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If you have been injured in a car accident in Chicago you may be entitled to financial compensation. In fact, at Malman Law, we have helped our clients recover more than $250 million in financial compensation over the past 25 years. That is a lot of money; and, while the outcome of a car accident case is never guaranteed, there are some key steps you can take in order to improve your chances of securing just compensation for your injury-related losses.

In addition to taking these steps, there are also some critical mistakes you need to avoid. Not only can these mistakes make it more difficult for you to secure maximum compensation for your losses, but some of them can potentially jeopardize your claim entirely. In order to protect your legal rights, you need to make sound decisions, and this means knowing both what to do and what not to do in the aftermath of a collision.

So, what mistakes do you need to avoid after a car accident in Chicago?

Mistake #10: Posting about the Accident on Social Media

Don’t post pictures from the scene of the accident on Instagram. Don’t write a post describing the accident for your friends and family on Facebook. Don’t tweet about the accident, and don’t post anything about the accident on any other social media platform. In fact, while your car accident claim is pending, it is best that you try to stay off of social media entirely.

Why? When you have an insurance claim, the insurance company will be looking for any possible excuse to deny payment of just compensation. In today’s world, if you post photos or information online, the insurance companies will be watching. They will be closely scrutinizing your social media posts for anything they can use against you, and even posts that seem harmless could potentially end up creating huge problems for your claim.

Mistake #9: Giving a Recorded Statement to Your Insurance Company

In the same vein, when dealing with your insurance company directly, you do not want to provide any more information than is absolutely necessary. As a result, while you should file a claim promptly, you should not give a recorded statement. Remember, when you call your insurance company, the entire conversation is usually being recorded. So, aside from reporting where and when the accident happened, you should not say anything to your adjuster over the phone.

Mistake #8: Failing to Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

However, you do still need to report the accident as soon as possible. Not only will this start the process moving, but it may also be necessary in order to preserve your claim for financial compensation. Standard auto insurance policies require policy holders to report all accidents resulting in vehicle damage; so, even if you are fairly certain that the other driver was at fault, you still need to contact your insurer. Your insurance company will then contact the at-fault driver’s insurer, and the process will proceed from there.

Many people get apprehensive about contact their insurance companies. They worry that they will say something they shouldn’t, and they get concerned that they may get talked into an unfair settlement. If you feel uneasy about calling your insurer, this is absolutely something that our legal team can handle on your behalf. But, once again, time is of the essence, so we encourage you to contact us right away.

Mistake #7: Going to Your Insurance Company’s “Preferred” Repair Shop

Among the tactics the insurance companies use to limit their financial liability is trying to send their policy holders to “preferred” repair shops. Generally speaking, these shops are “preferred” not because they do great work, but because they do a high volume of work at a discounted rate. While your adjuster is not likely to tell you, you should be able to go to a repair shop of your choice – if nothing else it is a good idea to at least get an estimate that you can compare to the one prepared by your insurance company’s preferred service provider.

Mistake #6: Signing a Medical Release to “Verify Your Injuries”

Another tactic the insurance companies use to gather information is to ask accident victims to sign a medical release. However, adjusters often do not refer to this document by name, and you may be told that you need to sign so that the insurance company can “verify your injuries” so that it can make payment on your claim. Do not be fooled. You do not have to sign a medical release, you should not sign a medical release; and, if you do sign one, you will be giving your insurance company access to private, personal health information that you will almost certainly rather keep to yourself.

Mistake #5: Accepting Payment Before You Know the Extent of Your Losses

If the other driver was 100% at fault in the accident, you are entitled to recover full compensation for all of your accident-related losses. This includes current and future losses, and it includes losses that are financial and non-financial in nature.

Before accepting payment from the insurance companies, it is imperative that you know the full value of your claim. If you do not know how much you medical care will cost in the future, and if you do not know how to place a monetary value on your pain and suffering, then there is an extremely high likelihood that you are going to end up settling for less (and perhaps far less) than you deserve. At Malman Law, we work with trusted physicians and other professionals to ensure that we are seeking full value for our clients’ physical, psychological, and financial losses.

Mistake #4: Accepting Payment Without Reading the Fine Print

If you are considering accepting a payment from the insurance companies, you need to make sure you read the fine print. If you do not understand the complex legalese, then ask a lawyer to explain what you are signing. Most likely, when you accept payment, you will be agreeing to waive your right to seek any additional compensation for your injury-related losses. This includes not only filing a claim with the payor, but filing a claim with any other insurance company and even filing a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver.

In other words, when you have an insurance claim, you only get one chance to secure just compensation. If you settle too soon, any losses that are not covered by your settlement will be yours to bear. The losses stemming from a car accident can be substantial; and, to ensure that you are not unnecessarily and unknowingly subjecting yourself to a lifetime of financial strain, it is critically important not to sign anything without the benefit of experienced legal representation.

Mistake #3: Letting the Insurance Companies Dictate the Outcome of Your Claim

If you do not take control of your insurance claim, the insurance companies will take control of it for you. They will dictate the pace of your claim, and they will determine how much compensation you receive for your injuries. None of this is ideal, and putting the outcome of your claim in the hands of the insurance companies is the surest way to receive less than you deserve.

When you have an insurance claim, you need to control the process. You need to keep the pressure on, and you need to fight for the full compensation to which you are entitled under Illinois law. You need to make sure the insurance companies do not take advantage of you, and you need to make informed decisions at every step along the way.

Mistake #2: Not Seeking Medical Attention Right Away

When you get injured in a car accident in Chicago, your first priority should be to obtain medical treatment as soon as possible. The forces involved in car accidents can cause severe traumatic injuries, and the effects of these injuries will not always be readily apparent. By seeking medical treatment promptly, you can obtain an accurate diagnosis that links your injuries to the accident, and you can get started on the road to recovery right away.

Mistake #1: Not Discussing Your Legal Rights with an Attorney

Due to the complexity of car accident insurance claims and the risks involved in making mistakes along the way, it is strongly in your best interests to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. Your attorney will be able to deal with the insurance companies for you; and, if necessary, he or she will be able to take your case to trial in order to win just compensation.

Schedule a Free Car Accident Consultation in Chicago, IL

At Malman Law, we offer free initial consultations to car accident victims in Chicago, and we do not charge any fees or costs unless we win just compensation. To learn more about your rights and get the help you need to win the financial compensation you deserve, call 888-625-6265 or contact us online today.

As a motorcycle rider, you face certain risks every time you ride. No matter how skilled you are at riding, and no matter how careful you are to obey the law and ride within your limits, there is always a chance that someone else will hit you, total your bike, and leave you with serious injuries.

According to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), there are approximately 10 motorcycle accidents in the state every single day. Of these accidents, nearly 99 percent (3,465 out of 3,504) result in injuries or death. On average, a motorcycle rider dies in Illinois three days out of every week, and more than one in four motorcycle accidents results in an incapacitating injury or death.

Illinois Motorcycle Accident Statistics Published by IDOT

Currently, the latest data available on motorcycle accidents in Illinois are from 2016. According to IDOT, these data show that serious and fatal motorcycle accidents are on the rise:

“Motorcycle crashes accounted for 1.1 percent of all crashes in 2016. The number of motorcyclists killed increased by 4.8 percent, from 147 in 2015 to 154 in 2016. These motorcycle fatalities accounted for 14.3 percent of all fatalities in 2016. The number of motorcyclists injured – 2,692 – increased by 1.9 percent in 2016.”

You read that correctly: While motorcycle accidents accounted for just 1.1 percent of crashes in Illinois in 2016, they accounted for 14.3 percent of all vehicle-related fatalities. This means that motorcycle accidents are far more likely to result in death than collisions between passenger vehicles.

Other notable statistics on Illinois motorcycle accidents from IDOT include:

1. Approximately one quarter (943 out of 2,692) of all motorcycle riders injured suffer incapacitating injuries.

IDOT defines an incapacitating injury as, “[a]ny injury, other than a fatal injury, that prevents the injured person from walking, driving or normally continuing the activities he/she was capable of performing before the injury occurred.” Examples include severe lacerations; broken bones; and, other head, chest, and abdominal injuries.

2. Motorcycle accidents rarely result in severe injuries to the driver of the passenger vehicle involved.

Of the 3,504 motorcycle accidents in Illinois in 2016, at most, 29 resulted in incapacitating injuries to non-motorcyclists. We say “at most” because it is possible that multiple passenger vehicle occupants could have been injured in the same accident.

