Effective Personal Injury Lawyers For Victims of Accidents Caused By Selfies
“Selfie” accidents, a type of distracted driving, have skyrocketed in recent years. In a “selfie” accident, of course, there is almost always photographic evidence available. This evidence might be used in two different ways, however – to prove the defendant liable for the accident, or to reduce or deny the defendant’s liability by proving that the accident was at least partly the injured victim’s fault.
Is There a Law Prohibiting Taking Selfies While Driving?
Taking “selfies” at the wheel appears to be prohibited by the 2014 Illinois distracted driving law, at least if a handheld device is used. There is no direct legal prohibition against a driver over 19 years old using a hands-free device to take a selfie while driving.
The violation of a traffic law does not automatically result in liability. In Illinois the defendant can try to prove that his action, while illegal, was not negligent under the circumstances. Likewise, the victim can try to prove that the defendant was negligent even though he did not break any law. Either party can also try to prove that taking selfies did not actually cause the accident.
If it does, we’re not surprised. Illinois personal injury law is surprisingly complex and filled with legal nuance. There is a reason for this, subtlety – the law must be flexible enough to lead to a fair result across a wide variety of cases with differing fact patterns. Winning your case often comes down to skillfully exploiting these nuances, either in court or at the negotiating table.
That is where Malman Law comes in. Every case has a winner and a loser – and at our firm, about 95 percent of our clients walk away with compensation. This can happen through private settlement (about 95 percent of the time) or through a courtroom trial. At Malman Law, it all adds up to a staggering $200 million recovered for over 20,000 clients over the last 23 years.
What Our Clients Have to Say About Us
“Two years ago, I was involved in a trucking accident involving a 14-wheeler truck that nearly disabled me for life. Steve fought to make sure that I received the most possible compensation for my injuries. I was about to take the insurance company’s lowball offer, but decided to call Steve first – it was the best decision I’ve made yet.” – Malman Law Client
“This firm has gone above and beyond to keep me updated and get answers to my questions at any time, weekends included! Malman Law rules in my opinion!” – Cheryl Wagemann
Our Main Practice Areas
Personal Injury: A personal injury claim arises almost any time someone is injured through the wrongful act of another person. This wrongful act can be either intentional or unintentional – anything from careless driving to an intentional ramming of your car in a road rage incident can trigger a personal injury claim.
Car Accidents: Hundreds of thousands of people are seriously injured in vehicle accidents every year. Most of these victims are not adequately compensated because they choose to represent themselves against stingy insurance companies, or because they retain substandard legal representation.
Wrongful Death: A personal injury claim is converted into a wrongful death claim the moment that the victim dies from his injuries. Wrongful death damages are distributed among the victim’s estate and next of kin, and the amount can be substantial.
Cell Phone Accidents: Technology keeps changing the rules of the road– for example, cell phone accidents have skyrocketed over the last 25 years. All use of handheld electronic devices, including cell phones, is banned behind the wheel in Illinois. Although violation of this law does not automatically result in a finding of negligence in a civil lawsuit, it drastically increases the odds.
Motorcycle Accidents: Many Chicagoland drivers are simply not looking out for motorcycles the way they would if they lived in places where motorcycles are more popular. Because of this, motorcycle accidents are far more common than they should be. Unsurprisingly, the rate of death and serious injury is extremely high, and compensation awards tend to be high as well.
Truck Accidents: A truck being operated by a negligent driver is about as dangerous as a missile, Truckers are subject to a myriad of regulations, and in many cases truck accidents can be traced to a violation of one or more of these regulations. Fortunately, commercial drivers are typically well-insured.
Underinsured Driver Accidents: Underinsured driver accidents are particularly problematic — you may be reluctant to file a claim because you fear you cannot collect full compensation even if you win the case. In many cases, however, it is possible to secure compensation from a third party even if the at-fault driver cannot afford to pay everything.
Train Accidents: Chicago local trains travel over 233,000 miles on the average weekday, about the distance from the Earth to the moon.
With all that mileage, a certain number of serious accidents are inevitable. In some cases the accident is the fault of the train operator, and in other cases the fault lies with a third party.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1) Since I want to settle out of court, why does it matter what a court might do?
It is said that all bargaining takes place in the shadow of the law. What this means in practice is that an insurance company (or a defendant) will have little motivation to negotiate with you unless they believe you have a good chance of winning in court. That is why it is important to prepare for settlement negotiations in much the same way as you would prepare for trial.
2) Will I win automatically if I can prove that the other driver was intoxicated?
Not automatically. There are at least two ways that an intoxicated defendant could avoid liability:
- He could argue that his intoxication did not actually cause the accident, or
- He could argue that the accident was mostly your fault (because you were taking a selfie while driving, for example).
In most cases, however, your odds of winning are very good if you can establish that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident.
