Do I need a lawyer when I’ve been in an accident?
When you’re in a motor vehicle accident, it may be tempting to think you can take care of your case on your own. However, when you’ve been injured in that accident, things can get complicated quickly! Failure to adhere to the process could result in your accident claim being permanently barred, which means that you would not receive the financial compensation you are entitled to. Additionally, when a person chooses to represent themselves, the judge will hold you to the same standard that they would a lawyer. You will not be given any breaks for missed deadlines. Consulting The Kryder Law Group is free and confidential and the fee is usually based on a percentage of the money recovered in your case. So we only get paid if you do.
Below we cover the following important topics to consider regarding an auto accident claim and some frequently asked questions:
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1: How to Order a Police Report
What is a police report?
The first document created following a motor vehicle accident of any sort is a police report. The police report is a document generated by the police officer who either comes to the scene to investigate the circumstances of the accident or the station where you report the accident should the police not come to the scene. The purpose of the report is to memorialize all relevant details concerning the accident. The police report captures all information including but not limited to the names of all drivers involved, addresses, and contact information of all drivers and witnesses. The report details points of contact on the vehicles, weather conditions, and whether any tickets were issued.
What is the narrative of the police report?
One of the most important sections on the police report is the narrative. The narrative section details the statements gathered by the officer from all drivers and witnesses detailing their accounts of the accident, and any notes and development from the officer’s investigation. Once the officer is finished gathering all information related to the accident you will typically be provided a Driver Information Exchange Card, which will explain how to get a copy of the police report.
How important is the police report?
The police report is a key document in order to get an early determination of potential fault for the accident and is used to draft the complaint.
What information do I need to order a police report?
To order a police report, you need to have the following information ready:
- Date of the Crash;
- Other Driver’s First and Last Name;
- Intersection/Highway of Crash; and/or
- RD number.
How do I get the police report?
Typically it takes a few days before the report is available to the public. Allow a few days and begin what is an easy search to get a copy of the police report:
- Go to the police station that drafted the report and provide the accident details such as crash date, names of those involved, intersection and RD number; or
- Google the name of the policing agency that drafted the report, “Example: Chicago Police Department Traffic Crash Report” and follow the prompts to locate the report, which typically includes having a combination of the following information: crash date, names of those involved, intersection and RD number;
- Call the reporting agency and speak to an officer. Explain you are trying to get a copy of the crash report. Request that the officer confirm that the report exists, whether the report is ready for viewing, and how you can get a copy.
How do I obtain a traffic crash report in Illinois?
In Illinois, different law enforcement agencies (usually the local police department) provide instructions on how a traffic crash report can be obtained from them. First, you need to know which police department handled your accident. In order to find that out, please refer to the “Investigated By” section of the motorist report—located in the box in the upper left corner of the report. In Illinois, most car accidents are handled either by the Illinois State Troopers or by the Chicago Police. Below, you can find instructions on how to request the accident report from those two agencies:
Why do I need a copy of the police report?
Having a copy of the police report is essential to your accident claim and is needed to:
- Provide to your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company to assist with their evaluation;
- Provide to the hospital to assist in determining the severity of your injuries;
- Assist your attorney with notifying the proper insurance company of your personal injury and/or property damage claim;
- Assist your attorney with drafting the complaint for your lawsuit naming the proper at-fault driver.
Contact Illinois Car Accident Attorneys
The police report is a key document that memorializes all of the details to a traumatic incident. If you’ve been involved in an accident and are having trouble getting a copy of your police report and/or would like to know whether your accident needs experienced car accident attorneys to help, call The Kryder Law Group, LLC., for a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are ready to help you.
2: How to Order Traffic Camera Footage
How important is it to review video footage?
We live in an age of technology where all of our moves, experiences, and actions are captured by cameras. Traffic camera footage has become an amazing tool and evidence used to determine all of the elements of an accident that may not be captured in a police report, especially in situations of hit and run accidents.
What types of possible traffic videos are available?
Traffic camera footage can come from actual traffic cameras, like red light cameras, business surveillance cameras, dash cameras from police vehicles, and even home surveillance cameras. Depending on the type of cameras, obtaining footage is a different process.
