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Chicago Car Accident Attorney

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You’ve been hurt because of a careless driver, and now you have medical bills to pay, lost wages to make up for any other costs to deal with. You want an attorney who can get you tangible results; justice alone will not pay your bills.

At Smith LaCien LLP, our Chicago accident lawyers aim to get you fair compensation for your car accident claim. Rest assured that we have the experience to deliver the results you want and deserve.

Does Fair Compensation Matter To You?

Getting compensation for a car crash is one thing, but getting fair compensation is entirely different. Victims of careless drivers are often contacted by the insurance company soon after the crash. The insurance adjuster may be quick to offer a settlement. If you get that call, you may be tempted to accept the settlement. After all, you have bills to pay.

But how do you know that the settlement offer is fair? The insurance adjuster may tell you it’s fair and that it will cover all your costs, but can you be certain? What the insurance company will not tell you is that its objective is not to help you recover physically and financially from the car wreck. Insurance companies are in the business to make money. If the opportunity exists for them to cut costs by paying you less than you deserve, they will take it. Do not give them that opportunity.

You can talk to a Chicago attorney at our law firm at no charge. If you have received a settlement offer, we will review it with you to help you determine whether or not it is fair. If you have not yet received an offer, we will let you know if you have a claim and what your next steps should be.

Common Tactics Insurance Companies Use to Deny Claims

Insurance companies work on a business model that depends on taking in more money in premiums than they pay out in claims. For that reason, they hire insurance adjusters whose sole job is to find reasons to deny or undervalue a claim. Some common tactics insurance companies use to low-ball a claim or deny it completely include:

  • Calling with a settlement offer very soon after an accident before you could know the extent of your financial damages
  • Recording your side of a phone call and selectively using portions to misrepresent your account of the accident. For example, they might choose a part of the conversation that makes it appear you thought you might have contributed to the accident or claim that you didn’t mention every single one of your injuries so you may not have actually suffered them in the accident as you now state
  • Ask for medical authorization to review your accident injury records, but then review your entire medical history; for example, to claim you had back problems in the past therefore your current pain is unrelated to your accident
  • Claim that the driver wasn’t covered under their policy at the time of the accident 
  • Dispute some of your medical treatments after the accident
  • Use lengthy delaying tactics in the hopes that you’ll give up and take an undervalued settlement

These are just a few of the most common tactics insurance companies use to deny a claim or offer a settlement that’s much lower than you deserve. Always speak to an attorney before dealing with an insurance company and then direct all further contact to your attorney.

How Is a Car Accident Claim Compensation Calculated?

How do you determine whether a settlement offer is fair? There is a lot that goes into calculating fair compensation, but one of the keys is to make certain that it does not overlook future expenses. Yes, it may cover the medical bills you already owe, but what if you need more medical care down the line? Surgery, physical therapy, and follow-up doctor appointments add up, and you certainly don’t want to be on the hook for paying for them.

Then there is the issue of lost wages. The same concept comes into play here. If you have to miss work in the future, or if your injuries prevent you from working at all, you want to make sure you’re getting money to help you get by without the paychecks you had expected.

One of the most overlooked issues in determining fair car accident compensation is pain and suffering. Unlike medical bills and lost wages, which are considered economic damages, pain and suffering are noneconomic damages. You can’t just calculate it by adding your bills together. Let us help you get truly fair compensation.

What If I Was Partly at Fault for the Accident?

One of the most common ways that a defendant or their insurance company will try to avoid responsibility for your damages is to blame the victim for the accident. Under the rule of contributory negligence, a victim would be barred from recovering for any damages if they were even one percent at fault for the accident that caused their injuries. You can imagine how unfair it would be if the defendant got off scot-free because of your minimal contribution to the accident.

Although some states still follow this contributory negligence rule, most states have adopted a fairer recovery rule called comparative negligence. Under the comparative negligence rule, the victim’s responsibility for the accident is determined and their recoverable damages are reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them.

Illinois follows the modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, the victim can recover damages if they are less than 50% at fault for their injury. The victim’s recoverable damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them. This means that if a victim is 30% at fault for their injury and their recoverable damages are $100,000, they will only receive $70,000. If the victim is 50% or more responsible, then they recover nothing for their damages.

