—like car collisions and motorcycle wrecks—are the third leading cause of death. Motor vehicle collisions are also a major cause of injuries. Every time you get into a vehicle, there are countless factors that determine whether you get to your destination safely or not.

Unfortunately, many of these factors are out of your control. Since you cannot necessarily prevent an accident, you can do some things to limit injuries and death if it does happen.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 77% of drivers have reported being involved in a car accident at least once in their life. With that level of occurrence, it’s worth exploring how you can keep yourself and your family safe while you’re on the road.

Here are some safe driving tips to keep in mind when operating a motor vehicle that can help prevent car accidents and injury if you are in an accident. These tips will even help you to stay safe on the road overall.

Wear Your Seatbelt

Wear Your Seatbelt- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Motor vehicle accidents are extremely dangerous by nature. Wearing a seatbelt while driving or riding in a vehicle is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent injury or death if a collision occurs.

Seat belts reduce the risk of death for drivers and passengers by 45%. They also cut the risk of serious injury by 50%, according to the CDC. That is a compelling reason to always buckle up.

Under Illinois law, all drivers and passengers (in front and back seats) who are 8 years of age and older are required to wear seat belts in a motor vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle is responsible for all occupants to be properly secured in their seats while in operation. If a driver has ever told you, “put on your seatbelt or I could get a ticket,” they were right.

According to the National Safety Council, seat belt usage has gone up in recent years. On average, 90% of people in the United States wear a seatbelt, depending on the state.

The impact seat belts have on preventing accident injuries and fatalities is clear. In 2017 alone, nearly 15,000 lives were saved simply because of seat belt usage.

Quick Take Away: Wearing a seat belt is one of the best ways to prevent injury or death during a car accident.

Adjust Your Vehicle to Your Needs

Adjust Your Vehicle to Your Needs- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Every time you drive, adjust your seat, steering wheel, mirrors, music, and climate before putting the car in motion. Making these adjustments before you begin your trip can go far in preventing an accident in the first place or minimizing the risk of a serious injury if you are in an accident.

Adjusting music and A/C or heat before you drive will limit distractions while on the road. Likewise, adjusting your mirror can prevent an accident by ensuring that you have the best view possible of the car around you.

Your seat and steering wheel positions can help save your life or prevent serious injuries. Adjusting your car’s seat so that it’s in the proper position will help to prevent an injury or death by making sure that the car’s safety features function correctly in the event of an accident. The same goes for a steering wheel.

When you are sitting too far back in a seat, not sitting upright, or sitting too far forward, the airbags and seatbelt cannot work properly. Plus, an upright position is how they test literally every safety feature. So, you can’t be certain that seat and steering wheel positions that aren’t tested are safe.

If the steering wheel is the appropriate distance from you, airbags will properly inflate. That will make all the difference between suffering a minor or a catastrophic injury.

Quick Take Away: Adjust everything before you move to limit distractions while driving. And sit in your car the way it was meant to be sat in.

Perform Regular Maintenance on Your Vehicle

Perform Regular Maintenance On Your Vehicle- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Routine maintenance of your vehicle not only prevents costly repairs later. It can also help to prevent accidents that could result in injuries or death.

Take your car to your local mechanic or dealership and make sure they perform a safety inspection on your vehicle at least every year. When you get your oil changed is a good time to ask for a simple visual inspection. Every two years, you should get a comprehensive safety inspection done.

For example, a motorist takes a leased vehicle in for its 2-year required maintenance. A few days later she notices the tires are wobbling and assumes they balanced them wrong. But the tires were actually falling apart because of a manufacturer’s defect. The dealership then fails to notice the issue while the car was in their shop for 2 days specifically for a safety check.

If that driver or another person is seriously injured, you can bet that the manufacturer and the dealership could be held responsible.

So routine maintenance may not be foolproof. But it’s an important and effective way to prevent any serious incidents or injuries from occurring.

Quick Take Away: Get routine maintenance and safety checks done on your vehicle.

Use Your Car’s Safety Features

Use Your Cars Safety Features- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Safety features in vehicles have come a long way since their inception. From adaptive headlights to side airbags to lane sensors, cars just keep getting safer.

In order for these features to do their job, you need to be using them. This may sound obvious. However, many features can either be turned off or else unnoticed by drivers who don’t know about them or how to work them.

For example, some cars have small lights that flash when you put on your turn signal when the destination lane is occupied. Knowing about the feature and its purpose is the only way it can keep you and your family safe. Likewise, some airbags can be turned off for one reason or another. If you do turn off an airbag, make sure it is turned back on as soon as possible.

The same is true for every safety feature your car has. If you aren’t using it, it’s not a safety feature.

Quick Take Away: Use all safety features to their fullest extent.

Drive Sober, Don’t Drink and Drive

Drive Sober Dont Drink and Drive- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Driving under the influence of any mind-altering substances is both highly illegal and extremely irresponsible. The NHTSA states that drunk driving claims the lives of 10,000 people every year. That means that nearly 30 people die every day because of drunk driving.

