When an auto accident occurs, it can take only a few moments. However, the consequences could last months, years, or even for the rest of your life. A crash can result in severe injuries or sometimes take a loved one’s life. If this has happened to you, seeking your legal options with the trusted Chicago car accident lawyer will give you the best chance of recovery. At Thomas Law Offices, we understand that you need to recover financially, physically, and emotionally from an accident. We aim to provide our legal expertise to assist in your recovery in every way we can.
Thomas Law Offices Proudly Serves Chicago Car Accident Victims
Our firm has helped countless people get fair compensation for their losses in personal injury cases. The citizens of Chicago are hardworking people who deserve to have someone they can turn to when they need help. Our car accident attorneys know how confusing and complex the legal process can be, especially when multiple parties are involved. We’re here to guide you through the process and provide peace of mind in any way we can. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, contact our office today so you can schedule a free consultation.
If you’re considering filing a claim or simply have questions about what you may wish to do in the event of a serious accident, you may wish to keep reading. We’ll discuss the following topics:
- Common causes of car accidents
- What cause a driver to act negligently?
- Types of car accidents
- Determining liability after a wreck
- Common injuries that result after an accident
- How hiring a lawyer can aid the recovery process
- Types of compensation available
- How to protect and maximize your claim
- Seek out the best attorney possible
Our Expertise Can Help You Recover
With our skilled car accident lawyers at your side, you’ll know you have professionals acting in your best interests who will fight for you to recover maximum compensation and hold the person who caused your accident liable. Your compensation will allow you to focus on healing from the accident and getting back to your day-to-day life as best you can. In some auto accident cases, you may have lost a loved one. Compensation will help you get the space you need so you don’t have to worry about financial matters while grieving for your loved one.
The claims process can take time. As we investigate the case, we’ll go over the accident scene, review your injuries, and we’ll have to show that the other party’s negligent actions are what caused your injuries and losses. Our car accident attorneys are well-versed in compiling a strong case on our client’s behalf and we’ll do the same for you. One of the items we’ll seek to discover is what caused your accident.
Examining the Causes of Chicago Auto Accidents
Sometimes, the cause of the accident may not be obvious at first. Our lawyers in Chicago have seen many types of cases with various reasons for a crash. It’s possible one of the following causes is what led to your injuries.
As one of the major causes of car accidents, distracted driving took 3,166 lives in 2017. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is when a driver participates in any activity that takes their attention away from the road. This can happen in a few ways. A distraction could be visual. It takes your eyes off the road so you cannot see what is ahead. If a vehicle is changing lanes, turning, or stops suddenly, you may not notice or may notice at the last second but not have enough time to avoid a car accident.
Another type of distraction can keep one hand or both hands off the wheel—greatly reducing your control of the vehicle. This is referred to as manual distraction. Drivers can easily lose control of their vehicle if both hands aren’t on the steering wheel. When a driver with reduced control of the wheel needs to make a quick maneuver, they may overcorrect or jerk the steering wheel, which could result in them entering another traffic lane and colliding with a vehicle or running off the road.
Some distractions keep your mind from the task at hand—driving safely. Cognitive distractions can be music that’s too loud, a car full of people, or the driver staring at something happening on the side of the road. Both music and a full car have one thing in common: noise level. If the noise level is too loud, the driver will likely have difficulty focusing on the road. They could be more interested in singing along to a song or participating in a conversation. Staring at something off the road, also called rubbernecking, means the driver is focused on figuring out what’s happening instead of driving safely.
Unfortunately, many drivers cannot resist distractions in their car. Let’s take a look at the types of distractions our Chicago car accident lawyers have seen in past cases, starting with one of the major distractions: cell phones.
Nearly everyone has a cell phone that they carry with them everywhere. It’s a hub of communication, a source of instant information, and drivers may have it in one hand while they’re driving. However, when drivers choose to use their phones when they should have their hands on the wheel, they’re putting the safety of themselves and others at risk. Cell phones offer the following distractions:
- Social Media
- Phone Calls
- Navigational Systems
Drivers often overestimate their ability to accomplish other tasks while they’re driving. For example, if someone is texting while driving when they’re traveling at 55 mph, reading a text typically takes about 5 seconds. In that time, the person has driven the length of a football field without seeing what’s in front of them.
While the notification buzz is often what leads to a driver reaching for their phone, there are also other functions that can distract a driver. When traveling, many drivers choose to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. They may try to change their listening options as they’re driving, which can lead to them looking down at their phone. Navigational systems can be a distraction as well. While drivers may depend on their nav system and have the phone mounted so they’re not holding it, they may watch the map more than what’s ahead of them.
Other tasks that a driver may try to do while driving include applying makeup and flossing. Drivers who are in a rush may often try to complete their routine in the car. They’re going to be more focused on those tasks than getting to their destination safely.
Eating and drinking are other distractions that affect drivers. They could be running late and decide to eat their bagel while driving or try to drink hot coffee. Perhaps the driver is on a long car trip, where they’ll have to have a meal. Many drivers may try to stick to a schedule where they eat or drink in the car. However, fast food is often messy and will keep a hand off the wheel. Drivers will likely focus on balancing their food in their lap more than looking ahead.
