Sadly, motor vehicle and car accidents are an extremely common everyday occurrence. Getting in a car accident is an unfortunate and chaotic experience that always is a nightmare to deal with. Even in the fortunate instances where no one ends up injured, the damage done to the vehicles involved is always costly and inconvenient. In 2015 alone, the total cost of car accidents in the State of Illinois was $7.4 billion — a full percent of the state’s GDP for that year.
The statistics regarding car accident deaths and injuries are staggering. Over 2 million people are injured every year in a motor vehicle accident in the United States alone, and that does not include the many, many accidents that are classified as mere fender benders. The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) provides a lot of helpful information and statistics regarding the dangers of road travel.
The Chicago car accident lawyers at Costa Ivone, LLC focus their practice on personal injury for those who have been a victim of some else’s carelessness and negligence. No matter how careful you may be on the road, accidents do happen. If you were injured by a negligent driver, you should make sure you get the proper compensation.
Why You Should Hire a Lawyer After a Truck or Auto Collision
Vehicle accident attorneys should be contacted as soon as possible after an accident. In many cases, it may be difficult to establish legal negligence and to get the compensation you deserve. In the United States, most of the claims dealing with personal injury are the result of a motor vehicle accident. These cases should be handled with the experienced legal representation you deserve.
Car accident lawyers in Chicago can handle a variety of accident issues including personal injury, property destruction, and determining liability. Hiring a committed and experienced attorney will be greatly beneficial for you in the long run.
Repercussions of a Car Wreck
After a vehicle accident, you may feel fine at first and decide against contacting an attorney. However, it is important to remember that it is not uncommon for an injury to surface weeks (or months) after the accident occurs. In these cases, a car accident lawyer will help you achieve the settlement necessary to secure your long-term recovery.
Dealing with the repercussions of a car accident is a time consuming and costly venture. Between dealing with insurance, possible medical issues, and any car repairs, it is likely that you will miss some valuable employment time and opportunities.
Vehicle accident attorneys will help you get the compensation you need to cover any of the losses caused by the accident, including:
- Medical expenses
- Car repairs
- Lost wages
- Property Damage
To ensure that you get the proper compensation after a car accident, you should make sure to document the accident as soon as possible. The first priority is to deal with any personal safety and health concerns, but taking note of the scene of the accident is very important. While the aftermath of an accident is understandably overwhelming, this evidence will be very beneficial for a case.
After seeking medical attention, keep all your treatment records and bills as well. The same goes for any bills related to necessary car repairs after the accident. Keeping track of the financial damage caused by the accident is the best evidence to ensure you get all the compensation you need to get back on track.
There are many losses associated with car accidents. Scratched paint and a broken leg is just the tip of the financial iceberg in most collisions. Let’s take a look at some of the various losses that could result from a car accident.
As of 2013, the average liability claim for bodily injury resulting from a car accident was $15,443. Liability claims for property damage averaged in at $3,231. This data provides definitive proof that — even on a macro scale — personal injuries sustained in a car accident outweigh the cost of the damage to your vehicle by a factor of five. This is all based on data gathered by ISO, an analytics company.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — or NHTSA — provides more statistics that further our understanding of medical expenses with regards to car accidents. Even the most minor of accidents still costed an average of $2,713 in medical bills alone. The median medical bill sharply rises with more severe accidents averaging out at a whopping $439,191.
But it doesn’t stop there! If you were to sever your spine in the crash then you’d be looking at a mean — in both senses of the word — medical bill of $992,867. With even the smallest car accident medical bills costing nearly as much as a full year’s salary for minimum wage workers — and the worst cases reaching nearly a million dollars — it’s important that you get due compensation.
Sure, your insurance will likely cover most if not all of the medical bills, but that still doesn’t rectify the amount of pain and suffering that you endured as a result of the car accident. A good rule of thumb is that the compensation should cover the total medical bill three times over — even if your insurance carrier took care of it for you. For instance, if the medical bill was $15,000, you should get compensation totaling $45,000. A local auto collision attorney can help you determine how much you should ask for in damages.
To visualize the impact of lost wages on victims of car accidents, let’s stick to the same system we used when covering medical bills. For minor accidents, the average wage loss was $2,661 per person while severe collisions lead to a massive $439,191 — and spinal cord injuries could end someone’s career for good!
