What happens if I’m at fault for a car crash?

Did you cause an accident were wondering what happens if I’m at fault for a car crash? As a personal injury lawyer, I normally represent people who fault for a car crashwere involved in car crashes but were not at fault for the accident. If you caused a car crash and were wondering what was going to happen, call me at 847-305-4105.

Today I’m going to answer the question of what happens if you caused a car crash.  What is going to happen to you and what you can and cannot recover yourself.

When you cause a crash, you are the “at-fault” party. Theoretically, the victim in the crash will file a claim with your insurance company or he or she might file a lawsuit against you personally.

In this case, you are the “defendant.”  You are defending yourself against the claim of another person.

The first thing that I would recommend doing is telling your own auto insurance company about the crash. Turn it over to State Farm or Farmers Insurance and let them handle it. This is the reason you purchased insurance in the first place.

Obligation to Work with Your Insurance Company

When you signed up for auto insurance, you actually agreed, whether you know it or not, to work with your insurance company in the event you are involved in a car crash.

I don’t normally let my clients give a recorded statement to the third party (other guy’s) insurance company. However, giving a recorded statement to your insurance company will likely be required.

Other things are required as well such as getting your car inspected, providing them pictures, showing up to assist in your defense in case you get sued, and so on.

If you don’t cooperate with your insurance company, they could deny the victim’s claim against you. What would happen in this situation? The victim would likely file a lawsuit against you. They would be left with little choice.

In addition, if you proceed in this course of action, your insurance could drop their coverage of you altogether.

What happens if I’m at fault for a car crash?

What are the practical ramifications of causing an accident? They could include:

  • Increased auto insurance rates. This is what people who call my office are always concerned about.

Bottom line is there is no way around this. Your insurance rates could go up unless you have some sort of accident forgiveness on your policy.

Accidents happen and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. If you didn’t have auto insurance, you would have been on the hook for much more than you are with insurance.

  • You may have also suffered significant damage to your car as well. If you have collision coverage on your vehicle, you can get the damage to your vehicle fixed as well.

If you don’t have collision coverage – you should get it. If you caused the accident, this insurance will cover the repairs to your own vehicle. Though you will likely have to pay your deductible.

  • I’ve had quite a few people call and ask if they can recover for their pain and suffering if they caused a car crash. Unfortunately, the answer is no.

If you caused the crash, you will not collect anything for your pain and suffering or for your medical bills.

One exception on the medical bills would be if you had medpay coverage. Medpay or medical payments coverage is a cheap way to get your first $2500 or $5000 in medical bills paid (including co-pays and your deductible) regardless of fault for the accident.

  • People also often ask if they can recover for their lost wages if they caused the accident. The short answer is no you cannot. At least in Illinois. However, some people have whats called PIP coverage or Personal Injury Protection. Under PIP plans, you may be entitled to recover for your lost wages regardless of fault.

 

  • Finally, while your car is getting repaired, you will probably need a rental car to get to work or to drive your kids around. Whether your rental car is paid for depends on whether you have rental car coverage in your policy.

My strong suggestion is – check with your auto insurance company before you get in an accident to make sure you have all of the above.

Additional Thoughts on Being a Defendant in a Car Crash Case

A couple other things to know if you caused an accident. Why I’m telling you this I don’t know because it certainly doesn’t help my clients who were the victims in the accident.

First, you may not be 100% at fault for the crash.  A majority of states in this country recognize the concept of “comparative negligence.” This means that there is some fault on the part of both parties to the accident.

In Illinois for example, if you can prove that the other party was more than fifty percent at fault for the accident, that person is barred from recovering.

Another thing to be aware of is being hit with an “excess judgment.”  For example, if you have an Illinois minimum insurance policy of $25,000, that means that your insurance company is only on the hook for the first $25,000 in damages you cause.

But what if the victim suffered huge injuries and as a result, they obtain a verdict against you of $1,000,000? Your insurance is not going to pay that extra $975,000. Unfortunately, chances are you can’t pay it either. As such, chances are you will end of filing bankruptcy.