Fiddling with the radio or other car controls are another distraction. Drivers should adjust their settings while the car is in park before heading out. Reaching over to the passenger seat or back seat to get something from a bag or an item that fell is another dangerous move that endangers the driver and other motorists.
Disobeying Traffic Signs and Laws
Another cause of car accidents is when drivers choose to disobey traffic signs and laws. Rushing through a stop sign, failing to yield, and ignoring traffic lights are all ways for a driver to easily cause an accident. When drivers ignore stop signs or traffic lights, there could be other cars with the right of way or green light. Sometimes, cyclists and pedestrians may be waiting to get the signal to cross. A driver who ignores red lights may collide with people on the crosswalk. Cyclists and pedestrians can sustain serious injuries because they have significantly less protection than other motorists.
Drivers who go above the posted speed limit can cause a car accident because they’re going faster than traffic and the speed could be too much for that stretch of road. A road with frequent turns may require a vehicle to stay at a certain speed. Going over that speed increases the chances of losing grip on the road and causing a wreck.
In Chicago, there are speeding violations motorists should be aware of. If a driver goes 10 miles per hour over the speed limit but is still under 11, the fine is $35.00. Any speeding over 11 miles per hour above the limit will result in a $100.00 fine.
Driving While Intoxicated
Driving while drunk or under the influence of a substance can cause accidents that cost lives. In Illinois, 3,866 people died between 2003 and 2012 because of drunk drivers. The national average of people who report they’ve driven after drinking too much is 1.9%. The percentage of Illinois drivers who have admitted to driving after drinking too much, however, is 2.2%.
When someone is driving while intoxicated, their judgment, vision, color distinction, and reaction time will all be affected. Let’s take a look at how the BAC level relates to intoxicated drivers, as reported by the CDC:
- 0.02%. At this level, drivers will likely have trouble doing more than one task at a time. They can also experience loss of judgment.
- 0.05%. When a driver has a BAC of 0.05%, they may have difficulty steering and their coordination and ability to track moving objects is reduced.
- 0.08%. Controlling speed and processing information and reasoning are incredibly difficult at this level.
- 0.15%. There is little to no control of the car and the driver can barely focus on operating the car.
There are several measures in place that are meant to deter drunk drivers. It’s illegal for someone to drive if their blood alcohol content is at or above 0.08%. A zero-tolerance law applies to those under the legal drinking age of 21, meaning they cannot drive if they have consumed any alcohol. Sobriety checkpoints give law enforcement the chance to stop drivers to inspect if they are impaired.
For those who have driven while drunk in the past, they may face license suspension or revocation. Police can take someone’s license if they have a BAC at or above the legal limit or if they refuse testing. Those who have been convicted of drunk driving may drive with an ignition interlock in their car to prevent future incidents. This device will prevent the car from starting if their BAC is above 0.02%.
These driving behaviors include following too closely, aggressive driving, and road rage. Following too closely, also known as tailgating, means the driver will have little to no time to react if the car in front of them suddenly breaks. While aggressive driving can include tailgating, an aggressive driver may weave through traffic and rarely use their signal so other motorists cannot prepare for their planned move. Road rage can, unfortunately, get the better of people. If someone thinks another driver cut them off, they may try to do the same. Or they could result to tailgating that car. In any case, road rage can cause accidents because the driver is focusing on getting back at the other person instead of driving safely.
Inexperienced drivers are typically teenagers. The CDC reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. In 2017, 2,364 teenagers between the ages of 16-19 lost their lives in car accidents, while about 300,000 were in the emergency room because of car accident injuries.
Teens are more likely to speed, not use seat belts, and drive while intoxicated. They need to know the dangers of these driving behaviors and the risk they pose to themselves and others on the road.
While getting a license is a big step in teenagers gaining independence, it’s important to know what contributes to car accidents involving teenagers.
- Estimating Dangers. A teenager may be so excited to finally be behind the wheel, they could be only focused on their driving, but not others on the road. Experienced drivers may recognize a car in front of them that seems to be swerving, has a taillight out, or is driving at inconsistent speeds. This could indicate that driver isn’t safe, and they need to create distance, whether that’s by passing the car or slowing down and letting it get ahead of them. New drivers may keep their cars near unsafe drivers because they’re unaware of the danger, which puts them at risk of getting into an auto accident.
- Gauging Speed and Distance. When making a turn or changing lanes, drivers need to have an idea of how fast the other vehicles around them are going and how close they will be after the maneuver is made. An experienced driver may know to wait before turning at an intersection because the car approaching is traveling quickly and will be nearly in the intersection by the time they turn. Inexperienced drivers may think they have the time and pull out in front of traffic.
- Driving at Night. About 40% of fatalities in teen drivers and passengers occurred between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. A teenager may not be used to the lack of visibility of their surroundings and all they have to go on is their headlights and streetlights. They need practice to work up to the point where they’re confident and safe behind the wheel when it’s dark out. Another main issue with driving at night is the exhaustion that can set in. Let’s take a look into driver fatigue next.
After long hours of driving or a particularly tough workday, drivers may be less alert and sleepy at the wheel. About 1 in 25 drivers have reported they’ve fallen asleep while driving within the last 30 days.
When you’re drowsy, your driving is affected in the following ways:
- Your attention to the road decreases.
