Car Accidents Common in City of Chicago
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there are an estimated 772 car wrecks in the state every day. Cook County leads the State of Illinois in fatal vehicle accidents. In 2018, there were 276 fatalities as a result of a car accident in the county. The statistics are staggering, but a Chicago car accident lawyer can help if you find yourself injured in a car accident.
As an urban area, Chicago has some of the most dangerous roadways due to traffic creating congested roads, regular winter weather bringing ice and snow to the area, and roadways in need of repair.
Even the safest drivers can get into a car accident because ultimately, you can’t control the behaviors of other drivers or outside factors such as weather conditions like snow, ice, or rain. You can, however, take control of your future by seeking legal options. A car accident lawyer can help when you are faced with the uncertainty of the aftermath of a car accident.
At TorHoerman Law, the Chicago car accident lawyer team will evaluate your case and answer any questions you may have free of charge.
I Was in a Car Accident. What Do I Do Now?
- STOP! Never leave the scene, unless seriously injured and you need to go to the hospital.
- Call the police and contact medical professionals for assistance. Illinois law requires you to report an accident if an injury or death occurred. If the accident resulted in more than $1,500 in property damage, the accident must be reported within 10 days. Failure to report an accident is considered a felony.
- Document. Record details and collect photos, including photos of the license plates and licenses of anyone involved in the accident. Write down the names of the responding law enforcement officers. The more details you collect, the better.
- Do not admit fault to anyone, including the other driver or the other driver’s insurance company.
- If hurt, keep track of all medical and billing records. This will help your case down the road.
- Hire a lawyer. Contact a Chicago car accident lawyer. They can help you navigate the complicated legal system.
Ask your legal team question any and all questions.. We’re here to help and make the process run smoothly for you.
Common Car Accident Causes and Injuries
While statewide campaigns, such as Click it or Ticket, End Distracted Driving, or the Illinois Speed Awareness Day, have been successful in creating awareness, they haven’t completely eliminated the factors that can cause car accidents. Car accidents are most often caused by six different factors:
- Alcohol or drug impairment
- Distracted driving
- Reckless or careless driving
- Vehicle defects
- Road hazards
After alerting emergency personnel of an accident, the responding officers will determine who is at fault for the accident and what factors caused the accident. That determination, in conjunction with the severity of your injuries and damages, will later help in establishing your case for compensation. Common injuries incurred in a car accident can range from neck, back and spinal injuries to broken bones. Regardless of the injury, you should seek medical attention to properly diagnosis and treat the injury.
Timeline of a Chicago Car Accident Lawsuit
Each case is unique which means there is no “right” timeline for a Chicago car accident lawsuit, but typically cases proceed in a similar manner.
- In Illinois, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury, meaning you have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. It is imperative you contact an attorney to discuss the details of your case as quickly as possible as to not miss your chance of filing a lawsuit.
- If, after an investigation into the facts, the attorney agrees to proceed with your case, a lawsuit will be filed on your behalf.
- After the filing of the lawsuit, the discovery phase of the litigation occurs – where information and evidence is exchanged and depositions of the parties and potential witnesses will be conducted.
- In many cases, after the completion of the discovery phase but before the trial, the parties will attempt to resolve the case. While some cases can be resolved in as little in six months, the facts of each case will dictate the timing and potential of any settlement.
- If a settlement is agreed upon, after all liens and attorney fees and case costs have been paid, you can receive the net proceeds as either a lump-sum payment or in a structured settlement, where the proceeds are paid over an agreed upon timeframe.
- If a settlement cannot be reached by the parties involved, the case will likely proceed to trial.
More often than not, cases settle before going to trial. However, there is a small chance your case could go to trial. Your lawyer will be there to help you every step of the way regardless of which route your case could take.
Receiving Compensation for Damages
The accident has happened and been taken care of by emergency personnel, but you’re still in pain, either physically or emotionally. The aftermath of a car accident is often incredibly stressful, but seeking compensation for the damages you suffered can help alleviate some of that stress.
Damages typically sought in a car accident lawsuit are, but not limited to:
- Vehicle repair
- Vehicle replacement
- Payment of medical bills
- Lost income compensation
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Insurance Laws in Illinois
By law established in 1989, Illinois drivers are required to carry liability insurance. Specifically, drivers must carry the following:
- $25,000 in injury or death to another person
- $50,000 in injury or death to two or more people
- $20,000 in property damage
As a driver, you are required to not only have the aforementioned coverage but to carry your insurance card with you at all times while operating the vehicle.