3. More than half of all motorcycle accidents occurred while the motorcycle was traveling “straight ahead.”

According to IDOT, 1,920 of all motorcycle accidents in Illinois in 2016 occurred while the motorcyclist was “going straight ahead.” This is by far the largest proportion of accidents. Aside from “other,” the next most-common maneuver involved in motorcycle accidents was skidding or loss of control, which was a factor in 385 accidents. Other maneuvers listed include riding in slow or stopped traffic (271 accidents), sitting parked (148 accidents), making a left turn (144 accidents), making a right turn (110 accidents), passing or overtaking (109 accidents), and changing lanes (57 accidents).

These statistics are particularly noteworthy because the contradict the popular notion that motorcycle riders are risktakers who ride dangerously and put themselves in harm’s way. According to IDOT, more motorcycle accidents occurred while the rider was parked than while riders were attempting to pass, overtake, or change lanes.

4. The majority of motorcycle accidents involve multi-vehicle collisions.

More than 53 percent of motorcycle accidents in 2016 involved multi-vehicle collisions, while less than 47 percent were single-vehicle accidents. More multi-vehicle accidents resulted in injuries and death than single-vehicle accidents as well. While 47 percent is not an insignificant portion of the total number of accidents, what this single-vehicle accident figure likely belies is the fact that single-vehicle motorcycle accidents are often the result of riders being forced off of the road and into other dangerous situations by careless passenger vehicle drivers.

5. Motorcycle accident rates increased in Illinois despite a nationwide decline.

While the number of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents in Illinois increased in 2016, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the rate of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents nationwide is on the decline. What accounts for this disparity is not immediately clear, although the high volume of traffic in and around Chicago and other cities, Illinois’s often-harsh winter weather, and various other factors could all potentially be to blame.

Chicago Motorcycle Accident Statistics Published by IDOT

So, that’s Illinois. What about Chicago? IDOT publishes city-specific (and county-specific) crash data as well; and, here too, the most-recent data are currently from 2016. According to IDOT’s vehicle collision data for Chicago:

  • In 2016, there were 524 motorcycle accidents in the city of Chicago.
  • Of these 524 accidents, 12 were fatal and 263 resulted in injuries.
  • Approximately one in four motorcycle riders injured in Chicago in 2016 suffered one or more incapacitating injuries.

A few facts about these statistics stand out. For one, while approximately 99 percent of motorcycle accidents statewide resulted in injuries or death, in Chicago this number drops significantly to 52 percent (although it appears that there may be some inconsistencies between the statewide and city-specific data). Additionally, while Chicago is home to approximately 21 percent of the state’s population, less than 15 percent of all motorcycle accidents statewide occurred in Chicago in 2016. Interestingly, however, while the overall rate of injury-involved motorcycle accidents was lower in Chicago, a similar proportion of these accidents still resulted in incapacitating injuries.

What Should You Do if You Have Been Injured in a Chicago Motorcycle Accident?

Based on these statistics, if you have been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in the Chicago area, you are not alone. People have stood in your shoes before, and many of them have succeeded in recovering just compensation for their injury-related losses. Here are some steps you can take after a motorcycle accident to improve your chances of securing a financial recovery:

  • Follow your doctor’s advice. After any type of accident, one of the most-important things you can do is to follow you doctor’s advice. If you have suffered severe traumatic injuries, it will take time for your body to recover, and there is most likely sound medical reasoning behind your doctor’s treatment and recovery recommendations. Seek a second opinion if you feel that one is necessary; but, no matter what you do, do not simply ignore your doctor’s advice.
  • Avoid the temptation to ride. For most riders, one of the first things they want to do after getting knocked off is to get back in the saddle. But, until your doctor clears you to ride again, you need to avoid the temptation to do so. Not only is this something that the insurance companies could use against you; but, if you are physically limited due to your injuries, you could be putting yourself at greater risk for additional harm.
  • Start keeping records. In order to prove your claim, you will need evidence of the cause and effects of your injuries. While your attorney will need to hire an investigator to visit the scene as soon as possible, there are steps you can take to help prove your claim as well. These include keeping copies of all medical bills and receipts related to your injuries, keeping copies of any relevant employment records, and keeping a daily log or journal that details your injuries’ impacts on your life.
  • Keep the details to yourself. While you want to try to gather as much information to support your claim as possible, you also want to be sure to keep all of this information to yourself. Don’t give extra details to the insurance companies, and don’t post about the accident on social media. There will come a time to tell your story; but, for now, any discussions regarding the accident should only take place between you and your attorney.
  • Speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer. Due to the challenges involved in securing just compensation after a motorcycle accident and the risks associated with dealing with the insurance companies on your own, it is strongly in your best interests to hire an experienced attorney. You should choose a lawyer who has particular experience with motorcycle accident claims, and who is familiar with the local roads and highways in and around Chicago.

Ultimately, the statistics on motorcycle accidents mean little for your rights as an injured rider. While these statistics show that accidents involving passenger vehicles are common, it is up to you to protect your rights in your case. At Malman Law, we have over 25 years of experience representing injured riders in the Chicago area. If you have been injured and you are serious about maximizing your financial recovery, we encourage you to contact us for a free initial consultation.

Schedule a Free Motorcycle Accident Consultation in Chicago, IL

For more information about your legal rights after a motorcycle accident in the Chicago area, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. To speak with a Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer at Malman Law as soon as possible, call 888-625-6265 or tell us how we can reach you online now.

You were injured in a motorcycle accident in Chicago, and the driver who hit you was clearly at fault. But, he or she is claiming that you, “came out of nowhere,” and you are concerned that the insurance companies are going to try to blame you for causing your own injuries. So, what can you do to prove that you are entitled to financial compensation?

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common scenario in cases of motorcycle accidents. Drivers routinely make mistakes, and they routinely deny playing any role in causing the collision. Over the past 25 years, we have heard every excuse in the book, and we have seen the insurance companies come up with all types of “justifications” for denying payment to injured riders.

Proving Fault After a Motorcycle Accident in Chicago

The good news is that, if there is evidence to prove liability, then the truth can prevail. In most cases, if the driver who hit you was at fault, there will be evidence available. Typically, there are three primary sources of evidence to prove liability after a motorcycle accident: (i) the scene of the accident, (ii) third-party records and recordings, and (iii) the at-fault driver.

1. Evidence from the Scene of the Accident

The Damage to Your Motorcycle

The first source of evidence for your motorcycle accident claim is the damage to your bike itself. Even if your bike was totaled in the accident, the extent of the damage can provide invaluable information about where you were hit and how fast both vehicles were traveling at the time of the crash. A forensic inspection of your damaged motorcycle can also identify any defects that may have caused or contributed to the collision.

The Damage to the Other Vehicle

The damage to the other vehicle can provide a wealth of information as well; and, in many cases, it can provide more information than a completely totaled motorcycle. For example, the damage to the other vehicle can tell us things like:

  • Where did your motorcycle and the other vehicle collide (i.e. were you rear-ended, sideswiped or T-boned)?
  • How fast was the other driver traveling when he or she hit you?
  • How severe was the force of impact in the collision?

Location, Road and Weather Conditions, and Traffic Patterns

A forensic investigation at the scene of the accident can also provide important information about the location where the accident occurred as well as the traffic patterns in the area and the road and weather conditions at the time of the collision. Combined with the damage to your motorcycle, the other vehicle, and the various other types of evidence discussed below, this information can help to paint a comprehensive picture of the events leading up to your motorcycle crash.

Skid Marks and Road Damage

The length and location of skid marks can be a key factor in determining fault in an accident. Among other things, skid marks can tell us things like how fast both vehicles where traveling and how quickly (and how harshly) the other driver braked in an attempt to avoid the collision. Skid marks can also tell us if the other driver failed to brake until after making contact with your motorcycle. Gouges in the road from your foot pegs and handlebars can provide similar information, as can the location and extent of any damage to signs, utility poles, guardrails, and other stationary objects at or near the scene of the crash.

Eye Witness Accounts

If anyone witnessed the accident, including your passenger if you were riding two-up, these witnesses may be able to provide an account of what happened in the crash. Especially if multiple witnesses describe the same version of events, eyewitness testimony can be a powerful source of evidence in the event that you need to take your claim to court.

2. Evidence from Third-Party Sources

The Police Report

If you or anyone else called 911 from the scene of the accident, the police should have responded, and the responding officer should have prepared a police report. You are entitled to see a copy of the police report, and the report should detail the responding officer’s understanding of what happened and who was at fault in the crash.

Traffic Camera and Security Camera Footage

Was your motorcycle accident caught on camera? In today’s world, cameras are everywhere, and whether your accident occurred on I-90 or in downtown Chicago, there is a decent chance that it was recorded. If a traffic camera or a business’s security camera captured the crash, it may be possible to obtain a copy of the footage to help prove your claim. However, since these recordings are often automatically recorded over, it will be important to begin trying to obtain the footage as soon as possible.

