Barry Zlotowicz is an auto accident attorney serving residents in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Legal Group is dedicated to recovering just compensation for your medical expenses as well as your pain and suffering. If you’ve been involved in a car crash you need to contact a car accident attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected. To contact our office immediately, telephone us at 312-848-9783.
There are, of course, many types of traffic accidents and our office has handled them all. We have handled hundreds of motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, trucking accidents, auto accidents, accidents involving passengers on a bus, pedestrians who have been hit by a car, drivers of and passengers in Uber/rideshare vehicles, and taxi accidents.
Each type of case carries its own nuances and requires specialized care and experience. For example:
- Motorcycle and bicycle cases often involve different issues when it comes to property damage than an automobile case. Also, motorcycle and bicycle accident victims often suffer concussions and road rash (lacerations and abrasions) as part of their injuries.
- Uber and rideshare accidents may or may not be covered by insurance and vary as to how much insurance there is, depending on when the accident occurred.
- Truck and taxi accidents can involve much larger insurance policies than a normal auto on auto collision, and so forth.
The three biggest mistakes I see traffic accident victims in Chicago make are:
- They attempt to represent themselves against an insurance company – the insurance company always wins. If you don’t hire my office, hire another attorney. In almost every case, you will recover more money than if you represent yourself.
- They give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster about the facts of the accident and their injuries. Never give a recorded statement! If you do, the insurance company has you on the record. Their attorneys will ask you the same questions at your deposition and again at trial. No one can tell the same story the same way three times and they will use the inconsistencies against you. And,
- They believe that the insurance adjuster is on their side, is nice and trying to help them – they are not. The insurance adjuster is attempting to minimize the insurance company’s exposure. Don’t believe me, watch this CNN story.
Time Limit to File a Claim:
Victims of auto accidents often fail to act soon enough to ensure they are fully compensated for their injuries, the damage to their cars and for their pain and suffering. In Illinois, there is a two year statute of limitations in which you have in order to file a lawsuit, or you lose your right to recover.
The timeline varies depending on the cause of action. A claim for personal injury is different than a claim for defamation, for example. The statute is also different for minors who are injured. Their statute does not start to run until they turn 18 years old. Finally, the statute is different if you are injured by a governmental employee or vehicle. In that case, you have one year from the date of the accident or injury to file notice with the attorney general of Illinois and two years to file a lawsuit.
Types of auto accidents:
In addition to the typical fender-bender or rear-enders that we see every day on expressways like the Edens and Dan Ryan, there are many other types of auto accident cases. These could include lawsuits for defective products that malfunctioned at the time of a crash, such as bad tires or breaks or perhaps your SUV rolled over. The suit could be against the government or a government contractor for the defective design of a road, failure to timely clear debris from the road or the defective design of the roadway itself.
We experienced at identifying who the proper defendants in a lawsuit should be.
Just Settled – A client was driving his minivan in Hoffman Estates when he was hit from the side. His leg jammed into his break resulting in two torn ligaments that required surgery. We recovered $25,000.00 from the defendant’s insurance company and an additional $70,000.00 from our client underinsured motorist policy.
Getting the Right Medical Treatment After an Auto Accident
A personal injury attorney has several responsibilities once retained by an accident victim. One of the most important is to ensure that you get the proper medical treatment after an auto accident.
In the past several months, I’ve taken on 3 injury accident cases from the Dixon, Illinois area (1 in Dixon, 1 in Sterling and the other in Rock Falls). All 3 cases share a common theme, and that is, it’s critical to get the right medical treatment.
It’s all about the medical records
My client “Sam” was injured when a car ran over her foot causing an avulsion fracture. She was treated at the emergency room at CGH Medical Center and her foot was placed in a cast. Unfortunately, due to various hardships, she was unable to keep several of her appointments with her orthopedist and she did not follow her doctor’s instructions to stay off her foot and go to physical therapy.
We overcame these difficulties and obtained a just settlement with the defendant’s insurance company which was double their original offer. But it highlights a significant point – if your doctor tells you to do something, do it.
Insurance companies are seldom moved by stories of hardship. They are interested in what your injuries are – specifically, they want to see the ICD Codes describing your injury.
ICD stands for International Classification of Diseases. It was created to track international health trends but insurance companies use it to evaluate the severity of injuries.
When you are done with your medical treatment, your attorney will provide the insurance company with your medical records. The insurance company will enter the data, including the ICD Codes (and other data provided by your attorney), into a computer which will estimate the value of your injury.
The ICD code for our client’s injury – “S92.254A: Nondisplaced fracture of navicular of right foot” – was the basis of their settlement offer.
My other client “Rob” was injured when a taxi cab took a left turn in front of his motorcycle. He suffered a severe wrist fracture that has required two years of treatment. The case is in litigation and as such I won’t comment more other than to point out that Rob had “medpay”(medical payments) insurance on his auto policy and also had health insurance. As such, his auto insurance covered the first $5,000.00 of his medical bills and his health insurance has covered the rest.
However, both insurance companies have filed liens with our office. This means that it is mandatory that we reimburse them for the money they paid his medical providers. If you receive a lien from an insurance company or health care provider, inform your attorney at once.
See your primary care physician first
My third example highlights what not to do after an accident. We ultimately did not retain this individual as a client as she ended up being at fault for her accident. However, after her accident, she did not see her primary care physician first. Instead, she went directly to a chiropractor for treatment.
Chiropractors are generally frowned upon by insurance companies though they provide legitimate treatment. This is especially so if the injured party does not seek guidance from his or her primary care physician first.
As such, if you are in an accident, always go to your primary care physician before seeing a chiropractor, getting a MRI or going to physical therapy.
- It’s important to avoid “gaps in treatment.” A gap in treatment is a long delay between the date of the accident and the treatment you obtain. This is a big reason why insurance companies deny claims.
- When you settle your case, you must pay back your medical providers out of the settlement. It’s unfair – you’ve paid your insurance premiums for years. But when you purchased your insurance plan, it likely contained a subrogation provision that required reimbursement for medical treatment caused by another party’s negligence.
- The defendant’s automobile insurance company will NOT pay your medical bills until you settle your case. As such, you must pay your deductible and co-pays or they will go to collections.
Finally, all these issues are secondary to your health – that’s what’s important. As such, when deciding to obtain or not obtain medical care, base it on your goal of getting yourself healthy, not on whether it’s good or bad for your case.
We prepare every case we handle as if it is going to trial. No shortcuts will be taken. Our representation will be aggressive, modern and thorough. And we can represent you wherever you are in Illinois. To contact our office regarding your auto accident, call us today at 312-848-9783.