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Abels & Annes, P.C. Chicago Injury Blog

Reckless Driving and the Serious Impact for Innocent Victims

Abels & Annes, P.C.

An Illinois driver’s license is a privilege that many drivers abuse by driving recklessly. When a speeding or distracted driver crashes into you while you are driving, walking, or riding a bicycle, the results are often devastating. Most serious injuries caused by a reckless driver can change your life in drastic and expensive ways. You and your family may face an uncertain financial future due to the loss of employment and medical expenses. If you were seriously injured due to a reckless driver, consider contacting an Illinois motor vehicle accident lawyer today.

Examples of Reckless Driving

Too often drivers make poor choices while behind the wheel. Engaging in reckless behavior that results in serious injuries to someone else is negligence. Illinois law defines a reckless driver as anyone who “drives any vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The law expands the definition to include deliberate actions that cause a vehicle to become airborne—like that of jumping the tracks at a railroad crossing. Other examples of reckless driving include but are not limited to:

Speeding – Everyone is in a hurry these days; however, that’s no excuse to speed. Drivers who risk speeds of 20 or more miles per hour over the posted speed limit place everyone in harm’s way. Once a driver loses control of their vehicle at a high speed, the results are devastating for the innocent people around them.

Aggressive driving – The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety defines aggressive driving as “unsafe driving behavior performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety.” Key behaviors that indicate aggressive driving include:

  • Tailgating
  • Running red lights
  • Cutting in front of another driver, then slowing down
  • Weaving in-and-out of traffic
  • Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes

Aggressive driving can quickly escalate into road rage. Examples of this type of reckless behavior include intentionally sideswiping or ramming a car, forcing it off the road, or throwing objects at the car.

Distracted driving – Changes to the way we communicate place us all at risk on city streets and highways. Smartphones and other devices are taking eyes off the road and creating numerous reckless drivers. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that sending or reading a text takes your mind off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your eyes off the road.

Illinois recently passed tougher legislation regarding the use of hand-held phones or other electronic devices behind the wheel. Until all drivers put their phones and devices down, the risk for harming others remains real.

Driving under the influence (DUI) – Depending upon the circumstances, some cases involving a DUI charge are later reduced to reckless driving. Drivers who avoid the serious consequences of a DUI conviction may continue to take risks by drinking and driving.

All it takes is one reckless behavior behind the wheel for someone to change your life forever. No matter how defensively you drive, a collision caused by another driver can result in serious bodily harm for you. If your life was impacted by a reckless driver who crashed into you while you were driving, walking, or bicycling, learn more about your legal options by contacting a personal injury attorney.

Common Serious Injuries Caused by Reckless Drivers

There is usually nothing you can do to prevent a reckless driver from crashing into you. The dangerous driver may appear out of nowhere, leaving you little or no time to avoid them. The force of impact, whether it is a collision with your car or your body, can cause serious injury and in some cases, death.

A trip to the store, a walk with your dog, or a quick bicycle ride can turn tragic in a second. A crash caused by a reckless driver can result in one or more of these common types of serious injuries:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Traumatic brain injuries are caused by blunt force or penetrating trauma to the head, damaging the brain. These injuries can range from mild to severe, causing everything from a concussion to permanent brain damage. TBIs can be incredibly expensive to treat and live with, leading to high medical bills and a long recovery time. If you suffered a traumatic brain injury because of reckless driving, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.
  • Spinal cord injuries: specifically affect the spinal cord and spinal nerves and can lead to everything from severe pain to paralyzation. Spinal cord injuries often cause permanent changes in sufferer’s strength, sensations, and other body functions. Severe spinal cord injuries can cause the loss of function in extremities or even full body paralysis. A person who experiences a spinal cord injury may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, surgeries, missed time from work, and pain and suffering.
  • Neck and back injuries: Neck and back injuries are different from spinal cord injuries because they also affect the muscles, ligaments, and bones in the neck and spine. Some examples of back and neck injuries include whiplash, sprains and strains, pinched nerves, disc injuries such as herniations, protrusions and bulges, and vertebral fractures. Because accidents caused by reckless driving often occur at high speeds or catch people completely off guard, back and neck accidents are incredibly common.
  • Broken bones: Broken bones are also incredibly common in high-speed car accidents. Broken bones often will heal on their own when set properly in a cast. However, sometimes broken bones can create complications, like if the bone is severely crushed or if there is later bone infection. Broken bones sometimes require surgical repair. They are often accompanied by other injuries, but in some cases they can be the main concern and cause severe pain and medical bills. 
  • Internal injuries: Internal injuries are a common type of injury from car accidents, but they often go undetected immediately after the collision. Internal injuries can include damage to the organs and internal bleeding. There are a number of reasons why internal injuries occur during a collision, but the most common reason is the violent shaking that a driver or passenger endures during the impact of a crash. Internal injuries can also be caused by penetrating injuries, but these are less common and are obviously noticed immediately.