We spend most of our lives working so that we can experience the world in a comfortable fashion, help those around us, and set the stage for a better future that the generations to come can enjoy. To be robbed of the fruits of our labor after decades of hard work would be a massive injustice.
Furthermore, car accidents in Chicago that result in injury don’t just impact you personally, but also society as a whole. The time spent healing from your wounds is weeks, months, or even years that you’ll be unable to contribute your skills to the rest of humankind. Whether you’re a doctor, volunteer, cop, or politician, car accidents take you away from those who need you most — and that’s one thing that needs to be set right.
Lawyers do what they do not to turn a profit, but to ensure that the scales of justice remain balanced — and factoring in lost wages to every settlement is a big part of maintaining that equilibrium.
Even in accidents where no one is injured, the financial impact is still significant. In fact, in 2010 alone the total property damage cost to the country was at $71.5 billion. It’s worth noting that property damage goes beyond bent fenders. Your smartphone and/or laptop may also be a casualty of the collision.
Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for people aged 5-29, but even those who escape unharmed still have a lot of costs to cover — that’s why you need a good car accident lawyer by your side.
The best cure is always avoidance. Here are some safety tips that can help you avoid car accidents — or at least minimize injury in the event of a collision. If these tips fail you, a Chicago vehicle accident lawyer will be at the ready to assist you with your case and ensure that you get a fair settlement.
Seatbelts are there for a reason. Wearing your seatbelt isn’t just some bit in a comedy movie or a gesture that makes you seem needlessly cautious — because caution is never needless. Failing to wear your seatbelt could result in you being ejected through the windshield and out of your car.
While there’s no such thing as a safe car crash, you’ll certainly have a better likelihood of surviving if you manage to remain within the confines of your vehicle. The rule of seatbelts also applies to children as they are even more susceptible to injury during collisions. Keep all children below the age of 12 in your back seat and ensure that any kiddie seats are properly secured.
Don’t Drink and Drive
We’ve been saying it for decades and yet somehow people still manage to drive on the highway while wasted. Even if your blood alcohol is below the legal limit, that doesn’t mean that you’re fit to drive safely.
To say anything legal is right would imply that punching someone in the face without cause is justifiable provided that it wasn’t hard enough for them to press charges. Driving while under the influence of alcohol — or narcotics, for that matter — puts you at risk as well as fellow drivers and anyone who may be riding in your vehicle. Lastly, it’s very difficult to get a good settlement if you were inebriated at the time of a collision as the judge may place the blame on you.
Multi-tasking while driving is pretty much one of the worst ideas you can ever have. Even if you’re completely sober, you’re still very likely to get into a car accident if you’re texting, eating, or doing any other activity while driving. Putting your phone in silent mode whenever driving is a great precaution to ensure that you don’t get distracted while on the road.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Driving slower is one of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of you getting into a car accident. When you drive slower, you’re giving yourself more time to react to any threats and avoid a collision. Even in the event that you do crash into something, your injuries will be less severe as lower speed means less force exerted on your body upon impact.
Be a Little Paranoid
When it comes to safe driving, a pinch of paranoia can go a long way. Always be aware of what the drivers around you are doing. Assume that they’re about to do something insane so that you can be prepared enough to react when it inevitably happens. Keep your distance from the car ahead of you so that you have enough time to react in the event that they recklessly slam on the breaks. You’ll want to double that distance if you’re driving in bad weather — such as rain or snow — that might reduce traction.
Take a Few Stops
If you have a long drive to work, rather than being distracted along the way, don’t be afraid to take a few stops. If you need to grab a snack, take a call, or go to the bathroom then drive up to the nearest gas station.
Ignoring nature’s call will likely end with you driving faster so you can reach the bathroom at your office sooner — increasing the odds of getting into a collision. Taking a stop for a few minutes beats the months that you’d waste recovering in the hospital if you end up in a car accident.
Rather than changing the radio station, adjusting your seats, and turning up the A/C while driving, prepare all these settings before you leave the driveway. This will ensure that you’re still driving under ideal conditions without having to distract yourself with these settings while on the road.
While wearing seatbelts is a great start, you’ll want to secure all non-human passengers as well. Ensure that any cargo in your vehicle won’t fall over while you’re driving. In the event that something does fall to the floor, do not under any circumstances attempt to pick it up. Taking your eyes off the road for even a split second is all it takes to get injured — or worse.