Phone Records

Are you a victim of distracted driving? Over the last few years, distracted driving has become a leading cause of vehicle collisions (including motorcycle accidents), and most cases of distracted driving involve someone who was talking or texting behind the wheel at the time of the crash. If you were injured by a distracted driver, our lawyers may be able to subpoena his or her phone records in order to prove that he or she was on the phone at the time of the crash.

3. Evidence from the Other Driver

Social Media Posts

In some cases, distracted driving can also involve posting on social media. If you were injured by someone who was attempting to tweet or post a selfie, then his or her social media post may be all you need to prove your claim for compensation.

Reviewing the driver’s social media posts after the crash can potentially provide evidence to support your claim as well. Posting on social media is one of the mistakes we tell our clients to avoid, and photos from the scene, comments about the accident, and other posts can all help to establish liability for your injuries.

Deposition Testimony

If you need to file a lawsuit or go to arbitration in order to recover just compensation, you attorneys may seek to obtain the other driver’s testimony in a deposition. A deposition involves questioning under oath, and taking the at-fault driver’s testimony can provide both important evidence and important leverage for negotiating a settlement prior to trial.

A Guilty Plea or Confession in Criminal Court

If the driver who hit you was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or any other traffic offense or crime, then a guilty plea or confession in court could potentially be used as evidence in your case as well. However, there are limits on the admissibility and relevance of criminal proceedings in civil personal injury cases, and your attorney will need to determine whether (and, if so, to what extent), the driver’s guilty plea or confession can be used in your favor.

Of course, your version of the events matters as well; and, after being involved in a motorcycle accident, it is a good idea to write down as many details as you can remember as soon as possible. Where were you within your lane when you got hit? Did you see where the driver was looking in the moments leading up to the crash? Did your motorcycle respond to acceleration or braking as you expected? Did the driver swerve into your lane, run a stop sign, or speed up to “beat” a yellow light? These are all important facts for your attorney to know, and sharing these types of details with your attorney can help lead to the discovery of additional evidence.

Proving Your Financial and Non-Financial Losses After a Motorcycle Accident

When seeking financial compensation for a motorcycle accident, in addition to proving the cause of the accident, you also need to prove the extent of your financial and non-financial losses. These “damages” represent the amount you are entitled to recover; and, until you know how much you have lost, you will not know what constitutes “just compensation” in your case. Recoverable losses include out-of-pocket expenses (including medical bills), lost income, pain and suffering, and other current and future losses, and calculating these losses requires the knowledge and insights of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.

For more information about proving your financial and non-financial losses after a motorcycle accident in Chicago, you can read:

Discuss Your Case with a Chicago Motorcycle Accident Attorney at Malman Law

In order to recover the evidence needed to prove your claim, it will be important to conduct an investigation as soon as possible. At Malman Law, we are available to speak with you 24/7. To discuss your case with one of our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys, call 888-625-6265 or request a free consultation online now. With our Zero Fee Guarantee, you pay nothing unless we win just compensation.

Whether you felt a sharp pain right away or a dull pain gradually came on, if you slipped and fell, there is a decent chance that you suffered some form of traumatic injury. The forces involved in a fall are more than enough to cause a serious injury even at ground level, and many people end up injuring themselves worse as a result of the natural reaction of trying to brace for impact.

If you suffered a traumatic injury in a slip-and-fall accident, there is also a decent chance that the costs of your injury will be far greater than you realize now. In fact, obtaining a diagnosis and treatment plan is just the first step toward determining not only what you have already lost, but also what you stand to lose in the future. Regardless of your age, physical condition, and occupation, the immediate and long-term consequences of slip-and-fall injuries can be substantial, and you owe it to yourself to understand the total costs of your injuries before you make any decisions about whether or not to take legal action against the property owner.

The Immediate Costs of Slip-and-Fall Accidents

1. Medical Expenses

Let’s start at the beginning. When you felt pain, you scheduled an appointment with your doctor or went to the emergency room. You received a diagnosis and initial treatment . . . and then you started receiving medical bills in the mail. The cost of medical care today is astronomical. Even if you have health insurance, your coverage is not likely to cover all of your medical expenses. In fact, it may only cover a small portion of the costs you incur for diagnostic services, testing, treatment, medical devices and prescriptions.

2. Loss of Income

Did you miss time from work on the day you slipped and fell? Did you have to take off from your job to go to the doctor’s office or hospital? Did you receive several days of inpatient care? If you missed work because of your injury (even if you took sick leave or paid time off), you suffered additional financial harm in the form of loss of income.

3. Other Out-of-Pocket Costs

Aside from medical expenses, individuals injured in slip-and-fall accidents will commonly incur various other out-of-pocket costs as well. The gas you put in your vehicle (or cost of the Uber or Lyft ride you took) to get to the hospital, the cost to replace your damaged clothes, the cost to repair your broken watch or phone—these are all accident-related losses for which financial compensation may be available.

4. Pain and Suffering

While pain and suffering are not direct financial losses, they are still considered compensable losses under Illinois law. From the day you are injured, any pain and suffering you endure will add to the value of your slip-and-fall claim. How much is your pain and suffering worth? The answer to this question will depend on a number of different factors, from the level of your pain to the financial costs associated with your treatment and rehabilitation.

5. Emotional Trauma

Suffering severe injuries in a sudden and unexpected accident can be a harrowing experience, and it can traumatize you in ways that you could not have previously imagined. Similar to pain and suffering, emotional trauma can happen immediately, and it is a form of non-financial loss that is compensable under Illinois law.

The Long-Term Costs of Injuries from Slips and Falls

1. Ongoing Treatment and Follow-Up Medical Procedures

If you think your current medical bills are bad, then the future costs of your injuries could very well seem insurmountable. In cases of severe traumatic injuries, future medical expenses can far exceed the initial costs of diagnosis and treatment. When seeking financial compensation for injuries from a slip-and-fall accident it is essential to make sure you have a comprehensive picture of your long-term medical needs.

2. Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Along with the cost of follow-up appointments and surgeries, individuals diagnosed with traumatic injuries will often need to undergo significant physical therapy and rehabilitation as well. Whether you see your therapist once per month or multiple times per week, over a period of months or years, the total cost of recovering from traumatic injuries can be substantial.

3. Loss of Future Earning Capacity

If your injuries prevent you from returning to your old job or prevent you from working entirely, then you will offer suffer additional long-term financial losses in the form of loss of future earning capacity. Whether you are forced to take a lower-paying job or you are never again able to earn a living, your claim for compensation should include funds that are sufficient to replace the income and benefits that you would have otherwise been capable of earning in the future.

4. Chronic Pain and Suffering

In some cases, the pain and suffering from a traumatic injury can last a lifetime. If your pain does not go away, then you are entitled to seek just compensation for every day of your life that you expect to experience pain and suffering in the future.

5. Psychological Effects

Similar to physical pain and suffering, the psychological effects of traumatic injuries do not just go away. From your emotional distress to the psychological effects of living with permanent scarring or disfigurement, the lingering consequences of your injuries can have an impact on virtually all aspects of your daily life.

6. Other Non-Financial Losses

Injuries from slip-and-fall accidents can have various other life-changing consequences as well. In premises liability claims under Illinois law, accident victims are also entitled to seek financial compensation for loss of companionship, loss of consortium, loss of services, loss of society, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Checklist: Seeking Financial Compensation After a Slip-and-Fall Accident in Chicago

There are a few different ways to calculate non-financial losses in a premises liability claim, one of which is to apply a multiplier to the accident victim’s financial losses. As a result, when filing a claim for damages, it is essential to have a clear picture of your current and future medical expenses, loss of income, and other out-of-pocket costs. You should also clearly document all of the non-financial impacts that your injuries have on your life.

