If you’ve been injured in an auto collision in Chicago, you may be left with unanswered questions. After your injuries are assessed and you begin the process of undergoing medical treatment, questions regarding who was responsible for your accident and whether it could have been prevented can cause you and your family unneeded stress and worry. Medical bills and loss of income can cause mounting financial struggles, leaving you to question the possibility of recovery altogether.
At Thomas Law Offices, we’re here to assure you that with the help of a Chicago car accident lawyer from our firm, you and your loved ones can find the path to recovery. Our law office has had numerous victories in complex personal injury cases nationwide and we are committed to helping families in Illinois who have suffered due to the negligence of another. If you believe another party caused the crash or are dealing with an unfair insurer, reach out to us. Your path to justice starts here.
Illinois Car Accident Facts
From the period of January to the end of May, statistics estimate that 2021 has seen 20% more automobile accident fatalities nationwide than 2020 during the same period and 16% more fatalities than 2019. The 2020 number isn’t wholly surprising considering the fact that more cars, trucks, and motorcycles are on our roads and highways now than in 2020, which was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase from 2019 is a different story, however.
This increase in fatalities can also be seen in the state of Illinois, though not all states experienced an increase. Illinois saw an estimated 408 motor vehicle accident fatalities from January to May 2021. During that same 5-month period in 2020, there were only 325. In the same period in 2019, there were 330. Percentagewise, this amounts to a 26% increase from 2020 and a 24% increase from 2019. These percentages are higher than the national average.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2018, 62% of all injury-related traffic collisions that happened in Illinois during the year occurred in urban areas, including state routes, interstate roads, and city streets and roads. In Cook County, which includes Chicago, there were 31,404 injury-causing auto crashes in 2018.
Cook County, unsurprisingly, is where most auto accidents in Illinois occurred—by a significantly large margin of more than 50%. Anyone who’s ever driven in or through Chicago can attest to the fact that the increased traffic alone in certain parts of Chicago leads to an increase of crashes.
Causes of Most Chicago Auto Accidents
Given the heavy traffic—both from motor vehicles and from pedestrians and bicyclists—in many areas in and around Chicago, it becomes crucial for operators of motor vehicles to pay attention to the road, those around them, and the rules of driving at all times. When a driver fails to do any of these three, they are making it far more likely for a car accident to occur.
It’s a simple fact that human error causes most collisions. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 94% of reported car accidents are caused by a driver making an error. While some accidents are caused by multiple drivers, most are caused by one driver making a mistake that could have been prevented. When an individual or group causes a preventable mistake which results in harm—such as in the case of a serious car accident injury—that group or person can be held liable by civil laws in the United States.
Our laws state that drivers have a duty to conduct themselves responsibly on the road and to not harm others if harm can be avoided. If they do not uphold that duty, attorneys, including the Chicago car accident lawyers from Thomas Law Offices, can hold a driver liable for the injuries they caused. This breach in duty is a concept we refer to as negligence. When a driver is negligent, they put themselves and everyone else on the road around them in danger.
Most ways that drivers are negligent in Illinois include:
- Drunk driving – In 2016, over 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes nationwide. Drunk drivers continue to be one of top reasons accidents occur.
- Drug impairment – While less accidents happen due to drug impairment than alcohol intoxication, roughly 16% of crashes occur due to a driver being under the influence of illegal drugs or marijuana.
- Distracted driving – When a driver takes their eyes off the road for even a couple of seconds, an accident can quickly occur. All types of distractions count, including texting, talking on the phone, using a GPS/smartphone app, eating, daydreaming, and talking with passengers.
- Reckless driving – Reckless driving includes speeding, driving aggressively, driving too close to other vehicles, cutting other drivers off, and road rage. One study points to data suggesting that aggressive driving is a factor in 56% of fatal collisions.
- A failure to properly merge, turn, or follow traffic rules – A driver can be found negligent for failing to properly check their blind spots when turning or merging if an accident occurs. Other common instances of negligence regarding traffic rules include car accidents that occur when a driver runs a stop sign or light.
- Inexperience – It’s a simple fact that inexperienced drivers are generally more likely to cause an accident than drivers who have years of experience behind the wheel. One study reports that 13% of fatal car accidents involve a young driver between the ages of 15 and 20. While inexperience alone is not an indication of negligence, an experienced driver may still be held liable for injuries.