- Your reaction time is slowed.
- Your ability to make good decisions decreases.
In 2013, drowsy driving was responsible for:
- 72,000 crashes
- 44,000 injuries
- 800 deaths
When you’re driving and you notice the following signs, you may be drowsy and it’s important to safely get off the road and rest until you’re ready. Drifting out of your lane, missing an exit, blinking repeatedly, yawning, hitting the rumble strips, and having trouble remembering recent miles you’ve driven all indicate that you are too tired to drive.
If a drowsy driver pushed past their limits and didn’t notice the warning signs they were falling asleep, our Chicago car accident attorneys will help you hold them accountable. Drowsy drivers can cause devastating injuries and will have no control over what happens once they fall asleep at the wheel.
Poor Road Maintenance
State municipalities are supposed to take care of the roads you drive on, like taking care of potholes, bridges, and flooded roads. There are also responsibilities that come with taking care of the roads when there is inclement weather. If snow or ice is expected, the roads should be treated with salt and when the snow starts falling, plows should be out clearing roads.
Blind turns, raised manhole covers, and uneven road shoulders are also dangers to watch out for as a driver. When the roads you need to use aren’t maintained, you can pop a tire, slide, or otherwise lose control of your vehicle and can cause a collision.
While there are so many reasons why a car accident can happen, they all have a common factor: negligence. A person who doesn’t exercise the level of care that they should have in their circumstances is being negligent.
Showing how the other party was negligent and how you were wrongfully injured is our Chicago car accident lawyer’s job. Before we go into how the team at Thomas Law Offices can help your claim, there are a few items you may want to know about driving safely and avoiding unsafe driving behaviors.
Negligent Drivers vs. Safe Drivers
While negligence is the main cause of most car accidents, let’s take a look at what you can do to drive as safely as possible. With these tips in mind, you’ll have confidence while driving because you’ve taken measures to maintain your safety and reduce the chance of getting in a car accident.
The first step is maintaining your vehicle. Getting regular tune-ups from your mechanic will allow professionals to look at your car and assess if there are any issues and address them immediately. You should also change your oil in the designated time frame.
Other items you need to keep in mind is your wiper blades, wiper fluid levels, having clean mirrors and windows, and that all your car lights work.
Tire blowouts caused 738 fatal traffic accidents in 2017. Drivers need to make sure their tires have enough air and are rotated regularly. When they don’t do this, drivers could have a blowout, get a flat tire, or lose the tread on their tire when they’re driving. Once a tire accident occurs, the vehicle will be difficult for the driver to control.
However, if you do experience a tire blowout while driving, follow these tips to maintain as much control as you can. Keep hold of the steering wheel with both hands, maintain the speed if it’s safe and slowly take your foot off the accelerator so the car speed gradually decreases. If you need to correct your steering, do so with caution. Then, find a safe spot to pull off the road and bring the vehicle to a stop.
Knowing the tires you need for the season as well as when you need to change them can help prevent these situations from happening on the road.
The NHTSA states that the type of tires you need depends on the weather your drive in. Check out the following tire types and what they’re used for:
- All-season. These tires are good for various road conditions, including driving in mud and snow.
- Winter. Meant for deep snow, winter tires are the best for inclement weather.
- Summer. It’s important to note these tires are not meant to drive on snow, ice, or be used when the temperature drops below freezing.
- All-terrain. These tires balance between being able to drive on and off-road and are a typical tires choice for vehicles with four-wheel drive.
When winter sets in, you’re going to need to prepare for driving in the upcoming weather. Keeping these tips in mind, you can reduce your chances of getting in an accident in the winter. The Illinois Department of Transportation recommends the following:
- Always wear your seat belt. This could be the factor that prevents an accident from turning fatal. It’s also Illinois law for drivers and vehicle occupants to buckle up.
- When driving in inclement weather, slow down for the conditions you’re in. While a road may have a speed limit of 55mph, this may not be safe when the road is covered in ice and snow. Slow down so you have more control over your vehicle and more time to react to situations on the road. If your speed is 10 mph or more under the speed limit, turn on your hazard lights to alert drivers around you.
- Give snowplows plenty of room. These vehicles are heavy and difficult to maneuver, and their blind spots can obscure smaller vehicles.
- Be aware of icy areas. Bridges, intersections, ramps, and shaded areas are more likely to have ice.
- Don’t use cruise control in winter weather conditions.
- Keep a charged cell phone and car charger with you in case of emergency, but do not drive distracted.
- Prepare for a situation where you could be stuck in your car. You have your phone to call for help, but you may be spending some time in your car. Keep an emergency kit in your car that has jumper cables, reflectors or flares, and traction material so you can take care of your vehicle. The kit should also include things to sustain you, like water, non-perishable food, blankets, warm clothes, and a first-aid kit.
While people generally know when big blizzards are supposed to hit an area, you may be caught by surprise with snow squalls or a sudden temperature drop that causes ice to form. Before heading out, always check your weather app. If it looks like some winter weather could be on its way, plan your driving schedule accordingly. This could mean taking alternative routes, leaving 20 minutes earlier than planned, or leaving later that day. If you were planning on running some errands that weren’t necessary to complete that day, you may consider waiting to run those errands until the next day.