Don’t Drive When Drowsy
If you’re tired or just took any medication that may cause drowsiness, ask one of your friends to drive you home. Driving when drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving when drunk due to the fact that your alertness and reaction time is significantly reduced.
Sometimes, you could do everything right and still get into a car accident if other people riding in your car aren’t practicing proper road safety. Ensure that all children are buckled in as them moving around the car could distract you. If your significant other gets a bit handsy while you’re on the highway, remind them that there are proper times and places for intimacy — and driving is certainly not one of them.
Practice Common Sense
Sometimes the best way to stay safe is to just practice common sense. Don’t make erratic or dangerous maneuvers such as trying to cut in front of another driver. You should also avoid changing lanes too fast and don’t forget to always use your turn signals — because motorists aren’t psychics.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Following an accident, the first thing you should do is evaluate your status to ensure that you aren’t bleeding — or otherwise seriously injured — and then check on the status of other passengers, drivers, and pedestrians. After ensuring that no one has been injured as a result of the collision, here are the next steps that you should take.
Stay at the Scene
The last thing you want to do is flee the scene. Not only will this lead to further fines and violations, it will also make it hard to secure a fair settlement as it will make you look guilty to a judge.
You’ll want to get the local police on the scene immediately. Be sure to also request an ambulance if you or anyone else was injured in the crash. State your name during the call so that you can later prove that it was, in fact, you who contacted the first responders. After the cops arrive, wait at the scene until they finish their accident report.
Stay in the Car
If your car is not leaking fuel or otherwise displaying red flags of danger then your best bet is to stay in the car while you wait for the cops and/or ambulance. Standing on the side of the road with heavy traffic could put you at risk of getting into another accident.
The last thing you want to do following a collision is panic. After a car crash, your adrenaline levels will rise which will leave you prone to aggravation. Rather than getting into an argument with the other driver, try to de-escalate the situation by expressing concern for their wellbeing and exchanging insurance information.
It would also be wise to get the names and contact information of any witnesses in case you need their assistance down the line. This goes without saying, but your chances of getting a fair settlement are slim to none if you punch the other driver following the crash — so keep your hands to yourself, even if the collision was clearly their fault.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
The next thing you want to do is contact your insurance provider so that you can report the claim. The agent you talk to will let you know what type of paperwork you need to provide with regards to the accident and walk you through the remaining steps of the claim process.
Call a Lawyer
Once you’ve completed all the previous steps, you’ll want to talk to a competent Chicago car accident lawyer as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it’ll be to get a fair settlement for the losses you’ve sustained as a result of the car accident.
When trying to get a settlement for your losses, it’s important that you have all the evidence in order. Proof is power, and the more you have, the better your odds of getting fair compensation.
One of the first things that you’ll want to secure is your medical records. These are the best way to portray the injuries — as well as treatments — that you received as a result of the car accident. It’s one thing to break your leg in a collision, but having medical records that describe the nature of the fracture in great detail takes things to a whole new level.
Rest assured you won’t have to take even more time out of your life by hunting these documents down yourself as you can sign an authorization form and have your lawyer obtain the medical records on your behalf.
Any judge will want to grant a settlement that is appropriate in size to the costs you incurred as a result of the car accident. This is, of course, very difficult if the judge has no way of examining the costs themselves.
This is why it’s important that you keep all your medical bills and repair receipts handy as they will help others visualize the financial strain that the car accident placed on you. A local lawyer can help you with maintaining your files.
Nothing is more effective at putting someone else in your shoes than sharing a compelling photograph. Whether they’re photos of your injuries, the property damage, or just general shots from the scene of the crash, these pictures will capture the day as it was. This is also crucial as injuries may heal significantly before your first trial — so being able to present the injuries in their most severe state is crucial.
Accident repots will provide the most accurate and detailed retelling of what happened during and following the car accident. They can also help you prove that the blame doesn’t fall on you. The police officer writing the report may note that the other driver has previous infractions for reckless driving — suggesting that the crash was indeed their fault as opposed to yours. A lawyer in Chicago has the resources available to acquire the accident report.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s always a good idea to keep in contact with witnesses so that you can enlist their help at a later date when trying to secure due compensation for the losses that you’ve incurred.
