Chicago’s roads and highways are some of the worst in the nation. Whether racing along the Kennedy Expressway or crawling down Michigan Avenue or Lake Shore Drive at noon, you run the risk of getting rear-ended by another driver who isn’t paying sufficient attention. Fortunately, you’re probably entitled to financial compensation for your injuries—but only if you can show the other driver is at fault for hitting you.
Causes of Rear-End Collisions
It’s a myth that the rear driver is always responsible for a rear-end collision. Instead, a driver who didn’t exercise suff>icient care while following you may face legal responsibility. In some situations, the lead driver may have committed a careless act. For example, a driver might cut off a vehicle behind him and then slam on the brakes, not leaving enough time for the trailing vehicle to slow down or stop. In these situations, the lead driver might face liability for the accident.
Nevertheless, it is entirely possible that the trailing car is responsible for the rear-end collision. And, if the evidence isn’t clear, people might assume the second driver followed too closely. Drivers follow too closely for several reasons, including:
- Distracted driving caused by texting or talking on the phone
- Driver inattention
- Accelerating too quickly from a stop
- Driving too fast, creating the inability to brake in time
Drivers owe a duty to keep safe distances between them and the cars in front of them. However, it’s easy to become distracted or careless. If the driver behind you engaged in any of this behavior, you might prove that careless driving caused your accident.
Furthermore, you aren’t required to drive perfectly to bring a lawsuit. Illinois allows people to receive compensation if they are not more responsible than the other driver for the collision. In other words, you can contribute to the accident by as much as 50 percent—but not more—and still receive compensation. The court will simply reduce the amount you receive by your percentage of fault.
Rear-End Collision Injuries
Some—but not all—low-speed collisions will cause minimal damage. You can get out of your car, swap insurance information with the other driver, and then go merrily on your way. But many collisions, even low-speed collisions, can cause serious injuries that will leave you in a lot of pain and possibly unable to return work.
For example, drivers who get rear-ended might suffer:
- Whiplash. When your head is thrown forward and backward, you can suffer injuries to the soft tissue and nerves in your neck.
- Broken Bones. to your arms, face, or chest.
- Concussions and traumatic brain injuries. When you receive a jolt, your brain might move around inside your skull, causing injury to the brain. It’s common to black out and to feel an immediate headache or dizziness, which can last for days.
- Internal injuries to organs, such as bleeding.
- Back injuries. These include strains and sprains, as well as injuries to your spinal column (herniated disks or fractures in the vertebrae).
If you were involved in a crash, visit a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries, such as back injuries, are slow to develop, and you might not even know that you suffered an injury. Nevertheless, you want a complete medical record made as soon as possible. Early intervention can also lessen the pain and inconvenience that you ultimately experience, allowing you to recover sooner and return to work.
Compensation Is Available
An injury you suffered because of someone else’s negligence may entitle you to financial compensation. You can receive an amount of money (called “damages”) for various injuries, including:
- Past medical care, including hospital stays, doctor visits, therapist visits, and prescription drugs
- Future medical care, if your injuries are so severe that you’ll continue to need treatments
- Rehabilitation services to help you recover from your injuries, which might include physical or speech therapy for particularly devastating injuries
- Lost past wages, if you couldn’t work while you recovered
- Lost future wages, if your injury prevents you from returning to your old job or to any job at all.
- Pain and suffering, to compensate you for your physical pain.
- Damage to property, so that you can fix damage to your car.
You might not qualify for all of these damages, but you should meet with a Chicago personal injury attorney just the same to identify which ones are available. Generally, the amount you can receive will depend on the severity and extent of your injuries—with more devastating injuries likely to result in more compensation.
Building Your Case
As soon as you are rear-ended, you should begin collecting evidence to share with your personal injury lawyer. For example, call the police so that they can file a police report. You should also avoid taking any responsibility for the accident. Don’t say, “I’m sorry” or “Hey, my fault!” since the other party can use those words against you later in court.
Instead, write down what you remember happening:
- What you did right before you got rear-ended?
- How fast were you driving?
- Did you throw on your brakes?
- Did you use a turn signal?
Your lawyer will find this information extremely helpful, and the sooner you write it all down, the better.
Also, hold onto medical records, and fully document any pain that you feel. Write down the location and intensity of the pain, and describe how it has interrupted your life. It’s not unusual for accident victims toexperience trouble sleeping, participating in hobbies, or engaging in social activities when they feel a lot of pain. And if you can’t work because of your injuries, document how much money you typically make by holding onto recent pay stubs or proof of self-employment income.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Chicago
If someone has slammed into the back of your car, Illinois law may entitle you to compensation. At Abels & Annes, we carefully review the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident to build your strongest case possible. Contact us online today or call us at (312) 924-7575 for a free case evaluation and consultation.