Diligent Lawyers Serving Injury Victims of Drivers Talking on Their Phones
One study out of the University of Utah indicates that talking on the phone while driving is even more dangerous than driving drunk. In response to the increasing number of traffic accidents caused by the use of electronic devices, the Illinois legislature has enacted distracted driving laws to prohibit certain behavior. These laws can strongly affect a personal injury lawsuit.
Is It Illegal to Talk on the Phone While Driving?
Talking on the phone while driving is illegal in Illinois, at least if you are using a hand-held device. Saying that something is illegal, however, is not exactly the same as saying it was negligent. Violating a traffic law is ordinarily thought of as negligent. However, a defendant can try to avoid liability by proving that his behavior was reasonable under the circumstances, even though it was illegal.
What About Hands-Free Devices?
Using a hands-free device such as BlueTooth is not specifically prohibited under Illinois distracted driving law unless you are under 19 years of age. Nevertheless, using a hands-free device while driving can be distracting under certain circumstances. So it is a judgment call as to whether a driver who had an accident while using a hands-free device was acting negligently.
How Malman Law Can Help
As detailed above, there is a difference between breaking a traffic law that results in a fine, and causing an accident through negligent behavior. Although violation of a traffic law can help prove negligence, a personal injury case is not necessarily over once the injury victim proves the defendant violated the law. Proving negligence requires a strong command of case facts and legal nuance.
That is where Malman Law can help. Once we take your case, we will unload our entire legal arsenal to make sure that you receive all of the compensation you deserve. It is typically preferable to win at the settlement table rather than in court, but be assured that we will be ready to go to court if necessary.
We Let the Numbers Do the Talking for Us
Numbers like these:
- 23 years practicing personal injury law
- 15,000 successful clients
- $200,000,000 in compensation recovered
- A 95 percent victory rate
- 95 percent of winning claims settled by negotiation rather than by trial
What Our Clients Say
Steve and Kelly were great! The entire process moved much faster than we thought it would. We received a nice size settlement. I would highly recommend Malman Law! – Susan
“The Malman Law team is exceptional. Knows personal injury law, very responsive to my personal workers comp case, recovered money I thought I would never see. And it happened twice as fast as I thought it would. Thank you, Malman Law.” – Malman Law Client
Types of Cases We Often Handle
Car Accidents: Two or three people die in Chicago accidents during the average week, and many more than that are seriously injured. A significant percentage of these deaths and injuries were caused by the wrongful conduct of someone other than the victim, thereby generating a car accident claim.
Personal Injury: “Personal injury” is an umbrella term used to refer to any injury claim that causes injury but not death to the victim. Anything from medical malpractice to a plane crash can give rise to a personal injury claim, as long as someone was injured due to the wrongful conduct of another.
Wrongful Death: A wrongful death claim arises when someone is killed through the wrongful act of another. It is not a criminal proceeding, and the defendant can be held liable even if he did not violate any criminal law. For example, certain driving mistakes can be characterized as civil negligence, but do not rise to the level of criminal negligence. Of course, criminal behavior can also trigger a wrongful death claim.
Cell Phone Accidents: Using a cell phone while driving, even a hands-free model, is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Unfortunately, traffic accidents caused by cell phones have exploded in recent years, prompting a wave of lawsuits and settlements in favor of the victims of these accidents.
Motorcycle Accidents: The catastrophic and fatal accident rate is higher for motorcycles than for any other vehicle on the road, including bicycles. Sadly, many of these accidents could have been avoided if an automobile driver had been more aware of the possibility of a motorcycle in his blind spot.
Truck Accidents: Commercial trucks are the most dangerous vehicles on the road, and they are also the most heavily regulated.The bad news is that catastrophic accidents are distressingly frequent when a truck is involved. The good news is that commercial truckers are typically fully insured.
Underinsured Driver Accidents: A shockingly high percentage of Illinois drivers have failed to maintain the minimum auto insurance required by law. Even if they have, however, minimum insurance might not be enough to cover a claim for a serious accident. Fortunately, in some cases there are other effective approaches to obtaining compensation.
Train Accidents: Taking a commuter train is one of the safest and cheapest ways to get around Chicago. Nevertheless, considering the hundreds of route miles logged by commuter trains every day, accidents are inevitable. When they do happen, it is important that you secure effective legal counsel to maximize your chances of compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can my hospital put a lien on my claim?
Yes, under the Health Care Services Lien Act, doctors and hospitals can place liens on your personal injury claim to secure payment for health care services. The amount of the lien must not exceed 40 percent of your total compensation. Healthcare services liens can be enforced against both settlements and courtroom verdicts.
Why is the insurance company denying my claim for medical expenses?