This is not the norm, however. Most personal injury lawyers are not going to file a lawsuit in a case where there’s $25,000 in insurance proceeds, litigate the case for 18 months, go to trial and then try to collect against someone who likely doesn’t have the ability to pay that amount.

Finally, you might be thinking that you shouldn’t get insurance at all then. About 15% of the people driving on the road in Illinois do not have insurance. Be warned that if you do not get insurance, you can get arrested and charged with a crime. And, you could theoretically get sued and be forced to file bankruptcy to avoid paying the judgement against you.

Admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois

If you get involved in a car crash, you may be inclined to apologize to the Admission of fault for an auto accidentother driver, even if you were not at fault. Word to the wise, do not make an admission of fault for an auto accident. It might be used against you later. If you were involved in an Illinois auto accident, or injured anywhere in Illinois, contact our office at 847-305-4105 for a free and confidential consultation.

Why you should never admit fault for an auto accident

Whenever you “admit” something, it can be used against you. In this case, we are specifically speaking about an auto accident, but this could apply in slip and falls or any other type of personal injury.

When you admit fault, you are making an “admission.” Admissions are admissible as evidence against you. So, if you unintentionally or intentionally make an admission of fault for an auto accident, the other party will take that information and use it against you to establish liability for the accident.

Note that this is not a hard and fast rule. Not every apology is the same and often the same thing said by two different people can mean two very different things. Having said that, if you do admit fault or make some other apologetic statement or an admission, it could hurt your case.

Where does this commonly occur?

The most common place where a party makes an admission of fault is at the scene of the accident. Right after an accident, your adrenaline is rushing, you’re scared, you’re concerned about your safety, your passengers’ safety and even the safety of the person you were in the accident with.

As such, immediately after the accident you may say something totally innocuous like “I’m so sorry.” Believe it or not, this small statement can be the difference between you prevailing in your case or not.

You might also make an admission of fault to a police officer who comes to investigate the accident. The cop is going to make a finding of fault on the police report. The insurance company may base their decision regarding “liability,” or, who is at fault for the accident, based on the police report.

After you report the accident to your insurance company or file a claim with the other party’s insurance company, you will be asked to give a recorded statement. If it’s your insurance company, you probably have to give a statement. But I generally do not allow my clients to give recorded statements to the other party’s insurance company.

During the statement, the insurance adjuster is going to ask you statements to get you on the record so that they too can establish responsibility for the accident. Don’t make an admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois or anywhere in the United States during a recorded statement either. At least, not if you want to recover for your damages.

The opportunity to accept responsibility for the accident may also arise during your deposition when you give testimony under oath in advance of trial. And it will arise again in the unlikely event your case goes to trial.

Another common place you may be tempted to admit something is at your doctor’s office. Doctor’s and patient communications are protected but if you attempt to get reimbursed for your injuries and medical bills, the doctor’s notes are fair game and will have to be turned over to the other side. If you admit fault for the auto accident to your doctor, she or he may document it in their records and this too can be used against you.

Different ways to make an admission of fault for an auto accident

An admission does not have to be saying “I’m sorry.” While that is the most common admission, it could be in many other forms as well. For example, you are involved in an accident and afterward while talking to the police you state:

  • “I didn’t see him/her”
  • “I was looking at my cell phone”
  • “The sun was in my eyes”

These statements may be used against you and they may in and of themselves establish at least a portion of fault.

I had a client a few years ago who was involved in an auto accident and the other driver who rear ended him sent him text messages after the accident apologizing for what had occurred. She also admitted that she was looking at her phone when the accident occurred and that she had lied to the insurance company about what really happened. Case over.

What to do if the other party admits fault

So, admissions of fault cut both ways – if they can be used against you, they may also benefit you. What do you do if the other party makes an admission of fault after an auto accident? You document it.

If you are in Illinois, do not audio or videotape the admission as that could get you in trouble at least if the other party believes that your conversation is private. But, after the admission is made, document exactly what was said including where, when, how etc. You may be able to use this as evidence later.

