Driving has become much safer than it used to be, but it still poses a risk to those on the road. According to reports by the Illinois Department of Transportation, 2020 saw 8,550 car accident victims receive debilitating injuries, and another 1,195 lose their lives. Despite this, some people don’t seek compensation for their injuries, even if the other driver was clearly responsible for the crash.
Car accident victims in Illinois may be entitled to compensation for their damages. If you’ve been in a car accident, learn when you should get a car accident attorney and how an attorney from Nessler & Associates can help.
When Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?
While most people know they don’t need to hire an attorney for a minor accident, it isn’t always clear when you need an attorney for a major accident. Here are a few situations where you should get an attorney.
You Suffered Severe Injuries
Car accidents can cause serious, life-changing injuries that require extensive treatment and healing time. Some people may become permanently disabled or require medical care for the rest of their lives. For example, a traumatic brain injury or paralysis can prevent someone from returning to work and caring for themselves, and they potentially need a caretaker to assist them.
Even though the other driver’s insurance is technically responsible for covering injuries that result from the crash, it’s very rare for insurance companies to compensate you for your medical bills. Since filing a lawsuit to recoup your medical expenses is often necessary, hiring an attorney is a good idea to ensure you build a strong claim.
You’re Having Trouble Proving Fault
Illinois is an at-fault state, meaning the driver deemed responsible for a car accident is liable for the other driver’s economic damages. However, proving who caused the crash can be challenging in some cases. If you were incapacitated by the crash, for instance, you may not have been able to provide the necessary information to the police at the accident scene.
Additionally, causing a car accident raises your insurance rates, so the at-fault driver has incentive to lie about the cause of the crash. For example, the negligent driver might claim that you pulled out in front of them without using your signal when the truth is that they rear-ended you while speeding.
Without witness testimony or footage of the crash, you may have difficulty proving that the other driver is lying. An attorney can gather evidence that the other driver is liable for the crash.
You’re Being Lowballed By Insurance Companies
It’s common for health and car insurance companies to be reluctant to pay you what you’re owed, even if you had no fault in the crash. For example, they may only cover a small fraction of your medical bills or deliberately undervalue your car so they can pay you less money. In more egregious cases, they may refuse to pay at all.
A lawyer can quickly put a stop to these insurance battles. They can recognize a lowball offer, negotiate higher settlements with insurance companies, and stop bad-faith insurance tactics in their tracks. They can also assist with other parts of your claim if needed: for instance, they may have the value of your car independently assessed.
The Other Driver is Uncooperative
In some cases, you might get into a crash with a driver who won’t cooperate. They might refuse to give you their or their insurance company’s contact information, lie about the events of the crash, or otherwise make your claim far more difficult than it needs to be. Hiring an attorney may be the only way to recover damages if you face significant damages.
What Type of Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney Do I Need?
The laws around motor vehicle accidents can vary depending on the vehicles involved. For example, commercial vehicles are subject to different laws and regulations than passenger vehicles. If you or the other driver were operating a vehicle other than a passenger car, you may benefit from seeking a more specialized attorney.
Car Accident Attorneys
Passenger car accidents are the most common type of accident, comprising 67% of crashes in the state during 2020. That means that most auto accident attorneys can handle the average car accident claim, no matter why you’re filing suit.
Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Motorcyclists are at far greater risk than passenger car drivers in the event of a crash. Since the body of a vehicle doesn’t protect them, they’re more likely to suffer serious injuries or lose their lives. Additionally, motorcyclists may be wrongly declared at fault for the crash due to negative stereotypes about bikers.
Motorcycle accident attorneys are familiar with these challenges and biases and can seek appropriate compensation for the victim.
Truck Accident Attorneys
Collisions with large trucks like semi-trucks require more specialized legal knowledge than the average personal injury lawyer has. Not only are trucks classified as commercial vehicles (meaning they’re subject to different laws), but it’s also possible for a third party to be at fault for the crash. For instance, if another company loaded the truck’s cargo improperly, they could be held liable for a crash caused by the vehicle tipping.
Additionally, occupants of passenger cars typically face far more severe injuries in crashes with trucks. You can rest assured that a truck accident attorney has the appropriate knowledge of commercial vehicle law, the amount of compensation you might be owed, and when a third party might be responsible for the accident.
Bus Accident Attorneys
Accidents involving city or school buses are surprisingly common: 2019 saw 3,067 crashes involving buses and another 1,249 involving school buses. These cases are also particularly complex.
Buses are considered commercial vehicles, but since they also transport passengers, the driver at fault for the crash may also be liable for any injuries to the passengers. A bus accident attorney can navigate commercial vehicle law, handle the parent company of the bus on your behalf, and prove that you were not liable for the accident.
What Can My Attorney Do?
The role of your attorney will depend on the circumstances of your claim. However, the majority of auto accident attorneys are familiar with various aspects of car accident claims, like negotiating with insurance companies and collecting evidence. You can typically expect your attorney to:
Review the Facts of Your Case
There are many variables in every car accident that influence what damages you can recover, from the extent of the injuries you received to the fine print in your insurance policy. Attorneys are skilled at combing through the details and determining what damages you may be eligible to recover.
