Chicago drivers are well-aware of the dangers that come with driving on city streets. Unfortunately, accidents happen every day and if you are involved in one, there are a few things you should do immediately. The narrow roads of Chicago combined with heavy traffic congestion make auto accidents more common than in other cities in the country. Commuters use the city’s expressways to get to and from work, but they often spend extra time on the road due to the heavy traffic they encounter on these major thoroughfares.
Many Chicagoans drive through the city during the morning and evening rush hours, which makes these periods more dangerous for driving. If you are a Chicago driver, you need to take safety precautions to protect yourself and other drivers from the risks of car accidents that occur every day in the city. A car accident can be a traumatic event for all parties. If you are involved in a car accident in Chicago, the following steps will help ensure your safety and minimize your legal liability.
Assess the Damage
Check all passengers for injuries. Call 911 if anyone is injured or trapped. Assess damage to the vehicles involved in the accident. Contact the police to file a report and obtain a copy of the police report. Seek medical attention if necessary. Do not leave the scene of the accident unless you are required to do so by law.
Gather Information From the Other Party
Exchange insurance information with the other driver and exchange contact information. Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident. Take photos of any damage to your vehicle and the accident scene. Get information from any bystanders who witnessed the accident. Request that the other party complete a traffic collision report if there is any indication that they may be intoxicated.
Document Your Accident
For legal purposes, you should document your injuries and damages immediately after the accident. Keep a record of all medical expenses related to the accident and keep copies of any receipts you receive. If you have missed work due to your injuries, keep a log of all missed days and hours and submit it to the court with your case. Also, get contact information for any witnesses to the accident and write down their statements so that you have written evidence to use later in court if needed.
Consult an Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident in Chicago, it is important to consult with an attorney to determine your rights and legal options. A Chicago car crash attorney can review your legal options and help you recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses associated with your accident. Many work on a contingency basis and do not charge attorney fees unless you win your case. This can help ensure that you can get the legal advice you need without incurring expensive legal fees.
Be Honest About Your Injuries
Be honest about your injuries and the extent of your damages when speaking to your attorney or insurance company. Falsely reporting your injuries can result in you being liable for additional expenses later on. To avoid this, keep a record of all of your medical expenses and contact your physician to report your injury.
Avoid Common Mistakes
*Do not admit fault* to your car accident if the other driver is at fault: In your own best interest, avoid admitting fault in a car accident settlement negotiation. Doing so may open yourself up to liability that you weren’t previously aware of (i.e. property damages, past medical bills/lost wages, future medical/therapy bills, etc.) Accepting blame for the car accident may inadvertently make yourself legally responsible for the other parties’ injuries—even if you didn’t physically cause them! If you do admit to fault in the crash, you won’t be able to collect any future damages resulting from the accident.
*Don’t forget to document* the details of every interaction you have with the insurance company: If you’re involved in a car accident, insurance adjusters will reach out to you immediately to begin negotiating a settlement for your damages. Before you agree to anything, be sure to document every detail about your claim in writing, so you have a record of what was said when you spoke to the adjuster over the phone and in an email. Be sure to get their name, address, phone number, and email address so you can follow up with them directly if necessary.
What to Expect During a Car Accident Settlement
Typically, after a car accident, the two parties will negotiate to reach a settlement to avoid going to court. If both parties reach an agreement, they can sign a settlement agreement and move forward with their recovery. However, in some cases, one or both parties cannot come to an agreement, so the parties have to resort to litigation. If this happens, a judge will decide your case instead of through negotiation.
In most cases, you can expect to settle your case within a few months of being injured. An experienced car accident attorney can expedite the process by negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf. Unfortunately, there are cases where an insurance company won’t take “no” for an answer and continue negotiating until the judge decides on the matter. Still, an experienced attorney can guide you through the entire process and ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.
If you want to ensure you’re getting the most value out of your personal injury claim after your car accident, you need to consult an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. They can evaluate your case and advise you on your next steps. Many attorneys have years of experience handling car accident cases and they will do everything in their power to get you the compensation you deserve. A reputable personal injury attorney will not only negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf but will also protect you from tactics used by insurance companies in an effort to keep you from receiving the compensation you deserve.