Who Else Can Take Legal Action Against An At-Fault Driver In Illinois?
The awful sounds pierced the early morning air on Highway 41, rising above the fog that had rolled in off the big lake. The squealing of tires, the shattering of glass and the crunching of steel may never be forgotten by those who were there. It’s a miracle that any of the three people were alive after their crossover SUV was treated like a speedbump by a semi-truck and trailer loaded down with 60,000 pounds of cargo on its way up to Kenosha.
Hours later the sniffling had stopped, the tears had dried, the heartrates of the injured had returned to normal and their physical wounds had been treated by the nurses, doctors, and surgeons at the local hospital’s trauma center. Baby steps on their way to recovery.
The next steps would involve pursuing damages in a civil case to make sure the injured have the financial means to put the pieces of their lives back together. It was time for the driver and two passengers of that SUV to explore their legal options for recovering financial compensation for their injuries and what they have been through. They should not be left to deal with the financial and emotional burdens alone; after all, it was a negligent truck driver who turned that calm morning into a moment that would change their lives forever.
The driver and both passengers decided it would be prudent to pursue financial compensation for damages such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages related to the wreck via a personal injury claim. The insurance companies would soon be contacting them about their case. The only question was where to begin and who they could turn to for help. None of them had any experience with the law or had any friends or relatives who were lawyers.
Calling A Personal Injury Attorney Is Their First Step In Making Things Right
When considering a personal injury lawsuit there is no substitute for the advice and representation of an experienced personal injury lawyer who has achieved results in Chicago and throughout Illinois. A skilled personal injury attorney can examine the evidence, consider the circumstances, and provide a clear picture of the compensation available to injury victims via a personal injury lawsuit or your own auto insurance policy. An attorney will know what the average driver or passenger doesn’t know, and that can make all the difference as they seek to maximize their compensation after a motor vehicle accident.
Another reason it is wise to hire an auto accident attorney is this: they deal with the insurance companies so injury victims don’t have to. Crash victims have been through enough already without subjecting themselves to the long phone calls, indecipherable letters, and bureaucratic nightmare the insurance companies will thrust upon them in the aftermath of their accident.
This doesn’t happen because insurance companies are evil or made up of bad people; it’s simple economics. They make a profit when they collect more in premiums than they pay out in claims. An injury victim’s personal injury claim for medical costs, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering represents a nuisance of an expense to them. It’s in their best interest to avoid paying at all or to sucker the claimant into agreeing to a settlement that is far less than what they are entitled to. Their auto accident attorney will make sure they don’t sign anything that isn’t in their best interest.
We’ll revisit the plight of this injured driver and two injured passengers later. Since you’re here, let’s take a moment to answer some questions that are of importance to you:
What Should You Look For In A Personal Injury Lawyer?
It can be hard to know where to turn when you need a personal injury attorney to handle your case. First of all, it’s important to understand that there is a difference between a “personal injury lawyer” and a “lawyer who practices in personal injury.” A personal injury lawyer will exclusively practice law in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death, seeking justice for the injured and those who have lost loved ones due to negligence. Meanwhile, some lawyers just happen to practice some personal injury in addition to areas such as criminal defense, family law, or business law.
While a personal injury lawyer has built their career on personal injury and remains on the cutting edge of the segment, a lawyer who practices in personal injury may be woefully behind and/or lacking actual case experience in this crucial area of law. If you and your family are depending on the proceeds of a settlement or jury verdict to fund your recovery and make your life whole again, you cannot afford to settle for anything less than a true personal injury lawyer.
How Do You Know If You Have Cause For An Auto Accident Lawsuit?
The short answer is that if you were injured in an auto accident you have cause to pursue compensation via a personal injury claim. The circumstances of the accident and who the other party was may influence how a case goes, but your personal injury lawyer will be able to analyze your unique circumstances and position you to maximize compensation whether you were the driver, a passenger, or even a pedestrian harmed by an accident.
For example, in our car-truck crash example, the driver of the car would be able to pursue a personal injury claim for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and other accident-related expenses. In the meantime, they would be able to rely on their own auto insurance policy and even their health insurance policy to make sure they get the care they need.
The passengers in the accident would likewise be able to pursue personal injury claims and rely on their own insurance as the personal injury claims wind their way through the legal system at the direction of their personal injury attorneys. If a pedestrian had been injured in the crash, they too would be able to rely on their own auto insurance policy even though they were not operating or riding in a motor vehicle at the time of the accident.
Even if you are partially at-fault for an accident, you can still be compensated up to the percentage of fault the other driver had in the accident. Comparative negligence can certainly complicate things in a personal injury claim, providing yet another reason to make sure you have an experienced personal injury lawyer looking out for your interests.
What If The At-Fault Driver Lacks Insurance?
All is not lost.
Whether the accident was a hit-and-run, drunk driving accident, or simply involves an at-fault driver who lacks insurance, injury victims can still pursue compensation via their own auto insurance policy if it contains coverage for accidents involving uninsured or underinsured motorists. You likely are protected in the event you get into a motor vehicle accident with someone who is underinsured or not insured at all. However, there are sometimes strict limits within an insurance policy as to when you need to notify the insurance company. Some policies have a clause giving a party only 30 days to notify their own insurance carrier. That is why it is important to deal with an experienced lawyer who knows these issues.
What Evidence Do You Need To Prove An At-Fault Driver Has Been Negligent?
Most of the evidence that proves fault in an Illinois motor vehicle accident will come from eyewitness information contained in the police report. Beyond that, accident reconstruction experts can be brought into to determine – with near certainty – what happened in the course of the accident and what caused it.
Examples of negligent behavior include:
- Inattentive driving such as fiddling with radio dials, talking on the phone, composing or reading texts, and digging through bags
- Failing to obey traffic signals such as red lights, stop signs, and yield signs
- Not being in control of the vehicle, including actions such as swerving or late stops
- Failure to use safety equipment properly, including failing to dim high beams, not using turn signals, and driving with broken lights
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Some Of Their Wounds May Never Heal
Like we mentioned before, there comes a time after an accident where the physical wounds have been treated but even then it may never be possible to forget those awful sounds of squealing tires, shattering glass, and crunching steel. The only silver lining is that the victims of negligence are not left to deal with the aftermath of an accident alone. Through a personal injury claim settlement or jury award they can move forward with the resources they need to be made whole now and in the future.
In our example above, a driver and two passengers in a crossover SUV were all severely injured by a negligent truck driver. They were completely blameless, eliminating the issues of comparative negligence from the equation in their cases. The driver and both passengers were able to pursue personal injury claims with the help of a proven personal injury lawyer who made sure they had the resources to treat their physical wounds, their emotional scars, and begin to put their financial house back in order after being unable to work during their recovery.
They may never forget the sounds they heard that awful morning. They may never forget the pain they felt from their physical injuries. They may never feel entirely comfortable traveling down that stretch of Highway 41 north of Chicago, but they can move forward knowing that they have a second chance at life after coming so close to losing everything at the hands of an at-fault truck driver.
Due to the help of their personal injury lawyer, they have the financial means to maximize every minute of that second chance and serve as an example for others of how to overcome adversity.
If you have questions about a car accident or truck accident claim, contact an injury attorney at the law firm of Mark L. Karno & Associates, LLC today for a free case consultation with an experienced lawyer. Our attorneys represent accident victims throughout the Chicago area. Se habla español.