According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), there were 951 fatal crashes and 67,453 injury crashes in Illinois in 2018. There were over 300,000 car accidents in the same year. These accidents can usually be traced back to another motorist’s negligent or reckless behavior. Illinois law allows accident victims to pursue compensation against the at-fault driver to recover money for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
If you were injured in a car accident in Chicago, you may be confused about your next steps. At the same time, you may be overwhelmed by your injuries and their effect on your life. However, the steps you take immediately after an accident are critical to your claim’s potential success. So, you may not be able to afford to wait to take action.
For these reasons, many car accident victims turn to personal injury lawyers who can advocate for them while they focus on their recovery. A Chicago car accident lawyer from The Kryder Law Group, LLC can discuss your legal rights and options. We provide a free consultation to get to know you and your claim better. You can speak to a member of our team today by calling (312) 223-1700.
How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Take to Settle?
The amount of time that it takes to settle a car accident claim in Illinois varies widely based on a number of factors, including:
The Severity of Your Injuries
One of the elements of a personal injury claim is damages, which are the direct and indirect consequences that you face because of the accident (this includes medical expenses). Many personal injury lawyers do not recommend that a claim be settled until the victim reaches the point of maximum medical improvement. This is the point at which your condition stabilizes, and you are not expected to get any better.
This is because your lawyer will want an accurate estimate of the damages you have sustained. If you settle your claim too early and then need surgery or more medical treatment than you anticipated, you likely will not be able to receive any additional compensation for your claim.
How Clear Liability Is
Illinois is an at-fault insurance state. The insurance company that covers the person who is found at fault for the accident covers the damages stemming from the accident. If liability is in dispute, the insurance company may deny the claim—or it may take longer to make a determination regarding liability.
The Insurance Company Involved
Some insurance companies (and agents) work faster than others. Insurance companies that have many adjusters may have fewer cases per adjuster, so your adjuster may be able to complete the investigation and resolve the claim faster. Also, some insurance companies have internal policies that require that claims be wrapped up within a certain amount of time.
Whether You Have Legal Representation
You may initially think that you can handle your claim on your own. But then, you may have to undergo extensive medical treatment. You may be in pain and may not be able to get around. The insurance company may send you a claim denial letter or ask for supplemental information from you.
You may be concerned about returning to work and how to meet your other personal obligations. Handling a personal injury claim can soon turn into a full-time job. Having a lawyer handle your case may help because someone will be actively managing your claim for you.
Whether Your Case Settles
Many car insurance claims settle. The insurance company sends you a settlement check to compensate you for your injuries. If your case does not settle, you may have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, which can take much more time than an insurance claim.
For a free legal consultation with a personal injury lawyer serving Chicago, call (312) 598-0739
Do You Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident?
In the vast majority of car accident claims, it is not necessary for you to go to court for a car accident.
In most situations, you will begin the process by filing a claim with the relevant insurance company. If you are filing an insurance claim against the other driver, the claim is filed with the insurance company that covers said at-fault party. If you are filing an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, you file the claim with your own insurance company.
The insurance company will investigate the claim and determine whether the damages you sustained are covered under the insurance policy. This investigation often involves:
- Contacting the parties involved in the accident
- Reviewing the accident report
- Contacting any eyewitnesses who observed the incident
- Reviewing any photographs or videos submitted to the insurance company
- Reviewing medical records
- Inspecting the physical damage
The insurance company will communicate with the claimant or through his or her legal representative, if applicable. Your Chicago car accident lawyer and the insurance company may negotiate for a fair amount of compensation. Once an agreement is reached, the victim signs a document stating that he or she releases any claims related to the accident. He or she then receives the settlement funds. This is how many claims are ultimately resolved.
Suppose you are filing a claim with your own insurance company and you are unable to reach a settlement. In that case, you may be bound by a clause in your insurance contract that requires you to resolve any legal claims through arbitration. This is a less formal process that involves a neutral arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators) reviewing evidence and hearing testimony to make a binding decision relevant to both parties.
Even if you ultimately file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, you may not need to appear in court. There are many phases involved in litigation, and your case may end at any of them, such as the:
- Discovery phase: This is where you and the defendant request information and evidence from each other
- Motion phase: This is where you or the other party asks the court to make a ruling before a trial date, such as for a motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment
- Settlement conference: This is where you and the other party may be asked to try to resolve your claim through mediation or negotiation
If you make it past all of these steps, you will have to go to trial and be present at court.