With this in mind, here is a checklist you can use to begin preparing for your slip-and-fall accident claim:

  • Collect Your Medical Records – Collect copies of all of your medical records relating to your slip-and-fall injuries. This includes copies of your scans, prescriptions, medical bills, statements of benefits (SOBs), and any documents you receive from your insurance company.
  • Collect Your Employment Records – To prove your loss of income and future earning capacity, you will need copies of your employment records. See if you have copies of your most-recent tax returns and W-2s, and keep any emails, paystubs, and other documentation showing days you miss from work.
  • Collect Any Evidence You Have from the Scene of the Accident – Did you take photos of the location where you fell? Did you talk to anyone who saw you fall? Did you file a report with the building or business owner? Anything you have from the scene of the scene of the accident could be key evidence in your claim for financial compensation.
  • Keep a Daily Log or Journal – Each day, write down all of the ways that your injuries and pain impacted your life. What was your pain level? Did you have to miss work to go to the doctor or because you were in too much pain to do your job? Were you unable to mow your lawn, wash your car, or attend your child’s game or recital? These are all non-financial losses that will factor into your overall claim for damages.
  • Make Sure You Know When You Have Doctor’s Appointments – While there are several mistakes you need to try to avoid, one of the biggest mistakes is failing to follow your doctor’s advice. Make sure you know when your next appointment is scheduled, and make sure you have a way to get there on time.
  • Learn More about Your Case – The more you know, the better able you will be to make informed decisions. For example, to learn more about how insurance companies and the Illinois courts calculate non-financial losses from slip-and-fall accidents, you can read: How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?
  • Speak with a Chicago Slipand-Fall Accident Attorney – After a slip-and-fall accident, the best way to protect yourself is to speak with an experienced local attorney. At Malman Law, we represent clients injured in slip-and-fall accidents throughout the Chicago area, and we do not charge any fees or costs unless we win just compensation.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation at Malman Law

To find out how much compensation you may be entitled to receive as a result of your slip-and-fall accident in Chicago, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation. You can reach us by phone 24/7 at 888-625-6265, or tell us how to reach you and a member of our team will be in touch as soon as possible.

Being involved in an accident with a tractor trailer or other large commercial truck can be one of the scariest events of your life. When you feel the force of tens of thousands of pounds of metal careening out of control, you realize just how helpless you are to protect yourself out on the road.

For obvious reasons, commercial truck accidents often result in substantial property damage and severe traumatic injuries. If you were recently involved in a commercial truck accident in Chicago, here are some of the key pieces of information you need to know:

Q: Who is Liable for Your Injuries?

Numerous factors can cause and contribute to commercial truck accidents, and this means that numerous parties can potentially be to blame. In order to determine who is liable for your injuries, it will be necessary to conduct a thorough investigation, and the investigation should ideally be undertaken as soon as possible. In fact, aside from seeking medical attention for your injuries, hiring a law firm to conduct an investigation should be your top priority after a commercial truck accident in Chicago.

Depending upon what the investigation reveals, parties that could potentially be liable for your injuries include:

  • The Truck Driver – In many cases, the truck driver will be legally at fault. Driving a tractor trailer, 18-wheeler, or other large commercial truck requires extensive training and constant attention to the task at hand. Even highly-experienced truck drivers can make mistakes; and, while a mistake may be unfortunate, there is no excuse for putting other motorists at risk for serious or fatal injuries.
  • The Truck Manufacturer – Truck manufacturers (and part manufacturers) can be held liable for accidents resulting from dangerous product defects. For example, if the truck driver lost control due to a brake failure or tire blowout, it may be the case that there was nothing he or she could have done to avoid the accident. But, you still deserve to be compensated, and in this scenario the manufacturer would be the party liable for your injuries.
  • The Trucking Company – Trucking companies can potentially be held liable for accidents on two different grounds: (i) direct negligence, such as hiring an unlicensed driver or forcing a driver to spend too many hours behind the wheel; or, (ii) vicarious liability for the truck driver’s negligence.
  • The Shipping CompanyCargo loading errors are common factors in commercial truck accidents, and the shipping companies responsible for packing and securing trucks’ cargo will be responsible in many cases.
  • A Repair or Maintenance Shop – Similar to manufacturer defects, faulty or negligent work by a maintenance or repair shop can also cause a commercial truck to be unsafe for driving. This includes errors during brake jobs, work on engines and transmissions, tire replacements and re-treadings, and other types of service.
  • Another Driver Involved in the Accident – The fact that an accident involved a commercial truck does not necessarily mean that an issue with the truck (or its driver) was to blame. If another driver crashed into the truck or braked suddenly causing the truck driver to lose control, then that driver might be responsible for your accident-related losses.
  • Another Third Party – Yet another option is that some other third party is to blame. From the manufacturer of your vehicle to the government entity or contractor responsible for building the road, there are various other parties that can potentially be liable for your injuries as well.

Q: Should You Use Your Health Insurance to Cover Your Medical Expenses?

When you are injured in any type of accident, obtaining treatment for your injuries needs to be your first priority. Since securing compensation for a truck accident takes time, you can (and generally should) rely on your health insurance coverage to the extent that it is available. While your health insurer may eventually be entitled to repayment if your personal injury claim is successful, this is a matter for the insurance companies (and your attorneys) to deal with later – not for you to worry about right now.

Q: How Much Financial Compensation are You Eligible to Recover?

The amount of financial compensation you are eligible to recover will depend on a variety of factors, the most important of which are the nature and extent of your physical injuries. Under Illinois law, truck accident victims are entitled to seek just compensation for the financial and non-financial effects of their injuries, including past and future medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life. While every case is unique, and while the outcome of a case is never guaranteed, individuals who have suffered severe traumatic injuries in truck accidents will often be entitled to sizable financial awards.

Q: What if Multiple Drivers Were at Fault in the Accident?

If multiple drivers (or other parties) were at fault in the accident, then each may have an obligation to compensation you for your losses from the collision. Typically, this will mean dealing with each party’s insurance company to establish liability and determine how much each company will contribute to your overall award of compensation.

Q: What if You Were Partially at Fault in the Accident?

If the evidence suggests that you were partially at fault in the accident, the effect on your claim will depend upon your percentage of fault. Under Illinois law, if you were 50% or less at fault, you are still entitled to compensation, although your award would be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault (i.e. if you were 10% at fault, you would be entitled to recover 90% of your losses). However, if you were 51% or more at fault, then you would not be entitled to any compensation under Illinois law. With the potential for just 1% to be a difference between a sizable payment and collecting nothing for your injuries, it is absolutely essential to have an experienced attorney fighting on your behalf.

Q: How is Seeking Compensation for a Truck Accident Different from an Ordinary Auto Accident Insurance Claim?

As you can see from the information above, there are numerous differences between truck accident cases and “ordinary” auto accident insurance claims. Another notable difference is that, in truck accident cases, the trucking and shipping companies’ defense lawyers will often get involved and fight vigorously to avoid any liability for their clients. In order to level the playing field, you need to have an experienced legal team on your side.

Q: Will You Have to Go to Trial to Secure Compensation?

Due to the high stakes involved, truck accident cases are more likely to go to trial than cases involving two passenger vehicles. However, most cases still settle; and, with experienced representation, you will have a reasonable chance of securing a high-value settlement without the need to ever set foot in court. That said, if going to court is your best option (i.e. if the trucking company or the truck driver’s insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement), then you will need to be prepared to go to trial to win the compensation you deserve.

Q: Should You Get Your Vehicle Repaired or Replaced?

The first step toward deciding what to do about your vehicle is to get an estimate from an independent appraiser (not one recommended to you by the insurance companies). If your vehicle is capable of being repaired, then you should be able to drop it off fairly soon. If it was totaled in the accident, then you should be provided with the funds you need to buy a new car. This can be a tricky area to navigate, and our attorneys and staff members can help you through the process.

Q: What if Your Doctor Told You that You Will Never Fully Recover?

Being told that you will never fully recover can be devastating. Sadly, this is a reality for many victims of commercial truck accidents. If you are facing the prospect of living the rest of your life with the effects of a traumatic injury, calculating your future losses (including medical expenses, loss of future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other non-financial losses) will be absolutely essential to ensuring that you are fully compensated.

Q: Is it Worth it to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer to Represent You?

Yes, absolutely. While there are a number of reasons why, the simplest reason is that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by hiring an experienced attorney. If you try to deal with the trucking companies and their defense lawyers on your own, your claim is likely to go nowhere, and you will not have any idea of the amount you are entitled to recover. By hiring an attorney, you can put yourself on a level playing field, and you can make sure that you do not unknowingly settle for far less than you deserve.

Speak with an Experienced Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer at Malman Law

At Malman Law, we represent all of our truck accident clients on a contingency-fee basis. This means that you pay nothing unless we win just compensation. To discuss your case in a free and confidential consultation, please call 888-626-6265 or contact us online today.

When you entrust your parent’s or other aging loved one’s care to a nursing home, you expect the nurses, administrators, and staff to do everything possible to ensure that he or she is able to live a comfortable and fulfilling life. You expect the smiling faces and cozy atmosphere portrayed on the nursing home’s website to translate into the real world, and you expect your loved one to be able to happily settle into his or her new home.

You don’t even think about worrying that your loved one’s basic needs will go unfulfilled.

