Whose Property Damage Liability Insurance Should I Use After an Accident

Were you involved in a car accident and you want to know, should you use your insurance or the other guy’s insurance to pay for your property damage? Check out this short article to find out.

You just got in a car accident and you’re stressed out. Unfortunately, I’ve got a little bit of bad news for you. You’re about to start dealing with an insurance company and that in all likelihood is going to stress you out even more.

The biggest question I get over and over again about dealing with an insurance company is should I use my own insurance to pay for my property damage after an accident? The answer is yes.

Why File a Claim with Your Own Insurance?

There’s a good likelihood that using your own insurance is going to take care of this issue much quicker than if you wait for the third party to pay for your property damage.

Why is that? The third party insurance carrier (insurance for the guy who hit you) needs to investigate the matter. And they have to decide whether they’re going to accept liability or responsibility for the accident.

I’ve seen that take weeks and sometimes months. Whereas if you have collision coverage, you can get your property damage fixed by your own insurance company right away.

It’s also possible that your insurance company is going to pay you more for your property damage if your vehicle is a total loss than the other party’s insurance will. It’s a matter of customer service and also, you may have clauses in your policy that can increase the value of the vehicle like paying for aftermarket parts (especially motorcycles).

Should I Tell My Insurance Company About the Accident?

Another question I get asked that correlates to this question is, should I even tell my insurance company about the accident?

Yes. You should tell your insurance company about the accident. First of all, State Farm and Allstate are going to find out about the accident anyways. They all have access to the same information, but in addition, you are probably contractually required to tell them every time you were involved in an accident.

I’m not saying everybody does this. If it’s a minor fender bender and virtually nothing happened, and you want to pay a couple hundred bucks to get your property damaged fixed, I’ve seen it a thousand times where people don’t tell their insurance company.

But I want you to be aware that chances are you’re contractually obligated to tell your insurance company every time you’re involved in an accident.

Your Insurance Policy Has Other Benefits You Can Use

Another reason to use your own insurance policy is you probably have benefits you can tap into that you may not even know about.

For example, you may have something called med pay or medical payments coverage, that will cover the first 2,500 or $5,000 of your medical bills. That’s a really important benefit you probably have in your auto insurance policy especially if you have a lot of co-pays.

In addition, you want to put your insurer on notice about the accident because you may have to claim uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage. These are a type of insurance that may be in  your policy that will protect you in the event that the guy who hits you doesn’t have insurance or has a very small insurance policy.

Will My Rates Go Up If I File a Claim With My Insurance?

A question I get asked often is won’t this cause my rates to go up? Some experts will tell you that the answer is no. But that is not the truth.

No attorney, none of us can tell you what’s going to happen to your insurance rates. I can’t tell you what State Farm or Allstate is going to do.

However, I can tell you generally speaking, what I’ve seen in that is if you’re not responsible for the accident, your rates, generally speaking, don’t go up.

However, you could have had five accidents and that might’ve triggered something on State Farm’s end to cause your policy rates to go up.

So, no one can guarantee anything when it comes to these companies. However, I would argue – don’t worry about it. This is the reason you have insurance in the first place. So that G-d forbid you got in an accident, you’d be insured.

When Should You Not Use Your Own Insurance Policy to Pay for Your Property Damage?

There are a couple of common scenarios. First, if you have a very high deductible. Anytime you use your own insurance, you’re going to have to pay your deductible, whether it’s $500 or $1,000 dollars or more.

So, if you can’t afford your deductible, then the better route is to use the third party’s insurance company to pay for your property damages. Now, I still recommend using your own insurance because if you can afford it, if you can put the $500 deductible on a credit card, it’ll still get your property damage fixed quicker.

And chances are you’re going to get that money back in the future. How? There is no guarantee, but there’s a good chance what’s will happen is that your insurance company is going to ‘subrogate’ against the other insurance company. Meaning, they’re going to seek reimbursement from the other side for the money they put out on your behalf.

So, if your property damage was $2,500 and you had a $500 deductible, they’re going to seek reimbursement from Allstate or whoever the other insurance company is to get that money back.

It may take a little time, but chances are you’ll get your deductible back if you’re not at fault for the accident.

There’s a second scenario when you might want to not use your own insurance to pay for your property damage. In this case, the reality is you can’t use your own insurance to pay for the property damage because you don’t have collision coverage.

There are a lot of States in this country that only require that you have liability insurance. If you don’t have collision coverage, then you’re going to have no choice, but to go after the third party for your damages.

Note, there are some states where each party’s own insurance pays for their damages. I’m not talking about that situation here. So please don’t be misled as to what I’m saying. If you live in one of those States, you need to ask your insurance adjuster about it or your insurance agent about it.

If Your Vehicle is Totaled, Get Estimates from Both Companies

One final tip if your vehicle is totaled, you may want to get estimates from both insurance companies. Let’s say the defendant has Allstate and you have State Farm. If the vehicle is totaled, there’s nothing wrong with getting an estimate of actual cash value of your vehicle from both Allstate and State Farm and see who was offers you the most.

If you were involved in car accident and you’re hesitant to file a claim with your own insurance company, call us at 1-847-305-4105.

How to Appeal Car Insurance Claim Denial

Did you file a claim with your auto insurance and your claim was denied? Check out this short article to learn how you can appeal a car insurance claim denial.

If you’re reading this article, chances are, you may have recently got in an auto or motorcycle accident, and this may be your first time dealing with insurance company.

After you file your claim, you may be surprised to have your claim denied (for one of many reasons). If that’s the case, then what I’m about to tell you, will help guide you through the process of appealing your claim.

FYI, this article really applies when you have primarily property damage or minor injuries – not moderate to severe injuries. In cases involving larger injuries, I always recommend that people talk to a personal injury attorney.

If you’d like to speak with us about your case, call 1-847-305-4105.

There are two situations here:

First, you get hit by a third party and you file a claim with their insurance, and they deny your claim. What do you do?

Second, what if you file a claim with your own insurance and your own insurance denies you, what do you do?

Insurance Claim Denied by Third Party

Let’s take the first scenario where you get hit by a third party and they deny your claim. You only have two options:

First, you file a claim with your own insurance and hopefully you have collision coverage. Or, second: you file a lawsuit against the third party (not the insurance company).

If you only have property damage or minor injuries, and your total damages are under $10,000, you can file a lawsuit in small claims court. Small claims court is really made for people to file lawsuits on their own without an attorney.

Claim Denied by Your Own Insurance Company

The focus of this article however is the scenario when you’re denied by your own insurance company.

The first thing you should do is make the insurance company send you a certified copy of your insurance policy.

Then ask them to show you exactly what clause they’re denying your claim based on.  They will likely do this anyways but tie them to a denial decision and make sure you get it in writing.

Don’t just take your insurance company’s word for it. Insurance companies will try to get out of paying you any way they can.

Next Steps to Appeal an Insurance Claim Denial

I’m going to use my own insurance policy from State Farm as a guide for the rest of this article.  I was able to obtain it from my insurance agent within five minutes of asking.

In my policy it clearly sets forth the terms within which I have to appeal a denial of a claim.

Hint: Don’t wait to appeal the denial because one of the terms in your policy may be a time limit within which you have to file an appeal (especially if you have a sub-standard insurance carrier – one of those lousy insurance companies you see on late night television. They may very  likely have a 30 day timeline within which you have to file an appeal.

If you don’t appeal in time, they’ll try to use that against you to deny your claim and deny your appeal.

Pursuant to my own insurance policy, if I am denied by State Farm, there are very simple instructions including: I have to let them know in writing within a certain time period that I am appealing the denial of the claim.

What Information Must Be in an Appeal Letter

One thing I want to caution you on is your insurance contracts may also set forth the information that you have to provide them in your appeal letter. Some insurance contracts may require that you provide your evidence up front.

So, for example, let’s say your car is a total loss and they value it at a thousand dollars. You, however, get an appraisal that values it at $3,000.