Alcohol can cause impaired thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination. These are sensory abilities that are necessary for safely operating a vehicle.

As a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises, it becomes far more likely for them to cause an auto accident.

In the simplest terms, it is not worth it to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Not only is it extremely dangerous for drivers and their passengers, but it’s also risky for other drivers and pedestrians using the roads.

Quick Take Away: If you have to wonder if you’re intoxicated, you are too drunk to drive.

Don’t Speed

Dont speed- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Roughly 10,000 people die each year due to speeding. The risk of a car crash occurring increases as a driver’s speed goes up.

Driving at posted speed limits is important because it keeps you, your passengers, and others on the road safe. Accidents that happen when someone is speeding are more likely to cause injuries and deaths.

Quick Take Away: Drive the speed limit. Getting to your destination seconds faster isn’t worth risking your or someone else’s life.

Avoid Distractions

Avoid Distractions- Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

We all have so many distractions in our lives. And those distractions are bleeding over into our driving. Whether it’s changing stations on Spotify, looking for a restaurant nearby on maps, or sending a text, all of these actions can lead to a serious auto accident.

Illinois law prohibits the use of any handheld cellular device while operating a motor vehicle. The best thing a driver can do to avoid accidents is to simply pay attention to the roadway and not drive while distracted.

Quick Take Away: If the vehicle is in motion, put the phone down.

Ensure Children Are Safe and Secured

Ensure Children are Safe and Secured - Abels and Annes Chicago Waukegan Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act states that any child under the age of 8 must be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system that will properly secure them in the event of an accident.

The use of booster seats in addition to lap/shoulder style safety belts is required for children under 40 pounds. For any child over 40 pounds, a booster seat is no longer required. But some studies have shown the booster seats can help prevent injuries and death well beyond toddler years.

Taking these steps is critical to ensuring the safety of a child while driving. Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children. So anything we can do to reduce that figure is worth it.

Quick Take Away: Restrain your child properly every time.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you were injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact the lawyers at Abels & Annes. We are ready to help you maneuver the legal process of personal injury claims. We offer compassionate, knowledgeable, and effective legal representation to people in Chicago and all across Illinois. For a free consultation, contact us today at (855) 529-2442 or fill out our online contact form.

Who Am I Suing in an Illinois Car Accident Case? 

Over 319,000 car accidents happen annually in Illinois. Inevitably, most people will be involved in a collision at some point in their life. Sometimes these accidents are minor. At other times, they can result in injuries that can have serious consequences. When you are involved in an accident that causes injuries, expenses begin to add up fast.

You could need extensive medical care, including surgeries, hospital stays, outpatient care, and medications. You may also not be able to work for a long period of time or indefinitely due to permanent disability. Knowing where to turn for compensation can make a major difference. Filing a car accident injury claim can help to ease your financial worries. And it can give you peace of mind knowing that these costs don’t have to affect your personal budget. But who is going to pay for these costs? Who exactly am I suing when I file a car accident injury claim?

Am I Suing the Driver or Their Insurance?

First, the term “sue” is a bit of a misnomer. When you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and you intend to seek damages, you usually do this out of court resulting in what is known as a settlement. Nobody actually has a court case filed against them unless a reasonable compromise cannot be reached during negotiations.

However, generally speaking, you will most likely be pursuing the driver’s insurance company for compensation rather than the driver themselves.

The cost of your medical treatment, your lost wages, and other expenses related to the car accident (known as damages) are likely to exceed what most individuals can pay out of pocket. That is why we are all required to carry car insurance while operating a vehicle on Illinois roads.

Determining Car Accident Liability

The next step toward pursuing compensation and who will pay for that compensation is determining liability. When car accidents are settled out of court, generally insurance adjusters representing each driver’s insurance company will try to determine who is at-fault for the accident.

To make this determination, insurance agents review all available documentation related to an accident. This can include the police report, photos of the accident scene, witness statements, and the drivers’ own accounts of the accident.

It is important to note that the drivers’ own accounts of the accident is something all people who are involved in an auto accident should be weary of. It is best to avoid speaking to any auto insurance company directly, especially if you were injured in the accident and they may have to pay for the damage.

Insurance adjusters can twist your words in order to get out of having to pay for your damages. Their goal is to shift the liability to you or to at least diminish the severity of your injuries so they can pay out less and keep their company’s profits high.

This is where a car accident attorney comes in. Hiring a car accident attorney as soon as you are injured in a car accident is critical to getting the proper amount of compensation.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help Your Case

If you were not at-fault for the accident, your car accident attorney will gather and evaluate evidence to demonstrate the other driver’s liability. Your attorney will also analyze your medical records and various other expenses to prove the value of your injury claim to the insurance companies.

This is where your attorney will begin seeking compensation from either the other party’s insurance company, your own insurance company, or both. At this point, nobody has been sued.

If an agreeable settlement cannot be reached, then your attorney may have to file a civil lawsuit and your case may end up going to trial.

