Sometimes car accidents are just that—accidents. Mechanical malfunction or a medical emergency are actions the driver cannot control. Other times, drivers’ actions cause accidents. Depending on the type of accident and what you are driving, you could suffer minor injuries, catastrophic injuries, and even death. If you suffer injuries in a car accident, contact a vehicle accident attorney in Chicago.
If You Are in an Accident
First, if you do get in a crash, whether it’s your fault or not, take these steps if possible.
- Make sure everyone is okay and call 911. Advise the dispatcher that there has been an accident and that people may be hurt. If no one seems to be injured, let the dispatcher know, but ask for EMTs anyway so that they can check anyone who changes their mind. Also let the dispatcher know if any fluids are leaking, especially fuel.
- Take pictures of the accident from every angle. If any vehicle involved left skid marks, take pictures of the scene that also show the skid marks. Make sure you get close-up photos of the damage to your car and the other driver’s vehicle. Don’t take pictures so close that you can’t tell where the damage is or what the damage is.
- Get contact, insurance and registration information from everyone who is involved in the accident. Give your contact information to others involved in the wreck.
- Get the names and contact information for any witnesses.
- Contact your insurance company. Only give the representative your name, contact information and the location of the accident. Let the representative know that your attorney will contact him or her regarding specifics of the crash. Don’t give details of the accident to the insurance company. Even if the accident was not your fault, only give your name, location of the crash and your attorney’s contact information to the representative. Insurance companies use anything you say as a reason to decline payment or to lower the payout.
- Get medical attention if needed. Some injuries may not show up for hours or even a few days later. If you have a concussion, you could suffer problems many years down the road.
Causes of Car Wrecks
Poor judgment causes most car wrecks. While unexpected medical problems or unforeseen weather conditions such as a tornado spinning up and going over a highway cause accidents, these are rare when compared to other reasons people crash.
- Speeding causes wrecks because it takes longer to stop when you are traveling at a higher rate of speed. Additionally, speed limits are put in place because that is what is safe on the roadway. A curvy mountainous road might have a speed limit of 30 mph while a highway with wide sweeping curves and excellent visibility might have a 75 mph speed limit.
- Distracted driving is one of the major causes of accidents. It only takes 2 seconds for your eyes to be off the road for something to happen. The person in front of you could come to a quick stop or quickly slow down. An unexpected sharp curve could appear on an unfamiliar road. Someone could pull out in front of you. Common distractions include.
- People reading textbooks, newspapers, an electronic reader or other material;
- Talking or texting on a cell phone;
- Interference from a passenger;
- Paying more attention to the view than the road in front of you;
- Paying more attention to pets and kids in the backseat;
- Looking for your favorite playlist;
- Trying to set the GPS while you are driving;
- Listening to music; and
- Applying makeup.
- Weather also plays a part in accidents. Whether it’s rain, fog, snow, sleet, ice, or even the sun, the weather makes driving difficult. Fog and sun in your eyes make it difficult to see, and people often drive the speed limit or break the speed limit in these conditions instead of slowing down. Rain, snow, and ice cause the streets to become slippery. Again, drivers neglect to slow down in these conditions, thus increasing the risk of crashing.
- Fatigue is a significant cause of accidents. People drive long distances without stopping for a break, or they are tired after working a long day at work.
- Reckless driving also causes accidents. Anger, anxiousness, being upset with someone, impatience and resentment, cause people to start driving aggressively. Aggressive driving includes speeding, weaving in and out of traffic on highways or passing in no-passing zones on secondary roads.
- Driving under the influence causes judgment and reflexes to suffer. Where you might have stopped in time because someone in front of you stopped unexpectedly, you might hit that person if you are driving while you are under the influence. You could also have poor judgment and take a curve too fast or merge in front of traffic too soon.
Car Accidents Happen a Lot in Chicago
As of Sept. 1, 2019, Illinois saw 593 fatal car crashes that resulted in 639 fatalities. Of these, 98 were on highways, 214 on city streets and 210 on state/U.S. routes. The newest crash statistics for Chicago are from 2016. That year, Chicago saw 98,237 crashes with 197,699 vehicles involved. Of those, 111 were fatal, 16,635 involved injuries and 82,491 involved property damage.
Chicago also keeps statistics on holiday crashes. In 2016, the city measured crash statistics from 6:00 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving until 11:59 pm on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The city measured Christmas statistics from 6:00 pm on Dec. 23, 2016, through 11:59 pm on Dec. 26, 2016.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, there were a total of 2,390 crashes. Of those, 10 were fatal with 11 fatalities, and 586 were injury crashes with 881 people injured. Two of the deaths were alcohol-related.
Over the Christmas holiday, there were 1,940 crashes. Of those, nine were fatal with nine fatalities, and 339 were injury crashes with 502 injured people. Two of the deaths were alcohol-related.
Contact a Chicago vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible, even if you are in the hospital—or instruct family members and close friends to contact a car crash lawyer for you if the injuries you sustained in a car wreck prevent you from doing so.