Your safety precautions will help you on the road, but your actions may not prevent another person from driving negligently. When you’re on the road, do not guess a driver will be as cautious or attentive as you. If you anticipate negligence from other drivers, it may help you avoid collisions.
This mindset, called defensive driving, can be applied when you’re passing a car, going through an intersection, and approaching a traffic light. If you’re passing a car, you may have checked your blind spots and are ready to make a safe lane change. But don’t always assume the other driver can see you. If they were planning on making a lane change as well, they may be more focused on what they’re doing than seeing what you’re doing. Let’s say you’re ahead of a car in the right lane and you both are changing to the left lane. If this car isn’t paying attention to your lane change and immediately speeds up once they’re in the left lane, they could hit the back of your vehicle as you both changed lanes simultaneously.
A driver turning left at an intersection may try to beat oncoming traffic or have poor judgment of how fast a car traveling toward them is going. When you see a car’s left turn signal, realize they may try to make the turn before you pass them. Slowing your acceleration could give you the time to break or turn out of the way if they make a poorly-timed turn.
As a traffic light turns yellow, you know a red light is going to come next. Slowing down and anticipating a stop will allow you to not take any risks in traffic. If you go through a late yellow light as it turns red, and a driver waiting for the light to turn green sees the light change but doesn’t check the lanes to see if it’s safe to proceed, they could speed out into traffic and hit your vehicle.
Our Resources Can Strengthen Your Illinois Car Accident Claim
Your safe driving practices can help you show how the other person was at fault for the accident. Our Chicago auto accident attorney will also look for evidence of how the other person acted negligently. This could come from analyzing police reports. These reports can be beneficial to your claim because it offers a third-party analysis of what occurred. Photographs, cell phone records, and tire marks on the road can provide clues to piece together what happened. There could also be surveillance cameras of local businesses or traffic cameras that recorded your accident. We’ll also see if there were any eyewitnesses who gave statements to gain more information about the auto accident.
Our firm will also consult with accident reconstructionist experts. Their job is to investigate a scene and use their knowledge of physics and engineering to figure out what kind of accident happened and why. Some reconstructionist experts may also have law enforcement backgrounds and will have handled car accident cases in the past. They’ll look at where the vehicles landed, assess the damage that was done, and any other evidence they can gather to piece together the events that led to your injuries. Their experienced work can be crucial to proving the validity of your claim.
Another important piece of information that will help your claim is the kind of accident you were in. There are certain kinds of wrecks associated with specific injuries and this could solidify the connection between the injuries you sustained and the accident.
Identifying Your Car Wreck
With the help of experts and the skill of our car accident attorneys, we’ll determine what kind of car wreck you were in. This will provide more details that can help support your claim. There are a few types of common crashes our Chicago auto accident attorneys have dealt with in the past.
- Rear-end Collision. A rear-end collision is when a driver strikes the back of the vehicle in front of them. A typical accident for a distracted driver, rear-end collisions can severely injure the driver and passengers.
- Sideswipe. Cars traveling in the same direction need to be aware of cars in their blind spots before they change lanes. If they don’t, they could start to drift closer to the car traveling next to them and collide. Drivers who are traveling at high speeds risk losing control of their vehicle if they try to overcorrect the get away from the other car.
- Rollover. A driver who takes a turn too quickly or hits an object in a road that lifts their tires could get in a rollover accident. These can be extremely dangerous as the car flips over and the driver and other occupants can become trapped inside. If flammable liquids are leaking from the car, there’s a danger of the vehicle catching fire. Cars that rollover with oncoming traffic behind them may be at risk of a second collision if the cars do not react in time.
- Single-vehicle. A single-vehicle crash can occur when the driver loses control of the vehicle or swerves to avoid something. Unfortunately, this can make them veer off the road and strike a stationary object.
- Multi-vehicle. This can happen on busy highways but can also occur at a red light with a long line of traffic. Essentially, there is one collision between two cars, but the impact causes the vehicle to hit the one in front of it and the chain reaction continues.
- T-bone. Also known as a broadside collision, a car strikes the side of another vehicle, usually as it’s turning. This can happen at intersections when a driver doesn’t judge the speed of an oncoming car correctly.
- Head-on Collision. Often the deadliest, a head-on collision is when the fronts of both vehicles collide. Drivers and front-seat occupants have to deal with the impact of the crash, but also the windshield could shatter, or something could break through it and injure those in the front seat. If no one is wearing a seatbelt, ejection from the vehicle may occur.
It’s possible you were involved in a hit-and-run accident. This kind of accident is when a driver hits you and then leaves the scene. It’s illegal to leave the scene of an accident. Drivers will flee the scene typically out of fear. They may not have insurance or could be driving under the influence. They think the consequences of stopping and going through the process will be worse than running away. However, that is never the case. If the other driver is badly injured, they may be unable to call for help and it will be left to chance if another party gets to them in time. This could possibly result in the injured party losing their life.
Some people may be able to get a glimpse of the license plate or remember the make and model of the car. But these accidents can happen so suddenly that the driver may be speeding away before you’re able to process what happened. While it may be disheartening to not have that information, the best thing you can do is call emergency services. This way, you’ll get medical treatment if necessary, as well as police on the scene to take down a report.