[Read: Timeline of a Personal Injury Case]

Beyond Negotiations to Trial

In this situation, you should know that you are actually suing the person who injured you. Their name will be on the court records. However, it is the insurance company who will end up paying for those damages.

When a car accident case goes to court, attorneys representing the injured driver and the insurance company present the evidence to a jury who will decide which party is at-fault and how much compensation will be awarded for any damages. In this situation, your attorney will compel the jury to side in your favor by refuting the other side’s claims, detailing factors that contributed to the accident, and painting a picture of how your injuries have affected your life both physically, mentally, and financially.

Whether a case is settled in or out of court, more than one party can be determined at fault for a car accident. That is because Illinois uses what is known as a modified comparative negligence system. Even if you contributed to an accident, in Illinois you’re still eligible to collect compensation if you are found to be less than 50% at fault for an accident.

What if the Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

Even though Illinois requires every vehicle owner to have car insurance, some drivers fail to maintain minimum coverage. If you’re injured by an uninsured driver, you still have the option to pursue a case against the at-fault driver. However, drivers who aren’t paying for the minimum required insurance rarely have the means to pay for any damages from a car accident out-of-pocket.

Your attorney can advise you about whether this is a logical course of action under your specific circumstances.

It may make more sense to file an uninsured motorist insurance claim with your own car insurance company. Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of auto coverage that helps you pay for damages caused by a driver who doesn’t have car insurance.

You can also rely on your own uninsured motorist coverage if the driver is unidentified or if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident.

Uninsured motorist coverage is a policy you purchase through your own insurance company. Therefore, if you have to pursue this route you would be seeking compensation from your insurer. In this case, it is not the at-fault driver paying for your damages.

This is not always an either-or situation. Sometimes both the other driver’s and your insurance company will pay.

Take for example if the at-fault driver’s coverage is not enough to cover all your damages. This is common in cases with catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. In this situation, you can both pursue compensation from the other driver’s insurance policy and turn to your own underinsured motorist policy for compensation.

What About Suing Additional Parties that Caused an Accident?

In some situations, an auto accident may be caused by something not related to a driver. For example, if a vehicle’s tire blows out when it is only six months old, the tire company, dealer, or mechanic may be liable.

Claims against third parties in addition to a defendant’s insurance are common in accidents involving commercial vehicles. This is because so many other parties are involved in commercial trucking besides the driver.

For instance, after a truck accident it may be discovered that the driver’s employer acted negligently by requiring the driver to be on the road for longer than they are legally allowed. In this case, the trucking company could be the one held liable for your damages.

Other examples of third parties that may be at-fault are:

  • rideshare companies
  • vehicle manufacturers
  • parts manufacturers
  • mechanics or maintenance companies

A car accident attorney can be particularly helpful in finding additional defendants. This is because proving that a person or party who was not even at the accident scene was responsible may require extensive research and evidence. And your lawyer may have experience from handling similar cases.

Let an Illinois Car Accident Attorney Help You Get Compensation

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, speak to Abels & Annes. Our attorneys have successfully represented thousands of car accident victims throughout the state of Illinois in claims against drivers, insurance companies, and other negligent third parties. We will advise you about all of your options. And help you to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries and other damages. Call us today at 312-924-7575 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Proving Negligence in a Chicago Car Accident

Every year, one-fifth of all car accidents in the United States leads to death or injury. For some people, these injuries are minor and will heal with time. For over 2 million of car accident victims, the injuries they receive are permanent. Whether car accident injuries leave a person with short or long-term repercussions, the unexpected financial strain can feel impossible to juggle with all of life’s other expenses. That is why US courts allow for injured drivers to recover these costs. Receiving compensation from the at-fault driver is essential to getting your life back on track. Proving the negligence of the at-fault driver is one of the first steps toward securing the compensation you deserve for your damages.

What is Negligence?

In order to understand how to prove negligence in a car accident claim, we must first understand what negligence is. Negligence, when referring to a car accident, is made up of four elements. These are duty of care, breach of that duty, causation, and damages.

Duty of Care

A driver’s duty of care is the legal responsibility they take on when they get behind the wheel. This duty includes avoiding any actions or behaviors that could lead to injury or death. Drivers must exhibit the same watchfulness, attention, caution, and judgment that a reasonable person would toward other drivers and the public.

Breach of Duty of Care

A driver is considered to have breached their duty of care when they fail to uphold this responsibility. Some examples of a driver breaching their legal duty of care include speeding, running a stop sign, drinking and driving, failing to yield, or driving while distracted.

Causation

The next step in the process of proving negligence is to show that the at-fault party’s breach of duty is what led to the car collision and the resulting injuries. This step is required because someone can be at-fault for a rear-end collision to your vehicle without being responsible for injuries. But if that collision is what caused your herniated disc, the driver would be liable.