It may be that in your appeal letter, you have to document the fact that you have evidence that proves that your car is worth more and you have to provide that to them in the appeal letter.

I just want to reemphasize take a look at your insurance policy. It’ll set forth the grounds upon which you can appeal and the means by which you’re supposed to do it.

Arbitration of Insurance Claim Denials

Back to my insurance policy. It also provides that I cannot file a lawsuit against the insurance company. Rather, I have to submit to what’s called arbitration.

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that when you signed your insurance contract, you likely agreed to arbitrate your dispute against your insurance company instead of filing a lawsuit.

How Does Arbitration Work?

In my policy, I have to pick one arbitrator (you can find one online or go to the American Arbitration Association or call your local bar association for a referral).

Then my insurance company, State Farm picks an arbitrator. And then the two of those folks get together and they pick a third person so that there’s an odd number of arbitrators on the arbitration panel.

Those three folks then are going to set forth the rules within which you’re going to arbitrate your claim. They’re going to tell you about discovery (what information you can obtain from the other side if any).

They’re going to tell you about the evidence that you have to submit.

They’re going to tell you about all the rules and requirements that go with the arbitration.

Do I need an Attorney for an Arbitration?

The arbitration date gets set and the arbitrators are picked. You might want to consider hiring an attorney to represent you. However, if there’s only property damage, chances are, you’re not going to be able to find an attorney unless you want to pay on an hourly basis.

As I mentioned before, this is something you can do on your own. Arbitration is an informal process. It’s not as informal as mediation, for example, where the parties just come together to try and settle a claim, but it’s still pretty informal.

The arbitrators are likely going to be retired judges or very experienced lawyers. They know you’re representing yourself pro se (or) on your own. And they’re going to be pretty laxed about how you submit evidence, about your appearance and the demeanor that you have to take within the arbitration.

So, don’t be hesitant to go arbitrate this matter on your own. You can do this.

The Benefits of Going to Arbitration

What are some of the pros of an arbitration? One is you get a decision made much quicker than if you file a lawsuit. Even if you file in small claims court, with an arbitrator, you can get an arbitration date set in six or eight weeks – which is the equivalent of your “day in court” so to speak.

In addition, you’re picking one of the arbitrators. Arbitrators are generally speaking going to probably be retired judges or experienced attorneys who understand the complexities of a property damage or personal injury case.

Conversely, if you file a claim in small claims court, you don’t know who the judge is. It could be a traffic ticket judge that was reassigned to the small claims court.

So, the experts are going to really make a decision about who’s at fault for your accident and whether you should recover or not.

How to Prepare for an Arbitration

So how do you prepare for an arbitration? Well, again, I already mentioned that the arbitrators are going to tell you the rules of the arbitration.

In short, you will have to present your evidence to the arbitrators at the arbitration.

What Evidence do I Need

For example, if your car was totaled, you’re going to want to get your own appraisal done. Note that you may have to have that appraiser actually testify at your arbitration. Again, the rules set forth by the arbitrator will tell you how you have the handle this.

In addition, get your receipts together, get the police report, and any documentation you have to support your claim as you’re going to have to admit it at the arbitration as evidence.

Same for any medical records, medical bills and photographs of property or personal injury.

What Should I Wear to the Arbitration?

When you attend the arbitration, put on a decent shirt and a pair of slacks. Something to look presentable – remember you’re trying to defeat a multi-billion dollar insurance company. So, the more professional you look, the more respectable you look, the better off you’re going to be.

After the Arbitration

After the arbitration, there may be a couple of weeks’ time lag where the arbitrators meet and they come up with a decision regarding your appeal. They need to get the numbers in order and get the decision written out and provided to you.

Win or lose, you’ll have represented yourself and you won’t have taken a denial from an insurance company lying down, which is the thing I really want to emphasize here.

We’ve got to fight the insurance companies because otherwise they’re going to try and low ball us every single time they can.

If you are about to go to arbitration and would like a free strategy session with us, call 1-847-305-4105.

Top 4 Reasons Why Motorcycles Are So Difficult To See In Traffic

“Can someone please tell me why motorcycles are so difficult to see in traffic?” It’s a question we get asked a lot, and it can be just as frustrating for motorists as it is for motorcyclists.

But seriously, why are motorcycles so easy to miss out on the open road?

We’ve put together some of the most common reasons a driver may fail to see a motorcyclist, and while some of them may seem obvious, others will surprise you.

In addition to the reasons why, we’ve also talked to some seasoned riders who gave us some great pointers on what you can do as a biker to make sure you’re as noticeable as possible when you’re out for a ride.

Ok, enough talking, let’s dive into why motorcycles are so difficult to see in traffic.

Reason 1: Size Matters

It goes without saying that motorcycles are much smaller than their four-wheeled counterparts.

And we like it that way. The smaller size of a motorcycle makes it more nimble, more agile, and easier to park and store than the smallest commuter car.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of parallel parking a motorcycle in the city, you know what I mean.

Any three-foot gap will do. You probably won’t even have to feed the meter.

However, the smaller size of our motorcycles also makes them much more difficult to see by default, especially in side and rearview mirrors of any vehicle from a distance.

It’s also worth noting that motorcycles have been shrinking over the past decade.

Yes, you read that right.

Kawasaki introduced their redesigned Ninja 250R in early 2008, and the overwhelming customer interest that followed found every major manufacturer in the game racing to cash in on the small-bike craze.

The popularity of the sub-400cc market exploded, and by 2012 just about every popular brand had wheeled out minuscule models in their lineups of every flavor from Yamaha’s popular R3 sportbike to KTM’s pocket-sized 390 Duke.

You could easily mistake the 125cc Honda Grom in your rearview for a dead bug if you didn’t look twice.

And while Groms and other “pocket bikes” are a blast to ride, the smaller bikes get the more obvious their size becomes a reason why motorcycles are so difficult to see in traffic.

What to do about the size dilemma…

When it comes to the size of motorcycles, there’s really not a whole lot you can do.

Sure, you could go out and buy a bigger bike, but where’s the fun in that?

Our best advice for compensating for the size of your bike is to ride like every driver on the road doesn’t see you.

Do everything you can, especially on the freeway, to leave as much space around your motorcycle as possible in traffic. Always leave yourself an “out” or escape path whenever you can just in case you need to swerve to avoid a collision

Riding in a group can also help overcome the size difference.

A single motorcycle can be overlooked, but a group of three or more, especially when riding as close together as safety permits, might as well be a Mack truck in terms of visibility.

Reason 2: Speed, Often.

It’s not far-fetched to allege that motorcycles often travel at higher rates of speed than your average car.

We’re not pointing any fingers here, but I think we can all agree that they certainly aren’t making motorcycles slower with each passing year.

But excess speed is undoubtedly a common reason why motorcycles are so difficult to see in traffic.

Simply put, the faster you’re traveling, the less time you spend in a driver’s line of sight. The less time a vehicle has to see you, the more likely they are to miss you completely, and the less time and distance you both have to react to avoid a crash.

Great, here comes the “slow down” lecture…

I mean yes, generally speaking you should slow down if you’re speeding all the time, but the more honest approach here is to be more sensible about your speed.

There’s a time and place for letting your engine sing.  A busy interstate or four lane highway isn’t one of them.

If you want to find out how quickly your bike can accelerate… up to the posted speed limit, of course… save it for those curvy canyon roads where even the legal limit can seem like a stretch.

Getting your motorcycle out for a track day or a few passes at your local drag strip is also a great way to see three figures on your dash without risking the safety of others or your driver’s license.

Reason 3: Low Visibility Colors

We’ve got a running joke between the riders in our local group.

When one of us announces they’re getting a new bike, the question inevitably follows: “What color black are you getting?”

We’re kidding, but many of us would be lying if we said black wasn’t our first or at least second choice for motorcycle paint and accessories.

And whether or not black happens to be your first choice, you need look no further than the best-selling manufacturer in the US to see the popularity of black motorcycles.