Bottom line is, do not make an admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois or anywhere else for that matter. If you are involved in an Illinois auto accident, contact the Chicago Legal Group for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

How to recover lost wages due to a car accident

If you were involved in a Northbrook car accident and were forced to miss Recover lost wagestime at work, you might wonder how to recover lost wages due to a car accident. Call today for a free consultation 847-305-4105 or keep reading.

I have represented a lot of people who suffered injuries in a car accident and as a result were unable to work for an extended period. Most people cannot afford to go without receiving a paycheck for very long – even in a place like Northbrook.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to recover for your lost wages until your case settles. That could be twelve to eighteen months after the accident occurred.

There is one exception. On your auto insurance policy, you may have “Personal Injury Protection” or PIP coverage. A PIP clause may provide you coverage for your lost wages and your medical bills. PIP coverage is usually $2,500 or $5,000.

If you are involved in a Northbrook car accident, ask your auto insurance company if you have PIP coverage and how you can recover from your own policy. Be advised though, if you were injured by a third party and receive compensation for your injuries, your insurance company will expect to be reimbursed for the money they put out on your behalf from your settlement.

How to recover lost wages due to a car accident

So again, the good news is that you can recover for your lost wages. But how do you obtain reimbursement?

In most cases, your lawyer will send a form to your employer seeking confirmation of your lost wages. Our is called simply a “Lost wages verification form.” We also attach a release signed by our client confirming that the employer is authorized to provide us the information. We have had very few instances where an employer did not ultimately help their employee out by filling out the form.

Sometimes the insurance company will request a victim’s W2’s or paystubs to confirm their earnings. I’ve also helped clients who lost stock options and other forms of compensation as a result of being injured. This is tougher to recover for but with proper documentation is obtainable.

I’ve also represented a few Uber drivers who alleged that as a result of the accident they were not able to drive their car for several weeks. In those cases, I’ve asked my clients to go into their Uber app and download confirmation of how much money they made in the eight weeks prior to the accident to show what they made per week on average.

In some cases you may be able to recover for loss of future earning potential as well.

If you were involved in a Northbrook car accident and you want to speak to an attorney Lost wages attorney to learn how to recover lost wages due to a car accident, call us for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

5 Reasons Why You Should Report Your Accident to Your own Insurance Company

Skokie Auto AccidentIf retained to represent you in a Skokie auto accident case, I will give you 5 reasons why you should report your accident to your own insurance company. Call today at 847-305-4105 for more information on this topic or continue reading.

Many Skokie auto accident victims have told me that they do not want to file a claim with their own auto insurance company after an accident as they are afraid their own rates are going to go up.

A rate increase is a possibility regardless of fault. However, I have found that the vast majority of clients involved in accidents where they were not at fault did not have their rates increased. In fact, I can’t think of a single one who reported an increase to me. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, I’m just not aware of it.

Am I Required to Report the Accident by Law?

In the state of Illinois there is no law that requires that you report a Skokie auto accident to your auto insurance company. However, you are required to report the accident to the Illinois Department of Transportation within ten days if your accident meets certain requirements (link).

Then why report your accident?

5 Reasons Why You Should Report Your Accident to Your own Insurance Company 

  1. Contract Law

When you signed up for auto insurance you signed a contract with Allstate or State Farm or whoever you signed up with. Your auto insurance contract may require you to report any accident you are involved in to your insurance company. If you do not and your insurance company finds out about your Skokie auto accident, they could cancel your insurance policy.

  1. Medpay Insurance

Many auto insurance policies contain “medpay” or medical payments coverage. Medpay is something you can add to an auto policy and it will pay for the first $2,500 or $5,000 (or whatever you purchased) in medical expenses. Medpay has many advantages as there are no co-pays, no deductibles and you can get it regardless of fault.

You don’t necessarily have to file a claim with your auto insurance company to find out if you have medpay. Just call them up and ask whether you have it or not. If you do and you’ve got medical bills to pay, it may be a good idea to file a claim with your own insurance company, even if you were not at fault for the accident.

  1. Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM)

I have talked at length on this website about how many Illinois drivers do not have any auto insurance. In addition, a huge number of people who do have insurance only have the minimum insurance required by the state of Illinois.

If you are involved in a serious Skokie auto accident, the minimum limits of $25,000 are not going to cover your medical bills let alone compensate you for your pain and suffering.

