Whether we’re driving to work or setting out on a road trip, our vehicles get us where we need to go. Unfortunately, negligent drivers can quickly bring a trip to an end. As a result of a crash, the occupants could sustain serious injuries, the vehicles may be irreparably damaged, and lives could be changed. If you’ve suffered as a result of someone else’s actions or inactions behind the wheel, our Chicago car accident lawyers are here for you.
An Analysis of Car Accidents in Illinois
There are more than 11.5 million registered motor vehicles in Illinois and more than nine million drivers. As a result, over 100 billion miles are traveled annually. It’s not surprising then, that car accidents are a common occurrence.
Understanding how often collisions happen in Illinois can put into perspective the costs, literal and figurative, individuals suffer when they are wrongfully hurt in a crash. The Illinois Department of Transportation conducts highway safety research studies to determine how and why so many accidents happen. Their most recent report, from 2016, provides these findings:
- That year, there were 324,473 crashes involving motor vehicles.
- 5 percent of the crashes resulted in injury.
- Less than one percent of the collisions resulted in fatalities.
- A significant number of wrecks were caused by speeding.
- Nearly half of all fatal crashes happened during daylight hours.
- 9 percent of fatal crashes occurred on dry roadways.
In order to understand why crashes occur so frequently in Illinois, it’s important to be aware of how they happen.
Common Causes of Automobile Wrecks
As we’ve discussed, car collisions are a common occurrence in Illinois and all over the country. Victims are often left confused about what happened and why. If you find yourself in an accident that you did not cause, it’s likely the reason your accident happened is related to one or more of the following reasons:
- Distracted Driving. Schedules can get hectic while trying to drop off children at school, arrive at work on time, and attend appointments. As a result, drivers may try to complete multiple tasks while behind the wheel, instead of just focusing on the road in front of them. Common distractions include texting and checking emails, eating, and grooming. A driver can also get distracted while changing the radio station or using the car’s navigation system.
- Drunk Driving. Approximately one in three traffics deaths annually involve a drunk driver. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3,866 people were killed in crashes involving intoxicated drivers in Illinois from 2003 to 2012. More than two percent of Illinois drivers have reported driving after drinking too much. Intoxication impairs drivers’ abilities to operate their vehicle and process what is happening in their surroundings.
- Speeding. Driving faster than the posted limit or faster than conditions allow contributes to a significant number of crashes every year. Drivers who speed are likely to lose control of their vehicles in inclement weather or while maneuvering around sharp curves.
- Disobeying Laws. Traffic laws are in place for a reason. When a driver decides to disregard a stop sign or pass illegally, they’re increasing their chances of getting into an accident.
- Fatigue. Driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Reflexes and cognitive abilities are slowed.
- Defective Auto Parts. Vehicle manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure the cars and trucks they produce are safe for operators. When corners are cut to save money, serious consequences can result. If a component of a vehicle fails, the driver could lose control.
- Reckless Driving. Reckless driving includes behaviors like tailgating, road rage, and aggressive driving. A driver is reckless anytime they are disregarding their own safety and the safety of others.
- Inexperience. New drivers may not have developed the skills to handle stressful driving situations like heavy traffic on multi-lane highways and snow or ice.
- Poor Road Maintenance. State municipalities are supposed to ensure the roads are safe for people to use. Accidents can happen when there are poorly maintained bridges, potholes, or flooded roads.
If you were in a crash that was caused by a different reason than the ones listed above, you may still have grounds to take legal action. Our car accident lawyers can help determine how best to proceed for your individual situation.
Types of Motor Vehicle Crashes
The type of accident you’re in can significantly impact your claim. Certain accidents, like rear-end collisions and hit-and-runs, are easier to file a claim for and receive the compensation you deserve. In the event of a multi-car pileup or a side-impact crash, your car accident lawyer in Chicago may need to gather additional evidence to prove you were not at fault for what happened. The most common types of motor vehicle accidents include:
- Rear-End Collisions. These frequently occur at stop lights and intersections where drivers are likely to slow down. If the following vehicle is distracted or speeding, they could hit the person in front of them in the event they stop quickly.
- Head-On Crash. These collisions are often the deadliest, especially when they occur at high speeds on highways or interstates. Lane drifting is often the cause.