Harley Davidson accounted for nearly one-third of all motorcycle sales in 2020 according to Statista.com, and literally every single model they offer can be optioned in black paint.

I think it’s safe to say most motorcyclists prefer dark colors to brighter, higher visibility ones. They have since the 80s’, anyways.

Solutions For Improving Visibility:

We don’t expect anyone to run out and decorate their motorcycles with safety-yellow paint, but there are a few common-sense measures out there to help with the visibility issue.

For starters, picking a helmet that includes a fair amount of high-viz yellow or orange will help you stand out.

Your helmet is arguably the most effective piece of gear for getting noticed as your head is one part of your body that moves constantly when you ride, whether you’re looking ahead through a curve or doing a quick check of your blind spot before making a lane change.

High visibility colors are effective because they reflect more of the sun’s UV rays to stand out, which is great for the daytime, but that also means they lose all of their effectiveness when the sun sets.

For that reason, we also recommend using highly reflective materials like 3M Scotchlite on as much of your gear as possible.

Motorcycle jackets and pants often come with reflective materials already integrated into the trim, but consider adding some reflective tape to the bottoms of your pants, knees, elbows, and back of your helmet to help you stand out at night.

Another smart way to add reflective material to your bike without cramping your style is to add reflective rim striping.

Reflective rim tape can be purchased either color-matched to your wheels (if you want to keep it low-profile), or in contrasting colors like red-on-black if you want to add some extra style to your bike.

Reason 4: Even When They See You, They Might Not See You

Sounds confusing, right?

We’re right there with you.

However, according to a 2019 study by the Australian College Of Road Safety, even if a driver is looking right at you, their brain may still fail to “perceive” you as a vehicle, which will cause them to go on driving as if you were a stationary object, or not there at all.

This strange finding has been dubbed “Inattentional Blindness,” or IB for short, and is believed to be one of the main contributing factors in “Look-But-Fail-To-See” crashes involving motorcyclists.

Scientists have explained this phenomenon by suggesting that because motorcyclists appear roughly the same size as a person, but have no discernible “human” movements (we’re essentially sitting still when we ride), a driver’s brain will filter them out of the “potential hazards” we’re conditioned to watch out for like cars and pedestrians on foot.

Best Practices For Being Seen On Your Motorcycle

Clearly, motorcyclists are already at a disadvantage when it comes to being noticed in traffic.

One of the simplest things you can do to make sure you’ve got the best chance possible of being acknowledged is to ride in either the inner or outer-third of the lane of traffic rather than sticking to the center of the lane.

This puts your motorcycle in the line of sight for both the rearview and side mirrors of most vehicles, and thus improves your chances of being seen from behind.

Another easy way to increase your likelihood of being seen is to use your lights as much as possible, and no, we’re not just talking about flashing your brights when someone cuts you off.

Flip on your turn signals several hundred yards earlier than you would in a car whenever you can to make sure you’re seen and the traffic both in front of and behind you knows you’ll be turning at some point.

It’s also helpful to “ride” your rear brake lever every time you reduce your speed by engine braking.

This is a good tip because although motorcyclists are used to the idea of using the engine to slow down in traffic, many drivers aren’t familiar with the concept, and by lightly riding your rear brake as you apply engine braking, you’re effectively “signaling” to traffic behind you that it’s time to slow it down.

Why Motorcycle Is Fun = Why Motorcycle Is Dangerous

It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.

The open-air freedom, the thrilling acceleration, the powerful brakes, and the high-speed balancing act. They all make motorcycling a pleasure, but they also make the bikes themselves a safety liability.

And truth be told, that’s always going to be a large part of the appeal.

“Fast, loud, and dangerous” sounds like a good time to many of us, yet these were all likely contributing factors to whatever brought you to our site.

If you’re an automobile driver reading this, consider the points we’ve covered to be a great argument for why “look twice, save a life” is more than just a bumper sticker: It’s something you should put in practice.

If you’re a motorcyclist, I hope we’ve provided some useful tips to help keep you out of harm’s way.

And if you’ve already been involved in an accident, give us a call now, and put these tips in your back pocket for when you get back on the open road.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? Call Chicago Legal Group Today To Arrange For Your Free Initial Consultation.

Located in Glenview, Chicago Legal Group focuses exclusively on the representation of personal injury victims, including those injured in motorcycle accidents. We use our experience, tenacity, and advocacy skills to get our clients the compensation and resources they need to move forward with their lives. Your initial consultation is free, and you pay nothing in attorney’s fees until we obtain compensation for you.

*Thanks to Kurt Spurlock for contributing to this article.

Top 19 Tips to Increase Your Personal Injury Claim Settlement

Were you are injured in a car accident or other personal injury, you want to know how to maximize your compensation. Check out this short blog for my top 19 tips to increase your personal injury claim settlement.

First, your interests are at odds with the insurance company. The insurance company wants to pay you as little as they can for your injuries. They’re a for profit business and reducing how much they pay out (on every single claim) is one way they maximize their profits. Meanwhile, you want to recover as much as you can for your injuries.

So how can you increase the amount of your recovery?

  1. Hire a personal injury attorney

I’ve talked about it many times on this website but if you suffered injuries you’ll get more if you’re represented by someone who knows the system. How many times have you ever had to deal with an insurance company?

That’s enough personal promotion – now for the rest of the list.

  1. Do Not Settle Quickly

The insurance company is going to try and get you to settle quickly. Don’t do it. Do not accept that first offer. Often after an accident people are desperate and need quick money. If you accept that first offer you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

  1. File a Claim ASAP With Both Insurance Companies

Yes, file a claim with your insurance company too. The guy who hit you may have no insurance or if he has insurance he may not have enough to cover your damages. And you may have coverage that will compensate you. This might include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or medpay (medical payments) coverage.

  1. Get Medical treatment Right Away

Do not delay. I don’t care if you go to your primary care physician or the emergency room, the insurance company will use delays against you.

  1. Do Not Stop Your Doctor Visits

Do not stop going to the doctor until you are discharged from care and do not have a ‘gap in treatment’ – insurance companies will use these things against you later on to diminish your recovery.

  1. Report All Medical Injuries

If you feel any pain anywhere, report it to anyone who treats you. If you don’t tell the ER doctor or your treating physician that you’re having right leg pain – and its not documented in the records – it doesn’t exist. Always tell your providers about all pain you’re suffering from

  1. Get Ready to be Low-Balled

Be prepared for insurance companies to try and diminish your claim by arguing that your injuries are pre-existing. They know about every claim you’ve ever filed and they’re going to get your medical records. It is next to impossible to hide something from a good insurance adjuster.

  1. Argue Pre-Existing Injuries Were Aggravated

You can overcome the pre-existing injury argument by arguing that your pre-existing injuries were aggravated or exacerbated by the accident. But trust me, it’s much better to have an attorney figure that out for you than you trying to argue that yourself. So again, get an attorney if you have injuries.

  1. Keep All Evidence

Keep everything: receipts, bottles of medicine, shoes you were wearing if you were injured in a slip and fall, the clothes you were wearing at the time of the accident, personal property like your phone if that was damaged – if there is no documentation there is no claim.

  1. Stay Off Social Media

Be careful what you post on social media and what you do – they’re watching. The insurance adjuster will look you up on social media for sure. They might even hire an investigator to tail you or interview your friends and colleagues. Bottom line, don’t talk to anyone about your case but your lawyer.

  1. Focus on the Future

Focus on future damages and permanency.  If you are going to require medical treatment for the next 10 years, you can recover for that. If you’re going to lose wages in the future – get compensated for it. And for sure if you have suffered a permanent injury, like you’re going to walk with a limp the rest of your life, that is hugely compensable.

  1. Exhaust all the Benefits Available to You

You remember earlier I said file a claim with your own insurance? Well, you may be able to go after your own auto insurance for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. You may have other coverage that could help you too like medpay or medical payment coverage that will cover your co-pay’s or will cover the first 5 or 10k of your medical bills. Do not hesitate in using your own auto insurance.