If you’ve been injured because of a hit-and-run driver, you may feel at a loss of what to do when filing a claim. You may worry this person who didn’t stop to see if you were okay is going to get away with harming you and you will be stuck with all the damages. While the police will do what they can to find the identity of the driver, we’ll work to get you the compensation you deserve.
No matter what kind of accident you were in, our Chicago car accident attorneys are ready to advocate for you and your rights to compensation. When it comes to building a car accident claim in Illinois, our lawyers are well-versed in state law and know the essential components necessary to prove your injuries should have been prevented and you sustained them through no fault of your own. Let’s take a look at how negligence works in Illinois, determining fault, and how liability works in car accident claims.
Why Does Proving Fault Matter in a Car Accident Claim?
The basic components to a car accident claim include establishing a duty of care, such as driving safely, the negligent party did not meet this standard of care, their negligence caused the accident, and your injuries and losses were a result of that accident. Your Chicago car accident lawyer will also know that each state will have specific laws that apply to these cases that establish other requirements your case will have to meet as well.
The state of Illinois follows modified comparative negligence, which means the injured party must be less than 50% at fault for the accident to be eligible to collect damage. However, there is the possibility they could be found to be partially at fault, which would affect their ability to collect full compensation. For example, if the negligent driver was 90% at fault and the injured party was found to be 10% at fault, then they could only collect 90% of the compensation.
What Car Accident Injuries Did You Sustain?
When you’re involved in a car accident, the force of the crash can leave you with debilitating injuries that will take time and medical care to heal. As your representatives, it’s our job to know the extent of your injuries and how they’re affecting your life now and how they will continue to affect you in the future. When we have this knowledge, we can seek maximum compensation to secure your recovery. Our skilled lawyers at Thomas Law Offices will assess what happened to you and consult with experts if necessary to get the full picture of the consequences of your car accident.
Our auto accident lawyers have helped many car accident victims get the justice they deserve. We’re also experienced in fighting for fair compensation because we’re familiar with the common types of injuries that can occur. We’ve helped clients with the following injuries:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Broken Bones
- Strains or Sprains
- Burn Injury
One of the most dangerous kinds of car accident injuries is a traumatic brain injury. These can happen when a person suffers a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. MedlinePlus states that half of TBIs happen because of motor vehicle accidents. Traumatic brain injuries can cause many kinds of health complications. While these injuries can range from mild to severe, even mild injuries can be dangerous.
Those with traumatic brain injuries can experience cognitive, physical, emotional, and sleep problems. The CDC breaks down the different types of TBI symptoms. Those with cognitive symptoms may have trouble with thinking clearly. The person may not be able to concentrate, remember new information, and may feel slowed down. Physical symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, noise and light sensitivity, early nausea or vomiting, balance issues, not having energy, and feeling tired. When a TBI affects a person’s mood, they may feel irritable, sad, or anxious. Interrupted sleep cycles include sleeping more, sleeping less, and not being able to fall asleep.
It’s important to know about these symptoms because they may not be obvious at first. While some may notice symptoms immediately, some of these symptoms can take time to present. If you notice something wrong several days, weeks, or sometimes months following your accident, you should see your doctor.
A minor TBI is also known as a concussion. When someone sustains a concussion, they will still need to treat the injury so it doesn’t worsen. A combination of rest, gradual return to activities, and following up with a doctor is typical for recovery.
However, traumatic injuries can be more severe. Sometimes, the person involved in the car accident is in a coma as a result of their brain injury. They could also be in a vegetative state or be minimally responsive. Seeing a loved one in these situations can be difficult. Our car accident lawyer will stand at your side and help you fight for your loved one’s rights.
A car accident can also cause the neck to jerk back and forth—also known as whiplash. When the head goes backward, it’s called hyperextension, and when the head goes forward, it’s called hyperflexion. When someone suffers from whiplash, they can feel dizziness, headaches, and have stiffness or pain in the neck and jaw. Sometimes, the shoulders and arms are affected as well.
Injuries to the spinal cord can be permanent. Typically a spinal cord injury is either complete or incomplete. A complete injury is when the person cannot feel or move anything below the injury site. An incomplete injury means the person has some feeling and limited mobility below the injury site. Unfortunately, paralysis from the injury site down can occur. If someone’s injury is on the lower part of their spine, they could lose function of their legs and have difficulty controlling organ function below the injury. Bladder and bowel issues and problems with the circulative or respiratory system can occur.
A broken bone can prevent you from working or easily moving for weeks. These injuries can cause extreme pain, especially if bones were exposed. They also pose an infection risk, which could mean additional treatment. While you may expect a full recovery, your life for the next few weeks or months will be dictated by what you can and cannot do because of your injury. This can cause stress from work and keeping up with your other responsibilities. Our auto accident lawyer will do everything possible to help your compensation cover what you need so you can let your injuries heal without worrying about other expenses.
Soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains can also occur after an auto accident. While an injury like a sprained wrist may not be life-threatening, it can cause a lot of obstacles. These can cause chronic pain and will need medical treatment to heal.