Tragically, this is a very real problem in many Chicago nursing homes. It is estimated that a minimum of one third of all nursing home residents in the U.S. suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, or both. Improper medication is a prevalent issue as well, with many residents often going for days, weeks or even months without receiving the medications they have been prescribed. Overdosing and underdosing are common issues as well; and, despite the training required of all nurses who work in the nursing home setting, it is not at all unusual for residents to be provided with incorrect dosages or have their medications administered on an improper schedule.

The Most-Common Problems are Also Among the Easiest to Avoid

While malnutrition, dehydration, and improper medication are easily among health concerns facing nursing home residents in Chicago, they are also among the easiest problems to avoid. Residents’ care plans should specify their dietary needs and restrictions as well as the appropriate schedule for providing or administering their prescription drugs. Nursing homes should also have an adequate number of skilled staff members who are capable of following residents’ care plans, and they should have policies and procedures in place to ensure that any isolated mistakes can be addressed before they lead to long-term consequences.

Unfortunately, our experience shows that this level of care is the exception rather than the norm. From hiring inexperienced (or apathetic) care givers to failing to provide access to nutritious foods, if you can think of a shortcoming, it exists in a nursing home in Chicago. In fact, it probably exists in several nursing homes, and probably not in isolation. In our experience, nursing homes routinely fall short of meeting residents’ and family members’ reasonable expectations, and they will often go to greater lengths to conceal their misdeeds than they will to correct them.

To be abundantly clear, while malnutrition, dehydration, and improper medication are common in Chicago nursing homes, they are never justified. All of these issues can be avoided with proper care; and, if a resident’s health condition suffers, the resident must be provided with access to adequate medical care so that he or she can fully recover. Malnutrition, dehydration, and improper medication are usually clear signs of nursing home negligence, and residents who suffer due to nursing home negligence deserve to be fully compensated for the financial losses and non-financial harm they endure.

Identifying the Signs of Malnutrition, Dehydration, and Improper Medication

Warning Signs of Malnutrition

There are many warning signs of malnutrition. Unfortunately, these warning signs can be symptomatic of other medical conditions as well, particularly among the elderly, and this can make it difficult for nursing home residents and their loved ones to diagnose a severe nutrient deficiency. Common symptoms of malnutrition include:

  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Inability to perform routine tasks
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Swollen thyroid
  • Tooth decay
  • Unexplained weight loss

The longer a nursing home resident suffers from malnutrition, the more exposure he or she can face to additional complications. For example, the effects of prolonged malnutrition can include:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Bedsores (pressure ulcers) resulting from lack of mobility
  • Impaired brain and muscle function
  • Increased risk of broken bones and other serious injuries from falls
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Slower healing of wounds

If your loved one is exhibiting signs of malnutrition, how can you determine if he or she is suffering from a nutrient deficiency and not some other medical condition? As always, if you have any concerns about an aging loved one’s health, the best and most important thing you can do is to see a doctor right away. Your loved one’s doctor can run tests to determine if he or she is suffering from malnutrition; and, if so, the doctor can begin providing appropriate treatment immediately. In addition to watching for the symptoms of malnutrition, it can be helpful to be mindful of the following risk factors:

  • Inadequate diet – In adequate access to essential nutrients is the fundamental cause of malnutrition, and it is frequently the result of nursing home negligence.
  • Mental illness – Nursing home residents who suffer from dementia, schizophrenia, and other forms of mental illness may be more reliant on nursing home staff to ensure that they consume a nutritious diet.
  • Chronic health conditions – Chronic health conditions such as cancers, Chron’s disease, and diabetes can limit the food options that are available to nursing home residents. When this is the case, nursing homes must provide adequate care to ensure that residents receive adequate and appropriate foods.

Warning Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when the body uses more fluids than it takes in, and the effects of dehydration can be both swift and severe. As explained by the Mayo Clinic:

“[Dehydration] is especially dangerous for . . . older adults. . . . Older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, and may have conditions or take medications that increase the risk of dehydration. This means that even minor illnesses, such as infections affecting the lungs or bladder, can result in dehydration in older adults.”

However, once again, the fact that older adults may be more susceptible to dehydration is not an excuse for dehydration to occur. If anything, it places further onus on nursing homes to ensure that their residents have regular access to adequate fluids. There are a number of tell-tale signs of dehydration in older adults, including:

  • Confusion
  • Dark or bloody stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Inability to keep liquids down (vomiting)
  • Infrequent urination (and dark-colored urine)
  • Thirst

Similar to malnutrition, dehydration can lead to a number of potentially-serious complications as well. These can include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Urinary tract infections, kidney stones, or kidney failure
  • Seizures
  • Sudden and severe drop in blood pressure (hypovolemic shock)

Inadequate access to fluids, mental illness, and chronic health conditions are all risk factors for dehydration among seniors living in nursing homes. Contracting the flu, bronchitis, and other illnesses can increase aging individuals’ risk of dehydration as well, and nursing homes must monitor sick residents carefully to ensure that they are consuming and retaining adequate fluids.

Warning Signs of Improper Medication

The effects of improper medication can range from minor discomfort to potentially life-threatening medical conditions. Nursing homes have an obligation to ensure that residents have access to their prescription medications when they need them, whether that means simply ensuring that able-bodied residents have their medications in their rooms or physically administering medications to residents who are dependent on their caregivers.

The warning signs and effects of improper medication will vary depending upon the specific issue and medication involved. For example, signs that a nursing home resident is not being provided with access to his or her medications as prescribed include:

  • Excess pills or liquid medications (based on the prescribed daily dosage)
  • Evidence that medications have been thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet
  • Missing pill bottles or complaints that medications are being stolen or administered to other residents
  • Signs or symptoms of relapse or inadequate treatment of the condition for which a medication was prescribed
  • Evasiveness when nursing home staff or administrators are asked about a resident’s medication regimen

On the other end of the spectrum is overdose. Sadly, in nursing homes, overdoses can be the result of both negligent care and intentional abuse. If your aging loved one is exhibiting symptoms of a drug overdose, it is important to seek emergency medical treatment immediately. These symptoms may include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Incoherence
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of coordination
  • Sedation
  • Slow breathing or heart rate
  • Slurred speech
  • Unsteady gait

In any case, when faced with concerns of inadequate, substandard, or negligent care in a Chicago nursing home, it is important to seek medical advice from a doctor right away. It is also important to speak with an attorney who can deal with the nursing home on your behalf and help extricate your loved one from a dangerous situation. Your loved one may also be entitled to financial compensation, and holding the nursing home accountable can be a crucial step on the road to recovery.

Speak with a Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer in Chicago, IL

Are you concerned about the quality of care your parent or other aging loved one is receiving in a Chicago nursing home? If so, we urge you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with an experienced Chicago nursing home negligence lawyer at Malman Law, please call 888-625-6265 or tell us how to reach you online now.

Most people assume that riding a motorcycle is inherently dangerous. Most people assume that motorcycle riders are risk takers, and that they take their lives into their own hands every time they ride. Due to a poor example set by a very small segment of the riding population, most people also assume that motorcycle riders constantly speed, weave through traffic, and put themselves and others in harm’s way.

Of course, as a rider, you know that none of this is true. You know that the greatest threat to your safety is not your own dangerous behavior, but the carelessness and recklessness of other drivers. You know that you can stay safe by riding within your limits, and you know that you can reduce (but not eliminate) your risk of injury by wearing a helmet and full riding gear.

Unfortunately, this bias against motorcycle riders and misconception of the risks associated with riding a motorcycle has the potential to affect riders’ insurance claims when they get injured on the road. Like most people, insurance claims adjusters tend to assume that riders are at fault for their own injuries. As a result, when seeking financial compensation for a motorcycle accident in Chicago, riders must diligently assert and protect their legal rights.

Dealing with the Insurance Companies After a Motorcycle Accident in Chicago

1. Proving Fault in the Accident

Even setting aside the issue of rider bias, in order to recover financial compensation after an accident, you need to be able to prove that someone else was at fault. In legal terms, this is referred to as proving “negligence,” and most accident claims involve driver mistakes such as merging without looking, following too closely, and talking or texting behind the wheel.

How do you prove negligence? The answer depends on the specific issue (or issues) involved in your collision. Generally speaking, however, the types of evidence that may be available to prove driver negligence include:

  • The extent and location of the damage to your motorcycle and the other vehicle (or vehicles) involved in the accident
  • Skid marks, damage to guard rails, and other physical evidence at the scene of the accident
  • The police report prepared at the scene of the accident
  • Eye witness statements
  • Traffic camera, red light camera, or security camera footage
  • Cell phone records
  • Social media posts

In order to collect most of these types of evidence, it will be important to conduct an investigation at the scene of the accident as soon as possible. This is a task that needs to be handled by professionals (you should not return to the accident scene and attempt to collect evidence on your own). If it appears that you have a claim, your law firm will be able to request the police report, cell phone records, and any other records that may be available to help prove your claim as well.