  1. Take Photographs of everything

You’ve got a cell phone. Take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and all property damage. I’ve had cases where photos were the single most important factor in my client increasing their settlement.

  1. Remember Severity of Impact

Regarding taking photos of the property damage, something you might not have thought about is the concept of Severity of impact. Insurance companies are pretty skeptical that accident victims suffered serious injuries in accidents with little property damage. Though we know that’s totally not true. If you have photos of your property damage you can show how severe the impact was and that can only help your case.

  1. Create a Journal

Document what you’re going through. Your case could take a year or two years before you get compensated. You’re going to forget the severe pain you were in or how you laid in bed night after night unable to sleep because you were in pain. If you document it in a journal it will help you remember everything you went to when you have to tell your story. Be aware of what you say though as it could be entered as evidence.

  1. Document Everything

Do not trust the insurance company. Don’t just leave voicemails. Make sure everything is in writing. So if you do leave a voicemail, follow up with an email or fax to confirm what you agreed to and/or what the adjuster told you.

  1. Be Patient

Personal injury claims are a long process. Let your attorney build your case from the bottom up and you will maximize your compensation. If you try to rush things, you’re almost guaranteed to get less than you deserve.

  1. Know Your Statute of Limitations

Research the timelines involved in your case and do not delay. In Illinois we have 2 years to file a lawsuit for a personal injury from the date of the accident. Do not blow the statute of limitations.

If you’re injured by a governmental entity your time period may be much shorter. If the victim is a child, the time limit may be much longer. So, it’s critical to stay on top of how much time you have to pursue your claim.

  1. File a Lawsuit

Insurance companies are not bound by law to offer great settlements. If you’re not happy and your attorney thinks you can get more money, file a lawsuit. Yes it will take a long time but it might be worth it in the end.

If you want help increasing the amount of your personal injury settlement, contact the Chicago Legal Group at 1-847-305-4105.

Top 12 Things to do at an Accident Scene After a Car Crash

Accident victims make the same mistakes over and over again. At accident scenes. Check out this short video on the top 12 things to do at an accident scene after a crash.

Download our “Accident Scene Checklist”

We created a checklist for you to stick in your glovebox in the unfortunate event you are in an accident.

You can download the accident scene checklist here. Do everything on this list to protect yourself from being taken advantaged of.

#1 – Stay Calm

Oftentimes emotions run high after an accident, getting angry at the other party, swearing at them being rude to the police officer. None of this is going to help your case and it’s going to show up in the police report later on. So, whatever you do, stay calm at the scene of an accident.

#2 – Stay Safe

You were just in an accident. You may be in the center lane, watch out for other cars. I’ve seen so many accidents where one accident occurs and then a second accident occurs right afterwards. The first priority you should have is making sure that you and your family are safe.

#3 – Leave the Vehicles Where They Are

If you can, leave the vehicles where they are. That is not always possible. Oftentimes you’re going to have to move your vehicle to the side of the road. But if you can, it would be better if you could leave your vehicles where they are so that the police can come and inspect the property damage.

#4 – Never Admit Fault

Do not admit fault to the other party. This can be difficult because if you did cause an accident, you may be inclined to say, “Hey, I’m sorry about that,” or, “I didn’t see you.”

The problem is that that is an admission against interest and may be used later against you to prove liability. So, try and avoid making a damning statement at an accident scene.

#5 – Only Talk to the Police

Only discuss the facts of the accident with the police when they arrive. You may be inclined to get out of your car and go talk to the other party. That’s a big mistake. You might say something that incriminates yourself, they may say something, and emotions are running high.

The best thing to do is if they want to talk to you about what happened in the accident, just very respectfully say, “I’d like to wait until the police come to talk about what happened in the accident.”

#6 – Get Medical Help Immediately

This is kind of a no-brainer right? If you’re hurt, you’re calling an ambulance. However, I’ve seen so many cases where people just have a sore back and they don’t go to the doctor or they don’t go to the emergency room and it costs them with insurance company later on.

It goes without mentioning that if somebody is really hurt, the obvious choice is to get them medical attention. Everything else on this will take care of itself.

#7 – Always Call the Police

100% of the time. I don’t care how minor the accident is. You may have been involved in an accident and the other party says, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll cover your expenses.” Or, maybe they say “it was my fault.” You exchanged information and everything seemed fine. But when they go and talk to their insurance company afterwards, they tell them a different story.

Always get the police there to inspect the scene of the accident. Look at the physical evidence and make a report.

Sometimes police departments won’t come to the scene of the accident. Maybe the accident occurred on private property or there’s no injury involved. In that case, make sure you call 911 and get what happened on the record – you can order the transcript later.

And then, if you can, drive to a police station and file a report on your own. It’s critical to get a police report on every accident.

#8 – What to do/say/get from the Police

Obviously the police will ask for your side of the story and they’re going to talk to the other party. They’re going to look for witnesses and inspect the property damage and so forth.

The officer may just give you a little card that says your police report number on it. Or, they may provide you an ‘exchange of information’ form. People often think this is the police report itself, it is not. It just has your information and the other party’s information so that you can file an insurance claim.

Also, make sure you get the officer’s name, their contact information, their badge number and the police report number.  This is the kind of information that will make it much easier to get the police report much quicker.

#9 – Do NOT agree to NOT Get Insurance Involved or to NOT Call the Police

I’ve had so many calls from people who said that they got in an accident and the other party seemed really nice and cooperative. The victim didn’t call the police and when they try to reach the person after to get their property damage fixed they’ve disappeared.

You need the police to come out to the scene of the accident and you need to get that person’s contact information and their insurance information.

#10 – Exchange Information with the Other Driver

Often people will just take a photograph on their phone of the other driver’s license and insurance card.

But if you don’t take a photo, make sure you get information from the driver, like their name, their phone number, their address, their driver’s license number.

Things like this will help you find them later. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had trouble finding the other driver involved in an accident.

In addition, make sure you get their insurance information. What insurance company do they have? What are the policy dates on their insurance company? What’s the customer service number? What is their insurance policy identification number? These are all things that are going to make it easier for you to find this person later into file a claim and all this information.

There are spaces for all this information on the accident scene checklist that I recommend you download now.

#11 – Collect Evidence

Witnesses are of course important to winning your case. If there are any witnesses, get their name and their phone number or whatever contact information you can get about them. Witnesses are very hard to find after the fact of an accident.

Also, are there any cameras around that you can try to go after to get video tape to show what happened in the accident? I’ve had many cases where video evidence turned the tide on liability decision made by an insurance company.

Also take pictures of course, of your vehicle, your injuries of the skid marks and note in writing the date and time and location of the accident, which direction you were headed and if you can, draw a little diagram of how the accident occurred.

There’s a very good likelihood that your case isn’t going to go to trial or, or you’re not going to be deposed about this accident for 6, 9, 12, or 18 months or more. Anything you can do to document immediately can only help you later.

#12 – File a Claim with Both Insurance Companies

That’s correct – file a claim with your own insurance company as well. It’s a no brainer that you’re going to file with the insurance company for the party who hits you, right? And when you call them up, make sure you get the insurance adjuster name and their contact information and their claim information.

But you should also file with your own insurance company. People are often surprised about that. And they’re always worried that their insurance rates are going to go up.

I can’t make any guarantees about that, but chances are that if you’re not at fault for the accident, your rates won’t be affected. But file with your insurance company.

Most likely when you signed your insurance contract, you contracted that you are contractually obligated to report to them any accident you are involved in.

But there’s another reason as well. If you file with your own insurance company, you can get your property damage handled much quicker than if you wait for the third party insurance company to investigate the accident, accept responsibility, and get your property damage fixed.

Yes, you’ll have to pay for your deductible, but chances are you’re going to get reimbursed for that if you’re not at fault for the accident.

In addition, you may have other insurance benefits  like uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or medpay that you can (and may need to) use.

I hope these 12 tips have been valuable to you and God forbid you get in an accident and you need to use one of these things, but in case you do make sure you download this accident scene checklist.