During a car crash, flammable liquids may begin to leak. If they catch fire, the driver and other vehicle occupants can sustain serious burn injuries. When the burn reaches the first layer of skin, the damage is on the outside and may need light medical treatment. After the burn reaches underneath that layer, the person needs serious medical treatment. Sometimes, burns are deep enough to damage bone and tissue underneath the skin. When this happens, it’s likely that the person will have permanent nerve damage.
Amputation can occur during the accident when a limb is severed or can have to occur in surgery after the accident if the limb is so damaged it cannot be saved. Losing a limb is a major adjustment the injured person will have to get used to.
The numerous ways a person can be hurt in a car accident can result in injuries that are going to heal or injuries that are going to have a long-term effect on your life. Our auto accident attorneys will find out how your injuries will affect your life and seek compensation so you get the treatment you need without worrying about the cost. In some accidents, your injuries may completely upend your life. Let’s look into catastrophic injuries and how Thomas Law Offices can help your financial future.
The Consequences of Severe Injuries
When your injuries completely change the course of your life, you need people who will help you secure your future. Our Chicago car accident attorney understands what a catastrophic injury can do. These injuries inhibit a person from doing gainful work. They won’t be able to return to their job and will likely have a long road to recovery in front of them.
Upon leaving the hospital, you may find that your recovery is just beginning. You’re going to learn how to adjust to your injury and get used to your new normal. This likely won’t happen overnight and may be emotional. A tragic accident that wasn’t your fault and causes permanent injuries is a lot to take at once. Relearning how to complete everyday tasks could take a long time to master. This includes tasks like getting ready in the morning, cooking, or even reaching items off shelves.
When you’re facing serious injuries, you’re going to need treatment. You may wonder about how you’re going to afford the care you need and not worry about paying others bills and putting food on the table. At Thomas Law Offices, our firm will help you get the compensation you deserve.
What Damages Can Your Compensation Cover?
There are many complexities involved in determining compensation. When your attorney in Chicago looks at your case, they’ll look at the total damages you suffered in this accident. You’ll likely have economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are the monetary losses of your accident. They include the following:
- Medical Expenses (Past and Future Care)
- Lost Wages
- Loss of Earnings
- Property Damage
When you start getting your medical bills on top of missing work and possibly not being able to work anymore, you may be looking at significant expenses. But you shouldn’t have to worry about choosing between paying for the care you need or a mortgage bill. Our firm will look at your medical records, how many days of work you’ve missed, the years of work you’ll miss because you can no longer do your job, and any damage done to your property to find the total of your economic losses.
Noneconomic damages are the other consequences of the accident that do not have a monetary amount. They’re still just as debilitating as economic damages. While these can be difficult to quantify when determining your compensation, our attorneys have years of experience in analyzing these damages and calculating what the accident cost you.
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Loss of Companionship
You may have painful injuries or had to undergo painful treatment necessary for your recovery. Your injuries could cause chronic pain that you’ll have to live with during your recovery or for the rest of your life. When someone is dealing with chronic pain, the symptoms can also affect their sleeping and mental health. Your lawyer can fight for you to get compensation for your chronic pain and what it takes to treat it. It’s important to note that proving chronic pain will take careful evidence. We’ll compile the evidence necessary to show how the accident is causing persistent pain that’s affecting your life.
As a person who has significant injuries, you’re likely going to be unable to do everything you used to do in your life before the accident. You may no longer be able to participate in certain hobbies or activities.
If your loved one was in a car accident and lost their life, you can seek justice on their behalf. Losing the companionship of a life partner is a tragedy, and we’ll make sure to help you get justice for them.
Keeping all the above damages in mind, you can rest assured that your compensation will help you move forward with your life. The best way to ensure you get full compensation is with the help of an auto accident attorney. Our firm is ready to stand up for your rights.
Why Is Legal Representation Important?
You may be wondering why having a professional at your side is essential for your claim. The team at Thomas Law Offices has experience in building cases. We’re familiar with the process and the evidence we need to help you.
When you’re holding someone liable for your injuries, you’re going to need evidence. After fault is established, we’ll compile evidence that shows the severity of your injuries. Reviewing your medical records will show the extent of your injuries and what you had to go through to recover from the accident. We may also consult with medical experts to give testimony about the pain you’re feeling. Another way to help prove the pain you’re in is to document it with a journal. You can list your symptoms, the pain you’re feeling, and also include how it’s affecting your day. Are you unable to do a basic task without difficulty or pain? Did you need someone’s help? We’ll present a clear picture that your injuries are severe and you’re suffering because of them.
In addition to gathering evidence that validates your pain, we’ll also file all the paperwork properly and on time. For example, a personal injury claim will need to be filed within a certain time frame. In Illinois, the statute of limitations states you have two years from the accident date to come forward. Waiting past this point could mean you’re ineligible to recover compensation. Technical errors can put your claim in jeopardy, but that will not be an issue when you get in touch with a representative from Thomas Law Offices soon after your accident. We’ll also explain the legal process and answer your questions. You won’t have to worry about feeling out of the loop on your case.
Acting quickly also increases your chances of your lawyer discovering physical evidence that could help your claim. As time goes on, evidence could fade away from the accident scene that would have provided clues to how the accident happened.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Another way we can provide essential help is communicating with insurance companies. The legal process is complicated, and the parties involved will be acting in their own best interests—not yours. Your lawyer will protect your interests and rights, so you aren’t left with an unfavorable settlement.