As such, many people purchase UM/UIM of at least $100,000. That way, if you get hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can go after your own auto insurance policy for compensation.

Again, you don’t have to file necessarily to find out how much insurance you have. If the driver who hit you has a minimum policy and you do too, there may be no reason to file. Call us at 847-305-4105 to discuss what you should do if you are faced with this situation.

  1. Collision coverage

After your accident, the auto insurance for the driver who hit you may need to investigate the accident before paying for your property damage. To “accept liability” or responsibility for the accident they may have to wait to see the police report. That can cause serious delays and most people need to get the car back quickly.

As such, if you have collision coverage on your vehicle, your own auto insurance company can inspect your vehicle and pay for the repairs. This will occur much quicker than using the third party’s insurance.

The downside is that you will have to pay your deductible. However, you should get it back. If you are not at fault for the accident, your own insurance company will “subrogate” against the defendant’s insurance company to get reimbursed for the money it cost to get your car fixed. You should get your deductible back when subrogation is completed.

  1. Time limit

Within your own auto insurance policy, there may be a time limit within which you have to report an accident. If you do not file within the specified time limit, your insurance company could deny your claim.

It’s not that far fetched. I have seen a couple cases usually involving sub-standard auto insurance carriers where an accident victim missed a timeline and consequently their claim was denied.

So these were the top 5 Reasons Why You Should Report Your Accident to Your own Insurance Company. But there are other reasons as well. If you would like a free consultation on this or any other legal topic, please feel free to reach out to me at 847-305-4105. If I can’t help you, I’ll find someone who can.

Wheeling Military Personal Injury Lawyer

This weekend is Memorial Day and I’ve been so actively involved in several Wheeling Military Personal Injury Lawyermilitary personal injury claims in the past eighteen months, I wanted to say as a Wheeling military personal injury lawyer, I am grateful for the service of our women and men in uniform.

The past couple weeks I’ve been working on a veterans’ project. I cannot disclose much but for to say that it involved representing veterans in claims for damages suffered in recent wars.

This was eye-opening for many reasons. Although I heard of the carnage that went on in Iraq, I was not as aware of the daily activities of your average soldier. Based on what I’ve seen, I can say I will never take their service for granted again.

I’ve also reflected recently on the many veterans’ personal injury cases I’ve worked on in the past few years. Just this week I met with a vet who clearly suffered from PTSD and other severe physical ailments suffered while serving.

He was just injured in an auto accident when he got rear-ended through no fault of his own. You’d think it would be an open and shut case. It’s not. Veterans with pre-existing conditions make complicated cases.

Specifically, is their injury the result of their auto accident or was it the result of an injury they suffered in the field. Yes, you can have both. Meaning, they suffered an injury in combat and that injury was exacerbated or aggravated as a result of the accident. But those types of cases are difficult to prove.

Another challenge facing these folks after an auto accident is obtaining medical treatment. As a Wheeling military personal injury lawyer, I’ve had to deal with Tricare Insurance and the Veteran’s Administration countless times. The VA in particular is extremely difficult to deal with. What you’ve heard about dealing with the VA is not fictional.

If I’m hired to represent a vet who is using the VA for his or her medical treatment, I tell them up front, get ready for a long wait to obtain medical treatment, to get the medical treatment they need such as an MRI or surgical procedure, to obtain their medical bills and records from the VA and as such, a long wait to receive compensation for their injuries.

Finally, my most recent experience with at least one liberal vis-a-vis military veterans has not been positive. He told me that he didn’t think our veterans were heroes for serving and sacrificing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not saying this is all liberals and frankly, on social issues, I’m very liberal myself. Just saying, this guy represented a lot of liberals’ thinking on the military.

I was heartened today this morning, May 26, 2018, when my daughter and I attended a town hall meeting with Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider of the 10th district here in Lake County, Illinois. The Congressman spoke quite a bit about the sacrifice of our veterans and he himself had attended several memorial events in the past few days to honor their service. Thank you, Congressman Schneider.

