Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers appreciates the physical, emotional and economic impact that a car accident has on both in the individual and his or her family. If you or a family member was seriously injured in a Chicago car accident, we invite you to contact our office for a free consultation to address your legal options and rights for a financial recovery. There is no obligation to speak to an attorney.2016 Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics in Illinois
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, 1,017 people were killed in Illinois auto accidents during 2016. From a statistical perspective, Cook County lays claim to the highest number of collisions, fatalities and serious injuries compared to any other part of the State with 211 fatalities; 27,075 reported injuries of which 3,223 were reported to be significant in nature.
On a national level, traffic related fatalities claimed the lives of more than 40,000 in the U.S. in 2016. When traffic accidents are evaluated from an economic and quality of life perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Board estimates these incidents cost our society a staggering $871 billion each year.Frequent Causes of Car Accidents in Chicago
Even with a growing base of car safety technology to reduce crashes, the safe operation of a car still falls on the shoulders of the person behind the wheel. When a person gets behind the wheel, they have a duty to operate their vehicle safely. Should they fail to do so and their negligence results in a crash and people are injured, they are responsible for paying the ensuing damages related to the individual’s injuries.
Despite this clear responsibility, drivers continue to make poor decisions when they operate their vehicles. According to data evaluated by the Insurance Information Institute, the following types of driver behavior is commonly involved with serious car accidents.
- Speeding 28% of traffic fatality accidents involved speeding. (NHTSA, 2014 study)
- Distracted driving Distractions, such as cell phones, are believed to be responsible for 3,477 traffic fatalities and 391,000 auto injury cases in 2015 according NHTSA
- Drunk driving 40% of all traffic related fatalities were alcohol-related. See more here
- Aggression An estimated 11,000 people lose their lives annually due to motor vehicle accidents involving aggressive driving according to NHTSA.
- Drug impairment While difficult to detect due to limited roadside testing abilities, a survey completed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse concluded that more than 10 million people admitted to driving while under the influence of illegal drugs
- Inexperienced drivers Teenage drivers consistently have higher accident rates than older drivers. According to the CDC, drivers 16-19 years old are 3 times more likely to die in a car accident compared to a driver over 20 years old.
- Fatigue A 2014 study prepared by AAA concluded that 21% of fatal traffic accidents were related to fatigued drivers.
- Hit & Run Even when the law requires drivers involved in an accident to stay at the scene, an investigation by USA Today found that nearly 1,500 drivers flee the scene of a fatal accident each year.
While there can be no denying the impact the loss of a loved one killed in a car accident, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers remains committed to helping individuals who have had their lives impacted by serious injuries from automobile crashes.
According to Illinois Department of Transportation data, 84,652 people were injured to some extent and 11,755 sustained a significant injury to the extent that they were unable to resume the normal day-to-day activities that they enjoyed before the accident due to the extent of their injuries (Categorized as an “A” injury crash). Some of the ‘life-changing’ injuries include:
Regardless of the significance of your injury, our attorneys work with some of the most respected physicians in Illinois who we retain as consultants and expert witnesses in auto accident cases. We believe that this helps convey the extent of your injury to an insurance adjuster, judge or jury evaluating your case.Types of Car Accidents
In order to recover compensation for injuries, you must first establish the other driver involved ‘caused’ the crash. Establishing fault or negligence can be relatively straightforward or complicated depending upon the details of the crash.
Below are some examples of car accident cases where driver negligence may be established based upon an accident report or police investigation.
- Rear-End Crashes
- Head-On Impacts
- Side Swipe
- Intersection Accidents
- Vehicle Defects
- Road Construction Accident
Ignorance of the law is not an excuse if you were injured in a car accident in Illinois. While there are many laws that apply to specific situations (and you should speak to an attorney to confirm how the law applies to your situation), you should be aware that you must file a lawsuit for personal injuries within two years of the accident (735 ILCS 5/13-202). If you do not file a lawsuit for your injuries within the statute of limitations, you will be forever barred from doing so.
Any person involved in a car accident in Illinois would do well to review the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code 625 ILCC 5 which enumerates the responsibilities of drivers in Illinois. In particular, Chapter 11, addresses the Rules of the Road and is valuable for a drivers to periodically review as the law is constantly updated.
From the perspective of damages, you will want to know that Illinois has adopted a ‘modified comparative fault’ doctrine for cases such as auto crashes. In application to an auto accident injury claim, your damages that you may be entitled to receive are reduced the percentage of fault allocated to you. If you are deemed to be 20% at fault for a car accident, you can recover 80% of the damages that you would be entitled to. Bear in mind that if you are more than 50% at fault for an accident, you will be completely barred from a recovery.
Consequently, it is important to fully evaluate the liability aspects of car accident cases to establish fault early on.