3) The insurance company refuses to pay because the accident was partly my fault. Is my claim worthless?
Not necessarily. The insurance company needs evidence to establish that the accident was partly your fault – their word is not enough. Second, even if you were partially responsible for the accident, you can still win partial damages under Illinois comparative negligence law if the other driver’s fault was greater than yours.
4) Who files the claim if the victim dies of his injuries?
Under these circumstances the Illinois Wrongful Death Act applies, and the personal representative of the victim’s probate estate files a wrongful death lawsuit. If the victim left a will, the probate court will normally appoint the personal representative named in the will. If the victim left no will, the probate court will probably appoint a close relative as personal representative.
5) How long do I have a file a lawsuit?
Under the Illinois statute of limitations:
- You generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit
- To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you generally have one year after the victim’s date of death, or two years after the accident, whichever is later.
Be careful – since calculating the statute of limitations deadline can be tricky, it is best to check this with your attorney after he has examined the facts of your case.
6) Are punitive damages available in Illinois?
Yes, punitive damages are theoretically available under Illinois law. However, courts are reluctant to award punitive damages. This means that normally, the defendant’s conduct must have been outrageous for punitive damages to apply. A claim based on simple negligence stands little chance of qualifying for punitive damages.
7) What is “negligence per se” and why does it matter?
Negligence per se is a legal doctrine applied by some states that treats the violation of a safety law as automatic negligence under certain circumstances. This can make it easier to win a personal injury claim. In Illinois, however, proving the violation of a safety law simply switches the burden of proof from plaintiff to defendant. So while it may make it somewhat easier to win (because you no longer have the burden of proof), it does not automatically establish negligence.
8) What is the minimum auto insurance coverage allowed by law?
Every Illinois driver must carry liability insurance that covers at least:
- Personal injury liability: $25,000 per person
- Personal injury liability: $50,000 aggregate per accident
- Property damage liability: $20,000 per accident
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance: $25,000 per person
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance: $50,000 per accident
9) Is Illinois a “fault” jurisdiction or a “no-fault” jurisdiction?
Illinois is a “fault” jurisdiction. This means that you can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or sue the at-fault driver, without proving that your injuries were serious or that your claim exceeds a certain financial threshold.
10) Who should I file a claim against if my injury was worsened by a malfunctioning airbag?
Depending on the details of your case, you might claim against:
- The driver who caused the accident in the first place
- The manufacturer or retailer of the airbag (under a product liability theory, but only for the extent to which the malfunction exacerbated your injuries, not for causing the accident).
11) Will my personal injury verdict or settlement be taxed?
Possibly. The IRS taxation scheme is the same for both courtroom judgments and private settlements. It works like this:
- Personal injury damages are not taxed.
- Judgment interest is taxed as interest income.
- Punitive damages (if any) are taxable as ordinary income.
If you reach a private settlement, the settlement agreement should specify which amounts are being awarded for what purpose. This avoids excessive taxation.
What Kind of Tactics Can I Expect From the Insurance Company?
The tricks that insurance companies use to cheat accident victims out of fair compensation are too numerous to list here. Remember that ordinary defendants can use these tactics too (especially corporate defendants). Below are some of the most commonly used tactics:
- Bait and switch: The insurance adjuster assures you that it will accept liability for your medical expenses. After you incur them, however, it starts nickel-and-diming them away using various excuses.
- The arbitrary deadline: Offering an inadequate settlement and then attempting to impose an arbitrary “take it or leave it” deadline.
- The “lullaby” trick: Lulling you into missing the statute of limitations deadline through constant delays.
- Using your own words against you: Taking a recorded statement from you and asking you trick questions designed to seduce you into harming your claim with your own words.
- The fishing expedition: Asking you for your permission to view your entire medical history and then searching your records for evidence that your injury predated the accident.
- The Facebook stakeout: Monitoring your social media accounts for evidence that your injuries aren’t all that serious (imagine how uploading a photo after the accident that was actually taken before the accident might be used against you).
- “You don’t need a lawyer”: The most dangerous trick of all, for obvious reasons.
Don’t settle for victimhood – seek legal assistance today.
Our Zero Fee Guarantee
At Malman Law, you owe us nothing upfront. In fact, you will never owe us anything until we win compensation for you and the money actually comes in. And in the event that you receive nothing (which happens to only about five percent of our clients), you will never owe us anything. Since our fees are calculated as a percentage of your recovery, you are guaranteed to come out ahead as long as you win compensation.
Contact Qualified Attorneys For Your Selfies Personal Injury Claim; Take Action Today
If you believe you might have a valid claim, you need to act quickly before the “glue of circumstance” hardens around your feet. Telephone us 24/7 at 1-888-836-5975, or contact us online, so that we can set up a free initial case consultation with you. Even if you can’t come to us, we can come to you.