Other than driver negligence, car accidents are also sometimes caused by faulty tires, braking system failures, and other defective auto parts. Airbag and seatbelts failures can also lead to unnecessary injury. In situations like this, it may be possible for a car accident lawyer to find an auto part manufacturer negligent for failing to produce quality products.
Common Types of Auto Collisions in Illinois
There are as many different types of car accidents as there are drivers on the road. No two accidents are exactly alike, and everything from the size of the vehicles involved to the speeds both were traveling at, the angle the accident occurred, and the location of the crash can determine the type of a given accident.
When assessing a car accident, insurers and anyone involved in the claim creation process will look at the type of accident which occurred to figure out what both drivers were doing in the moments leading up to the crash, who was likely at fault, and what other factors may have played a role. What injuries both parties suffer from are also heavily influenced by the type of collision.
Here are some of the most common types of car accidents that occur in and around Chicago as well as some facts about each:
- Rear-end – This is the most common type of car accident and happens when a driver crashes into the back of another vehicle. Common causes include when a driver is following a car too closely and the one in front comes to a sudden stop or when the driver in the rear is distracted or speeding.
- Head-on – This occurs when the front ends of two vehicles collide and can result in especially deadly injuries since both or either windshield may shatter.
- T-bone – Also known as a broadside collision, a T-bone happens when one car strikes the side of another. These generally occur when at least one vehicle is making a turn. They commonly happen at intersections.
- Sideswipe – A sideswipe happens when two vehicles traveling in the same direction collide due to improperly merging or moving out of their lanes.
- Parked vehicle – Parked vehicle or single-vehicle accidents occur when one driver collides into a parked vehicle or other stationary object.
Another common type of accident is a hit-and-run. These happen when one driver leaves the scene of the accident without exchanging insurance information with the other vehicle’s owner. It’s illegal to leave the scene after an accident, but this happens with surprising frequency. If you were a victim of a hit-and-run accident, it may be possible for you to file an injury lawsuit against the driver who left the scene of the car accident in addition to any criminal charges which may already be in place.
In a busy city like Chicago, rideshare accidents are also more common than many people believe. If an Uber or Lyft vehicle gets into an accident, the rider may be left with little to no options for receiving the amount of compensation they need to recover from their injuries. With the help of an experienced lawyer, that rider’s legal rights can be protected.
Common Chicago Car Accident Injuries
An auto collision can leave a victim with injuries ranging from minor to very major. After a minor fender bender, injuries often include bruises, cuts, and muscle strains. In a more serious accident, sustained injuries will vary considerably depending on the type and severity of the collision, the speed at which the impact occurred, and the sizes of the motor vehicles that were involved.
Common injuries from serious car accidents can include the following:
- Broken bones and fractures – Depending on the factors of the crash, one or multiple broken bokes and/or fractures may be possible.
- Spinal cord injuries – Spinal cord injuries can be extremely painful, potentially disabling, and occur most often in serious T-bone and rear-end accidents. Data shows that roughly 40% of all spinal injuries are the result of motor vehicle accidents.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) – Traumatic brain injuries are trauma-based injuries to the head that are forceful enough to damage the brain. Penetrating injuries can also cause a TBI. Data shows that car accidents are the second-leading cause of brain injuries which require hospitalization.
- Soft tissue damage – Bruises and sprains are common soft tissue injuries that may result after a car accident, as well as whiplash. Whiplash is a neck injury that can occur when the head is quickly forced in one direction and then another, such as during the impact of a motor vehicle crash.
- Burn injuries – Whether from a fire or overheated electrical components, burn injuries are among the most critical types of injuries that need immediate care.
- Internal injuries – Due to the forceful impact of a car accident, internal organ damage may result, even when symptoms aren’t felt immediately.
Some of the most dangerous types of auto accident injuries are those that aren’t immediately obvious, such as whiplash or internal injuries. A wreck’s initial impact may cause severe bruising and even internal bleeding which can be extremely dangerous if medical care isn’t received right away. Whiplash also tends to develop symptoms slowly that may not be felt within the first couple days following the incident.
