Every year, thousands of car accidents occur in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois. Some are fatal, while others leave victims with debilitating and/or life-long injuries. The vast majority of car accidents are the result of someone’s negligent, careless, or reckless driving.
If you are injured as a result of a car accident, you have the right to hold the at-fault driver responsible for your injuries and losses. If you successfully prove that the driver was negligent and caused your injuries, you will be entitled to compensation. However, retaining an experienced and effective team of Chicago car accident lawyers is critical for the success of your case and to ensure that you are fully compensated for your losses.
At Drake & Collopy, P.C., our car accident attorneys are dedicated to helping you recover the compensation you deserve after a car accident. The first step is to get in touch with us to discuss your situation.
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Common Causes of Chicago Car Accidents
Car accidents are unexpected and can change your life in an instant. Some of the most common types of car accidents seen in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois include:
About one-third of all accidents in Illinois involve excessive speed, according to IDOT. Drivers often cause accidents by exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for the road and weather conditions.
If a driver attempts to multitask while behind the wheel, it may result in an accident. Texting while driving and talking on the phone are two common causes of distracted driving. It can also happen when a driver interacts with passengers, adjusts the radio, eats, or drinks, or does any other activity that causes them to take their attention away from driving.
According to information from IDOT, approximately one-third of fatal crashes in Illinois involve alcohol. Alcohol is well known to impair one’s ability to drive safely. In some situations, the establishment or social host that provided alcohol to the at-fault driver can also be held liable.
Uber and Lyft Accidents
Rideshare services are popular in large cities like Chicago. Drivers use their personal vehicles to transport passengers where they need to go. Because of the arrangement, rideshare drivers have additional distractions than most drivers including monitoring their rideshare app. They may engage in distracted or careless driving that causes an accident. Rideshare accidents can be complex it is important to consult an experienced Chicago car accident attorney.
Large Truck Accidents
Commercial truck drivers sometimes cause accidents because of impairment, distraction, fatigue, or speeding. Mechanical defects may also cause some crashes that involve larger trucks. These types of accidents often cause catastrophic or fatal injuries because of the weight and size difference between passenger cars and commercial trucks.
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Sometimes, car accidents are caused by a defective component of the vehicle like the steering, tires, or brakes rather than driver error. In other cases, the crash victim’s injuries are made worse due to a defective safety feature, like a seatbelt or airbag. In such cases, the manufacturer of the defective vehicle or component may be held liable for injuries and damages caused by a crash.
Roadway Construction Accidents
Relatively minor misplacements of road markers or equipment in roadway construction zones can create a serious hazard that puts drivers and workers at risk. Contractors or a government agency may be held responsible for these types of accidents.
According to IDOT, rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of accidents in the state. They can be caused by following too closely or not paying attention to slowing or stopping vehicles ahead.
Head-on collisions are among the most serious car accidents. Drivers may cause a head-on collision by carelessly trying to pass a vehicle while traveling down a two-lane road or by drifting over the middle line because of fatigue, alcohol, or distraction.
Side Impact Accidents
This type of accident is commonly called a T-bone collision. They are common at intersections and can result in serious injuries because of the minimal protection vehicles have on the sides.
Motorcycle riders are exposed to far greater risk on the road than other drivers. Drivers often fail to see motorcyclists because of their smaller size or because of a general failure to keep a proper lookout. As a result, motorcycle accidents are far too common. Given the fact that motorcycles offer very little protection, motorcycle riders are at risk of life-altering or fatal injuries even in relatively minor accidents.
Drivers can cause serious collisions by failing to observe traffic signals or signs at an intersection or by failing to yield to other traffic when attempting to make a left turn.
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Reasons to Hire Our Chicago Car Accident Attorneys
Studies have proven that car accident victims recover significantly more compensation when they are represented by an attorney than trying to manage their accident claim on their own. Our team of Chicago car accident lawyers can provide you with effective and aggressive representation designed to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation. Some of the functions we perform include:
- Thoroughly investigating your accident
- Consulting with experts from various fields including medical experts, engineers, accident reconstructionists, vocational and economic experts, and life care planners
- Ensuring that all documents are filed properly and on time with the appropriate entities
- Investigating all potential defendants, insurance policies, and avenues of recovery
- Corresponding and negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf
- Preparing and presenting a persuasive case in court, arbitration, or mediation
- Negotiating and resolving any health care or other liens related to your case
At Drake & Collopy, P.C., we believe an immediate and thorough investigation of every Chicago car accident claim must be conducted. We will work to ensure that no important evidence is destroyed or lost during our investigation. We encourage you to get in touch with a Chicago car accident lawyer right away to ensure we can protect the available evidence.