Chicago Car Accidents Lawyer Near Me (312) 598-0739
What Happens if the At-Fault Party Doesn’t Have Car Insurance?
According to 625 ILCS 5/7-601, all motor vehicle owners must have minimal automotive liability coverage that covers the damages they cause to others due to their own negligence. The amounts of necessary liability coverage include:
Bodily Injury Coverage
Bodily injury coverage pays for costs associated with another person’s injury or death, including passengers, other motorists, or pedestrians. The minimum amount of bodily injury insurance is $25,000 per person per accident and $50,000 total per accident.
This type of coverage pays for damages to another person’s vehicle or other physical damage, such as that done to utility poles, fences, or buildings. All motor vehicle owners must maintain liability coverage for property damage of at least $20,000 per accident.
If you are involved in an accident with another motorist who does not have insurance, the at-fault party is still responsible for your damages. You may still be able to sue the other driver if they were negligent. However, your lawyer can discuss whether taking this action makes sense. If the liable driver does not maintain car insurance, he or she may not have sufficient assets that you can obtain—even if you win your case.
Your lawyer may recommend filing a claim with your own insurance company against your uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage in many situations. Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage pays for damages stemming from injuries you sustained from a hit-and-run driver or an at-fault driver who does not have any insurance to cover these expenses
According to the Illinois Department of Insurance, uninsured motorist bodily injury minimum limits are currently $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. However, you can purchase higher amounts of these types of coverage. Additionally, you may have other insurance types to help pay for your losses, such as collision insurance that will pay to repair or replace your vehicle.
Your Chicago car accident lawyer can also investigate whether any other parties are responsible for your injuries. For instance, a negligent governmental entity could be liable in the following situations:
- If a traffic light was not functioning properly
- If the at-fault driver was working for the entity at the time of the accident
If you think there may be more than one party to blame for your accident, speak with a personal injury lawyer to find out about your legal options. Call (312) 223-1700 to talk to a team representative from The Kryder Law Group, LLC.
What Should I Do in the Days Following a Car Accident?
The immediate days following a car accident can have a critical impact on your claim’s potential success and value. You will need to take action to preserve your rights and mitigate your damages. Here are some steps to help you accomplish these objectives:
Seek Medical Care
If you knew you were injured at the time of the accident, hopefully, you have already sought medical care. If you broke your arm, you would probably experience pain or difficulty when trying to move or twist it. However, some injuries may not be accompanied by immediate symptoms. Furthermore, you may experience a boost of adrenaline at the time of the accident, which may mask your symptoms.
Some types of injuries that may occur in car accidents but may not be immediately apparent include:
- Hairline fractures
- Herniated disc
- Internal bleeding
- Mild traumatic brain injury
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
If you start experiencing pain or other symptoms within a few days of your accident, seek medical attention, and be sure to mention that you were recently involved in a motor vehicle accident. Follow your doctor’s orders, including those to stay home from work and to limit physical activity.
Ask for a Copy of Your Accident Report
If law enforcement responded to your accident, the officer should have completed an accident report at the scene. He or she may have given you instructions on how you can obtain a copy of the report once it is filed. You will likely need the report to file your insurance claim. Follow the instructions the officer gave you to obtain your copy, or go to the Illinois Motorist Report website to order an online copy.
Keep Documents Related to Your Claim
An injury may impact you in various ways, and you may start to assemble many different types of documents and other tangible representations of your claim. Keep all original documents and other forms of evidence that you receive related to your accident.
Create separate tabs or folders (both hard copy and digital) of the following:
- Medical records, including bills, doctor notes, imaging results, and pictures
- Photos of the accident scene, property damage, and your injuries
- Employment records showing you had to use vacation or sick time while you were recovering
- Pay stubs that show you missed work after the accident
- Records from the vehicle repair shop, including estimates for your repairs, the damaged vehicle parts, and your final bill
- “Pain journal” entries in which you describe your pain and the other symptoms of your injuries throughout the course of your recovery
Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you want help with your claim, have been contacted by the insurance company to give a recorded statement, or have questions about your rights, retain a Chicago car accident lawyer.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
What Should I Do at the Scene of a Car Accident?