- Sideswipe. A sideswipe accident happens when two cars are driving next to each other in the same direction and one vehicle, typically the one on the left, drift into the right lane and hits the side of the other car. While most of these accidents result in only property damage, the consequences can be worse if one of the drivers loses control over their vehicle.
- Rollover. These are most common with large SUVs and commercial vehicles because of the decreased center of gravity.
- Single Car Accident. A single car accident can involve a fixed or moving object. Pedestrian accidents normally involve only one car.
- Multi-Car Pileup. These crashes occur most often on interstates and highways where a significant amount of traffic is traveling at high speeds. Pileups can become deadly in the event a tractor-trailer is involved.
- Side-Impact Collisions. Also referred to as T-bone collisions, this happens when a driver hits the side of a vehicle with the front of their car. These happen most often at intersections.
- Hit-and-Run Accidents. If you’re the victim of an accident where the other driver takes off without stopping or speaking to you, this is considered a hit-and-run. This illegal action can have serious consequences for the guilty party.
Injuries Related to Car Wrecks
The accident types listed above are likely to result in property damage. In some cases, vehicles could be totaled. That, however, is not where the consequences stop. Occupants of the cars are likely to sustain a variety of physical injuries. While some injuries may heal on their own with rest and limited mobility, others could require serious surgeries and lengthy physical therapy sessions. Catastrophic injuries may result in death.
- Broken Bones. The force of impact of an accident could cause fractures to the arms, hands, legs, feet, or collarbone. Some broken bones require surgery before healing can begin, while others can be set with a cast.
- Back Injuries. A back injury can cause a number of mobility issues. Depending on a person’s job, they may be unable to return to work until their injury has healed.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. These injuries can be dangerous, as the spinal cord is a delicate structure. In the event a tear or separation occurs, the victim could be faced with temporary or permanent paralysis.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries. In the event someone hits their head during an accident, they could sustain a brain injury. Even a mild hit could result in a concussion. While some brain injuries resolve themselves, others could result in cognitive impairments, memory problems, and death.
- Disfiguring Facial Injuries. In the event an occupant is injured because of shattered glass or other debris, they could sustain facial injuries. Often times, these are likely to scar and result in disfigurement. Reconstructive surgery may be necessary.
- Neck Injuries. Neck injuries like whiplash are common. It’s important to remember that not all injuries show symptoms right away. It can take days or weeks before a person knows they’re injured, which is why it’s important to seek medical treatment immediately after an accident.
- Burns. In the event a crash results in a fire, victims could sustain serious burns. Burns are among the most painful injuries and the recovery process can be extensive.
- Limb Loss. An amputation could be necessary in the event someone’s limb gets crushed in a wreck.
Building a Strong Car Accident Claim with an Attorney
Once you’ve sought medical attention for your injuries and have settled a bit from the trauma of the incident, you’ll benefit from hiring an auto wreck attorney. It can be difficult to juggle insurance company calls and settlement negotiations while you’re recovering. That’s why we’re here to provide you with the legal guidance you need, step by step.
In order to build the best case for your claim, you’ll need to gather as much evidence as possible. This can come in many forms, including medical bills and records, photographs, and witness statements or testimony. If you were able to document any photos from the accident scene, these will be particularly useful to determine the cause.
After your Illinois car accident lawyer has determined how the crash happened, they’ll need to prove why by showing how the other driver is the negligent party. There are a number of elements to proving this. First, it will need to be shown that the driver owed you a duty of care. This means that they legally were required to drive in a way that did not put others at risk. Second, your lawyer will need to show how they breached that duty of care. This may have occurred because they ran a stop sign or were drinking and driving. Finally, connections need to be drawn between your injuries and their breach of duty.
Once your lawyers have proven the other party to be at-fault, compensation can be calculated. Financial losses can add up quickly for things like vehicle repair or replacement, medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. You shouldn’t have to deal with these costs on your own, which is why compensation from a successful claim can help you get your life back in order as quickly as possible. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be able to seek punitive damages to punish the negligent party.
Recovering with a Car Accident Injury Lawyer from Thomas Law Offices
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash, we understand how challenging it can be to get your life back in order without the compensation you need to afford your medical bills while taking time off work. Our Chicago car accident lawyers dedicated to helping victims find justice and peace with the help of the law. To get started on your legal journey and for a free consultation, contact our law firm today.