You must act fast to ensure that any potential footage from cameras is saved and preserved so it can be used as evidence in your favor. Here are some important steps to help you obtain traffic camera footage quickly and efficiently:
- Identify the type of camera footage that is trying to be obtained.
- Is it a traffic camera? If so, then the municipality controls the footage.
- Is it police dash camera footage? If so, then the police agency controls the footage.
- Is it private footage? If so, then the business or homeowner controls the footage.
- Contact the person, business, or municipality and confirm whether potential footage exists.
- Contact the person, business or entity with a written document demanding that the footage be preserved and saved. This document is customarily called a “Spoliation Letter.”
- Spoliation Letter must identify the date, approximate time, location, and language demanding that the video be preserved in anticipation of litigation. The letter should be sent certified mail to confirm receipt.
- Contact and confirm that the person, business or entity received the Spoliation Letter requesting that any footage be preserved.
What other requirements are there for gaining possession of traffic camera footage?
In some cases, a fee may be associated with getting camera footage or the footage will not be released without a subpoena. If this is the case, you can demand to see the video before paying for it or issuing a subpoena to confirm that the footage actually captured the incident.
What if obtaining video footage requires a subpoena?
If a fee or subpoena is required before any video footage for the incident is released, then you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help and make the process much easier for you. If you were involved in an accident and believe there is video footage, call The Kryder Law Group, LLC for a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are ready to help you.
3: How to File Your Own Complaint
Have you been involved in an accident and have tried to resolve your injury claim with the insurance company directly? Have the negotiations fallen apart? Is the statute of limitations approaching on your claim? If so, then the next step is to file a complaint and begin the litigation process.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is the pleading that starts a case. Essentially, it is a document that sets forth a jurisdictional basis for the court’s power, the plaintiff’s cause of action, and a demand for judicial relief. A plaintiff starts a civil action by filing a pleading called a complaint. A complaint must state all of the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant, and must also specify what remedy the plaintiff wants. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 8 states that a pleading that states a claim for relief must contain:
- a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new jurisdictional support;
- a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and
- a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.
What is needed to draft a complaint?
To draft a complaint for a motor vehicle accident or premises liability, you need to know the name of the defendant. The defendant is the person, business, municipality or entity that you allege caused your injuries. In other words, the defendant is the person who is at fault.
The identity of the defendant is usually documented in the police report or incident report of the accident.
Do any other documents need to be included with the complaint?
Yes. The complaint must be filed with a civil action cover sheet and a summons. A civil action cover sheet is a docket that lists the names of all parties and the type of case you are filing. A summons is the legal document that will be given to the defendant when they are served requiring that they appear in court.
How do I submit a summons with the Sheriff’s office?
In order to proceed with your complaint, the defendant(s) must be notified that they are being sued. A summons should be placed with the Sheriff which lists the defendant’s last known address. If you are suing a person, then their address should be on the police report. If it is a business or entity, then check the Secretary of State website and send the complaint and summons to the address of the registered agents.
What is the statute of limitations for personal injuries in Illinois?
Lawsuits for various injuries have a time limit for the complaint to be filed. In Illinois, a complaint for personal injuries must be filed no later than two (2) years from the date of injury. For example, if you were injured in an accident on January 1, 2020 then your lawsuit must be filed by January 1, 2022, unless the at-fault party is a municipality like a City, State or Township, then you only have one (1) year to file your complaint.
|Injury to Person||2 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-202|
|Injury to Personal Property||5 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-205|
|Professional Malpractice||Medical: 2 yrs.-4 yrs. §735 ILCS 5/13-212; Legal: max. 6 yrs. 735 ILCS 5/13-214.3|
How do I file a complaint?
In July 2018, Illinois required that all civil case documents be electronically filed. In order to e-file any court documents a profile with one of the approved e-filing systems must be created. Visit the Cook County website to begin the e-filing process.
Contact Illinois Personal Injury Attorneys
It is important to check the rules and websites of your local county to ensure that you are filing your complaint correctly. If you have questions you should contact the Clerk of your local county or consult an experienced attorney. Feel free to call The Kryder Law Group, LLC and we can help you with your potential claim and filing your complaint. You can call us at 312-598-0870 or contact us via our website. Our personal injury attorneys are ready to help you.