The 12 Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

While the causes of motorcycle accidents are varied, one factor will always be constant for motorcyclists: Preventing accidents before they happen is paramount.

We take many approaches to accident prevention, doing everything we can to ensure drivers on the road can see us and know we’re coming.

Highly-visible and highly-reflective clothing, louder exhaust pipes, brighter lights, brighter signals: You name it, we’ve tried it.

But despite our best efforts, distracted driving or bad judgment can still lead motorists into our paths, leading to serious injury or even worse.

What’s even more concerning is that according to a 2019 study on driver psychology by the ACRS, even when a driver is looking right at you, their brains may still fail to “perceive” motorcycles as vehicles, and they may go right on driving as if you weren’t there at all.

Below we’ll take a look at some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents we come across as attorneys, all of which are 100% preventable and could be liable for compensation.

Unsafe Lane Changes

Nothing fits snugly into a vehicle’s blind spot quite so well as a fast motorcycle.

Which is bad news for us riders, because many motorists will give little or no warning when changing lanes if they think the coast is clear.

Combine that with the fact that a motorcycle is much more agile and better equipped to navigate through busy traffic, whether they’re splitting lanes or moving between smaller spaces between vehicles, and you’ve often got a sure-fire recipe to trade some paint with an oblivious driver from an unsafe or illegal lane change.

Front End Crashes

Motorcycles are equipped with much higher performing brakes than other vehicles on the road, but even the latest fire-breathing race bikes out there can only stop so fast.

That’s why when a leading driver makes an abrupt or unwarranted stop (or has no idea that their brake lights aren’t working in the first place), even motorcycles following at a safe distance can wind up parked in the rear bumper of a car while the rider may find themselves flying through the air unexpectedly.

A front-end crash can also occur when we’re forced to take evasive maneuvers to avoid other drivers or unsafe road conditions that end in collisions with fixed objects.

Added together, these two scenarios have made front-end crashes one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents we deal with in our practice, and we’ve often found that motorcyclists are not at fault when front-end crashes occur.

Rear-End Collisions

While we motorcyclists are well aware of the power of our front brakes described above, most motorists have no idea how quickly a motorcycle can come to a stop in an emergency situation.

This creates a higher probability of experiencing a rear-end collision as a motorcyclist, which is even further compounded when we consider the fact that a great deal of the braking done on a motorcycle is done through downshifting or “engine braking” rather than using the brakes at all.

While it’s always a best practice as a motorcyclist to use some amount of brake when slowing down to signal to the vehicle behind you, it’s certainly not your fault should you happen to forget, and it definitely isn’t your fault if the vehicle behind you slams into your rear end in either scenario.

Rear-end collisions are often simple fender-benders when two cars are involved, but even the lowest speed rear-end accident can be serious on a motorcycle.

Without the benefit of seats, headrests, seat belts, or impact-absorbing bumpers, there’s really nothing keeping us safe from brain, back, or neck injuries, and often we can find ourselves thrown off the bike altogether, leading to even more potentially serious injuries.

Left-Hand Turn Accidents

According to the NHTSA, 40% of the fatal two-vehicle motorcycle crashes reported in 2014 involved left-hand turns, making them one of the most serious causes of motorcycle accidents we handle for our clients.

Left-hand turn accidents for motorcyclists are typically caused either by drivers who don’t see us coming before they turn across traffic, or by drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way to motorcycles altogether.

It’s also fairly common for drivers to misjudge the speed a motorcycle is traveling or accelerating toward an upcoming turn, and once they’ve made the decision to pull into oncoming traffic, there’s just no time for either party to react quickly enough to prevent disaster.

T-Bone and Intersection Collisions

T-Bone and intersection collisions are typically caused by the same factors as left-hand turn accidents, although a driver’s failure to obey traffic signals (like red lights and stop signs) comes into play more often than we’d like as well.

Apart from negligence on the driver’s part, a simple failure to see motorcycles in traffic is also a common cause of accidents.

Whether that’s due to the motorcycle being obstructed from view behind another vehicle, an object along the roadway or in the intersection, or due to the “Look-But-Fail-To-See” phenomenon we mentioned above, collisions at intersections are common, and often very serious due to the speeds of oncoming traffic.

Speeding/Reckless Driving

Now we’re not going to pretend that motorcyclists all have a passion for obeying posted speed limits.

If your bike couldn’t exceed 55 miles an hour, chances are you wouldn’t have bought it in the first place.

But there’s a time and a place for high speeds (preferably on a closed course), which is a fact that many drivers seem all too willing to ignore, leading reckless driving to be one of the most common causes for motorcycle accidents in the country.

Motorcyclists often fall victim to motorists exceeding the limits of their vehicles around turns and coming into their lanes head-on, or drivers running excessive speeds who don’t see us until it’s too late.

Try as we might to be as seen and heard as possible for safety’s sake, the fact still remains: Our motorcycles are smaller and more agile than their four-wheeled counterparts, which makes them more difficult for reckless drivers to see in time to react.

Single Bike Accidents

We’ve all been halfway through a tight turn only to find a nice patch of gravel or a pothole the size of a manhole cover waiting for us at the opportune moment.

If we’re lucky, we have time to correct our line or get on the brakes in time to avoid these obstacles altogether, but sometimes disaster strikes, leading to what we refer to as a “single bike accident.”

Single bike accidents are those accidents in which no other vehicles are involved, but a motorcyclist still crashes due to hazardous road conditions at no fault of their own, whether they hit them head-on or have to take evasive maneuvers that end in a crash.

Distracted Driving Accidents

We’ve all seen the bumper sticker “Look Twice, Save A Life – Motorcycles Are Everywhere.”

If only solving the distracted driving epidemic in the USA was that simple.

Unfortunately, all the bumper stickers in the world haven’t kept distracted driving from remaining as one of the leading causes of vehicle accidents in the country.

They still contribute to over 3,000 deaths a year in the United States alone according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It seems nowadays no motorcycle ride is complete without a near-death experience on the freeway.

These close calls are typically followed by a look over at the driver who almost cashed your check only to find they’re still completely oblivious, fumbling with their GPS, playing with their radio, or (everyone’s favorite) still staring down at their phone.

So it may come as no surprise to you that the National Safety Council found that 1 in 4 accidents in the US is now attributed to cell phone use while driving.

Which is particularly concerning to motorcyclists, as we often find ourselves at the mercy of other motorists and don’t have the safety net of bumpers or seatbelts to keep them at arm’s length in the event of an accident.

U-Turn Collisions

U-turns can be tricky for motorists, but from a legal standpoint the facts are clear.

Generally speaking, the person making a u-turn is responsible for yielding the right of way in just about every scenario, and may still be making an illegal maneuver depending on where the turn was made.

When a motorist makes a careless or illegal u-turn in front of a motorcyclist, rear-end and t-bone accidents often occur.

Again, they may not have seen the motorcycle coming at all, or may have misjudged its speed, but u-turn accidents resulting in a collision are almost always the fault of the driver making the turn.

Motorcycle Accidents Caused By Drunk Drivers

According to the NHTSA, at least one person is killed in the United States every hour by a drunk driver.

That’s over 10,000 deaths since 2019 alone.

In fact, 29% of all fatal vehicle crashes involved an alcohol-impaired driver in 2018 according to responsibility.org.

With the odds already stacked so highly against motorcyclists in the event of an accident, adding alcohol into the mix makes for a dangerous cocktail.

Both motorcyclists who are the victims of drunk driving, and motorcycle passengers who are injured as the result of an impaired operator should seek legal counsel immediately as they are likely eligible for compensation for their injuries.

Lane Splitting

Lane splitting accidents are another one of the common causes for motorcycle accidents, and typically fall into one of two categories.

The first being that a driver wasn’t paying attention and made an abrupt lane change on a busy freeway (often without signaling).

The other scenario is, unfortunately, one we have all experienced to one degree or another, and that’s what we bikers might describe as “jealousy-induced accidents.”