Some of the evidence we collect for a Chicago car accident case may include:
- Crash or accident report from the responsible police department
- Photos of the accident scene
- Video surveillance of the accident from nearby businesses or red-light cameras
- Photos of damages to vehicles
- Statements from witnesses
- Information from an event data recorder or “black box”
- Driver cell phone records
- Manufacturer recall or other records
- Medical and employment records
As mentioned above, we also use the services of qualified experts in order to prove who caused the accident, what injuries were caused by the accident, the future medical care required and the expected cost of future medical expenses due to the injuries, and the reduction in lifetime earning capacity as a result of the injuries.
When you hire our team of Chicago car accident lawyers, you will find that our goal is to obtain and present the evidence required to establish a strong personal injury claim and to secure maximum compensation. We guarantee aggressive representation against insurance companies and/or a strong prosecution of the case in court to get you compensated for all accident-related injuries and damages.
What to Do When Dealing with the Insurance Company
It is important to remember that even if the insurance adjuster seems friendly and helpful, their job is to minimize the amount paid for your claim. Because of this, we strongly suggest that our clients avoid talking to the insurance company directly. It is very important that you do not sign or say anything that may impact your ability to recover compensation after a car accident.
At Drake & Collopy, P.C., we will conduct a full review of your case to determine the extent of your losses. This will help us determine the value of your car accident claim. Once all the evidence is gathered, we will negotiate with the insurance company or take your case to court to help you receive the maximum recovery.
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Types of Compensation You Can Receive from a Chicago Car Accident Claim
The specific amount you can recover from your Chicago car accident claim depends on the facts of your case, legal issues, and insurance coverage. Some of the types of damages we can help you recover include:
Compensation for Medical Bills
All related past and future medical costs that you incur due to treatment required for your injury, including emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, assistive devices, rehabilitation, and medication are included.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering
Compensation for all mental and physical suffering you experience because of your car accident can be recovered.
Compensation for Lost Income
All the past and future wages that you lose due to your injuries will keep you from being able to work and earn money to pay your expenses, and care for your family can be recovered. The compensation can include income, benefits, commissions, and bonuses.
Punitive damages are designed to punish someone for egregious misconduct in addition to the normal damages. It is often awarded in drunk driving cases and cases involving other reckless behavior.
Damages for Wrongful Death
If you have a family member who passes away because of a car accident, it may be possible to recover for all related medical costs, pain, and suffering by the decedent, as well as:
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Funeral and burial costs
Vehicle Repair or Replacement
We can offer guidance with respect to receiving proper compensation for repairs to your vehicle, diminution in value, or the fair market value of your vehicle and additional expenses incurred if it is considered a “total loss.”
If you are partially to blame for the car accident you are involved in, it still may be possible for you to recover compensation. Your percentage of fault typically reduces the amount you can recover from the accident. For situations where you are found to be 51% at fault or more, you will not be able to recover any compensation. The exception to this is if the other party engaged in some type of reckless behavior or action, like drunk driving.
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Common Injuries in Chicago Car Accidents
The injuries you sustain in a car accident can vary greatly, and no two car accident victims have the exact same injuries or outcome. While this is true, some injuries are commonly seen in car accidents. These include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
Car accidents are the number one cause of TBIs. These injuries occur when the brain is damaged by a blow to the head or piercing injury. Every year, over 50,000 people die as a result of TBIs in the U.S., with another 80,000 to 90,000 experiencing some type of long-term disability.
Spinal Cord Injuries and/or Paralysis
The impact of a collision and torque applied to your body can result in a long-term disability because of a spinal cord injury. If your spinal cord is damaged, it may cause partial or total paralysis under the level where the injury occurred.
Neck and Back Injuries
Neck and back injuries are the most common injuries sustained in car accidents. Many people do not realize that these injuries can occur even at low speeds with or without a seatbelt. Sometimes, the signs or symptoms of neck or back injuries are delayed not noticeable immediately after an accident. Neck and back injuries may include tendon, ligament, and muscle injuries, disc injuries including herniated or ruptured discs, and fractured vertebrae. Frequently, disc injuries cause compression on the nerves in the spine, which can result in radiating pain, numbness, and tingling down the arms or legs. Neck and back injuries often require physical therapy, injections, and sometimes surgery. The pain and disability caused by a serious neck or back injury can be life-long and very substantial.
Broken Bones and Fractures
It is not uncommon for car accident victims to sustain fractures to wrists, arms, knees, legs, ankles, ribs, and other areas. The severity of fractures can vary from a simple break (non-displaced) to more complex and compound fractures that may require surgery with implanted hardware.
A shoulder injury may be caused by force absorbed by bracing the hands against the dash or steering wheel during an accident. Commonly seen shoulder injuries resulting from car accidents include dislocation, tendinosis, rotator cuff tears, and labral tears. The more serious shoulder injuries may require surgery.