I’m off my soapbox and will get back to legal topics in future weeks. Just wanted to share a few of my experiences as a Wheeling military personal injury lawyer and advise vets what they can expect if they are involved in a personal injury claim. If you would like to discuss any of these issues, feel free to call me at 847-305-4105.

Should you file a police report after an auto accident

Should you file a police report after an auto accident? The answer is almost always YES. My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am a personal injury lawyer in Glenview, Illinois.  If you are involved in an auto accident and are unsure if you should file a police report, contact us at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

The Rule

The law in Illinois is that any driver involved in an Illinois traffic crash must file a traffic crash report with the State of Illinois within 10 days of the accident if the accident resulted in a death, injury, or more than $1,500 in property damage – 625 ILCS 5/11-408. You can fill the form out the police give you at the scene of the accident or you can file a report online.

There is no law however, that requires you to call the police after an accident. However, as a Glenview personal injury lawyer, I can tell you that it is extremely important to call the police after you are involved in almost any auto accident, from a minor fender bender to a severe accident which resulted in injury.

Why file a police report?

It is extremely important to document the existence of and facts surrounding your accident. If the police do not file a police report after investigating the accident, then it is your word against the word of the driver who caused the accident.

Unfortunately, two drivers in the same accident often see the facts very differently. Therefore, it’s important to have a neutral third party like the police investigate and document what happened. This could include measuring skid marks, talking to witnesses and looking at the damage to your vehicle to try and piece together what happened.

In addition, after an accident you want to obtain the other driver’s auto insurance information. Often the other party does not want to give you their information. The police can do that for you.

Many people don’t call the police after an accident because their vehicle suffered minor property damage or they did not feel they were injured at the scene. Often however, property damage and/or injuries arise later. If you did not document the existence of the accident through a police report, it may be difficult to obtain compensation for your damages.

I have seen several cases where a vehicle involved in an accident started making a strange sound several weeks after an accident. Likewise, injuries often don’t manifest for some time after the accident. If you didn’t document the accident through a police report (and get treatment shortly after the accident) it may be difficult to obtain compensation for your injuries.

You want your vehicle repaired as quickly after an accident as possible. However, the defendant’s auto insurance company may want to see a police report to establish liability or responsibility for the accident before they pay for your property damage. Having the police report will expedite the process.

What if the police won’t come to the scene?

Often you will call the police after an auto accident and they either refuse to come to the scene of the accident or they take forever to show up. Should you file a police report after an auto accident in this situation? Absolutely.

Police are very busy and as such, they often won’t come to an accident scene if there is minor property damage, no injury or they are just too busy at that moment. They also might not file a report if the accident occurred on private property like in a department store parking lot.

I’ve seen cases where there is no police report and a person to tries to file an insurance claim. The driver who was friendly at the scene of the accident suddenly denies that they were at the scene of an accident at all or that an accident even occurred.

If you call 911 after the accident, there will at least be a transcript of your call. You can order that transcript to prove to your insurance company the existence of an accident.

File a report

Should you file a police report after an auto accident if the police do not come to the scene of the accident? Yes. As soon as you are able, go to the closest police precinct and file the police report yourself. Document what time, where, and how the accident happened. Also, be sure to document if you suffered any injuries.

The police may provide you a copy of your police report right at that moment. You can use that to provide to your insurance company to obtain coverage.

However, you may have to wait to obtain your police report. If you are injured in the city of Chicago for example, the police will take a police report, but it is likely that the police report will not be available for several weeks after the accident.

You can order the Chicago police report online and the Illinois State Police now offers you the ability to e-pay for their reports as well.

Call today

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, around 37,000 people die and 2.35 million people are injured or disabled in auto accidents in the United States every year. Police reports are obviously not filed for all of those accidents. But if you ask me as a Glenview personal injury lawyer should you file a police report after an auto accident? My answer will always be yes, you should. Call me today at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation on how to file a police report or for any of your legal needs.

Illinois injury lawyer – Can I sue the insurance company

My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am an Illinois injury lawyer. I often get asked by clients “can I sue the insurance company?” In this article I Illinois injury lawyerwill address this common question and also briefly discuss when you can in fact sue an insurance company. If you are involved in a dispute with an insurance company, call me today at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Who do you sue?

