With thousands of accidents occurring on Illinois roads every year, car crashes are a reality of life for many families and individuals. At Malman Law, whether your case involves small-scale damage, catastrophic injury, or even a tragic loss of life, we have the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to effectively pursue your claim.
If you have been injured in an accident, you should:
- Get medical treatment. Even if you do not feel hurt, you may have injuries that require prompt medical attention.
- Take photos of your injuries, your vehicle, the other vehicles involved, and the scene of the accident.
- Write down the names and contact information of everyone at the scene, including the other drivers and any eye witnesses.
- Avoid speaking with the insurance companies, and never sign anything without first talking to a lawyer.
- Contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Reasons Why You May Be Entitled to Compensation
As a victim of a car accident, there are several potential reasons why you may be entitled to financial compensation. The following is a non-exhaustive list of potential grounds for filing a lawsuit against a negligent driver:
- Texting or talking on the phone behind the wheel
- Drinking and driving
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Following too closely
- Not paying attention to the road
Find Out How Much You Are Entitled to Recover
While the amount you are entitled to recover will depend on the scope of your losses, many accident victims are surprised to learn just how much they have lost as a result of their collision-related injuries. If you contact the negligent driver’s insurance company directly, they will try to get you to settle for far less than you are owed. In fact, both the other driver’s insurance company and your own insurance company may try to get you to sign waivers that prevent you from securing just compensation. You should not sign anything until you speak with a personal injury attorney at Malman Law about your case.
Insurance companies we will fight against:
- American Family
- Country Financial
- Liberty Mutual
- State Farm
Types of Accidents
Not all traffic accidents are created equal – certain kinds of vehicles tend to become involved in serious accidents again and again:
Over 4,000 motorcycle accidents occur in Illinois every year, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Once an accident occurs, motorcyclists die at ten times the rate of other motorists. The dangerous reputation of motorcycles seems to be part of their appeal in some ways, unfortunately. Three characteristics of motorcycles are correlated with their low accident survival rate – low visibility, lack of frame protection, and high horsepower. A huge percentage of motorcycle accidents are caused by automobile drivers who simply aren’t paying proper attention. When this happens, it is important to take prompt action to protect your legal right to compensation.
With eleven interstate highways serving the Chicago metro area, the number of commercial trucks that pass through is immense. Since the momentum of a large truck can turn it into a missile when the driver loses control of it, catastrophic injuries and deaths are all too common. The car crash lawyers at Malman Law possess extensive experience in negotiating and litigating the aftermath of truck accidents for both personal injury and wrongful death claims. We are also adept at locating second defendants (the driver’s employer, for example, or the manufacturer of a defective brake system) to ensure that our clients receive full compensation.
Bicyclists are extraordinarily vulnerable on the roads because although they suffer every bit as much exposure and low visibility as motorcyclists do, they cannot accelerate out of trouble the way that motorists can. The Governors Highway Safety Association ranks Illinois fifth in the nation in bicycle fatalities, with a disproportionate number of these concentrated in the Chicago area. A great number of accidents are caused by inattentive automobile drivers who are simply not watching out for bicyclists. The most common causes of automobile-caused bicycle accidents include failure to check blind spots, failure to yield, distracted driving, and intoxication.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Vehicle Accidents in Chicago, IL
What If the Accident Was Partly My Fault?
Even if the accident was partly your fault, this doesn’t mean that you automatically lose your case. Under Illinois comparative fault principles, as long as you were 50 percent or less at fault for the accident, you can still recover damages (though they will be reduced). How much they will be reduced by depends on the extent of your fault. If the court decides that you were 25 percent at fault, for example, it will calculate your damages as it would if you were not at fault, and then subtract 25 percent from the total.
As an example, if you are involved in an accident that causes you $100,000 in damages and causes the other driver $50,000 in damages, and if the court rules that the other driver was 75 percent at fault and you were 25 percent at fault, the court will calculate your damages as follows:
[$100,000 – (25 percent times $100,000)] = ($100,000 – $25,000) = $75,000. The other driver will be entitled to nothing, since he or she was more than 50 percent at fault.
Will a DUI Decide the Case?
Not necessarily, but it might. Only an experienced car accident attorney in Chicago, IL can answer this question. The key issue when a DUI is involved is whether or not the accident was actually caused by the DUI. If you were intoxicated while driving the speed limit and a speeding driver rear-ended you, for example, it would be difficult for the other driver to argue that your DUI actually caused the accident. If the court rules that the other driver’s speeding rather than your intoxication caused the accident, the other driver will be liable to pay you damages, while you will be liable for nothing (except perhaps a DUI charge).
The principle of causation applies no matter how the accident happened – a defendant’s misconduct will not give rise to liability unless it actually causes an accident.
What if the Defendant was Driving on a Commercial License?
Many truck accidents in particular involve drivers using commercial driver’s licenses. This could affect your case in two ways – (i) how easy it is to prove the other driver’s fault, and (ii) who you can sue for damages.
If the commercial driver had been drinking alcohol prior to the accident, you could use this against him or her, even if the blood alcohol concentration (BAC ) was lower than the legal limit for non-commercial drivers (most drivers are subject to a legal limit of 0.08 percent, while commercial drivers are subject to a legal limit of 0.04 percent). Once it is established that the driver’s BAC was at least 0.04 percent and that this level of intoxication was a substantial cause of the accident, you could use negligence per se principles to have him or her declared automatically negligent.
Regardless of whether or not the commercial driver had been drinking, if he or she were liable for the accident and had been driving as an employee in the line of duty, you can usually sue the company for all of this liability. This could be important if the driver lacks the financial means to pay a judgment.
Who Can I Sue if the Accident Was Caused by a Vehicle Malfunction?