Gather Evidence for Your Claim
You likely have some forms of evidence that you can provide to your attorney, like a copy of the police report or your medical records. However, these aren’t always enough to prove who is and isn’t at fault. Attorneys can collect more information from sources you might not be able to access, like security camera footage.
An attorney can also gather evidence that’s relevant to your particular case. For example, they might be able to gather proof that the other driver was under the influence at the time of the crash.
Draft a Demand Letter
One of the first steps of filing a claim is sending a demand letter to the other driver’s representative, usually their insurance company. The demand letter will outline your injuries and damages, explain why the other driver is responsible for them, and how much compensation you need for your damages.
While it’s possible to draft a demand letter yourself, many people have an attorney write it instead.
File Claims and Appeal Denials
Filing claims in court or with insurance companies often means keeping track of many deadlines, which can be difficult in the aftermath of a car accident. Your attorney can stay on top of all paperwork and claims involved in your case. This makes it easier for you to focus on healing: you don’t have to worry about whether recovering from your injuries will impede your ability to recover damages.
Attorneys are also skilled at appealing denied insurance claims. If you’ve already received a denial from your insurance company, your lawyer can review the reason for the denial and construct an appeal with a greater chance of success.
Negotiate with Lienholders
When you receive a settlement or judgment award, you’re likely expecting to keep most of the money for yourself, so it can come as a surprise when your health or car insurance swoops in and helps itself to your earnings. Many people are unaware that their insurance company is often considered a lienholder and entitled to a share of your earnings.
Your attorney can talk to the lienholders and negotiate the amount they collect. While they can’t prevent the lienholders from taking your earnings, they can often convince them to take less, ensuring you get a proper payout.
Represent You in Hearings
It’s unlikely that your car accident claim will go to court: most claims end in a settlement instead. However, if your case does progress to the courtroom, your attorney will be able to represent you.
What Damages Can I Recover After a Car Accident?
The specific damages you can recover after a car accident depend on the facts and circumstances of your case, so it’s a good idea to go over it with your lawyer. Some damages you might be able to recover include:
Bills from treating car accident injuries can quickly become overwhelming, and treatment can last much longer than anticipated. Luckily, many people can recover damages for medical treatment sustained in a car accident.
In a car accident, the other driver’s insurance company will typically compensate you for the damage to your car. However, property damage can extend beyond your car. For example, if you had work equipment in the trunk of your car that was damaged in the crash, you may also be able to recover compensation for your work equipment.
Injuries from a car crash can temporarily or permanently keep you from working, thus rendering you unable to cover regular expenses. An attorney can help you recover the wages you were or are unable to earn due to the crash.
If the accident killed a family member, you may also be able to recover lost unearned wages. For example, if your spouse was killed in a crash with a drunk driver, you may be able to sue the driver for the wages that your spouse would have earned.
Funeral or Burial Costs
If the car accident took a loved one’s life, you may be able to obtain damages for the cost of your loved one’s funeral, burial, or cremation. Ask your attorney what compensation is available to you.
Loss of Consortium
When a car accident leaves you or your spouse seriously injured or permanently disabled, the uninjured partner may be able to claim loss of consortium or companionship. This claim means that the injured spouse can no longer offer the same companionship, teamwork, or affection as they could before the car accident.
For example, if your spouse’s injury means they can no longer work, help with childcare, or provide physical affection, you may be able to recover damages.
It can be difficult to recover damages for loss of consortium, as it is considered a non-economic damage. Unlike economic damages, which have a measurable financial impact like medical bills, non-economic damages aren’t measurable and can be subjective. Additionally, unmarried couples may be unable to claim loss of consortium.
If you’re wondering whether you can claim loss of consortium, talk to your attorney.
Pain and Suffering
It’s common to suffer physical and emotional pain as a result of a serious car accident. For example, victims of a car accident may develop post-traumatic stress disorder and become fearful of driving or riding a car. In these cases, you may be able to sue the other driver for damages caused by your pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering is a non-economic damage, so it can be more challenging to recover. You will need to provide evidence of how you have been affected by the accident, like records of mental health treatment, journal or diary entries, or testimony about your pain or emotional reactions. Your attorney can tell you whether you can successfully claim pain and suffering.
Consult an Illinois Car Accident Attorney at Nessler & Associates
Far too many people don’t pursue legal recourse after a car accident for fear of losing a lawsuit. If you’re unsure whether you can recover damages from the other driver, even a brief consultation with Nessler & Associates can provide insight into the laws regarding your circumstances.
When money is tight, affording an attorney can seem out of reach. That’s why we don’t just offer a free consultation: we work on a no-fee guarantee so that you won’t need to pay us anything unless we settle or win your claim.
Give us a call at (800) 727-8010 or fill out our online form to take the first step toward earning the payout you deserve.