Damages

The final step in proving negligence is to prove that the accident caused you some type of damages. Damages are the financial losses and personal losses you’ve suffered because of a car accident. This can include medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repair expenses, and your pain and suffering. Damages may also include wrongful death damages if your loved one was killed in the accident.

Determining Fault in a Car Accident

There are several types of evidence that help to show that a driver is at-fault. If a car accident causes death, injury, or property damage, the drivers are required to report the accident to the police. This is a critical first step that will officially document the collision with authorities.

In addition to a police report, other forms of evidence will also be collected to prove fault. This may include video from a dash cam or traffic cam, witness statements, photos of the accident scene, and vehicle inspections. These are all valuable types of evidence to support a case against a negligent driver.

[Read: What to Do After a Car Accident That Was Not Your Fault]

How Your Attorney Will Prove Negligence

Oftentimes, two drivers have vastly different accounts of how a motor vehicle accident happened. The finger pointing usually begins seconds after the impact.

If you were injured because of another driver’s negligence, hiring an experienced accident attorney can be instrumental in proving the other driver is liable for your damages. An attorney understands the civil laws that make up car accident claims and how to prove them effectively.

This means that they can use their experience to demonstrate how the other driver breached their duty of care, how that caused the accident, and how that led to your damages. Attorneys also understand how to utilize evidence and resources to prove their case. This might include filing a Freedom of Information Act request for traffic cam footage or hiring an accident reconstruction expert to analyze the scene. These elements can make all the difference between a lowball offer and an appropriate settlement amount.

For example, if the at-fault driver was speeding at the time of the collision, your attorney may present security camera footage from a nearby gas station. Or even eyewitness statements that prove the driver’s negligence.

If you were injured because of a drunk driver, your attorney might find information from the establishment that served the driver alcohol to strengthen your case. They may also look into a dram shop case against said establishment.

Sometimes a case will need to go all the way to trial. In this situation, a typical jury won’t necessarily have the background knowledge they need to understand physical evidence like the skid marks on the road. It’s your attorney’s job to explain in clear terms how this evidence proves the other driver was negligent and how that led to the collision.

Prove Causation and Applicable Damages

When policyholders are at-fault, their insurance companies will do anything in their power to distance themselves from paying for the car accident claim.

One method they use is blaming your resulting injuries on a pre-existing condition or injury. This is common with ongoing conditions like chronic pain or nerve damage since these issues can arise from a variety of circumstances. An experienced personal injury attorney can help stop this denial tactic. Additionally, they will prove that your injuries were caused by the accident in question. Your attorney may utilize past medical records, statements from medical experts, and your treating doctors’ opinions to do this.

It is important to hire a lawyer who will explore all of the possible damages that apply in your case. Unfortunately, this is where many people that handle claims on their own fall short. Experienced attorneys are aware that certain conditions can require future medical treatment or may cause more time off from work than is initially apparent. So they will value your claim accordingly.

This just shows that there is more to consider than proving negligence. Hiring an attorney can help you to establish liability, prove the extent of your damages, and get the proper amount of compensation to cover all aspects of your damages.

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by another person, speak to a car accident attorney at Abels & Annes. We are dedicated to recovering maximum compensation for every one of our clients with our detailed accident investigations. We take a tough approach with insurance companies and are willing to take your case to trial if necessary. For a free case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

What If I Delayed My Car Accident Claim?

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is far from enjoyable. It is a stressful time full of uncertainties about your health and finances. For one reason or another, you may have put off taking care of your car accident claim. If you did delay your car accident claim, it isn’t necessarily too late to go after compensation for your injuries.

Reasons a Car Accident Claim May Be Delayed

There are many reasons people delay filing a car accident claim. To start with, most people don’t know what to do after a car accident, which may cause them to do, or not do, certain things that can hurt their personal injury claim. Some of the most common reasons people delay car accident claims include not knowing that their injuries were serious, not knowing that they could seek compensation, or because dealing with their injuries was more important. Further, some try to handle the claim on their own not knowing the risks involved, or unwisely decide to trust an insurance adjuster.

Personal Injury Claim Delay 1: You Didn’t Know Your Injuries Were Serious

Getting any necessary medical treatment is one of the most important steps to take immediately after a car accident. However, many injured drivers and passengers delay contacting an attorney because they think their injuries are minor and not worth pursuing. As weeks or months pass by, they begin to realize their aches and pains aren’t going away and their medical bills are stacking up.

Car accident injuries that aren’t healing are a sign of something more serious going on. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor and contact an accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Further, if you have put off getting the care you need, know that it is critical—not only for your health but also for your car accident claim—that you seek medical treatment for your injuries. When someone delays medical treatment, it also means that it may be harder to make a connection between your car accident and your injuries. Take for example back pain caused by a rear-end accident. If you do not immediately seek medical treatment, it can be harder to prove that that injury was directly caused by the collision.