2. Challenging Assumptions (or Evidence) of Rider Fault

Due to the bias against motorcycle riders, when collecting evidence of fault, it can also be helpful (and in some cases necessary) to collect evidence demonstrating a lack of liability on your behalf. The same types of evidence that can be used to establish fault can be used to establish lack of fault as well. For example, the length of your skid marks and the distance your motorcycle slid can help show that you were not speeding when the accident occurred. Likewise, eye witnesses may be able to confirm that you were riding safely with the flow of traffic when the other driver came into your lane.

3. Identifying Other Factors Involved in the Accident

While most motorcycle accident cases involve a claim against a negligent driver’s insurance company, there are various other factors that can cause and contribute to accidents as well. It is critical not to rule out these additional potential factors during the investigative process.

For example, vehicle and motorcycle defects are far more common than most people realize. From faulty brakes and tires to electrical issues and transmission failures, virtually all issues with motorcycles, cars, trucks, and SUVs have the potential to factor into collisions. Whether your motorcycle was defective or the vehicle that hit you had a defect, the manufacturer could be fully liable for your accident-related injuries. If the issue was the result of faulty maintenance or repair work rather than a defect, then the shop that performed the work could be liable instead.

Road defects and maintenance issues are potential factors as well. From potholes to blind corners, issues that might not create problems for passenger vehicles can be extremely dangerous for riders. As a rider, you have the right to expect the road to be built and maintained in reasonably safe condition, and issues with the road can provide injured riders with “third-party” liability claims similar to vehicle maintenance issues and defects.

4. Dealing with Issues of “Contributory Negligence”

In order to recover full compensation for your injuries, you need to prove that someone else was 100% at fault in the accident. But, in order to deny your claim, the insurance company only needs to show that you are 51% or more to blame for your own injuries. If the insurance company can show that you were partially at fault (but less than 51% at fault), then it can reduce your financial recovery in proportion to your percentage of liability.

This is known as the law of “contributory negligence.” Thanks once again to the common bias against motorcycle riders, questions of contributory negligence tend to come up in motorcycle accident claims. In order to maximize your financial recovery – and ideally recover 100% of your accident-related losses – you will need to be able to counter any evidence that you played a role in causing the collision.

5. Proving the Long-Term and Non-Financial Effects of Your Injuries

Under Illinois law, if you have a claim for financial compensation as a result of a motorcycle accident, you are entitled to compensation for all of your accident-related injuries. This includes financial and non-financial losses, and it includes present and future effects of your injuries.

In most cases, individuals who have suffered severe injuries in motorcycle accidents will suffer non-financial losses that far exceed their medical expenses and lost wages. As a general rule, damages for pain and suffering are calculated as a multiple of the victim’s financial losses. Non-financial losses also include things like loss of companionship, society, and loss of enjoyment of life; and, if you are no longer able to ride your motorcycle as a result of your injuries, this is absolutely a factor that should impact the calculation of “just compensation” in your case.

6. Negotiating a Fair Settlement with the Insurance Companies

Once you have evidence of fault, you have the evidence necessary to counter any allegations of contributory negligence, and you know how much you are entitled to recover, then you can begin the process of trying to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance companies. In all cases – and especially in cases involving severe injuries from motorcycle collisions – it is important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer fighting for just compensation on your behalf.

There are a number of reasons why. Among them, even if the evidence is clearly in your favor, the anti-rider bias can still come into play. Unfortunately, the insurance companies do not always weigh the evidence appropriately; and, just because you are entitled to compensation does not mean the insurance companies are going to pay. In order to win a fair settlement, you need to be able to convince the insurance companies not only that the evidence is in your favor, but that you will be able to present a compelling case to the judge or jury if you take your case to trial.

7. Taking Your Motorcycle Accident Case to Court

Whether you have a claim against a negligent driver’s insurance company or you have a claim against your motorcycle’s manufacturer for a product defect, if you need to take your case to court, you will need to be prepared to overcome the anti-rider bias. You will need to be prepared to convince the judge or jury to render a verdict based on the facts and not based on misconceptions or generalizations about the riding community. This can be a difficult task; and, once again, hiring an experienced attorney to handle all aspects of your claim is the best way to maximize your financial recovery.

Speak with a Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for Free

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in the Chicago area, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing injured motorcycle riders in insurance claims and litigation, and we can use this experience to your advantage. To speak with one of our attorneys at a time that is convenient for you, please call 888-625-6265 or request an appointment online today.

When you took your Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course to get your motorcycle license, you probably learned about ATGATT. This stands for “all the gear, all the time,” and it is meant to remind all riders to gear up every time they ride. Along with a helmet, following ATGATT means wearing boots, gloves, a jacket, and pants that are all specifically designed to reduce riders’ risk of injury in the event of a high-side or low-side accident.

But, following ATGATT is not the law. In fact, Illinois is one of only a few states that do not even require riders to wear a helmet. So, if you are injured in a motorcycle accident and it appears that your injuries would have been less-severe had you been wearing full riding gear, what does this mean for your claim for financial compensation?

If Someone Else Was at Fault in Your Motorcycle Accident, You are Entitled to Just Compensation

Let’s start with the basics. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Chicago and the accident was someone else’s fault, you are entitled to just compensation. This is due to the basic legal principle of “negligence.” In Illinois (and the vast majority of other states), if someone else’s negligence causes you harm, that person is liable for your injury-related losses.

In the context of a motorcycle accident, this typically means seeking compensation under the negligent driver’s bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance policy. BIL insurance covers accident victims’ losses when the policyholder is deemed at fault, and it covers all losses stemming from the victims’ injuries. This includes not only medical bills and lost wages, but also pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment of life, and all other current and future financial and non-financial losses.

In Illinois, all drivers are required to carry a minimum of $20,000 in BIL insurance per person per accident, with a total policy limit of $40,000 per collision. This means that regardless of whether you were riding by yourself or you were riding “two up,” you should have access to $20,000 in BIL coverage. Of course, this assumes that (i) the at-fault driver is insured as required by Illinois law, and (ii) the at-fault driver was solely at fault in the accident. However, in the case of a motorcycle accident, a rider’s losses can easily exceed $20,000; and, in this scenario, it will be necessary to look to other sources of financial compensation. Depending upon the circumstances involved these other sources may include:

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance coverage;
  • Another driver who also played a role in causing the accident;
  • A government agency or construction contractor who built an unsafe road or failed to maintain the road in safe condition; and/or,
  • A vehicle manufacturer (if a defect in your motorcycle or another vehicle caused or contributed to the accident).

Now, let’s get back to the issue of not wearing full riding gear. Essentially, this boils down to a question of: What happens if you are partially at fault for your own injuries? If you had the option to wear riding gear and you chose not to do so, should this reduce (or eliminate) your financial recovery?

“Contributory Negligence” and Motorcycle Accidents in Chicago, Illinois

In Illinois, the question of whether partial fault in a motorcycle accident will reduce your financial recovery is governed by the principle of “contributory negligence.” Contributory negligence laws vary from state to state; and, in Illinois, the law states:

In all actions on account of death, bodily injury or physical damage to property in which recovery is predicated upon fault, the contributory fault chargeable to the plaintiff shall be compared with the fault of all tortfeasors whose fault was a proximate cause of the death, injury, loss, or damage for which recovery is sought. The plaintiff shall be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought. The plaintiff shall not be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is not more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought, but any economic or non-economic damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion to the amount of fault attributable to the plaintiff.

In other words, Illinois has adopted a 51% standard. If you are 51% or more at fault for your own injuries, then you are not entitled to financial compensation under Illinois law. On the other hand, if you are less than 51% at fault (and even if you were equally at fault), you can still recover a portion of your losses based upon your percentage of fault. Let’s look at some examples:

  • You were injured in a motorcycle accident and an investigation reveals that you were 10% at fault. Your total losses are $100,000. In this case, you would be entitled to recover 90% of your losses, or $90,000.
  • You were injured in a motorcycle accident and an investigation reveals that you were 50% at fault. Your total losses are $100,000. In this case, you would be entitled to recover 50% of your losses, or $50,000.
  • You were injured in a motorcycle accident and an investigation reveals that you were 51% at fault. Your total losses are $100,000. In this case, you would be barred from recovering any of your losses under Illinois’ law of contributory negligence.