What should I do at the scene of a car accident?
Follow these steps at the scene of the accident to follow Illinois law and protect your claim.
Stop Your Vehicle
If you do not stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident, this may be considered a misdemeanor or felony under Illinois law, depending on the circumstances. Pull your vehicle over as near to the accident scene as possible that will not cause you to obstruct traffic. Activate your emergency flashers to warn other motorists.
Check for Injuries
The first priority needs to be the health of all those involved. Check yourself for any injuries, as well as passengers in your vehicle. Speak to the other driver and their passengers.
Report the Accident
Call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement agency to report the accident. Request an ambulance if anyone was injured. 625 ILCS 5/7-601 requires you to report any motor vehicle accident that results in:
- $1,500 of property damage
- Bodily injury
The report must be provided as soon as possible and within 10 days of the accident.
Seek Medical Attention
Get immediate medical assistance if you were injured and follow all orders from your medical treatment team.
Be sure that you get information to identify the other driver, including their:
- Contact information
- License plate number
- Vehicle owner’s name
You should be prepared to provide the same information about yourself. Also, ask for the person’s insurance information. If there were any witnesses to the accident, take down their information.
Document the Scene
If you are still at the accident scene, try to document it since it will quickly be cleaned up, and evidence may be removed. Try to take pictures of the following:
- The vehicles
- The cross streets
- Skid marks
- Damaged property
- Nearby traffic signs
- The nearby surroundings
- Road and weather conditions
If you are unable to take photos at the time of the accident, you may be able to return to the scene later and photograph whatever evidence is still remaining. You should also note if there are any nearby traffic cameras or businesses that have surveillance cameras that may have recorded the incident.
What Can I Do to Protect My Rights After a Car Accident?
Some of the ways that you can protect your rights after a car accident include:
- Calling the police to report the accident
- Documenting the scene of the accident through photographic or video means
- Seeking immediate medical attention
- Not admitting fault for the accident
- Getting contact information from witnesses
- Keeping track of all medical records, bills, and doctor notes related to the accident
You and your Chicago car accident lawyer can also do the following:
- Keep track of property damage reports and employment records
- Follow your doctors’ orders
- Review your insurance policy
- Write a summary about the accident as soon after it as possible
- Refuse to give a recorded statement or sign anything from the insurance company before seeking legal advice
- Keep all correspondence from the other driver or the insurance company
- Have your vehicle inspected by a certified mechanic
- Get multiple estimates from mechanics
- Document the full extent of your damages
- Understand that the claims adjuster works for the insurance adjuster and not you
- Retain a lawyer who can guide you through the process
How Much Should You Settle for After a Car Accident?
There are many factors that can affect how much your claim should settle for, including:
- How clear liability is
- How believable your account is
- Whether you were partially at fault for the accident
- The behavior of you and the other driver before, during, and after the accident
- The insurance coverage of those involved in the accident
- How many people or entities were found at fault
- The insurance company’s assessment of whether you will likely take your case to court
- How much and how quickly you need the settlement funds
Your claim may be denied completely, up to the maximum amount of the insurance policy, or somewhere in between. The primary factor that will determine its potential value is the extent of your damages, which are the losses that you have suffered because of the accident. When you add up all the damages you have suffered, this is the amount that you want the insurance company to pay to resolve your claim.
Some damages that you may sustain in a car accident include:
Property damage includes damage to your vehicle. This aspect of your damage claim may include:
- The cost to repair your vehicle
- The cost to replace your vehicle
- Car rental expenses you incurred while your vehicle was being repaired
- A reduction in the value of your vehicle due to the accident
Additionally, it may also include the damage done to other personal property, such as a phone or laptop that was in the vehicle and broken during the accident.
A large portion of many car accident claims is medical expenses. You may be able to receive compensation for the medical expenses you incurred that stem from the accident, such as:
- Ambulance fees
- Hospital stays
- Surgery costs
- Follow-up treatment
- Imaging test charges
- Laboratory work expenses
- Prescription medication costs
- Assistive device purchases
Medical expenses also include medical care that is reasonably anticipated in the future.
You may also be eligible to receive compensation for the number of wages you lost due to the accident and while you were recovering. If the accident left you permanently disabled or caused you to have to move to a lower-paying job, you may also be able to receive compensation for your lost or reduced earning capacity.