For whatever reason, some motorists just can’t stand the thought of allowing motorcycles to squeeze happily by while they sit and suffer in traffic.

Even in states like California where lane splitting is not only perfectly legal, but well understood and widely adopted, there are always going to be a handful of drivers that just aren’t willing to let you pass by.

We’ve all seen drivers crowd the lane intentionally, or even worse, try to force motorcylists out of the lane once they’re already alongside their vehicles.

Regardless of whether lane-splitting accidents are caused by negligence or road-rage, if the maneuver is legal, chances are you’re not at fault.

Parking Lot Accidents

Conventional wisdom often tells us that parking lot accidents aren’t subject to “fault” or compensation because they occur on private property.

That just isn’t true.

Parking lots can be particularly tough for motorcycles. Low-speed maneuvering combined with high traffic and pedestrian activity requires the utmost caution and attention from a motorcyclist.

You’d think we could expect the same degree of caution from motorists, but some folks are willing to do anything for that front row parking spot, or just don’t bother to check before backing into a spot you already occupy.

Parking lot accidents don’t have to be caused by other motorists though.

If you sustain an injury while riding in a parking lot due to the lot itself, whether it be from a dangerous layout or physical hazards on the lot, the property manager may be liable for compensation.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? Call Chicago Legal Group

Located in Glenview, Chicago Legal Group focuses exclusively on the representation of personal injury victims, including those injured in motorcycle accidents. We use our experience, tenacity, and advocacy skills to get our clients the compensation and resources they need to move forward with their lives. Your initial consultation is free, and you pay nothing in attorney’s fees until we obtain compensation for you.

Please contact Chicago Legal Group today to arrange for your free consultation.

Special thank you to Kurt S. for his contributions to this article.

How To Get An Insurance Adjuster To Call You Back

Did you file a claim with an auto insurance company and the insurancehow to get an insurance adjuster to call you back

adjuster won’t respond to your calls? Check out this short blog to learn how to get an insurance adjuster to return your calls after a car accident.

Accident victims often call my office and tell me that they’re having a difficult time not being able to get a return call from claims adjusters.

First of all, this is not a shock because delaying or denying your insurance claim is one of the ways that an insurance company can manipulate the system. They get people frustrated and they give up.

The Insurance Adjuster is Likely Very Busy

There may be a simple explanation – insurance adjusters generally are handling hundreds of cases at a time. Just take a look at the file that you’re dealing with for your case. It’s got medical records, the police report, pictures, receipts and more. Multiply that by 200 or 300 and you can see what insurance adjuster is dealing with. So sometimes they’re not just delaying your case. The adjuster at the insurance company can just be super busy.

However, this blog is not to make excuses for an insurance adjuster. Instead, let’s find a few ways to get around the system and work it in your favor.

Manage Your Expectations for Dealing with Insurance Companies

Level set your expectations about what your experience dealing with the insurance company is going to be like. As I just mentioned, insurance adjusters are very busy.

So, don’t expect a call back right away from the insurance company. I’ve had some people call me and say they called their insurance adjuster yesterday and they haven’t gotten back to them. It’s going to take the adjuster 24 hours to get back to you. Your inquiry just goes on a long list of other inquiries that they already have.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney to Deal with the Insurance Adjuster

If it’s been more than 24 hours, then you need to take action. What’s the first thing you can do when dealing with an insurance adjuster. Well, this is very self-serving and I apologize, but you can hire a Chicago auto accident lawyer.

Insurance companies respond quickly and deal more fairly with a personal injury personal injury attorney than they do with somebody who’s never worked within the insurance system.

I always tell a client and I will stay consistent on this. You want to maximize your recovery and have the process goes as smoothly as possible with insurance companies. Hire a car accident attorney to represent you.

One more reason to hire an attorney is there are things that an attorney can do to get an insurance company to respond that you may not know about.

I’m talking about setting the table for what’s called a ‘bad faith’ claim. I’m not going to go into depth about this because the chances of actually prevailing on a bad faith claim are fairly slim. However, it’s one of the pieces of leverage that an attorney uses to get an insurance company to respond.

Call Your Insurance Adjuster’s Manager

The second thing you can do is go above your adjuster’s head. I’ve done this many times and it’s very effective when trying to work with insurance companies. If your claims adjuster is not responding to you, call the insurance company operator/customer service phone number and for the name and number of your insurance adjuster’s manager.

Call the manager and advise what’s been going on. I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly moving forward that insurance adjuster responds to you.

Document All Contacts Regarding your Insurance Claim with the Adjuster

Another thing you should be doing is documenting all your correspondence with the insurance company. Leaving voicemails is fine, but they’re not very impactful. However, if after you leave a voicemail, you send an email or a fax to the insurance company that says: “I just left you a voicemail, this is the third voicemail I’ve left you, my property damage issue still hasn’t been resolved, please contact me” etc. That will have much more impact on the insurance adjuster than just leaving a voicemail.

Report the Insurance Company to your State Department of Insurance

If you’re having a really hard time with the insurance adjuster, some people will contact their state department of insurance and file a complaint. I have found that that’s not particularly effective. I’ve tried it a couple of times on cases that I’ve been involved in and it gets you very little.

So, I don’t really recommend this course of action. I think documenting with the insurance company is a much more effective tactic. However, some people believe that filing a complaint with the department of insurance sets an insurance company up for potential claims later on. And if you want to do that, there’s certainly no harm in doing it just don’t expect a lot to come out of it.

File a Lawsuit to get the Insurance Company to Respond

The bottom line is that an insurance company is not under a lot of pressure to respond to you absent the filing of a motor vehicle accident lawsuit.

Sure, there are rules and regulations about how long an insurance company has to respond to a claim etc. I’ve found that those don’t have a tremendous impact.

However, filing a lawsuit will get an insurance company to respond and contact you. What they’ll do is they’ll assign counsel and the attorney that they assign will have to file an answer to the complaint within a set amount of time.

So, if you’re really having a hard time with an insurance company, the one piece of leverage you really have is to file a lawsuit.

File a Lawsuit on Your Own in Small Claims Court

If you only have property damage, meaning that there no bodily injury involved in the accident and the insurance company is stonewalling you, well, that’s a tricky situation because you’re not going to be able to find a personal injury lawyer to represent you on that kind of property damage case.

So, what do you do in that situation? Well, I tell people all the time, go ahead and file a lawsuit on your own behalf in small claims court. This is what small claims court is for. It’s super easy in Illinois. It is for cases that are $10,000 and under and you can represent yourself.

You may be able to do it online. You have to pay for filing the lawsuit and you have to pay for the sheriff to serve the lawsuit on the defendant. You may also be able to serve the lawsuit on the defendant via certified mail.

If you have serious injuries, again, I think you’ll be much better served by hiring a Chicago auto accident attorney to represent you as a client. If you’d like to speak with us about your motor vehicle accident case feel free to contact us at 1-847-305-4105.

Why Do Insurance Companies Offer Such Low Car Accident Injury Settlements?

Are you negotiating with an auto insurance company and you’re surprised at how much the insurance adjuster lowballed you? Check out this short blog to learn why.

lowball insurance settlement offerWhy do insurance companies lowball auto accident victims?

Insurance companies low ball car accident victims over and over again. Not just in your case.

There is one simple answer (with a few explanations that will follow later) – State Farm Insurance and Allstate Insurance or whatever insurance company you’re dealing with is a for-profit business. They make money from (among other things) auto insurance premiums and they save money by paying you as little as they possibly can for your damages.

Your interests are totally the opposite as State Farm’s interests – they want to pay you as little as they can and you want to recover as much as you can. That’s why they low-ball you is to pay you as little as they possibly can for your damages.

State Farm Can Save Lots of Money by Low Balling You

This might sound like a no-brainer to you, but let me explain it a little bit further about the numbers.

State Farm Insurance is the number one provider of auto insurance policies in this country. They have around 44 million auto policies and from them, they bring in about $40 billion per year.