Is it “Negligent” Not to Follow ATGATT?

As you can see, the determination of your percentage of fault can greatly impact your right to financial compensation after a motorcycle accident in Illinois. However, with regard to the question of whether deciding not to wear full riding gear constitutes a form of contributory negligence, the answer is far from straightforward.

The determination of contributory negligence must necessarily be made on a case-by-case basis. In this regard, one of the key things to remember is that the negligence must “contribute” to the accident. Even if you are drunk, if your intoxication does not contribute to the accident (i.e. if you are hit while waiting at a red light), then you are not partially at fault for your injuries.

Applying this principle to ATGATT, you can easily see that failing to follow ATGATT will not necessarily reduce an injured motorcycle rider’s financial recovery in all – or even most – cases. While gloves, jackets, and pants are designed to reduce the risk of road rash, they are not capable of preventing traumatic injuries such as broken bones, soft tissue damage, and spinal cord injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents. Similarly, while a sturdy pair of riding boots can help protect your ankles if you need to put your feet down at a very low rate of travel, riding boots are no match for the forces involved in an accident at public roadway or highway speeds. To think about it a different way: If a car cannot withstand the forces involved in a collision, there is simply no way that a piece of clothing is going to fully protect you.

With regard to helmets, the same basic considerations apply. While DOT and Snell-certified helmets are designed to reduce the risk of certain types of head injuries, they are not guaranteed to prevent all injuries in all accidents. If you suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other head injury in a crash and you weren’t wearing a helmet, in order to reduce your recovery under the rule of contributory negligence, the at-fault driver (or his or her insurance company) would need to be able to show that a helmet would have protected you. And, if you suffered a non-head injury such as a broken leg, then your helmet use (or lack thereof) is entirely irrelevant to your claim for financial compensation.

Never Make Assumptions About Your Legal Rights

All of this means that you need to be very careful to avoid making any assumptions about your legal rights after a motorcycle accident in Chicago. Do not assume that riding gear would have protected you, and do not assume that your decision not to follow ATGATT is going to prevent you from recovering financial compensation. However, the one thing you can assume is that the insurance companies are going to try to blame you for your own injuries; and, to make sure you avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your financial recovery, the best thing you can do is to speak with a Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation at Malman Law

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Chicago, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights. To discuss your case with an experienced attorney at Malman Law, call 888-625-6265 or request an appointment online now.

Photo by seabass creatives on Unsplash

When a negligent truck driver causes an accident, victims can typically seek compensation from the truck driver’s insurance company or his or her employer. But, what happens when the accident isn’t the truck driver’s fault, but is instead the result of an issue with the truck itself? Or, more specifically, when the accident is the result of improper loading or securing of truck cargo?

Along with truck driver negligence, cargo loading errors are among the most-common causes of serious and fatal commercial truck accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than one in 20 serious and fatal commercial truck accidents involves the release of hazardous materials (HAZMATs), and even more involve issues related to cargo that is not itself inherently dangerous. This includes issues such as failure to properly secure cargo (resulting in the cargo falling off of the truck) and exceeding a truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for safe cargo transport.

What are your legal rights if you are injured or a loved one is killed in a commercial truck accident involving dangerous or unsecured cargo? Who is responsible for your losses? How can you make sure you are not forced to live with the consequences of someone else’s mistake? Here is an overview of what you need to know:

Common Cargo-Related Issues with Commercial Trucks

18 wheelers and tractor trailers can carry an enormous amount of cargo. Under federal regulations, these trucks can legally weigh up to 40 tons (or 80,000 pounds) while traveling on the interstate and other public roads. Compare this to the weight of an average passenger vehicle (such as the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, both of which weigh around 3,300 hundred pounds), and it is not hard to see why ensuring proper loading and securing of cargo is of utmost importance.

When loading cargo onto a large commercial truck, what can go wrong? As it turns out, quite a lot. The following are all common examples of cargo loading errors involving 18-wheelers, tractor trailers, tanker trucks, and other large commercial vehicles:

  • Exceeding a truck’s GVWR
  • Failing to properly cover loose cargo (such as gravel)
  • Failing to pressurize liquid cargo (such as gasoline)
  • Failing to secure cargo with proper straps, chains or tie-downs
  • Overloading one side of a truck
  • Placing too much weight at the front or rear of the truck
  • Using straps, chains, or tie-downs that are not strong enough to hold cargo in place

Unfortunately, while commercial trucking companies are subject to strict federal safety regulations, this alone is not enough to protect innocent drivers and passengers. One reason is that these safety regulations take into account the realities of commerce in today’s world, and therefore they do not necessarily prioritize safety over all other competing factors. Another reason is that trucking and shipping companies routinely violate these safety regulations, placing profits and efficiency ahead of the safety of other motorists on the road.

How These Issues Cause Accidents

Whether due to intentional safety violations, pure negligence, or other factors, these cargo-related issues can cause commercial truck accidents in a variety of different ways. Some of the most-common types of cargo-related accidents in the Chicago area include:

1. Falling Cargo Hits a Vehicle

When loose cargo falls from a vehicle, it can present an extreme hazard to all drivers in the vicinity. One of the most-dangerous types of accidents involving falling cargo occurs when the cargo hits another vehicle directly, breaking or penetrating the windshield and causing the driver and any passengers severe lacerations and other traumatic injuries. In this scenario, it is not uncommon for the driver to lose control and collide with other vehicles or stationary objects (such as guardrails or telephone poles) as well.

2. Falling Cargo Causes an Accident

Even if falling cargo does not hit another vehicle directly, it can still put drivers in situations where they are helpless to avoid a collision. Oftentimes, drivers in this scenario will be forced to choose between hitting the fallen cargo or swerving and colliding with another vehicle. Either way, the fallen cargo is clearly the cause of the accident, and all victims who are injured deserve to recover just compensation.

3. Liquid Cargo Spills onto the Road

Spills of liquid cargo, including water, gasoline, oil, other chemicals, and even chocolate, can present a variety of risks for unsuspecting motorists. Aside from causing general confusion and chaos on the road, spills can also make the road slippery, and gasoline and other HAZMATs can present fire and exposure hazards. Tanker truck spills often result in multi-vehicle, chain-reaction accidents, and they can cause a variety of types of internal and external injuries.

4. The Truck Becomes Compromised or Unstable

Trucks that have been overloaded or improperly-loaded can become compromised or unstable, not only making it more difficult for the driver to maintain control, but also increasing the risk of tire blowouts, brake failures, and other truck-related issues. Improperly-loaded trucks can also be more prone to jackknifing or rolling over and potentially crushing other vehicles on the road.

5. The Truck Driver Loses Control

Even the most-experienced truck drivers will be powerless to control a truck that is out of control due to improper cargo loading. Truck drivers who are unaware that their trucks have been overloaded may not be able to stop in time to avoid rear-ending another vehicle, and those who attempt to brake suddenly in order to avoid a collision may find themselves completely helpless to do so.

The Companies That May Be Responsible

When a cargo loading error causes a commercial truck accident, there are potentially a few different companies that can be responsible for accident victims’ losses. These companies include:

  • The Trucking Company – If the company that owns and operates the truck was also responsible for loading its cargo safely, then any accidents resulting from cargo loading errors are likely to be the responsibility of the trucking company.
  • The Loading or Shipping Company – If a third-party loading or shipping company placed the cargo onto the truck or filled the contents of a tanker or shipping container, then this company could be responsible for all accident victims’ property damage and injury-related losses.
  • A Truck or Component Manufacturer – If the accident resulted from a defect in the truck, a cargo strap or other restraint, or any other component relied upon for safe cargo transport, then the manufacturer (and any other companies in the “chain of distribution”) could be liable for the accident as well.

Proving Negligence in Order to Secure Just Compensation

In order to establish these companies’ liability, it is essential to conduct an investigation at the scene of the accident as soon as possible. In addition to the police, there are likely to be several other parties investigating the accident as well (including the trucking company, the shipping company, the truck manufacturer, each of these companies’ insurers, and other accident victims’ law firms and insurance companies), and you want to make sure you gather the evidence you need before it is too late. Depending upon the circumstances involved, some types of evidence that could be key to your claim for financial compensation include:

  • The location and orientation of the truck
  • The location of your vehicle and any other vehicles involved in the accident
  • The location of any cargo that has fallen from the truck
  • Skid marks on the road
  • Damage to the road, guardrails, signs, and other objects
  • Road and weather conditions at the time of the accident
  • The location and extent of the damage to your vehicle (and any other vehicles involved in the accident)
  • Any damage to the truck, including damage that is consistent with a component defect
  • Eye witness testimony
  • Traffic camera or dash cam footage

Knowing When to Settle Your Chicago Truck Accident Claim

Once you know what caused the accident and who was at fault, then you can file a claim to secure full compensation for your current and future losses. After you file your claim, you may eventually receive an offer to settle. If this happens, how can you make an informed decision about whether to accept the settlement offer or continue on the path toward trial?