An accident victim’s knees may be injured by impacting part of their vehicle during a car accident. Knee injuries may also occur if the knee is turned or twisted quickly during an accident. Common knee injuries include fractures, torn ligaments, torn meniscus, damaged cartilage, and bruising. The more serious knee injuries often require surgery.
Hand and Wrist Injuries
Wrist or hand fractures, tendon tears, ligament tears, and wrist strains can occur in a car accident due to bracing the hands on the steering wheel or dash. Depending on the severity, wrist injuries may require surgery.
If your accident forces your body into an object, you may experience damage to your internal organs. In this situation, internal bleeding is not unusual and will require immediate medical treatment.
Scars and Facial Injuries
A facial injury can be caused by broken glass or if your head and face collide with the windshield, dash, steering wheel, side window, or any other hard surface. Sometimes, serious and permanent disfigurement can occur. Many facial injuries will also require surgery and may leave you with scarring.
During an accident, the damage to the vehicle may cause it to ignite, which could cause burns. Your skin may also come in contact with hot fluids, chemicals, steam, airbags, or other surfaces, causing burns. Severe burns may require skin grafting or surgery.
Limb Loss or Amputation
A toe, finger, leg, arm, or another appendage may be severed as a result of a car accident. These body parts may also be injured to the point where they need to be surgically removed. Injuries of this type will of course have permanent disabling effects on the car accident victim.
Ankle and Foot Injuries
Ankle, feet, and toe sprains, strains, and fractures can occur in a car accident. These types of injuries are particularly disabling because they can substantially limit the victim’s ability to walk.
Bruises and Lacerations
Flying objects, torn sheet metal, and broken glass can cause lacerations. Bruises are caused by an impact to your body by an object. You may also experience road rash if dragged across pavement or concrete. Lacerations may require surgery and may result in permanent scarring and disfigurement.
If part of your body is caught in between two objects during a car accident, a crush injury may occur. Lacerations and bruising may occur, or in more serious situations, damage to the bones, muscles, organs, and tissues.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Strains, sprains, and other damage to ligaments, tendons, and muscles are very common in car accidents. These are usually long-lasting and painful injuries.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
While many car accidents cause physical injuries, they frequently also cause emotional and psychological injuries. For example, you may develop severe anxiety (especially when traveling in a car), depression, or PTSD. If this occurs, it can have a profound impact on your life and well-being.
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Chicago Car Accident Claim FAQs
While a lot of the questions people have about car accident claims are answered above, you may have additional questions about your particular situation. Some of the answers to the most commonly asked questions can be found here.
How do you cover the cost of a Chicago car accident lawyer?
At our law firm, attorney fees are on a contingency basis and are paid from the settlement that we help you receive for your accident claim. The fee is paid at the end of the case and only if you receive compensation. We do not get paid unless and until you do, and you never have to pay for our services out-of-pocket.
How much time do you have to file a car accident claim in Chicago?
In Illinois (like all states), you must file your legal claim within a certain time period, called the statute of limitations, after being involved in a car accident. The amount of time you have to file depends on the type of claim you have. Generally, your accident claim must be filed within two years of the accident or your family member’s death. If the accident involves a local or state government agency, you have just one year to file your accident claim. If you fail to file a claim within the applicable statute of limitations period, you will lose your ability to receive compensation under the law. Therefore, it is important to contact us without delay after being involved in a car accident.
Can you receive compensation if you are partly at fault for the car accident?
Even though your negligence may have partially led to a car accident, it may still be possible for you to recover damages. The amount that you can recover depends on your percentage of fault.
Based on Illinois’s modified comparative negligence law, it is possible to recover damages if you are 50% or less at fault for the accident and the injuries you suffered. However, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
How do you know if you have a car accident claim worth pursuing?
Our best recommendation is to schedule an initial, free consultation with us to review your potential case in detail to help determine whether you should pursue a car accident claim.
During the review of your case, we will consider three critical factors: fault, damages, and insurance.
Our team will analyze the situation to determine whether someone else is likely at fault for the accident and whether you may share any fault. We will also consider the injuries and potential damages in your case. Finally, we will consider what insurance coverage is available to cover your damages. After considering these factors, we can advise you whether in our opinion your claim is worth pursuing.
How long will it take to settle your car accident claim?
Each case is unique, and the timeframe is based on numerous factors, many of which are unknown at the beginning of the case. Therefore, there is no way to predict how long an individual claim will take. Resolution of the claim cannot begin until your medical treatment is completed or, if your injuries are permanent, the injuries are medically stabilized and fully known. Sometimes, cases can be settled in a matter of months; however, other cases may take several years to conclude, especially if the case must be taken to court.
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Contact Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation
If you have been involved in a car accident and are considering filing a claim to receive compensation, we recommend that you contact us right away. Our team will review and investigate the facts of your case and get to work right away to build a strong case. We will fight aggressively on your behalf to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation possible.