From a damages perspective, Illinois car accident victims are entitled to recover compensation for the following types of economic and non-economic losses:
- Medical Expenses: Immediate out-of-pocket expenses for charges related to: ambulance transport, emergency room care, doctors visits, surgery, medications, hospital care and physical therapy are all recoverable. In addition, when future care is required, these expenses are also recoverable.
- Lost Wages: When an injury prevents you from working or prohibits you from returning to your profession you had prior to an accident, the law allows you to recover past and future wages and related benefits (health insurance, retirement contributions)
- Pain and Suffering: This type of ‘non-economic’ damages addresses the pain you experienced as a result of injuries sustained in an accident. In a jury trial, an award would be given based on the testimony of the injured party and their physicians.
- Disfigurement: When an accident has left a person with scarring or other visible injuries, a claim for disfigurement may be presented.
- Disability: When a person cannot attend to the activities they were able to prior to an accident, a claim for disability may be presented.
- Wrongful Death For the family of a person killed in a car accident, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows recovery for: funeral expenses, loss of financial support and the loss of consortium (companionship)
- Property Damage: This include damage to the vehicle involved in the collision as well as any personal property also damages in a crash. Example: cell phones, computers, personal belongings.
- Emotional Distress: Damages may be awarded for feelings of fright, nervousness and stress following a serious accident.
- Punitive Damages: In cases where the driver was extremely reckless, a judge may allow punitive damages to be pursued. Unlike compensatory damages, this type of damages is intended to punish the other party. Punitive damages may be awarded in drunk driving or other situations involving extreme recklessness.
It’s no surprise, but car insurance companies make money by taking in premiums and paying out as little as possible in claims. This frequently means that legitimate claims for car accident injuries are drastically minimized in their severity and value.
As a person injured in a car accident, you need to acknowledge that your interests and those of the insurance company are conflicted from the start. One of the ways in which you can ensure your case in valued fairly is by having a lawyer experienced with car accident claims represent you.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers we not only have experience negotiating full and fair settlements with insurance companies, but we also have experience in the courtroom. We are not afraid to take insurance companies to court when they are not evaluating our clients’ cases fairly.
By law, all drivers in Illinois are required to carry liability insurance coverage of $25,000 person, $50,000 per accident. See Illinois Secretary of State. Despite these requirements, there are many drivers operating vehicles without any liability insurance. In fact, according to data from the Insurance Research Counsel, more than 13% of drivers on Illinois roads and highways.
So what happens if an uninsured driver causes a crash that injures you?
Recognized how pervasive uninsured drivers are, most automobile insurance companies offer their insured’s’ uninsured motorist coverage (usually referred to as UM). In these situations, after it has been established that the at fault driver did not carry any insurance at the time of a crash, a claim may be presented to the injured parties insurance company who essentially stands in the shows of the person who caused the accident.
While the logistics of presenting a claim to your auto insurance company—for an accident that you did not cause may seen strange, you are entitled to the same type of damages that you would be had the offending driver carried insurance.
On a similar note, when a driver who causes an accident has insufficient liability coverage to compensate an injured party for their injuries, a claim may be made with insured’s auto insurer, know as an under-insured motorist claim or UIM.Preparing Each Case to Go the Distance to Trial
Every car accident case in our office is prepared as though it is going to court and perhaps trial. While the majority of these cases will settle outside of court, we believe that thoroughly preparing car accident cases is in the clients’ best interest. We find that investing the time and resources into cases frequently results in larger settlements and allows us to proceed to litigation with confidence, as we know we have the tools needed to win your case.
Our law firm regularly takes the following steps to investigate and prosecute car accident cases:
- Collects police reports
- Talks to witnesses and secures statements from them
- Photographs the scene of the crash, damage to vehicles and injuries to people involved
- Orders medical records and bills
- Hires accident investigators to determine how a crash likely occurred
- Meet with treating physicians and have them prepare reports to address causation and permanency of injuries
- Retrieve data from black box computers
- Communicates directly with insurance companies involved
If you are looking for information on how to proceed following a car accident injury case or how the law applies to your situation, you may wish to review some of the informational materials that we have prepared.
- Free Car Accident Guidebook
- Injury Valuation
- Car Accident FAQs
- Uninsured Motorist FAQs
- Drunk Driving FAQs
If you have questions about your situation or are ready to hire an attorney, we invite you to contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today for a free case review. All of our car accident injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis where there is never a legal fee charged until we are successful in a recovery on your behalf. Put another way, you have nothing to lose by hiring our law firm to represent you.
For information on other types of motor vehicle injury cases please visit the practice pages below where you will find more comprehensive materials on the topics.
- Truck Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Uber Crashes
- Bus Accidents
- Van Accidents
- Chicago Transit Authority Bus Accidents
Attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld is responsible for the material on this page and updates this content regularly.