Due to the adrenaline rush and possible injuries, you won’t be able to remember the full incident with perfect accuracy. Having the perspective of other witnesses is a great way to fill in any missing pieces and provide a smooth, infallible narrative that will help you get a fair settlement. It will also help you identify any testimony that may contradict your claims so that you can plan accordingly.
Expert Witness Testimony
There are certain claims that may require the skills of experts. These experts may cover topics like which driver — if any — is at fault and the extent of the injuries you incurred as a result of the car accident. They may be doctors, engineers, or even law enforcement officials.
As you’ll most likely be seeking compensation for your lost wages, it’s important that you’re able to present proof as to what that would actually amount to. Having your tax returns on the ready is the best way to demonstrate just how much you’ve lost due to the time spent recovering rather than working. Your lawyer will help you calculate the total after reviewing the tax returns and any other financial documentation that you’ve provided.
Frequently Asked Questions
Being part of a car accident can be a scary and traumatic experience. The claims process can add to that stress. One of the scariest things about the whole event is all the uncertainties associated with it. We hope to set your mind at ease by answering some of the most common questions in this FAQ section.
Will my case go to trial and get a verdict?
The answer to this question can vary from case to case, but most are settled before the final verdict comes around.
Do I really need an attorney for my car accident?
You always have the option to go it alone, but doing so will put you in the position of a lone mouse in a home filled with cats. Automakers, insurance companies, and anyone else you may be up against will have a team of lawyers at the ready to screw you over. Do you need an attorney? Perhaps not, but you really should get one.
How much will a Chicago car accident attorney cost?
Car accident cases are taken on a contingency fee basis meaning you won’t pay any fees upfront. Legal fees will only be collected if and when you receive compensation.
Should I accept a settlement?
Never sign any papers or accept any settlement offers without first speaking to one of our lawyers. Insurance companies have an army of lawyers serving their needs, it’s only fair that you have the same level of backup.
How much time do I have?
Under Illinois laws, you have two years to file a case for personal injuries and five years to file a case for property damage.
Am I obliged to speak if contacted by the other driver’s insurance company?
You don’t have to say a single word to their insurance company and its representatives. The best way to handle such calls is by referring them to your local attorney.
What if my brakes failed and caused the accident?
It’s not uncommon for defective parts to cause car accidents. Just remember that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions with regards to whose fault it is. Let the experts do their jobs and determine what the true cause of the collision was.
What if I caused the collision?
Never assume that a car accident is your fault. If the other driver incurred more severe injuries then you may feel guilty and think that you’re the one at fault. In some incidents, the blame lies with both of the drivers while in other cases neither one of the drivers are at fault. Walk our lawyers through the series of events leading to the crash and we’ll give you an objective summary of where you stand.
Should I see a doctor even if I feel fine?
You should never take chances when it comes to your health. Even if scratches and bruises may not be present, you could have internal injuries that materialize at a slower pace. You wouldn’t want to wake up in the middle of the night coughing up blood due to internal bleeding. Furthermore, going to see a doctor is an essential part of the process as it will provide documentation showing the extent of your injuries.
The personal injury attorneys at Costa Ivone, LLC have a lot of valuable experience in assessing all types of claims and personal injury cases. One of the most common causes of general negligence claims is motor vehicle accidents. Don’t wait for your medical issues to worsen before finding legal assistance — the sooner you find professional car accident lawyers in Chicago to support your case, the better.
A professional personal injury attorney is fully committed to your case and is dedicated to ensuring your long-term health. They will make sure you understand all your options for your individual situation, and help with the frustrating insurance company negotiations. You will feel much better about the standing of your case after preparation with an attorney to assist you in making crucial decisions.
Hiring a car accident attorney in Chicago after being injured by a careless driver will help you get the best possible outcome for your case. The personal injury lawyers at Costa Ivone, LLC have significant experience in every type of personal injury claim and are always prepared to fight for the compensation you deserve. After being involved in a car accident, a great first step towards getting through the tough decisions ahead is to contact an attorney for a free claim evaluation.
Contact a Chicago Car Accident Attorney Today
Are you ready to get fair compensation for the injuries and wage loss that you’ve incurred due to a car accident? Give us a call today to speak with one of our Chicago car accident lawyers. We offer a free on-the-phone consultation with absolutely no strings attached so don’t hesitate to call us with any questions that you might have. You can also use our contact page to submit a request.