If you were in an accident in Chicago and the other driver does not have insurance, confusion can arise. What are the next steps?
Unfortunately, this is an all too common issue on Chicago roadways. If you have full coverage on your vehicle, your policy likely covers uninsured motorists, but often, it comes with a price tag at your expense. You’ll be required to submit a claim and pay an out of pocket deductible, which often will be paid back but takes a significant amount of time. Because of the claim, you filed, your insurance premiums could rise at the time of renewal.
If you only have liability insurance on your car, it’s a whole new ballgame. You’ll likely have to pay out of pocket for almost all of the expenses unless you added uninsured motorist property damage. The add-on gives drivers damage protection to the driver if hit by an uninsured motorist. But, you have to be able to identify the driver, and it cannot be a hit-and-run, otherwise, you will be responsible for fixing the damage to your car.
It’s important to note that uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage can likely save you from paying thousands in out of pocket expenses if hit by an uninsured motorist. The add-on will increase your insurance costs by a small amount, but that amount is a small price to pay when faced with an accident involving an uninsured driver.
Uninsured motorists cause havoc on Chicago roadways. The Insurance Information Institute estimated that in 2015, 13.7% of motorists were uninsured. Illinois is ranked 18th in the country for the number of uninsured motorists on the roads.
Illinois Laws of the Road
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, nearly 100,000 people suffer injuries due to car accidents in the state every year. However, many of these accidents could have potentially been avoided if drivers were following the rules of the road.
In the City of Chicago, the universal speed limit for urban streets, not including expressway streets, is 30 miles per hour. If there are no visible speed limit signs, you can assume the speed limit is 30 MPH. This is a universal law throughout the State of Illinois. However, there are exceptions. In the case of streets that are more similar to highways, the speed limit will be higher, and when in school or construction zones, the speed limit will be lower. There also may be instances of lower speed limits when bike lanes are present. Even if a driver is not from Chicago, the NHTSA says that most urban areas follow the same speed limits which should provide guidance even if a sign is not in place.
A seat belt must be worn by all passengers regardless of seating, age, height, or weight. Seat belts can save lives, and not only is it illegal to not wear one but by wearing a seatbelt, you are ensuring your safety.
In Chicago, the City strongly enforces the Red Light Camera Program designed to reduce the number of dangerous crashes at intersections. Rear-end, side-swipe, angle, and head-on crashes are the most common types of car accidents that can cause significant harm to all individuals involved. By issuing citations to those who run red lights, the City hopes to deter drivers from carelessly passing through intersections when the light has turned red. Originally established in 2003, red light cameras were placed at two intersections – Peterson and Western and 55th and Western. Since then, the program has expanded to other busy and problematic intersections.
While driving in the City, you’ll see a number of pedestrians walking to and from work or school. While this isn’t uncommon in a city of its size, there have been efforts to continually improve pedestrian safety. In 2014, the Chicago Police Department began an initiative to deter drivers from speeding around crosswalks and failing to yield to pedestrians. The initiative involves off-duty, undercover officers posing as pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks. If a driver failed to yield or was driving at an unusually high rate of speed – a law in Chicago, the driver would be pulled over by a police spotter down the street. Results of the campaign in 2015 revealed 2,602 citations were issued for “Failure to Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk”.
Eliminate Distracted Driving in Illinois
Illinois has one of the most restrictive distracted driving laws in the country, a benefit to all motorists on the roadways. Illinois law prohibits the use of cell phones, unless using hands-free or Bluetooth technology, while operating a motor vehicle. Any drivers under the age of 19 are prohibited from any cell phone usage. Talking on a cell phone, regardless of the use of hands-free or Bluetooth technology, is illegal in school and construction zones.
The state is one of 16 states prohibiting hand-held cell phones, making it at the forefront of ending distracted driving on roadways.
Why Choose TorHoerman Law as Your Chicago Car Accident Lawyer?
The legal team at TorHoerman Law are both experienced and skilled in handling car accident lawsuits. Highly regarded as top lawyers in their field, five of our lawyers were regarded as 2019 Super Lawyers, including Eric Terry, Jacob Plattenberger, Kenneth Brennan, Tor Hoerman, and Chad Finley. Tor Hoerman was honored further by being named a “Top 100 Lawyer” in the State of Illinois, an incredibly prestigious award that demonstrates his capability and expertise in the legal field.
You can count on the lawyers and staff of TorHoerman Law to work hard for you.
At TorHoerman Law, an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer can help answer any questions you may have.
For additional information, see the following pages:
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