In Illinois, distracted driving is especially dangerous during the winter months. Icy roads and winter conditions in general require drivers’ total attention, and trying to use a phone while driving is a recipe for disaster.
Still, did you know that distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of car accidents in Illinois and nationwide? Even with all the information out there about how dangerous distracted driving is, people still choose to use their phones and do other distracting things behind the wheel.
Here are the most important things to do if you are hit by a distracted driver in Illinois:
Call the police
This is very important. You should call the police so they can make an accident report, which can then be used for your personal injury claim. Do not let the other driver talk you into not calling the police. In fact, it is against the law to leave the scene of a serious accident without calling the police.
Get medical attention
Even if your injury seems minor, you should get checked out by a doctor or at a clinic. This is important for your health, but it’s also important for your injury claim. You will need medical evidence of your injury, and getting seen by a doctor gets that process going.
Exchange information with the other driver
Get the other driver’s name, contact information, insurance information, driver’s license number and license plate number. Take pictures of these things if you can.
Ask any witnesses if they saw the driver being distracted
Statements from witnesses can be very useful in a personal injury matter, especially if a witness saw the other driver using a phone or otherwise being distracted before the crash. Also, be sure to get the contact information of any witnesses. This could also be very important for you injury claim.
Document the crash scene if you can
If your injury allows you to do so, try to take pictures of the vehicle damage, the scene around the crash, and your injuries if they are visible. You can also ask someone else to do this for you if your injury prevents you from doing it yourself.
Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible
The sooner you contact a personal injury attorney, the sooner the attorney can start working to get you the financial compensation you need for medical bills, lost income and any other costs resulting from the crash. A personal injury attorney can also handle all communications with the insurance company and negotiate for the maximum available compensation for you. Additionally, a personal injury lawyer can investigate your case and seek any available evidence — red light or surveillance video, for example — that may show that the other driver was distracted. In some cases, it is also possible to get cellphone records to show that a driver was distracted, and a personal injury attorney can seek those records for you.
Do not accept an insurance company’s initial settlement offer before you speak with a lawyer
Insurance companies are notorious for making “lowball” settlement offers that come nowhere close to covering the full cost of an injury. An experienced personal injury attorney can assess the full cost of your injury as it affects you now and in the future. For more on that, please see our overview of “How to choose your accident lawyer.”