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Common Causes of Car Accidents in Chicago

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, around 81,000 car accidents occur each year in Chicago with over 21,000 injuries and approximately 187 fatalities. Crowded roadways in urban areas can make driving treacherous. Human error is the number one cause of traffic accidents in the United States. Some common causes of car accidents in Chicago include the following:

  • Distracted driving, such as using a cell phone, eating, adjusting sound equipment, or applying makeup
  • Impairment from alcohol or drugs
  • Speeding
  • Disregarding traffic rules such as failing to yield appropriately and not signaling to change lanes
  • Aggressive driving
  • Tailgating

Many accidents occur at intersections and in high-traffic areas. Everyone driving on public roadways owes a duty of care to others on the road. This duty includes carefully adhering to road rules and traffic laws to avoid injuring others. When another driver fails in this duty of care they are the at-fault party who bears liability in an accident.

Protective Measures to Take After A Chicago Car Accident

Accidents are sudden and traumatic. It may be difficult to keep a clear head in the chaotic aftermath of a car accident. However, if you aren’t physically incapacitated or unconscious after an accident, it pays to protect both your physical and future financial health by taking certain steps immediately after a car accident:

  • Move to the shoulder of the road or a safe area away from traffic
  • Call 911 to report your accident
  • Give reasonable aid and comfort to any other injured people in the accident
  • Use your phone to take photos of the vehicles involved in the accident as well as any other causative factors such as intersections, traffic signs, traffic lights, or obstacles
  • Take down the contact information of other drivers and any eyewitnesses. You could also use your phone’s video camera (with permission) to record witness statements while they are fresh
  • Accept paramedic transport to a hospital or go to an emergency room as soon as possible
  • Tell the doctor about every symptom and ask for copies of detailed records of your injuries, recommended treatment, and prognosis. Be sure to follow all of the doctor’s recommendations 
  • Ask for a copy of the police report
  • Call a Chicago car accident attorney for a free consultation before dealing with insurance companies
  • Do not post on social media or give statements without speaking to your attorney
  • See a therapist if you experience PTSD, anxiety, or depression after your accident

By taking these proactive measures you not only maximize your chance for a full physical recovery, but you also gather the evidence you’ll later need to prove your accident claim for a settlement or lawsuit.

Common Injuries Caused by Car Accidents

Collisions on the roadway can cause extensive property damage and significant injuries ranging from whiplash to death. These injuries may require ongoing medical treatment in order to maximize recovery. This could mean missed work and loss of income while you focus on your physical recovery. Some common injuries from car accidents include the following:

  • Whiplash injuries from the sudden back-and-forth motion of the head during a collision or sudden stop
  • Fractures
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) range from a mild concussion to severe brain damage or death
  • Neck, back, and spinal injuries
  • Burns
  • Internal injuries
  • Scars and facial disfigurement
  • Paralysis
  • Limb loss or amputation
  • Crush injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder or emotional trauma

Most of the common injuries sustained in car accidents require ongoing medical treatment and lost income during recovery. Some injuries are catastrophic and life-altering. Car accidents are serious and require serious litigation in order to gain the compensation and justice you deserve when another person was at-fault in your accident.

How Long Do You Have To File a Lawsuit After an Accident?

In a car accident, you may suffer both personal injury and property damage. When filing a lawsuit, you will claim damages for all the losses that you suffered as a result of the accident. There are different time limits within which different claims must be filed. These time limits are known as statutes of limitations.

As provided for in the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, you have two years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury. These time limits are very important because there are very few exceptions to the rule, and a victim may lose their opportunity to file a lawsuit if they fail to file on time.

Some exceptions to Chicago’s 2-year statute of limitations are as follows:

  • If the accident left you comatose or mentally incapacitated you have two years from the date you recovered consciousness or mental ability to file a claim
  • If you were under age 18 at the time of the accident you have 2 years from your 18th birthday to file an accident lawsuit
  • If an at-fault driver flees the state or remains unidentified the statute of limitations may be placed on hold until the driver is located

While injury claims after an accident in Chicago have a 2-year statute of limitations, property damage claims have a 5-year statute of limitations.

Contact Us Today For a Free Car Accident Claim Evaluation

The fact is, when you’re involved in a car accident, you are often suffering. Whether you are out of work or facing a mountain of medical bills, it can feel like there is no end in sight. Our firm will advocate for you at every turn. We can help you get the compensation you deserve, including payment for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our reputation for results, now totaling more than $2.5 billion, is proof of our commitment to helping people throughout Illinois get the justice they deserve.

Call our Chicago law office today at (312) 509-8900 or send us an email to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury lawyer.

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