Auto insurance companies can be very difficult to deal with. The insurance company has one goal – to make money. They do this by taking in as much in premium payments as they can while at the same time paying as little as they can for insurance claims.

As such, it should be no surprise that the insurance company will nickel and dime you to every extent possible to save money. They know that the likelihood of someone filing a lawsuit against them is small – the vast majority of cases settle. Few people will file a lawsuit over a couple hundred dollars in property damage.

This often leads to serious frustration when dealing with an insurance company after an auto accident or other personal injury accident. I have received many calls from people who ask: “can I sue the insurance company?”

The answer is….

As an Illinois injury lawyer, I’m very familiar with insurance company tactics. But generally speaking, no matter what the insurance company does, you do not sue the insurance company directly for injuries and damages suffered in an auto accident. Rather, you sue the person who hit you.

Example

Let’s say you are involved in an auto accident with a “John Smith.” Mr. Smith rear-ended you while driving on the Kennedy Expressway. Mr. Smith is insured by Geico Insurance. After the accident, you obtain Mr. Smith’s auto insurance information. You file a claim with Geico and after you finish treating you demand $25,000 to settle your case. Geico offers you only $10,000. You are not happy with the offer. What do you do?

In short, your Illinois injury lawyer will file a lawsuit against John Smith, not Geico Insurance. Geico has a duty to defend Mr. Smith. Therefore, once Mr. Smith is served with your lawsuit, he will call Geico and Geico will pay for a law firm to represent Mr. Smith.

When do you sue the insurance company?

The only time you will hear your Illinois injury lawyer talk about suing the insurance company is when he or she alleges that the insurance company is acting in “bad faith.” It’s a term that’s thrown around a lot by people but as applied to auto insurance claims, it is not used that often.

In short, a bad faith claim in this context usually arises when an auto accident victim files a claim against the defendant driver and there is a reasonable probability that the recovery will be in excess of the insurance policy. Despite this, the insurance company refuses to “tender” or offer the entire insurance policy to settle the case.

If your Illinois injury lawyer files a lawsuit on your behalf and you win an amount in excess of the policy amount, you may be able to file suit against the defendant’s insurance company and recover the entire amount of the verdict plus attorney’s fees and more.

If you want to read more about this topic and the standard for a bad faith claim, check out the Illinois Insurance code 215 ILCS 5/155.

Practical use of bad faith

Most of the times I have used this allegation is when an insurance company engages in significant delays in responding to a demand letter or other request for compensation. In that case, I will send a letter to the insurance company subtly suggesting they are acting inappropriately. An insurance company is usually fairly quick to respond to such a letter. However, this is normally a last resort.

Conclusion

Have a question for an Illinois injury lawyer including can I sue the insurance company? Feel free to contact us today for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Illinois Accident Lawyer – Property damage attorney

Call Illinois accident lawyer Barry Zlotowicz of the Chicago Legal Group today at 847-305-4105 if you are searching for a property damage attorney. We have handled countless property damage claims on behalf of victims of automobile, motorcycle, bicycle and other accidents.

What type of property damage can you recover for?

If you are involved in an auto or other motor vehicle accident, you likely suffered some form of property damage. That could include damage to your vehicle, damage to personal items like your iPhone or GPS, and you will also be forced to pay for a replacement vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired. To obtain help, call an Illinois Accident Lawyer today or continue reading below.

The most common claim is for the damage to your vehicle. Each type of accident is different and raises a different type of issue. If you were hit in your car, there might be damage to your bumper that can’t be seen by an auto insurance appraiser without taking the bumper off. Perhaps you got hit on a $5,000.00 road bicycle. If the bike has a carbon fiber frame, it may require an x-ray to determine if it is cracked. If you were on a motorcycle, you may have many aftermarket parts on the bike. As a property damage attorney, I have seen nearly every issue that can arise.

Common property damage issues

How do you prove your property damage? In a word, documentation. Check out my blog on this topic or check out my YouTube page LawFull for more information on documentation. But in short, obtain photographs of all the property damage as soon as possible. If you are seeking reimbursement for a phone, a pair of riding pants or a leather jacket, find your receipts for the items or provide your Illinois accident lawyer links on Amazon.com or another site so that you can establish the value of your damaged property.