Hiring an experienced attorney when you have delayed getting medical treatment can be helpful in proving that your injuries are related to your recent car accident. When you do finally get diagnosed by a doctor, it may not be enough to prove your claim. An attorney will help to piece together other information that points to the car accident as the source of your injury. This may include your past medical records, missed time from work after the accident, and testimonies from people who know you. Beyond proving your injuries, an experienced personal injury attorney will advocate for the appropriate amount of compensation that you deserve.

That being said, delayed treatment claims can be difficult to prove and injury lawyers are often selective as to the cases they sign up. If the delay is too long given the circumstances, an attorney might not take the case.

Personal Injury Claim Delay 2: You Didn’t Know You Could Seek Compensation

If you’re injured by a car accident, you may not have known that you can seek compensation for your injuries. Chances are, you probably relied solely on your own resources to cover your medical expenses and vehicle repairs after your car accident. It may not be too late to recover those costs from the driver who caused your accident. As long as you can prove what damages your accident caused, you can seek compensation for those costs and possibly even pain and suffering. Your car accident attorney will help you to prove both liability and how the accident has impacted you.

Personal Injury Claim Delay 3: Dealing with Your Injuries Was More Important

Injuries that are severe or life-threatening can prevent an accident victim from pursuing a claim in a timely manner. Your injuries might result in a lengthy hospital stay, and you may even be in an unresponsive state. For instance, a traumatic brain injury, which is a common type of injury that can occur during a car accident, can lead to a coma or a significant hospital stay. Or you may have suffered a spinal cord injury and recovering your health and wellness was just more important than filing an injury claim.

Contacting an attorney shortly after being injured in an accident will help you to get compensation for your injuries and also give you an ally in your recovery. Obtaining legal representation means that someone else will handle the intricacies of getting you compensation while you focus on your recovery.

A lawyer’s experience is especially important in claims made after sustaining catastrophic injuries. This is because you’ll need substantial compensation to assist with the long-term effects and future medical bills caused by severe and chronic injuries.

Statute of Limitations in Illinois

The statute of limitations for car accident claims is two years in Illinois, under most circumstances. This means that you have two years to begin a car accident claim from the date your motor vehicle accident occurred. However, there are shorter and longer statute dates in certain cases, so it’s best to consult with a lawyer ASAP.

Further, it should be noted however that just because you have two years to file a claim does not mean there are no consequences to waiting that long. Delaying a car accident claim can have all types of unintended consequences like lost evidence and lost credibility, which all create an uphill battle.

Delaying a Car Accident Claim Can Make Proving Your Case More Complicated

If you do not file a car accident claim to get compensation for your damages right away, you may find yourself in a difficult circumstance.

The first and most important reason delaying a claim makes proving your case more complicated is that it affects your credibility with the insurance company. Insurance companies send claim adjusters to investigate car accident claims and ensure that they are valid. If you claim you suffered severe injuries but didn’t seek medical treatment right away, the insurance company will likely use this as justification for denying your claim. They will simply assume that if you didn’t seek immediate treatment, your injuries were not that bad.

It also complicates proving that your injuries were directly caused by your accident. If you suffer a neck injury from a car accident and don’t immediately report it or seek medical treatment, the insurance company can say that your injury was caused by some other factor. For example, maybe you got hurt playing softball or while at work. Because you did not seek treatment immediately, these alternative theories become harder to disprove. Seeking medical attention right away officially documents your injuries and prevents the issue of proving your claim to insurance companies.

Delaying medical treatment after a car accident may also cause an injury to worsen. Some injuries take days or longer to become noticeable since the adrenaline and shock from an accident can mask the symptoms. If you delay treatment too long, you run the risk of allowing your injuries to get worse by not immediately getting medical treatment. This is especially true for lacerations, soft tissue injuries, neck and back injuries, internal injuries, and brain injuries.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Me?

If you delayed filing a car accident claim in Illinois, a personal injury attorney can help you to gather the evidence you need while assisting you in overcoming the challenges that come with an injury claim. The more time that passes, the more difficult it is to file a successful claim. Accident scenes are cleaned up, evidence goes missing, witnesses are gone, and video footage has been erased from the cloud. But all hope is not lost.

If you are still within the statute of limitations for Illinois personal injury claims, an experienced attorney will be critical in getting proper compensation.

Don’t let your delay in filing an injury claim continue preventing you from seeking compensation.

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident but did not file a claim immediately, speak to an attorney at Abels & Annes about your options. Our attorneys will evaluate your case and let you know honestly if you have a viable claim for compensation. If moving forward is possible, we will work diligently to meet the needs of your case and pursue maximum compensation for your injuries. You can contact us online or call us at 312-924-7575 for a free initial case evaluation.

Devastating Results of Highway Accidents

Millions of people regularly use Illinois’s 16,000 miles of highways to commute to work, run errands, and travel for leisure. For the most part, these state highways are an efficient and reliable way to get from point A to point B. Unfortunately, not all trips end safely. When highway accidents happen, unsuspecting victims can find themselves severely injured and with a ton of new stresses in life. Recovery from your injuries often requires a great deal of time, commitment, and medical treatments – none of which are free.

