One of the leading causes of deaths and injuries in United States is due to auto accidents. Many accidents and injuries were avoidable if it were not for the negligence of auto drivers. Let’s consider the statistics. One study conducted by the Illinois Department of Transportation has revealed that every year auto accidents caused approximately 850 fatalities and 61,000 injuries in Illinois. Another study showed that despite the car companies including safety measures in their cars to try and minimize injuries, many injuries were caused by simple driver negligence such as failure to wear a seat belt. Other injuries were caused by the driver themselves such as distracted driving with a cell phone, impaired driving through alcohol or drugs, aggressive driving such as speeding or reckless driving, or fatigued driving. In other words, not all auto accidents were caused by another driver. However, according to assessments made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, auto accidents amount to a massive $871 billion in damages each year.
KINDS OF ACCIDENTS
The damage from an accident may vary, but for our purpose one thing must be kept in mind -actionable claims. Not all accidents are actionable, which means you can’t sue for every accident. For example, you probably don’t have a very good claim against anyone if you drive yourself into a ditch. There are always exceptions to the law though, such as drinking and driving yourself into a ditch may result in a Dramshop claim against the alcohol establishment that served you! Ultimately, some kinds of accidents are actionable and some kinds of accidents are not actionable and sometimes it takes an attorney to find the exceptions.
The most common or garden variety of accidents that we see on the road may include rear-end crashes, head-on impacts, hit and runs, failures to yield, side swipes, intersection accidents, roll-over accidents, vehicle defects, and road construction collisions. Most of these accidents involve some sort of claim but not all of them can be reasonably pursued.
LAW ON THE SUBJECT
As the legal saying goes, “ignorance of law is no excuse”. The average person needs to know at least a little bit of law on the subject of car crashes. Some main points to remember are:
- The limitation period for bringing a personal injury claim against the offender is two years from the date of the accident. After that, a personal injury claim is barred by the statute of limitations unless there is a legally recognized exception. Don’t wait until the two year mark to start looking for an attorney.
- The Illinois Vehicle Code (IVC), found at 625 ILCS 5/ are the primary laws all motor vehicle drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians must follow.
- You are only entitled to damages if you can prove the other person was at least more at fault than you.
- Despite the mandatory requirement under Illinois law of personal insurance of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, a study revealed that 13% of the drivers do not have personal insurance. In the case of an uninsured or underinsured motorist accident, the injured party may end up making a claim against their own insurance in amounts greatly in excess of whatever policy the main negligent driver carried as long as they carried a greater policy. That is why it is always important to know both your insurance and the other driver’s insurance, even if you don’t think you will make a claim on your own insurance.
THINGS TO DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
The moments following a car accident are so shocking and startling that some people are unable to shrug off the shock for hours or days after the accident. By contrast, injuries may not appear for hours or even a day or two after the accident. It is always helpful to have some basic guidelines on what to do after an accident.
- Go see a doctor right away if you have pain. Not only is it good for your well-being but for the legal health of your claim too because without medical evidence the claim of injury is likely to crumble. Insurance companies always like to ask whether you delayed in going to see a doctor as evidence you were not hurt that badly. Report all of your injuries and not just your worst injuries.
- Generally speaking, a hospital or your primary care provider is viewed as more believable than a chiropractor.
- You are not required to give a statement to the other person’s insurance company. Many attorneys recommend you only give a statement to your own insurance company.
- Collect and save all the evidence from the accident, such as police reports, eye witness reports, photographs, or dashcam video.
- Contact us for a free case review and analysis!