For this reason, it’s crucial for anyone who has been involved in a car accident to get a medical assessment following the crash—even if they don’t feel any pain. Symptoms of injury, including pain, may also be masked by endorphins which are released from the body during a traumatic event. Endorphins can make accident victims feel a rush of adrenaline which can be useful for surviving a dangerous situation and taking the necessary steps to protect loved ones and contact first responders, but it can also temporarily dull pain receptors.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Chicago
Immediately following a motor vehicle wreck, your body may be in a state of shock. It’s important to remain calm and take the following steps:
- Call 911 – Even if you’re unsure of the extent of everyone’s injuries, you want first responders to be on their way as quickly as possible. Even in cases where there are no serious injuries or only property damage, you will need to notify the police if the damage is significant.
- If possible, move your vehicle – If it’s safe and you’re able to do so, move your vehicle out of the way of traffic. If you notice smoke or leaking fluid around the car, move away from the vehicle and leave it where it is. These are signs that a fire might occur.
- Get contact information – If you’re able to do so, you will want to get the contact information of the other driver, but be careful what you say to the other driver. Don’t bring up fault or blame whatsoever at this point if you have questions about how the accident occurred or believe it was not your fault.
- Get information about the other vehicle – Write down what you know about the other vehicle, including its license plate number, make, model, and the damage it sustained. Information like this can be useful to ensure everything in your claim process is handled properly.
- Take pictures – Pictures of the scene of the accident can strengthen your claim, especially if something is questioned later. Good photos to take include images of the damage your car sustained, the other driver’s vehicle, and the scene of the crash itself, including any road debris, skid marks, or identifying features like an obscured road sign or broken guardrail.
- Gather witnesses – If there are any witnesses nearby, ask them if they’re comfortable issuing a statement regarding what they saw happen. If they agree, get their contact information for later.
- Contact your insurance agency – Now is when you’ll need to contact your auto insurance agency if you haven’t already done so. Tell them the facts, but don’t agree to any early settlement offers if you’re not ready to do so.
- Contact a car wreck attorney – If the accident happened in Chicago and you’re currently questioning who is liable for the collision, feel you need more compensation than is being offered, or are being treated unfairly by an insurance company, you’ll want to reach out to a Chicago car accident lawyer at your earliest convenience. An experienced injury lawyer will be able to tell you about your legal options.
How a Chicago Car Accident Attorney Can Protect Your Rights
As mentioned above, when a driver is negligent in the state of Illinois or anywhere in the U.S. and that negligence can be proven, they may be able to be held accountable by the court of law to pay for the injuries the car accident victim experienced as well as the damages they accrued. U.S. citizens have a legal right to hold a negligent driver accountable for their actions. This is done by filing a lawsuit against the negligent party.
By filing a lawsuit, they may be able to receive financial compensation that can go towards the following:
- Economic (monetary) damages
- Medical expenses, including past and future care
- Lost wages/loss of earnings
- Property damage
- Noneconomic damages (these are more difficult to quantify, but can be just as debilitating)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
In many situations, this compensation goes above and beyond what an insurance settlement can offer and may allow a struggling individual or family to receive the needed funds for medical and recovery costs. By holding the negligent party accountable, peace of mind may also be obtainable. If a drunk driver, for example, is held financially liable for a serious car accident they caused, they may stop getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. If legal action is not taken, they may not feel the consequences are severe enough to stop.
By hiring a Chicago car accident lawyer, you can ensure your right to file a lawsuit is upheld and that you don’t receive less financial compensation than you deserve. Insurance agencies are notorious for doing whatever they can to push their own profit margins and give injured car accident victims the least amount of money possible. A lawyer will make sure this does not happen and fight to get you the compensation you are owed.
In a situation where a loved one’s life is lost in a catastrophic auto wreck, the family members or loved ones may be able to file a car accident lawsuit on the deceased individual’s behalf and receive compensation that can go toward funeral costs and more. These types of lawsuits are called wrongful death suits.
Contact Thomas Law Offices Today
At Thomas Law Offices, our car accident attorneys in Chicago are on your side. We have the experience—both inside and outside of the courtroom—your case deserves. We will fight for your right to file a legal claim against a negligent driver and can make sure insurers treat your case fairly. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an auto wreck, contact us today. Our compassionate legal team is ready to help you however we can and help your family find peace of mind.