Your career, personal life, and finances can all suffer as a result of a highway accident. And when the collision was not your fault, all these new stresses and financial responsibilities may seem unfairly placed on you. This is when a personal injury attorney can help you: by working to obtain proper financial compensation for your injuries.

Highway Accident Statistics

While highway accident injuries are often severe, highways actually see fewer deaths than local roads. Local roads see fatal accidents at a rate three times higher than highways.

Highways do not have to be busy or congested in order to be dangerous. Travel on rural highways accounts for 30% of highway traffic in the United States. Further, over half of fatal car accidents happen in rural areas of the country.

What Causes Highway Accidents?

Highways can be dangerous for lots of reasons, including high speeds, distracted driving, improper lane changes, aggressive driving, drowsy driving, and dangerous weather conditions.

Speeding

Speeding can lead to accidents no matter what type of road you are on. However, speed limits are already increased on highways. When drivers exceed those higher limits, the impact can be especially damaging and cause injuries that are much more severe than collisions that happen at lower speeds.

Road Distractions

Distracted driving is one of the biggest problems we face on roads today. Any time a driver diverts their eyes, hands, or mental attention away from operating their vehicles, they are distracted. Consequently, they aren’t able to react appropriately to changes on the road. And again, the speed limits on highways can make reaction times much more important. Distracted driving decreases reaction times dramatically and makes highway accidents more likely.

Improper Lane Changes

Vehicles changing lanes while moving at high speeds can be risky. Often, drivers change lanes without making sure it is safe to do so and without checking blind spots. New technology, like blind spot sensors, helps prevent this type of accident, but they still occur often. This is especially true with large trucks.

Aggressive driving

Aggressive drivers tailgate, change lanes without warning, and cut off other motorists. Their behavior disrupts the predictable flow of traffic. As a result, accidents become more likely. Aggressive driving, especially on highways, is exceptionally dangerous. Tensions might be heightened due to the stresses of congested traffic, the desire to get home from work, and other frustrations that are unique to driving on a highway or interstate.

Fatigue

Approximately 328,000 fatigue-related collisions occur annually. Highways tend to have long monotonous stretches of road. This can be a serious problem for tired drivers. If you find yourself drowsy or dozing off in any way, you should pull over immediately and get some rest. Studies have shown that drowsy driving is nearly as serious as drunk driving.

Harsh weather conditions

Conditions like rain and snow impact visibility and traction. Motorists who don’t adjust their driving habits to accommodate inclimate weather risk losing control of their car. This is especially true on highways where high speeds and congestion can make it harder to stop quick enough on wet or icy roads.

Common Injuries from Catastrophic Highway Accidents

As you are aware, accidents that occur on highways can have serious repercussions. Some common injuries that occur due to highway accidents include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding, and broken bones.

Brain Injury

If your head hits an object or is thrashed around during a highway accident, you could develop a traumatic brain injury. TBIs lead to cognitive decline and a host of emotional problems. These conditions can make it difficult to hold a job and maintain relationships, not to mention they are expensive to treat. Additionally, on average, TBI-related injuries cause 150 American deaths every day.

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries can be extremely serious and very painful. They can take away your ability to control bodily functions, which may lead to loss of bladder control, spasms, and breathing issues. The most severe spinal injuries can leave accident victims either partially or completely paralyzed. Victims of injuries that cause paralysis have to make significant adjustments to their lifestyles, often relying on caregivers. For this reason, the cost of care and treatment for spinal injuries is often extremely expensive.

Internal Bleeding

Blunt trauma from a highway accident can cause internal bleeding anywhere in the body. It is especially dangerous when vital organs are impacted. If internal bleeding isn’t addressed right away, it can cause serious complications or even turn fatal.

Broken Bones and Fractures

Breaks and fractures can happen anywhere in the body during a car accident. The bones themselves can take months to heal. However, a fracture serious enough to require surgery may require a much longer recovery time. In turn, that represents higher medical costs. Surgery is likely when multiple bones are broken or fractured during a highway accident. When this type of situation occurs, complications like infection, nerve damage, and the cost of treatment can all just be the beginning of a seriously painful and stressful situation.

Multi-Vehicle Accidents Caused by Trucks

The more cars involved in a highway accident, the more complicated the legalities may become. That is because determining who is at-fault in a multi-car pile-up is often less clear and may require extensive investigation.

In a collision involving multiple vehicles hitting each other on a highway, determining liability can become complicated. Who is at fault for a pile up? Do some of the drivers share partial responsibility? How would you prove who was liable in a multi-car crash? These are just some of the legal questions that make multi-car pile-up accidents on highways complex.

For instance, say a truck strikes a vehicle directly in front of it, pushing that vehicle into your car. The driver in the middle car may be partially responsible, or all of the fault may lie only with the truck driver. In a complex scenario like this, your car accident attorney can analyze the accident report, available dashcam footage, and other evidence to determine whether you should pursue compensation from one or more parties.