The ultimate reason is because the more money they pay you, the less money they get to keep. There are many possible excuses they might use to justify this, however, including:
- You were at least 50 percent at fault for the accident (which, if true, would entitle you to no compensation at all)
- Your injury is a pre-existing condition (it was not caused by the accident)
- You received unnecessary medical treatment
- You received medical treatment not approved by your treating physician
- Any number of other excuses and rationalizations
What are some examples of negotiating tricks that insurance companies like to play on personal injury victims?
There are too many of these to list. Some of the most common tactics are:
- Tricking you into missing the statute of limitation deadline by repeated small delays
- Setting an arbitrary deadline to pressure you into accepting a paltry settlement
- Asking for permission to view your entire medical history, and then using that information to look for pre-existing injuries in your past
- Taking a recorded statement from you and asking you trick questions
Can I sue Uber over an accident caused by one of its drivers?
Probably not, since Uber drivers are not considered to be employees of Uber. Nevertheless, Uber drivers are covered by company insurance that is far more generous than the minimum liability limits required by Illinois law.
Can I file a claim over a “whiplash” injury?
Yes, you can. Whiplash injury claims, however, often face unique challenges because of the nature of the injury. It is often difficult to uncover physical evidence of a whiplash injury, and it is just as difficult to objectively verify the degree of pain associated with the condition. Whiplash claims can be won, however.
Can my 10-year-old son file a personal injury lawsuit in his own name?
No. In Illinois you must be at least 18 years old to file a personal injury lawsuit in your own name. A court, however, can appoint a representative who will be empowered to file a lawsuit on his behalf. Courts typically appoint a parent to this position.
The other driver received a traffic ticket for distracted driving because he was using his cell phone during the accident. Can I use this as evidence against him?
You can use it as evidence if he pleads guilty. If he pleads not guilty, you cannot use it against him even if he is eventually convicted of the offense. Instead, you will have to prove his use of a cell phone independently. It may be possible, for example, to subpoena records from his service provider.
Is a driver who rear-ends another vehicle always at fault?
Usually, but not always. In these cases the burden of proof lies with the driver who rear-ended the other driver. His burden is to prove that – although he rear-ended the vehicle in front of him – the accident was not his fault. Such a driver might escape liability if, for example, the other driver’s brake lights were not working, or if the accident was caused by a mechanical failure such as defective brakes.
My damages exceed the other driver’s policy limits. Is there anyone else I can bring into my claim to help satisfy it?
Depending on the facts of your case and your level of insurance coverage, you might seek additional compensation from:
- Your own underinsured motorist insurance policy
- The defendant’s personal financial assets
- The defendant’s employer
- The defendant’s umbrella policy
- The manufacturer of a defective auto part
What are some common pitfalls I should avoid while I am pursuing my personal injury claim?
Some of the most common claim resolution mistakes made by personal injury victims include:
- Contradicting yourself (insurance companies wait for moments like these!)
- Accepting a quick but inadequate settlement
- Delaying medical treatment until too long after the accident
- Posting selfies and details about your case onto social media
Will I have to go to court to resolve my claim?
Probably not. Although most of our clients’ claims are resolved out of court (around 95 percent) – however, in law there are never any guarantees. Even filing a lawsuit against the defendant does not guarantee that you will ever go to trial, since cases are often settled out of court even after a lawsuit is filed.
What is comparative negligence, and how might it affect my claim?
Under Illinois comparative negligence rules, you cannot recover any compensation unless you were less than 50 percent at fault. If you were less than 50 percent at fault, your compensation will be proportionately reduced – you will lose 30 percent of your compensation if you were 30 percent at fault, for example.
Will the IRS tax my personal injury compensation?
Strictly speaking, no. Although the IRS does not tax personal injury compensation, it does tax judgment interest and punitive damages. However, that probably won’t affect your bottom line very much. Most injury victims do not receive punitive damages, and judgment interest typically accounts for only a small portion of total compensation.
What is the statute of limitations deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit?
Generally, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. Due to possible complications and loopholes, however, consult with your attorney before trying to calculate the exact date. You don’t have to conclude a lawsuit by the deadline, but you do have to get it filed by that date.
We Put Our Money Where Our Mouth Is – You Pay Nothing Unless You Win
Under our Zero Fee Guarantee, you will owe us precisely $0.00 for our entire representation unless we win compensation for you. We’re not talking about a refund here – since we charge no upfront fees, you will never owe us anything unless we win and your money actually arrives. When you win 95 percent of your cases like we do, you can afford to take a chance.
The Clock is Ticking. Connect with The Zealous Personal Injury Team of Malman Law
Your best chance of securing a generous settlement or verdict comes when you act quickly to enforce your rights. Evidence can grow stale over time, and witness memories can fade. Contact us today by calling 1-888-836-5975, or filling out our online contact form for a free initial consultation. We are accessible 24/7, and we can come to meet you if you can’t come to us.