Every day, hundreds of people sustain injuries from accidents on Illinois roadways. In 2019, 858 car accidents happened every day in Illinois and injured more than 10 people an hour. Cook County had 30,337 injury accidents and 285 fatal car crashes.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you may have difficulty recovering financial compensation from the insurance company without legal assistance. Insurance companies protect their bottom line by paying as little as possible in settlements and have years of experience low-balling claimants.
Illinois laws governing accidents and the actions you take immediately after your crash affect how your case will proceed. Your attorney can file a lawsuit if the personal injury claims process fails to result in a fair settlement. Filing a personal injury lawsuit requires your attorney to prove the other party’s negligence.
Contact Nessler & Associates for a complimentary initial consultation if you are involved in an auto accident. We can explain the legal process and let you know what to expect. We believe all victims of negligence deserve legal representation, regardless of their financial situation.
What Does a Car Accident Claim in Illinois Entail?
When you’re involved in a car accident, Illinois laws determine the minimum requirements for auto insurance policies, the statute of limitations, and comparative fault. You may need to file an insurance claim if someone is injured or property damage occurs within the statute of limitations.
The Illinois accident attorneys with Nessler & Associates can help you understand and navigate the relevant state laws.
Illinois Insurance Requirements
Illinois requires every driver to carry a liability insurance policy. The bodily injury (BI) part of your policy covers injuries to people outside your vehicle or your passengers who aren’t household members. According to state law, the minimum policy limits are $25,000 for one person injured and $50,000 for more than one person injured.
The property damage (PD) portion pays for damages to other vehicles, buildings, fences, and other property. The state requires at least $20,000 worth of coverage.
Statute of Limitations
You have two years from the date of an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit, but insurance companies require you to file a claim within a reasonable time.
If you get into an accident with a government employee during their duty, you have one year from the date of the accident to notify the Attorney General and the Court of Claims that you intend to file a lawsuit.
Modified Contributory Negligence
Illinois uses a modified comparative negligence law that bars claimants contributing more than 50 percent of fault from claiming any award. Claimants who contribute less than 50 percent can claim a portion of the award equal to the defendant’s share of liability. If the court awards you $10,000 and you were 20 percent at fault, you will receive $8,000.
What to Do After an Accident
Knowing what to do after a car crash can help your lawyer build a solid case. These steps are essential to ensure you protect your rights in the accident’s aftermath.
Pull Over to a Safe Area
Illinois law requires you to pull over in the closest safe area that does not unnecessarily impede traffic and remain there. The law also requires you to render aid, if needed, and exchange information with the other driver.
Note a Hit-and-Run Driver’s Car
Do not follow the other driver if you are the victim of a hit-and-run or miss-and-run accident. Gather as many details about the car and driver as possible and forward them to the proper authorities.
Details that can help you find the driver include the license plate number, color, make, and model of the car. If you cannot get that specific, at least note the size of the vehicle, how many doors it had, and whether you noticed any distinguishing characteristics, such as bumper stickers or unique wheels.
You should take photographs of the accident scene, the other driver’s license, insurance card, and license plate. Include any damage to people and vehicles. An experienced car accident lawyer can use these photos later. You should also get witnesses’ names and contact information so your lawyer can reach out to them for their testimonies.
Contact Emergency Services
Call for help immediately if someone is injured. When police and paramedics arrive, provide all the information you have collected and give your account. If the police do not arrive on the scene, report the accident to the nearest police station, sheriff’s department, or State Police headquarters.
Do Not Post on Social Media
Do not post any pictures or other information on social media. The insurance company can use anything you post against you in court. The insurer may also subpoena your phone records to see if you sent any texts or emails about the accident.
Get a Medical Evaluation
You should get medically evaluated after an accident, even if you feel okay. Sometimes adrenaline can mask symptoms of internal injuries. If you suffer an accident injury but wait to seek treatment, it will be harder to prove the accident caused the damage. This obstacle can make recovering fair compensation more difficult.
Your auto accident attorney must prove four elements of a personal injury legal claim: the negligent party had a legal duty, breached that duty, caused the accident, and ultimately caused your injuries.
The Negligent Party Had a Duty of Care
Drivers in Illinois have a legal duty to follow the state’s traffic laws to drive on city streets, county roads, and state and U.S. highways.
The Liable Party Violated That Duty
Your legal team must prove the other driver violated that duty. Violations and driver errors include:
- Reckless driving, such as excessive speed or weaving in and out of traffic
- Distracted driving, such as texting or eating
- Aggressive driving
- Drunk driving
- Drowsy driving
- Improper lane changes
- Driving too fast for current road conditions
- Inadequate maintenance of the vehicle that led to the crash
The Violation Led to the Accident
The court requires proof that the violation of the legal duty caused your accident. Accident reconstruction and accident experts can help the jury understand how that happened.
The Accident Caused Your Injuries
Proving that your accident caused your injuries is easier if you seek medical treatment immediately after the accident. Still, some types of damage, such as whiplash, are not present until later. Expert medical witnesses can support your case by testifying how the injuries you sustained occurred in the kind of crash you encountered.