To further complicate matters, a truck driver is not necessarily at-fault when a truck causes a multi-car pileup. For instance, if an unstable truck rolls over, it could be due to poorly-loaded cargo or malfunctioning parts. A variety of entities in the trucking industry may be responsible. Since trucks exponentially outweigh normal vehicles, pile-ups involving trucks can cause injuries that are especially devastating. Commercial trucks are usually heavily insured to cover these injuries. It is best not to leave these personal injury claims to chance. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney could be crucial in discovering the cause of the crash so that you can be properly compensated for your injuries.

What Can I Recover in Damages from a Highway Accident?

Medical Expenses. You can recover the costs of your medical bills you received because of a highway accident. Some examples of medical bills include hospital stays, doctors’ appointments, physical rehab, and surgeries. Medical expenses often extend beyond initial treatment. For instance, you may have to pay for medications to treat chronic pain or you may need ongoing physical therapy.

Lost Wages. The wages you would have otherwise earned can be included in your highway accident claim. This can account for days or weeks you were off work to get treatment, and time you spent healing at home. Further, if your injuries prevent you from moving forward in your career, you may be able to seek compensation for lost earning capacity. This not only impacts yourself, but your entire family.

Pain and Suffering. Compensation cannot undo the excruciating pain you had (or have) to endure. Nor can it take away the stress and uncertainty of having a significant injury. However, pain and suffering are reasonable damages you can expect to receive compensation for after an accident.

Contact a Chicago Highway Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one was injured in a highway accident due to negligence, speak with an attorney at Abels & Annes. We are proud of our extensive track record of successfully handling car accident cases. Our attorneys evaluate each client’s case in detail in order to pursue maximum compensation for injuries and other damages. For a free initial case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

How Insurance Companies Try to Avoid Paying Personal Injury Claims

The Three D’s: Delay, Deny, Defend

Insurance is a very profitable business. And it stays that way by taking in much more money than they payout. A single health insurance company can make billions a year in profits. The auto insurance industry as a whole brings in tens of billions of dollars in profits each year. And most insurance companies, no matter what type of coverage they sell, are seeing profits rise even more due to the 2020 pandemic.

These profits often come off the backs of people that pay their premiums faithfully for years and now really need their insurance carrier to carry out their end of the deal. In order to maintain these profits, specifically in the auto insurance sector, three common tactics are used by insurance companies: delay claims, deny claims, and defend against claims.

Insurance Tactic #1: Delaying Injury Claims

The first tactic insurance companies use is to try delaying the injury claim as much as possible. Delaying the claim makes it frustrating for the claimant and it allows evidence to deteriorate.

Frustrating the Victim into Quitting

Receiving compensation is rarely straightforward. Insurance companies sometimes ask for complex forms and details they don’t actually need to process your claim. They know you’re unlikely to have this information readily available. Consequently, you’ll end up wasting time and energy tracking it down. Once submitted, they might make another request or say your documents are incomplete. Insurance companies may also keep you tied up on the phone for what seems like an eternity. Some may pass you around from department to department in search of an answer to a simple question.

These exhausting tactics are designed specifically to delay your claim long enough that you abandon your claim or settle for pennies on the dollar.

Allowing Evidence to Deteriorate

Sometimes, insurance companies will delay a claim in the hopes that some of the evidence will become murky or deteriorate. This doesn’t mean that the evidence actually becomes broken or degraded. Instead, it means that the evidence becomes harder to find. Take for example somebody who witnessed the case. If they were to be contacted one week after the accident, they would probably be more than happy to give a statement about what they saw. If that person is contacted six months later, not only have they probably forgotten most of the details, but they probably aren’t interested in dealing with it anymore.

[Read: What To Do After a Car Accident]

Statute of Limitations

Over the years, our law firm has been contacted by many accident victims who unknowingly allowed the statute of limitations to expire. They thought they were protected by setting up the claim with the insurance carrier and did not realize that a lawsuit needed to be timely filed. The insurance adjuster, who kept delaying and delaying, never informed the claimant of the statute date, which is 2 years in most cases in Illinois. However, there are shorter time limits for certain defendants, so it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately.

Insurance Tactic #2: Denying the Claim

Contesting Liability

It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to dispute or deny liability, even when their driver obviously is at fault. Or, they may only admit partial liability when it’s unreasonable to do so. This tactic is more common with substandard insurance carriers.

For example, our office recently received a denial letter from an insurance carrier. The accident occurred when the defendant failed to yield coming out of a stop sign. Our client had no stop sign and had the right-of-way. At the scene, the defendant admitted fault to the police and was ticketed. At a later date, the defendant changed her story and is now claiming that our client was speeding and failed to keep a proper lookout.

The insurance carrier is now denying the claim due to their insured changing her story. The adjuster knows they are going to have to pay on the claim later in court. However, they are using the defendant’s obvious lie as an excuse to delay paying on the claim.

Minimizing Injuries

Insurance adjusters are always looking for ways to downplay your injuries, make them sound less severe, or even make it look like the injury is non-existent.