After an accident, you may start receiving phone calls or even visits from insurance adjusters. They may push for you to settle early. While this can be appealing to someone who is injured and wants to get their compensation as quickly as possible, an early settlement will likely be much less than the full compensation amount you’re eligible for. You don’t know the full economic and noneconomic damages of your accident and it’s unlikely the insurance adjuster will do much research and investigating to find out what the accident truly cost you. They’re acting on behalf of the insurance company, and their goal is to save the company money in any way possible.
For example, the day after your car accident you may not yet know the full extent of your injuries. An insurance adjuster could contact you and ask you how you are feeling and to describe your injuries. You may be experiencing neck pain and tell the adjuster that. However, a few days later you may have back pain as well. The insurance adjuster could point to your conversation and ask why you didn’t talk about the back pain then and you’ll only be covered for the neck pain you mentioned.
Now, you cannot collect compensation for your back injury. If you need extensive care like surgery or future care, you may have to pay for that out of pocket, which can lead to financial difficulties.
Insurance adjusters may also call into question if the injuries you’re asking to be compensated for are ones that were a result of the accident. If you have pre-existing conditions, they may say your injuries were already apparent and the accident didn’t cause them. It’s important to note, however, that if you have pre-existing conditions, a car accident can aggravate the condition and make it worse—which you can be compensated for.
When a negligent party injures someone, they are supposed to take the injured person as they are. This is also referred to as the Eggshell Skull Rule. It means the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, even if they are uncommon reactions to the defendant’s negligence. A person could already have a concussion when a negligent driver causes an accident that results in another brain injury. The negligent party is still responsible for the accident and the person’s injuries.
While insurance companies may try to give you less compensation than you deserve, these situations are avoidable with a lawyer at your side. The insurance company will need certain information about your case, but you don’t have to make official statements or speak to them about your injuries. To make sure you don’t give away any information that could be used against you, having a car accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices handle this communication for you can give you peace of mind.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Claim
Your actions after a car accident can affect your claim. As such, you’re going to want to know what to do after a car accident to protect your rights and to make sure you’ve done nothing to put your claim in jeopardy. You already know about dealing with insurance companies, but what about the other party involved in the accident? We’ll look into what you need to do after a car accident.
After a Car Accident
Car accidents happen suddenly and the shock of realizing what occurred can be overwhelming. Many people may not know what to do next. Your first step is to remain calm. While this is much easier said than done, take a moment to gather yourself. Your adrenaline and other hormones may have spiked, and your body is in a shock response. After taking some deep breaths, it’s time to work through the necessary steps you should take after a car accident.
You need to assess yourself for injuries. If you’re hurt, call 911 immediately. You’ll have paramedics on their way who can help give you the medical assistance you need. In the state of Illinois, you’re legally obligated to call emergency services if you’re in an accident that results in injury, death, or property damage of over $1,500.
If you’re able, help anyone else who was hurt. Help them get to safety if possible. There may be some situations where you are unable to safely move someone—wait for professionals to be on the scene. Do not take unnecessary risks.
While you and the other party are waiting for emergency services to get on the scene, you can try to move your car out of traffic. A car crash can block traffic and cause a gridlock. If it’s safe to do so, move your car off to the side of the road. Put up road flares or reflective signs if you have them and cannot move the vehicle.
Do not move any car that’s smoking or leaking fluid. These are signs that the car could catch fire. Move away from the vehicle. You should also stay away from the road in general to avoid another collision.
As we mentioned under identifying your car wreck, you may encounter a hit-and-run driver. While you may want to try to prevent someone from fleeing the scene of the accident, you should not risk your safety in any way. Remember details about the driver, the make and model of the car, and the license plate if possible.
When emergency services arrive, they will take the precautions of blocking off traffic, assessing you for injuries, and helping you in any way possible.
Being the innocent party in a car accident doesn’t mean the other party will automatically be cooperative. It’s important to get a third-party assessment of what happened. This can strengthen your claim later. One of those accounts can come from the police report.
Speaking to Police
While it’s understandable that you could be stressed or agitated after an accident, it’s important to be respectful and calm when speaking to the police. They need to do their job and get details from you. Also, the details you provide can help your claim later.
As the police file their report, they’re going to interview the other party involved in the crash, as well as eyewitnesses. With the facts in mind, the officer making the report will note if any laws were violated and issue citations. If the other driver was inebriated, a police officer can mark this with a sobriety test, and you’ll have that information in the report.
Get a Medical Evaluation
When first responders arrive on the scene, allow them to take a look at your injuries. They can help treat any wounds as well as arrange transport to the hospital. After an accident, you may not register your injuries because of the shock you’re in. You may feel that you’re not injured at all. However, injuries can take time before presenting symptoms. This is why it’s so crucial to get a health evaluation. They will recognize if you’ve sustained serious injuries, like a concussion or have high blood pressure—which could lead to a stroke or heart attack. They’ll have a report of your condition after the accident, which your lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can use for your case.