Proving these damages usually involves hiring an expert witness who can testify about the estimated difference in the amount of compensation you likely would have received had the accident not occurred and changed your projected earnings.
Pain and Suffering
While it is difficult to quantify how much pain and suffering is worth, you may still be able to recover compensation for it.
You may also be qualified to recover compensation for other damages, depending on the circumstances involved in your claim.
Contact the firm for a Chicago car accident lawyer to get a better idea about your claim’s potential value.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?
According to 735 ILCS 5/13-202, you have up to two years from the collision date to file a lawsuit for injuries you sustained. You have up to five years to file a lawsuit for your physical property damage. If you pass the deadline, your lawsuit may be time-barred and you may be unable to receive any compensation.
However, if you are making a claim against your own insurance company, you will likely have much stricter time limits that you are bound by through your insurance contract. Many insurance contracts require their customers to report an accident and make a claim within 30 days. If you pass this deadline, you may no longer have a right to compensation from your insurance company.
There are some instances when you have more or less time to make a claim against a third party. You will typically have less time to file a lawsuit, for instance, if you are making it against a governmental entity.
Such a situation could arise in the event that traffic lights were malfunctioning or the at-fault driver was working for the city at the time of the accident. You may have to provide notice to the city and follow special rules to preserve your right to make a claim.
You Might Be Able to Toll the Timeline
Illinois law under 735 ILCS 5/13-211 defines certain times during which the statute of limitations will be “tolled” or paused, including:
- The victim was a minor at the time of the accident
- The victim suffered from a legal disability at the time of the accident
- The victim suffered from a legal disability at some time after the accident but before the two-year statute of limitations ran out
- The defendant left the state after the accident and before the lawsuit could be filed
When Should You Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
It does not hurt to consult with a Chicago car accident lawyer at any time to learn about your legal rights and options. However, there are some times when it may be more urgent to talk to a personal lawyer, such as:
You Were Injured
If you were injured in the accident, you may want to hire a lawyer to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your damages. A relatively minor injury can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills and significant time off work. You also may not be in the physical or mental condition to investigate the accident yourself or deal with pushy claims adjusters.
Additionally, if you suffered a serious injury that requires ongoing care and that prevents you from working or if the accident caused your loved one’s death, you should not go through this process alone.
Multiple Parties Are Involved
If more than one party is involved, you may want legal assistance. This may be true if the accident involved a pileup or governmental liability on top of a standard negligence claim involving an at-fault driver. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to try to blame the accident on someone else. This may be more likely to occur when more parties are involved.
The Insurance Claim Was Denied
Some insurance companies may issue blanket denials because they are hoping this will decrease the number of claims they actually have to pay out. Some injured victims may simply take the insurance company’s word on coverage and not fight it. If your claim was denied, you may want help from a lawyer who can get the insurance company to reconsider or who can take legal action to protect your rights.
You Received Communication from the Insurance Company
Insurance companies sometimes send forms to claimants that are used to get the information they can use against the claimant. These can include a document to release liability or an extensive medical records request to try to point to a pre-existing condition or injury. A lawyer can review communications from the insurance company and advise you regarding your rights.
You Want to Negotiate a Settlement
Most people do not negotiate as part of their everyday life. You may not feel comfortable asking for more money or may not understand the full value of your claim. Personal injury lawyers negotiate with insurance adjusters on a regular basis and will fight for you to receive a fair settlement.
If you are unsure whether or not you should hire a lawyer, contact us for more information about our services.
Contact Our Team Today to Get Started on Your Claim
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, a Chicago car accident lawyer can help. They will:
- Thoroughly investigate your claim
- Identify all potential sources of compensation
- Preserve important evidence that establishes liability and your damages
- Handle communications with the insurance company
- Negotiate for a fair resolution of your claim
At The Kryder Law Group, LLC, we do not charge any upfront fees. We also provide a free consultation to review the circumstances of your claim. This case review will allow us to assess your claim and determine if you have grounds for legal action. It will also give you a chance to get to know more about our firm and how we can guide you through this difficult time.
You will not be charged for our services unless we help you recover compensation for your claim. Speak to a member of our team by calling (312) 223-1700. We look forward to serving you and protecting your legal rights through the personal injury process.