Being in a car wreck is one of the scariest things you can ever experience. You are driving through Chicago quite happily, listening to your favourite tunes then everything changes within a couple of seconds. Tires screech, glass shatters and the horrendous crunch of metal on metal is often followed by an eerie silence. The next few minutes are vital but often forgotten with the shock of the impact, so it's reassuring to know your auto accident lawyer in Chicago will fill in the gaps.
The First Few Minutes
It can be very difficult to remain calm in the first few minutes following a car crash. What happened? Was it my fault? Is anyone else hurt? If you realise you are injured and cannot climb out of your car, your mind will really start racing. Am I going to be okay? How will I pay the medical bills? Oftentimes the only answer to the latter is to file a lawsuit against the driver at fault, and hope they have a high enough level of insurance cover to meet your needs.
The Next Steps
If you are able, the state laws of Illinois stipulate that you must swap insurance details, plus your name and address, with the other driver/s. The driver whose fault it was may not be exactly forthcoming with that information but your lawyer will work on your behalf to determine liability. If it's just a minor bump that doesn't warrant a 911 call you have 10 days to report it to the police. Should it be more serious however, and the result be serious injury, over $1500 in property damage or a fatality has occurred, you must do your best to preserve the scene. Do not move any vehicles unless absolutely necessary. If you must do this take pictures first to show it's original position. Accident investigators and claim adjusters will need this information further down the line.
Illinois is a Fault State
This means that the driver found to be at fault and who caused the accident is the one responsible for compensating anybody who was hurt or whose property suffered damaged in the accident. This will typically be done via their insurance company but it's not always straightforward. In the state of Illinois the law states that all drivers must have a minimum insurance coverage of $15,000 for property damage and $20,000 injury liability. Should you suffer injuries which take your medical bills over that amount a lawsuit for personal injury will have to be filed to recover the difference.
More than 400,000 auto accidents happen on roads in Illinois every year. The official figures show less but the evidence is there to see that many are not reported. Around 25% of these will result in injury whilst around 1000 will have fatalities. Even the smallest of accidents can be terrifying and have long lasting effects. A major one can be life changing. Unfortunately, the legal system in Illinois is particularly complex and you will definitely need a good lawyer to help you navigate the dense waters.