The key to making an informed decision about settlement is to ensure that you have a clear understanding of your current and future losses. Until you know what your claim is worth, you simply have no way of knowing what constitutes a fair settlement. At Malman Law, our injury attorneys work closely with our clients and a team of outside investigators, doctors, engineers, and other experienced professionals to make sure we know how much our clients’ cases are worth, and we give our clients all of the information they need to make informed decisions about protecting their legal rights.

Schedule a Free Truck Accident Consultation at Malman Law

Were you injured or was a loved one killed in a commercial truck accident in the Chicago area? If so, our personal injury attorneys can help you seek maximum compensation for your losses. To learn more in a free and confidential consultation, call us at 888-625-6265 or request an appointment online today. You pay nothing unless we win.

Financial exploitation of seniors living in nursing homes is a major problem. According to a study reported by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), “financial mistreatment [is] the most commonly reported form of abuse, followed by potential neglect, emotional mistreatment, physical mistreatment, and last sexual mistreatment.” The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) calls financial exploitation of seniors “[t]he crime of the 21st century,” and an “epidemic [that] is truly under the radar.” According to the CFPB, seniors lose billions of dollars to financial exploitation every year.

If you have an aging loved one living in a nursing home in the Chicago area and you suspect that he or she may be a victim of financial exploitation, these are important facts for you to know. In today’s world, you cannot simply dismiss your concerns; and, sadly, you cannot assume that your loved one’s nursing home has his or her best interests in mind. Financial exploitation in nursing homes is a form of elder abuse that has become alarmingly common; and, if you have concerns, you should seek professional help as soon as possible.

Who Commits Financial Exploitation of Seniors Living in Nursing Homes?

Financial exploitation of seniors can take many forms; and, in the nursing home context, it can involve individuals who are employed by the nursing home, other individuals, or even the nursing home itself. As explained by the CFPB, “Elder financial exploitation cases are complex. Financial exploitation often occurs in relationships where the vulnerable person has placed his/her trust and confidence in another person.” Some of the most-common forms of financial exploitation include:

  • Nursing homes overbilling residents for services, supplies, medications, or use of equipment (or billing for services or items that were not actually provided to residents).
  • Investment fraud perpetrated by “investment advisors” or scam artists who specifically target seniors, and who may even seek to give presentations inside of nursing homes or at free-lunch events promoted to nursing home residents.
  • Nursing home caretakers using their position of influence to convince nursing home residents to modify their estate plans, grant them power of attorney, or provide access to their financial accounts.
  • Caretakers, administrators, and other nursing home staff members stealing residents’ cash, checkbooks, credit cards, debit cards, and other items of value.
  • Nursing home administrators and other individuals pressuring residents to make financial decisions quickly and without the opportunity to speak with a lawyer, financial advisor, or family member.
  • Other residents, service providers, and care providers who gain unauthorized access to aging nursing home residents’ rooms and valuables.

The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) breaks down financial exploitation of seniors into three categories: (i) scams by strangers, (ii) scams by “professionals,” and (iii) exploitation by “trusted others.” Some of the most-common forms of financial exploitation falling into each of these categories include:

1. Scams by Strangers

  • Lottery and sweepstakes scams requesting that nursing home residents send a small sum of money in order to collect their prize.
  • Charity scams fraudulently soliciting donations that are simply pocketed.
  • Staff members and third-party service providers asking residents to leave their room so it can be cleaned or so medical equipment can be serviced, and then stealing residents’ valuables or financial information.

2. Scams By “Professionals”

  • Predatory lending scams to collect payments from nursing home residents.
  • Annuity and investment fraud scams.
  • Taking out credit cards or otherwise gaining access to financial resources by stealing nursing home residents’ personal information.

3. Exploitation by “Trusted Others”

  • Fraudulently obtaining a power of attorney in order to gain access to nursing home residents’ finances.
  • Threatening physical abuse against nursing home residents unless they give money or financial account information to the perpetrator.
  • Keeping change from errands, forging residents’ checks, and asking residents to pay for items purchased for caregivers and other individuals.

These lists are by no means exhaustive. Financial exploitation can take many different forms, and nursing homes, scam artists, and others are constantly finding new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting seniors. Once again, if you have any reason to suspect that your aging loved one is a victim of financial exploitation in a Chicago nursing home, you should speak with someone immediately.

What are the Warning Signs of Financial Exploitation of Nursing Home Residents?

While some cases of financial exploitation will be obvious, it is not uncommon for residents and their family members to be unsure of whether this form of nursing home abuse has occurred. Sadly, many financial exploitation scams target nursing home residents who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia precisely because these individuals are unable to discern what is being done to them. In this scenario, family members must be especially vigilant to monitor for the signs of financial exploitation (and other forms of nursing home abuse), which may be financial, psychological, or even physical:

1. Financial Signs

  • Unpaid bills
  • Missing cash, checks, credit cards, or debit cards
  • Stalling or other evasive tactics by individuals responsible for managing nursing home residents’ finances
  • Refusals from nursing home administrators, investment advisors, and others to provide information about nursing home residents’ finances
  • Unusual or unexplained purchases made with residents’ checking accounts or credit cards

2. Psychological Signs

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Embarrassment
  • Withdrawal

3. Physical Signs

  • Living below nursing home residents’ means
  • Substitution of generic medications or other low-cost items for nursing home residents’ normal purchases
  • Missing property
  • Deteriorating health condition due to a treatable injury or illness
  • Lack of access to mobility devices and other necessary medical equipment

What Should You Do if You Suspect Financial Exploitation in a Chicago Nursing Home?

The CFPB has identified “four pillars of successful intervention” for preventing and putting a stop to financial exploitation of seniors living in nursing homes. While these “pillars” are designed to assist nursing homes in developing protocols and procedures for combatting financial exploitation in their facilities, they can serve as a useful roadmap for nursing home residents and their loved ones as well.

1. Prevention – Through Awareness and Training

The more you know about the sources, risk factors, and warning signs of nursing home financial exploitation, the better able you will be to respond quickly, and potentially even prevent exploitation from occurring. Try to help your aging loved one understand the risks as well, and help him or her take steps to reduce the chances of theft or financial abuse.

2. Recognize – Spot the Warning Signs and Take Action

If you spot any of the warning signs of financial exploitation, it is important to take action promptly. Like other forms of nursing home abuse, financial exploitation is rarely a one-time event. Whether you notice unusual purchases on your loved one’s account statement, valuables are missing from your loved one’s room, or your loved one is exhibiting psychological symptoms of abuse, it is important to promptly determine whether there is an alternate explanation or you need to take action against financial exploitation.

3. Record – Document Your Findings

If you believe that your parent or other aging loved one may be a victim of financial exploitation in a Chicago nursing home, you need to try to document your findings. Write down what you are thinking so that you don’t forget later, take photos, print files – do whatever makes sense under the circumstances at hand. If you need to take legal action to recover your loved one’s losses, these early records could be important evidence in your claim for financial recovery.

4. Report – Tell the Appropriate Authorities and Trigger Responses

When faced with a situation of nursing home abuse, including financial exploitation, there are three primary legal options. The first option is reporting the incident to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). IDPH has oversight of nursing homes operating in Chicago, and it has the authority to impose penalties against nursing homes that perpetrate or allow financial exploitation to occur.

The second option is to file a complaint with the local prosecutor. Financial exploitation of seniors is a criminal offense, and perpetrators can face fines and jail time if convicted in court.

The third option is to speak with a civil attorney about taking legal action against the nursing home or other perpetrator directly. This option allows you to recover your loved one’s financial losses and pursue other appropriate remedies, including extricating your loved one from an abusive nursing home. An attorney who is experienced in handling nursing home financial exploitation claims can also file complaints with IDPH and the local prosecutor on your behalf if it makes sense to do so.

Ultimately, if you have concerns about financial exploitation in a Chicago nursing home, the best thing you can do is to seek help immediately. There is no harm in being wrong, but failing to take action can have drastic consequences for your aging loved one.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation at Malman Law

Are you concerned that a loved one who is living in a Chicago nursing home may be a victim of financial exploitation? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer at Malman Law in confidence, call 888-625-6265 or tell us about your situation online now.