In 2019, State Farm processed about 22,000 fire and auto claims per day (per day!). If State Farm can save $1,000 per claim by low-balling people, they can save $22 million dollars a day. That’s $8 billion a year.

They’re bringing in $40 billion in premiums and they can save $8 billion by just low-balling you by a thousand dollars on your claim.

So, there is a tremendous incentive for insurance companies to offer you less than what your claim is really worth.

How do Insurance Companies Low Ball Car Accident Victims?

So how do they do this? They do it in really four ways:

Insurance Companies Take Advantage of the System

State Farm is processing 22,000 claims a day. This is their business. They know what they’re doing. They know the ins and outs. They know ways to document your injuries, to limit your recovery.

How many times have you had to deal with an insurance company? I’m a Chicago auto accident lawyer and I get calls all the time from people who say they’ve just been involved in their very first accident. So, the battle is uneven to begin with.

One of the ways they take advantage of the system, for example, is that they get you to give a recorded statement. Giving a recorded statement to the defendant’s insurance company is a big mistake because they can use whatever you say against you down the road in your deposition or at trial.

How Insurance Companies Delay Your Claim

The second thing they do is that they try to delay your claim. They’re not in any rush. There’s really no pressure on them to get things resolved. Yes, you can file a claim with your “department of insurance” but it has very little impact on an insurance company.

The pressure is on you because it was your car that was damaged in the accident and you are the one who suffered injuries.

Each insurance adjuster is handling hundreds and hundreds of claims. Your claim is not a priority so they can take all the time they want. Often this frustrates people and they make rash decisions. They settle for an amount that they otherwise wouldn’t have settled for just to get it over with.

How Insurance Companies Deny Claims

They also try to deny claims. I’ve seen it over and over again where an insurance company will deny a claim so the accident victim files a lawsuit. The next thing you know the case is being settled for a significant amount of money.

Insurance adjusters are generally speaking not highly paid employees. They’re just processing claims. So the fact they deny your claim does have a lot of impact on their life.

So, they will deny your claim either outright or the other thing they might do is put a percentage of fault on you. For example, they will say that you are 30% at fault for the accident even though you clearly are not. But they hold the leverage and you do not. So if you want your case to proceed forward, you may have to accept a percentage of responsibility or liability for the accident.

Insurance Companies Try and Diminish Your Claim

Another thing they try and do is diminish your claim. As mentioned above, if State Farm saves $1,000 per claim, they are saving of fortune. That’s profit.

Also as mentioned previously, they might try and put a percentage of fault on you. In Illinois, if you’re not over 50% at fault for your accident, you can recover whatever balance there is remaining in damages.

So, if I’m 45% at fault for the accident, I can recover a 55% of my damages. In some states like California, if you’re 90% at fault, you can still recover for that 10%.

The bottom line is insurance companies will put a percentage of fault on you to save money. That’s all they’re doing. Often in this situation, I’ve seen these cases go to litigation where somebody actually files a lawsuit and the argument that the victim was at fault disappears.

In short, insurance companies are doing all these things that we’ve talked about because they are:

      • Counting on people who have no experience working with an insurance company, or
      • Who need the money right away, or
      • Are afraid of going to court, or
      • Do not trust dealing with a lawyer, or
      • Just want to get the process over with

Did you have an experience with an insurance company where they tried to lowball you? If so, reach out to our Chicago car accident lawyers at 1-847-305-4105 to talk about your options.

What To Say To An Insurance Claims Adjuster After a Car Accident

Were you involved in a car accident and you’re wondering what you shouldhow to deal with an insurance claims adjuster say and shouldn’t say to an insurance adjuster? Check out the blog below for some valuable information.

You were probably just in an accident and you’re wondering what you should say, what you shouldn’t say to an insurance company. So, I’m going to give you a few tips about ways to go about dealing with an insurance adjuster.

Never Admit Fault to an Insurance Claims Adjuster

The first thing you should never say to an adjuster is you never admit fault. Now you’re probably thinking that you already know that. However, there are a lot of different ways to admit fault other than just saying “I caused the accident.”

For example, if you’re talking to an insurance adjuster and you tell them that you were going 35 in a 25 mile an hour zone, you’re admitting that you’re partially at fault for that accident because you were speeding.

That’s a big mistake because the insurance company will us that information to put a percentage of fault on you for that accident or to deny liability altogether. So, try to avoid making any kind of incriminating statement when you talk to an insurance claims adjuster.

Never Give an Insurance Claims Adjuster a Recorded Statement

The second thing you should never say or agree to do with an insurance adjuster is give a recorded statement. Why? Let’s look at a hypothetical situation.

You just got in an accident and the insurance adjuster is asking you questions about your injuries. It’s not in your best interest to give them this information upfront anyways (talk to a personal injury attorney before speaking with an insurance adjuster). The reason is that you probably don’t know what your injuries are yet.

If you agree to a recorded statement and during the process of explaining your injuries, you forgot to tell them about your injured shoulder (or perhaps your shoulder hasn’t even started to hurt at the time of the recording), it will be very difficult to recover for the injury to your shoulder later on down the line. The insurance company will be sure to point out that you did not tell them about your shoulder at the time of the recording and will try and allege you did not suffer a shoulder injury in the accident.

An Exception to the No-Recorded Statement Rule

One big exception to the recorded statement rule is that if you’re dealing with your own insurance company, you’ll probably have to give a recorded statement. The reason being that in your insurance contract, you agreed to work with your insurance company in the event that you were involved in an accident.

Remember though that if you’re making a claim uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage, that your own insurance company becomes adverse, they’re now your opponent. And their goal is to limit your recovery the same way the defendant’s insurance company wanted to. So be careful what you say.

Do Not Accept a First Offer or Quick Settlement

The third thing you shouldn’t do with an insurance adjuster is accept their first offer. You’re going to find that right after you get into an accident, the insurance adjuster will tell you just to send them your medical bills and they’ll offer to pay the bills and give you $500 or a $1,000 etc. for your pain and suffering.

Don’t just accept that first offer. This is a trick insurance companies use. I get calls from people all the time who agreed to a smaller amount only to find out they had bigger injuries later on.

There is no need to settle your case right away. They’re not going to pull the offer. You’ve got plenty of time in most states to file a lawsuit. I strongly recommend talking to a personal injury attorney about what the value of your case really is.

Do Not Get Mad at the Insurance Adjuster

The fourth tip I have for you is something that you really just shouldn’t do with an insurance adjuster. And that is get mad. A lot of people become very acrimonious with insurance adjusters and insurance companies.  They can be very difficult to deal with. Their interest in saving money on behalf of the insurance company, does not jive with your interests of getting compensated as much as you can.

However, getting mad and screaming at an insurance adjuster is not going to help. Instead, what I suggest you do is document everything you do with an insurance company in writing, if possible, by email or fax.

That’s the way you can build your case that the insurance company wasn’t working with you the right way. Not by screaming at an adjuster.

Do Not Trust an Insurance Adjuster

The fifth thing you should not do with an insurance adjuster is trust them. Here’s the reason why – an insurance adjuster is just a tool of an insurance company, which is a multi-billion dollar business. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible. Why? Because it contributes to their bottom line. They’re a for-profit company.

In the beginning, the insurance adjuster may be really nice. You might think – Hey, this person’s really going to work with me. I’ve seen it so many times where nine months later, accident victims are shocked and will say “he was so nice at the beginning and now he’s offering me $500 for my injuries.”

Don’t fall for it. Don’t make nice with the insurance company. And certainly don’t trust that your interests are their interests.

Get the Insurance Adjuster the Location of the Vehicle

A sixth thing that you should do right away with an insurance adjuster is don’t delay getting them the location of your vehicle. A lot of people after an accident will let their car sit in a tow yard for six weeks without doing anything.

The insurance company, if they ultimately pay those tow fees and those storage fees, is going to take it out of your property damage settlement. So, don’t delay get them the location of your vehicle right away so that the clock is running on them and not on you.