If the accident was caused by a vehicle malfunction, you might have a product liability claim against the designer, the manufacturer, or anyone in the chain of distribution of the vehicle component that malfunctioned (including the vehicle itself). To win, you would need to prove that the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous at the time it entered the stream of commerce. You don’t need to prove that anyone in particular was negligent – you can sue an auto parts retailer for a manufacturing defect, for example.
Why Shouldn’t I Just Settle the Case and Be Done with It?
In fact, most car accident cases are resolved through out-of-court settlements (usually with an insurance company). The problem is that adequate settlement offers usually don’t come quickly, and settlement offers that come quickly are usually inadequate. In many cases, you might have to file a lawsuit in order to pressure the other side to issue an adequate settlement offer.
There are two common tactics that you need to watch out for: (i) allowing yourself to be seduced by a quick but low settlement offer, and (ii) allowing the other party to trick you into missing the statute of limitations deadline for filing a lawsuit. Indeed, you might be forced to file a lawsuit in order to beat the statute of limitations deadline. Remember that a settlement agreement can be reached at any time prior to the final verdict (even five minutes before!).
Should I Give a Statement to the Insurance Company?
You may be required to provide a certain amount of cooperation to your own insurance company. You are not obligated, however, to provide any kind of statement to the other driver’s insurance company, and you are not obligated to turn over your medical records. You should consult with your attorney before even providing a statement to your own insurance company.
Remember that when you are making a claim, the insurance company is your adversary, even your own insurance company, since they make money by maximizing their intake from premiums and minimizing their payment of claims. Further, insurance company adjusters, whose job it is to save their employers money, are experts in asking questions in a manner so as to induce you to make statements that they can use against you later – by denying liability altogether, asserting that the accident was partly your fault, or minimizing the amount they have to pay out on your claim.
How Does it Affect My Claim if the Other Driver was Uninsured?
It depends. If you have uninsured motorist coverage (not required in Illinois), then it simply means that you will have to make your claim against your own insurance policy. If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, on the other hand, you could end up with a problem. You will likely have to sue the other driver directly, and there is no guarantee that the other driver will possess the personal resources to pay out your claim.
Of course, you might get lucky if you were hit by a commercial driver – if the other driver was an employee of the company he or she worked for (rather than an independent contractor), you will probably be able to sue the employer.
How Does it Affect My Claim if the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Denies Liability?
It is routine for an insurance company to deny liability, even when the driver they insured is liable. In fact, you can expect an initial denial of liability in all but the most clear-cut cases of liability, such as when the police report clearly indicates that the other driver was at fault. Treat a denial of liability like an initial bargaining position – as the starting point of negotiations, not the end. As long as you have a good Illinois car accident attorney on your side, there is no reason why an initial denial of liability couldn’t mature into a generous settlement offer down the road.
Can I Skip Going to the Doctor to Save Money?
No. Skipping a doctor visit could cost you a lot of money in the long run if it turns out that you really were injured after all. In many cases, a car accident injury will be latent, meaning that you may not experience any immediate symptoms. If you turn out to have been injured later, it will hurt your case that you did not go immediately to the doctor to document your injuries while they were still fresh.
Can I Recover for Emotional Distress?
As long as you can prove a physical injury, you should be able to recover for “pain and suffering,” which is based on the amount of physical pain that you suffered. In cases of serious injury, the amount you recover for pain and suffering could end up to be far more than the amount you recover for medical bills. Other types of intangible non-economic damages, such as mental anguish damages, might apply if you suffered a serious debilitating injury. If you suffered no physical injury, however, you cannot recover for these types of damages, no matter how badly the accident “shook you up.”
What Are the Components of a Car Accident Claim?
Illinois courts are authorized to award three different types of damages: Economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
- Economic damages are the easily countable portion of your recovery – medical bills, lost earnings, and out-of-pocket expenses, for example.
- Non-economic damages are awarded for psychological or intangible losses, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, as a result of permanent debilitation. Non-economic damages often greatly exceed economic damages.
- Punitive damages are awarded in a small minority of cases in which the defendant acted intentionally or willfully (rather than merely negligently). Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant, rather than to compensate you for your losses. That doesn’t mean you don’t get to keep the money, however.
How Can Malman Law Help Me Win My Case?
A great vehicle accident attorney possesses several attributes that are unlikely to be possessed by anyone but a highly trained professional:
- Evidence collection: The most difficult part of winning a case is assembling admissible evidence. In some cases, this evidence can be surprisingly difficult to come by – the testimony of a credible expert witness concerning the amount of the victim’s future lifetime medical expenses, for example. A good car accident lawyer deeply understands the intricacies and byzantine corridors of the Illinois Rules of Evidence.
- Bargaining skills: Since most car accident cases are resolved through settlement, a reputable Chicago car accident attorney needs negotiating skills in order to stand toe-to-toe with professional insurance company executives who negotiate claims for a living. Not every lawyer can do this, but the lawyers at Malman Law can.
- Information processing skills: A good lawyer will gather as much information as he or she can concerning the case, looking for nuances to exploit. The correlations and implications arising from a large volume of information can be immense, and a auto accident attorney needs the ability to “juggle nine balls at one time” to plan and execute an effective case strategy.
- Persuasion: Ultimately, the outcome of a case comes down to persuasion – can you, or can you not, persuade the judge or jury that you are right? Persuasive ability arises partly from experience, and partly from an intimate familiarity of every strength and weakness of the client’s case. At Malman Law, our car accident defense track record speaks for itself.
How Can I Speak with a Chicago Car Accident Attorney Today?
To speak with a car accident lawyer about your claim, call or click to get in touch with Malman Law today. You can reach us 24/7 at (888) 675-9854 and a lawyer is only a click away.