The auto accident lawyers with Nessler & Associates have extensive experience representing accident victims and their families in court. We understand the toll this process can take on our clients, and we can guide you through the process with compassion.
What a Car Accident Lawyer at Our Law Firm Can Do for You
The attorneys with Nessler & Associates can help you file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If you received a severe injury in the crash, you need legal representation to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
An experienced car accident attorney understands how the personal injury claims process works. They can investigate your accident, calculate a fair settlement, and handle negotiations with the insurance company.
Lead an Investigation
Your legal team can investigate your accident. Examining photos and videos of the accident and interviewing witnesses are part of the process. They can also review your medical records. The investigation is vital to maximizing your financial recovery.
Calculation of an Accident Settlement
An accident lawyer evaluates the effects of your physical injuries to calculate a fair settlement for a personal injury. A catastrophic injury, such as a spinal cord injury, will require more compensation to cover financial losses. Cases involving less severe injuries, such as fractures, sprains, strains, whiplash, and lacerations, can also require extensive medical treatment.
Economic damages cover the financial costs associated with the treatment of your injury. The documentation might include:
- Bills for emergency medical services
- Surgeries to repair internal organ damage, broken bones, and burned skin
- Extensive hospital stays, such as monitoring a head injury
- Ongoing medical care, such as physical therapy, nursing care, or attendant care
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Loss of income if you had to take time off from work for your recovery
- Out-of-pocket expenses, such as splints for soft tissue injuries, medications, transportation to appointments, and assistive devices
Non-economic damages cover intangible losses caused by the physical damage you suffered. Common types of damages include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life or the ability to participate in your usual activities
- Loss of consortium
- Physical pain and suffering caused by the injury and recovery
- Emotional distress
- Psychological injuries, such as acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Emotional pain from the loss of a loved one
- Decreased quality of life
Your Attorney Sends a Demand Letter
Once your attorney calculates a fair settlement, they can send a demand letter to the insurance adjuster requesting payment. Usually, this opens negotiations with the insurance company.
Negotiations with the Insurance Company
The insurance company protects their profits by offering the smallest possible settlement. Your lawyer will handle the negotiations with the negligent driver’s insurance company, ensuring you do not accept an offer below what you deserve.
If both parties agree on a settlement, your accident claim results in fair monetary compensation. Most claims are settled out of court. If the insurance provider refuses to offer a fair amount, the personal injury lawyers with Nessler & Associates can take them to trial.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer significantly increases your chances of winning a fair settlement because they understand the process and have the resources to handle it efficiently. Let the car accident team at Nessler & Associates handle the settlement process while you focus on your recovery.
Personal Injury Trial Process
A personal injury lawsuit involves more in-depth work than a settlement. Your trial lawyers can use the information gathered during the settlement phase to build your motor vehicle accident case.
As soon as your lawyer files your claim, the discovery process begins. Lawyers exchange information on the evidence they will present and witnesses they will call to testify. Sometimes, one party can offer a settlement after seeing the other party’s evidence.
The defense may subpoena your phone records. They can examine your driving history to look for past accidents or a pattern of negligence. Your attorney can also do this with the negligent driver.
Attorneys from both sides can file pre-trial motions until the trial begins. These motions might include:
- Motion to dismiss from the defense, claiming there is insufficient evidence to go to trial.
- A motion for summary judgment from your lawyer claiming the facts are not in question or there is so much evidence a trial is unnecessary.
- Either attorney can move to compel that could force the other party to provide documentation or a deposition.
Hiring Expert Witnesses
The car accident lawyers at Nessler & Associates have a vast network of expert witnesses who can support your case and help you recover maximum compensation. These witnesses include medical professionals, economic experts, and accident reconstructionists.
These expert witnesses can explain technical information so the jury can understand. They convey critical information while leaving out the jargon. Nessler & Associates works with the best expert witnesses in the business.
Your legal team knows the best way to present your case to the jury. They understand courtroom etiquette, how to question their witnesses, and cross-examine defense witnesses. They can use the evidence and testimony to craft a strong narrative of your case.
Your testimony in your own words can help the jury understand the impact the accident has had on your everyday life. Friends and family who knew you before the accident might also testify to changes in your cognitive function or personality.
After the Verdict
Either side might appeal a verdict if a legal argument supports an appeal. For example, a lawyer can appeal if they believe the court suppressed evidence in error. If a court erroneously excludes the testimony of an expert witness, an attorney can appeal. Flaws in jury instructions, juror misconduct, and a lack of evidence to support the verdict also give cause for an appeal.
Get Help with Your Claim
Having the help and support of an experienced attorney significantly increases your chances of receiving maximum compensation from the insurance company. Nessler & Associates has over 35 years of experience helping victims of negligence get justice and compensation for their injuries.
The legal team at Nessler & Associates is passionate about helping victims of negligence and misconduct receive financial compensation. We want to help restore your financial health so you can focus on your physical and mental health.
As witnesses to catastrophic events caused by car crashes, our attorneys and legal professionals understand how challenging the healing process can be after an accident. That is why we focus on what we do best: fighting to protect your rights and giving you peace of mind and the ability to finance your recovery.
Call our law firm today at (800) 727-8010 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and find out how we can help you get your life back on track.