What to do After a Reckless Driving Accident

After your accident occurs, the first thing you will probably experience is panic and stress, but it’s important to remain calm and follow certain steps. The first thing you should think about is injuries to yourself and others. If you’re seriously injured, you should receive medical attention immediately after your accident.

If you’re able to, contact the police immediately and file a police report. You should file a police report for any accident that you’re involved in. Don’t let anyone talk you out of filing this report. An official accident report will serve as strong evidence in your case. A case without one is often much weaker. Your insurance claim may also be denied under some policies if there is no police report.

Next, you should exchange contact information with whoever else was involved in the accident. Make sure that you obtain their insurance information and basic personal information from their driver license.

After an accident, gathering whatever evidence you can will help your future claim.  For example, take pictures of the accident scene. Take pictures of their vehicle and your vehicle. You should also take pictures of your injuries and the surrounding area.

Gather the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident and encourage them to stay at the scene to speak with the investigating police officers when they arrive. An independent witness statement on the police report can make a big difference in your case.

After gathering as much information as you can, you should then seek medical attention. Even if you do not believe that you’re seriously injured, you should still get checked out. Adrenaline will often mask even serious injuries. A delay in medical treatment may look suspicious to the insurance company, so make sure you get checked out right away. Tell any treating physician that you are there because of a motor vehicle accident.

Before you file a claim with your insurance company, you should contact a car accident attorney. If you file a claim or speak to the opposing party’s insurance carrier before speaking with an attorney, you could jeopardize your case. Insurance companies often try to offer quick cash in exchange for a statement or a signed waiver. An attorney can help you avoid making any mistakes that could damage your case.

Abels and Annes is available 24 hours a day online or by calling our office. We have the experience and resources to handle any size accident claim while still putting a high degree of emphasis on personal communication.

Receiving Compensation for Your Injuries

Some victims never fully recover from their injuries and instead, need a lifetime of medical and personal care. Families who must place their injured loved one in a skilled nursing facility face costs of approximately $6,000 per month. Other types of injuries may require home modifications to accommodate power chairs, expensive medications, and extensive therapy. The lifetime costs of a spinal cord injury can reach into the millions of dollars each year.

It is emotionally draining and stressful when you or your loved one can no longer enjoy favorite activities or return to a rewarding career. No one should suffer physically, emotionally, and financially due to the careless actions of a reckless driver. Their failure to share the road responsibly demands accountability for their selfish and reckless actions.

You can receive compensation for your damages in two different categories: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages cover costs for monetary damages, like your medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages cover pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and any compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement.

What Factors Affect my Case’s Value

You may be wondering how much your case is worth, but it can be tricky to estimate approximately how much you’ll receive without talking to an experienced attorney about your case. First and foremost, the amount you have in damages is a good starting point for understanding the value of your case. The more damages you have, the higher the value of your case is. Damages include anything the accident cost you, like bills and lost wages, but it also includes concepts like pain and suffering.

The severity of your injuries, the amount of time it took you to recover, and if your life was greatly changed by your injuries also play a huge role in the value of your case. If your life has changed drastically because of your injuries, and you had significant injuries, you’ll receive higher pain and suffering compensation. Plus, the more severe your injuries, the more you’re likely you are to have high medical bills.

You’ll also need to take into consideration the amount of insurance coverage the party you’re suing has available. If you’re suing someone with a low insurance coverage amount, there is less money to be able to go after. In this situation, you may have to rely on your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to help pay your damages. Unfortunately, you can’t receive more compensation than someone has to give.

The degree of negligence by the other party in causing your accident also plays a part in determining value. In cases with reckless driving where the party was clearly negligent in causing your accident, your case may be valued higher. For example, if someone was driving aggressively and caused your accident while trying to cut you off, this could qualify as gross negligence, possibly making your case’s value higher.

Some things that can negatively affect your case. For example, if you wait to receive medical treatment. This may discredit your claim in the eyes of the insurance carrier. Further, as we mentioned earlier, giving the insurance company too much information before you contact a car accident attorney can also negatively affect your claim.

It may sound obvious, but should also not post anything about your accident on social media, since that is often considered fair game by the courts.

How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help

Insurance companies like to settle cases quickly. It is not uncommon to hear from them soon after the accident. Aggressive representatives will make an initial offer, eager for you to sign and accept. While the initial settlement offer may seem like a nice amount of money, chances are it is not enough to cover any future medical needs.  Sometimes it won’t even cover your ER bills.

The right personal injury attorney knows how to negotiate with insurance companies to secure the compensation you deserve. If they are unable to reach a settlement, the same attorney is unafraid to go to trial. While each case is different, you may be entitled to financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

You have enough to deal with when it comes to your injuries. By securing the services of an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney, you can rest better knowing your case is in the right hands. Don’t risk your financial future by trying to handle your case alone. A car accident case requires legal representation that understands Illinois law. When a reckless driver causes serious injuries to you, demand justice and accountability. Most personal injury attorneys offer free case evaluations; if you’ve been involved in a reckless driving incident or have more questions regarding the law, consider contacting an Illinois car accident lawyer you trust.

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