Always Get the Insurance Claim Number and Adjuster Contact Information

A seventh thing you should do with an insurance company – when you call the first time, you may just talk to an operator. Always ask whoever you’re talking to what your claim number is and if an adjuster has been assigned to the case. If so, get their contact information.

A lot of people just sit around waiting for insurance companies to contact them. You need to be proactive. Again, their interests are not your interests. You need to advocate for yourself. So, getting this information up front is a really good idea.

When You SHOULD Work with the Insurance Adjuster

Having said all of that, there are a couple of situations where some of this might not apply. First, if you’re only dealing with property damage, then a lot of this might not apply to you.

I’m a Chicago personal injury attorney so a lot of the things that I talk about are related to people who have suffered significant injuries.

If you’ve only got property damage, it may behoove you to work a little bit more with the insurance adjuster and to trust them a little bit more to get your property damage resolved.

Second, again, just a reminder that if you’re going after your own uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage from your own insurance company, they become adverse. They become your opponent. And then their goal is the same as if you filed a claim against the guy who caused the accident. They want to pay you as little and you want to recover as much as you can.

If you were injured in a car accident or other personal injury, reach out to our Chicago car accident lawyers for a free discussion about your rights at 1-847-305-4105.

How to Determine Pain and Suffering And Other Damages in a Car Accident Case

Were you involved in a car accident or other personal injury and you’recar accident settlement pain and suffering wondering what type of damages you’re entitled to? Check out this short blog article to learn more.

There really is no car accident case without ‘damages.’ Damages are an essential element to bring a claim for compensation

In this article, we’re going to tell you how to recover for pain and suffering in your car accident settlement and also what other damages you might be entitled to.

Recovering for Property Damage

The first type of damage is the one that is in every single car accident case, and that’s property damage.

Most car accidents don’t result in injuries. Rather the case simply involves property damage.

There are really two scenarios that come up: one is your car has been damaged, but it can be fixed. And in that case, the insurance company generally will send out an inspector or appraiser to evaluate your car and give an estimate for damages.

The other situation is when your car is a total loss. What is a total loss varies greatly depending on the circumstances. The insurance company will have some sort of formula they will rely on to decide if your car is a total loss and how much the actual cash value of your car is.

There are also other property damages that you don’t want to miss out on. For example, you can recover if your phone, a computer, clothing, or a pair of sunglasses (etc.) were damaged.

What’s the key to recovering for personal property damage? Photographs and receipts. You need to prove your personal injury case by showing that you suffered damage to your personal property as a result of the accident. If you provide that information, generally speaking,you can recover for those types of property damage as well.

Recovering for Medical Expenses

The second type of damage you can recover for is an economic damage and that is medical expenses. If you suffer injuries because of somebody else’s negligence, you can get reimbursed for your medical expenses.

It can be complicated however when health insurance gets involved. They often pay the provider less than the actual amount of the bill and they often seek reimbursement of the money they paid on your behalf.

So, for example, if you recover $100,000 for your damages, that money is intended to cover your medical expenses as well and your health insurance company and/or medical providers are going to have to be reimbursed out of these proceeds.

Medical expenses do not just mean bills paid to the hospital or doctors. It could include personal expenses such as copays or gauze that you had to buy to cover up wounds etc.

Just keep your receipts. You’re entitled to reimbursement for all of these expenses however, oftentimes accident victims don’t say their receipts. Then six or nine or 12 months later they say they want to be reimbursed but there is no evidence of the expense.

I always tell people to document everything – if you don’t have receipts for it, it doesn’t exist.

One final thought on medical expenses, you may be able to recover for future medical expenses as well. So, for example, if you suffered a permanent injury and you’re going to require medical treatment or care for the next 10 years, or even for the rest of your life, that is theoretically compensable as well.

Recovery for Lost Wages

The third type of damage you may be able to recover for after a car accident is lost wages or loss of income.

When you recover for lost wages there are a lot of variables. You have to prove that you lost the wages because of injuries suffered in the car accident.

Documentation becomes critical to recovering significant lost wages. We use a verification form, and we will also seek as much evidence as possible to prove our client lost the wages.

One way to do it is through the use of a lost wages verification form. If you would like a copy of our form, just email us. We’re happy to share it.

Recently cases have come up where a DoorDash driver or an Uber driver has to go into their app to get evidence of what their most recent wages were in order to prove that they actually lost income.

Also, lost wages don’t just refer to an “hourly wage.” It can refer to other things as well. For example, if you had to take vacation pay as a result of your injuries, you should be able to recover for that. Same thing for paid time off and anything else you have to use that you lost income as a result.

One last thought about lost wages, just like medical expenses, if you’re going to lose wages in the future, because you can’t work due to injury suffered in this accident, you can recover for those as well.

So, for example, if you’re a laborer and you, your arm gets broken and you can’t be a laborer anymore, you have to go into a desk job which pays less than you were getting paid as a laborer, you can theoretically recover for the difference. This is a bit complicated so consult with a car accident attorney before attempting this.

Recover for Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident

The fourth type of damage you can recover for now is the one most associated with car accidents, and that is recovering for your pain and suffering.

People always want to know how much their case is worth. Think of it this way, pain and suffering is on a sliding scale with minor injuries on the left and everything up to dismemberment and wrongful death on the right. How much you recover for your pain and suffering slides in between.

If you suffered just a back sprain, chances are, you’re not going to recover much for your pain and suffering. But if you have a herniated disc or broken bones or a severe injury, chances are that your pain and suffering was much more severe.

It is very difficult to know how much someone can recover until we have reviewed all the medical records. We need to see what your medical diagnoses were, what your injuries were, whether you suffered permanent injuries, how much your medical bills are etc. Then we can try and figure out a number to demand for your pain and suffering.

The one thing I can tell you about pain and suffering is that unlike the 1980s or even 1990s, there’s no multiplier that you can use to figure out how much your pain and suffering is.

People used to take their medical expenses and multiply it times 1.5 or two or three and then demand that much from State Farm or Allstate. It doesn’t work that way anymore.

Recovery for Loss of Consortium or Loss of Companionship

A fifth type of damage that car accident victims might recover for that most people don’t know about is called loss of consortium, or sometimes it’s called loss of companionship.

If you get in a serious accident, it is possible that your injuries could have a dramatic effect on your relationship with your significant other. For example, you may not be able to engage in sex for 12 months because of the accident. The significant other may be able to file their own claim for loss of consortium.

One thing to know is that if the car accident victim’s case loses and/or is denied, then the claim for loss of consortium will lose as well.

People try to use this claim often, but I’ve found that to really recover for this is successful in really large claims.

By the way it doesn’t have to be just loss of sex, but it could be based on loss of companionship or if it puts some other sort of burden on the spouse.

Recovering for Permanent Damages or Disfigurement

Permanency is not a ‘type’ of damage per se. But it’s critical to your claim. Permanency refers to the fact that the injuries you suffered are in fact permanent – meaning, for example, that you will walk with a limp the rest of your life. Or perhaps you were you bitten by a dog on your face which resulted in scarring.

If you can demonstrate permanency as a result of an injury suffered in an accident, it is a significant contributor to how much you may or may not recover in your accident.

We prove permanency through medical records, your testimony and also often through the testimony of expert witnesses.

Can You Recover Punitive Damages After a Car Accident?

There is one type of damage that people often want to recover for in personal injury cases, but you can’t – these are called punitive damages.

Punitive damages are a form of penalty – they’re meant to punish the other party.

A car accident is generally a negligence case. Somebody accidentally caused the ‘accident.’ You cannot recover punitive damages in that situation.

Note that if there is an intentional act – e.g., an assault and battery case where somebody intentionally punches you in the face, punitive damages might then be an option. That raises other issues as insurance doesn’t normally cover intentional acts.

Just remember, that generally speaking, you cannot recover punitive damages after a car accident.

Were you involved in an accident and have questions about the type of damages you can recover for or how much your pain and suffering is worth, call our Chicago auto accident lawyers today at 1-847-305-4105.