One tactic of denying a claim by downplaying an injury. This can involve tricky questions that make it seem like you are not as injured as you say you are. They may also involve a medical expert who claims that your medical records do not reflect the amount of pain that you claim on your end.

Insurance companies will often use pre-existing conditions to deny claims as well. They may acknowledge that you were in a car accident and received injuries. But they may try to minimize those injuries by pointing to a pre-existing condition or an injury that happened in the past. In some cases, this past injury has nothing to do with the new injuries. Nonetheless, insurance carriers know that they can use this tactic to deny claims.

These tactics allow them to deny that their client caused your injury. If they can’t fully deny your claim, they’ll downplay the costs associated with your injury. For instance, they may only offer enough to cover your immediate expenses. In reality, lots of injuries will have costs associated with them long after the first few medical bills are paid. Some injuries will require rehabilitation appointments, while others might require another surgery a few years later. These future medical events should be accounted for when calculating a proper settlement amount. To protect the value of your claim, it’s best to have a personal injury attorney representing your best interests.

Your Own Actions

Another way insurance companies deny claims is by saying your injuries aren’t serious because you didn’t seek immediate medical attention. Insurance companies know that there are many reasons why claimants do not seek medical attention right away. Yet they still use this as a common way to deny personal injury claims. This is why it is so important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you are unsure of the severity of any injuries. Not only does immediate treatment prevent injuries from worsening, but it also prevents insurance carriers from using their common tactic to deny your claim.

Similarly, insurance companies will point to a claimant’s failure to file a police report right away as another reason to deny a claim. Although it does make it harder to prove another party caused your injuries, it is not a reason to completely deny a claim.

These tactics have no end. In fact, it is very common for insurance companies to go to a claimant’s social media page in order to find proof that they are not injured. A simple photo of you at a wedding or a family vacation at the beach can be used against you to argue that your injuries are not that serious.

Insurance Tactic #3: Defend Against the Claim

Once all the delaying and denying tactics have been exhausted and it is clear that the insurance company will have to pay on the claim, their next tactic is to defend against the claim as much as possible. Again, the idea is to keep any potential settlement or verdict very low. Insurance companies are mega-corporations and have millions of dollars to pay lawyers to defend their claims. Because of this, everyday individuals are often at a huge disadvantage when they face insurance companies in negotiations or court.

Using Their Power

Insurance companies have lawyers on staff and contract with outside law firms and investigators. These lawyers and investigators have only one responsibility. They will try to exploit every legal loophole to help the insurance company defend their position and pay little to nothing for your claim. Insurance companies know that many accident victims will accept these results without question. However, you don’t have to accept a lowball offer. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you to challenge the insurance carrier.

Shifting Fault

Insurance companies often try to shift blame so that they can claim that you are at-fault for the accident and the cause of your own injuries. This is one of many reasons why it is critical to have an attorney representing you and working on your case from the very beginning. Even if you do share some responsibly, that does not necessarily invalidate your claim. As long as you are no more than 50% at-fault, you can still collect from the other side’s insurance company.

Before you have a lawyer, an experienced insurance adjuster might tell you that you have to give them a recorded statement. And if you comply, they often ask unfair questions. For example, instead of asking how the accident happened, they might ask what you could have done to avoid the accident. A statement is not required, so don’t give one without the advice of your lawyer.

Cases can also become complicated when insurance companies shift blame to a completely different party. For example, insurance companies may say that a parts manufacturer is responsible for the car accident or that the company who loaded the semi truck’s trailer is actually the responsible party. This tactic of shifting fault can be pulled out late in the game. And it often confuses those who are not represented by a qualified personal injury attorney.

Why Don’t Insurance Companies Want to Pay?

When insurance companies avoid paying, they make more money for themselves. Their business model may partially rely on delaying, denying, and defending claims. Denying a claim means the company doesn’t have to immediately pay out what could be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Likewise, minimizing valid claims means they still pay some, but are saving money compared to if they had paid fair value. When companies know they have to pay a sizable settlement, they may resort to expensive law firms to defend them in court. They do this not because they truly believe that their company holds no responsibility for the accident. They take this approach because a good legal team–though expensive–is sometimes less expensive than immediately paying a settlement. Further, it allows the carrier to hold on to their money for as long as possible.

The point is, insurance companies are not on your side. Despite the jingles, in our opinion you are not always in good hands, you might not get treated like a good neighbor. Based on our experience, insurance adjusters have one job and one job only. They try to keep their employer’s profits high and costs low. This is why it is imperative that you hire a qualified personal injury attorney to advocate for maximum compensation for your injuries.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Attorney to Fight for You

If you or a loved one has been injured because of someone else’s negligence, speak with an attorney at Abels & Annes today. Do not fall victim to the delay, deny, and defend tactics of insurance companies. Instead, let our experienced attorneys fight insurance companies for you and get you the compensation you deserve. Our initial evaluations are always free. Contact us online or by phone at 312-924-7575.

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.