You may not need to be transported to a hospital after the emergency responders attend to you, but that doesn’t mean you’re done with health treatment. After an accident, you need to go to a doctor as soon as possible so they can do an evaluation. They’ll give you a treatment plan so you can begin to recover. It’s important to see your doctor after an accident because your injuries can worsen if you wait for treatment.
Waiting can also suggest to insurance companies that your injuries aren’t as bad as you claim. When your doctor gives you your treatment plan, you need to follow it. Ignoring treatment is another way for your injuries to worsen, which will likely not be covered by your compensation because you didn’t follow the doctor’s orders. It’s not worth it to deal with more painful injuries and pay for their recovery out of pocket.
Gathering Necessary Information
At the scene, you will need to exchange certain information with the other party if you’re both able. Get their name, contact information, and insurance policy number. You may also want to make a note of the vehicle involved in the accident so get the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as well.
When speaking with the other person, do not apologize for what happened. This may feel natural even if you weren’t at fault because you’re sorry this situation is happening in the first place. However, when you apologize, say you weren’t paying attention and didn’t see them, these phrases can be used against you as proof of fault. It’s also important to not assign the fault yourself. Until the investigation is complete, you may not know who was truly at fault for your accident.
While you may think it was the other driver, it’s possible they had a defective auto part in their car. They could have unknowingly been driving a vehicle that had faulty brakes, a defective steering wheel, or defective tires. The defective part made them lose control of their vehicle and it resulted in an accident. In this case, the manufacturer of the auto part may be held liable for your injuries.
If a major company is at fault for your injuries, they will likely have a team of lawyers to protect their best interests. That can be an intimidating factor. However, when the company’s negligence led to your injuries, they need to be held accountable for their actions. Our team at Thomas Law Offices is ready to go up against a negligent company and defend your rights.
The investigation will provide more insight as to what caused the accident and who was negligent, but this may take some time. Because you don’t know the liable party at this moment, remain calm, get the information you need from the other driver and passengers, and then move on to the next step.
Collecting contact information of eyewitnesses can help your case. You may also want to make note if there are any surveillance cameras around that could have captured the accident.
Documenting the accident scene is a good idea so you have visual evidence of what happened. Photograph the damage done to your car, the other vehicles involved, and the entire accident scene. Definitely take more photographs than you think is necessary and get as many angles as possible. Close-ups of damage like scrapes, cracked windows, and crumped bumpers are all important. Consider the point of view as well—if you’re able, take photos from your perspective as the driver, where eyewitnesses were, and possibly the perspective of the other driver. If you’re taking a video, you can narrate what you’re doing and what you’re seeing. Just remember to not say anything that could be used against you.
Make sure to get photos of the vehicle’s license plate and identifying stickers on the car. It could be a company car and has a company logo on it, the car could have expired inspection stickers on it, or the person could have put bumper stickers on the car that will help with identifying the vehicle. All this documentation could provide some crucial evidence to your lawyer about what happened.
When documenting the scene, look for other clues in your surroundings as well. You may capture skid marks on the road, a visual obstruction that played a part in the accident, the conditions of the road, or the time of day when the accident occurred. All these details will help you lawyer at Thomas Law Offices get a clear picture of what happened and then will be able to represent your case with all the facts.
You will be told when you can leave the accident scene. After only reporting facts to the police, seeing medical personnel, and getting the necessary information from the other party without apologizing for the accident, and plans to see your primary care physician as soon as possible, then you should focus on getting an attorney. Because you have so much evidence from the day documented, you may want to put the files on your computer and on a flash drive, just so you don’t risk losing any valuable information.
Avoid Social Media
Many people post on multiple social media accounts. These days, it’s common for people to give constant life updates. You may feel like you want to post about your accident, even if it’s just giving an update that you’re okay. However, taking to social media when you have an unresolved claim isn’t the best idea.
They can still do this if the content you’re posting isn’t about the accident. Let’s say you were in an accident on Thursday and posted photos of you out and about over the following weekend. Or the photos could have been someone visiting you at your home. You may have been in extreme pain, but the photos may not exhibit that. The insurance company may use this as evidence that your injuries aren’t that severe. They could take the fact that you’re able to post about it that you’re not that hurt or traumatized from the accident. While their inferences may not be true, those kinds of posts can give them the reasons to believe that. It’s best to avoid social media altogether.
Another cautionary step you should take is setting your accounts to private. Any security that gives you control over who sees what you post and who follows you will help restrict access from outside parties. If you have any questions, your lawyer can help you.
Get the Representation You Deserve from Thomas Law Offices
Our team is dedicated to helping those who have been wrongfully injured. If you or a loved one was in a car accident, we’re here to provide the assistance you need in getting justice. The claims process can be stressful and has many components. Thomas Law Offices has the experience and passion to collect the evidence, find out who was responsible, and show how your injuries were a result of their actions. We’ll fight to maximize your compensation, even if that means taking your case to court. Our lawyers have fought for our clients in a courtroom before and know how to prepare you and your case for that possibility.
To get started on your legal journey, contact our office today and schedule an obligation-free case evaluation. Our Chicago car accident lawyers will go over your case to determine your case’s merit and discuss the best options for you and how to protect your best interests. We’ll answer your questions and help you find the best way to proceed. Then we can begin to fight for your rights and get you full and fair compensation for your injuries, so you can work on recovering and moving on.