How many estimates do you have to obtain?

In Illinois, there is no specific law regarding how many estimates you have to obtain. It may behoove you to obtain more than one, however. Insurance companies often require more than one and it is not worth fighting them about it. You may not have to get an estimate at all as the auto insurance company may send an appraiser out to inspect your vehicle.

Can I choose where I get my vehicle fixed?

In short, yes you can. However, it may be a good idea to work with the insurance company to get your vehicle fixed with one of their contracted/approved shops. The reason being is that the insurance company will come up with an estimated value of your vehicle. If you take your vehicle to a different shop, the insurance company might refuse to pay more than their own appraiser’s estimate. That could lead to a dispute which may have to be settled in court.

Rental Car and Loss of Use

You are entitled to a rental car for a certain period of time. I’ve had insurance companies come down on all sides of this issue. Some give you a car of comparable quality to the car you were driving. Others pay for a compact. There are also limitations on the amount of time you can be in a rental car. If the insurance adjuster is pressuring you on this, ask them to prove to you that there are limits and/or restrictions on rental car compensation in their insured’s auto policy.

You may also be able to recover from the loss of use of your vehicle. In short, if you have a motorcycle and you can’t ride it for 30 days because of the damage to the vehicle, you can try to seek compensation for that. Insurance companies will frequently pay you the amount it would have cost for you to rent a car during that time period.

Diminished Value

I’ve had clients who were hit shortly after they purchased their cars. There is no Illinois law that dictates that an insurance company has to pay you for the diminished value of your vehicle. However, it’s worth the effort to try and recover for diminished value. You do so through, once again, documentation. You need an expert to document that the value of the car as it sits after being repaired is less than a comparable car that has not been in an accident.

Why Won’t an Illinois Accident Lawyer take my case?

Illinois accident lawyers are compensated for recovering from an injured person’s medical bills, pain, and suffering, lost wages, loss of enjoyment etc. I do not and never will take money from my clients’ property damage settlements. As a result, if a case only involves property damage, there’s not a lot an accident lawyer can do for you.

If you are involved in a property damage only accident, you may have to file in small claims court on your own and/or settle your dispute with the insurance company. If that’s the case, feel free to contact me to discuss your case. I’m happy to be a resource for you.

Should I use my own insurance to pay for my property damage?

I always recommend my clients use their own insurance company to pay for their property damage if they have collision coverage. Yes, you will have to front your deductible. But you will probably get it back (depending on a few factors). This is the quickest way for you to get your car back quickly and set you on the course to returning to your pre-accident status.

Your auto insurance company will then “subrogate” or go after the other insurance company on your behalf, to recover for the costs to your vehicle. Your insurance rates should not increase just because you used your own insurance unless you were at fault for the accident.

Comparative negligence

In Illinois, an accident victim can still recover their damages even if they are partially at fault for the accident. The concept is called comparative negligence. Often an insurance company will try and place a small percentage of fault on you for the accident even if it is not warranted. You are not obligated to accept this if you do not want to. However, be aware that if you do accept partial fault, that your recovery for your property damage will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Thank you for reading my Illinois Accident Lawyer blog article on property damage. If you would like a free consultation on this or any other injury-related issue, please feel free to contact me at 847-305-4105.

Personal injury law firm – arbitration clauses

Personal injury law firm discusses arbitration of auto insurance claims

My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am the owner of a personal injury law firm headquartered in Glenview, Illinois. I’ve been licensed to Personal injury law firmpractice since 1993. During that time, I have been involved in many auto insurance claims where a client sought to recover from her own auto insurance policy for her damages. If you want a consultation about pursing an uninsured motorist claim against your own auto insurance policy, call me today at 847-305-4105.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

I have detailed at length in this blog about the need to have adequate amounts of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. If you get hit by an uninsured driver, you will have to seek compensation from your own insurance policy. In Illinois, everyone has a minimum of $25,000 in UM coverage if they have auto insurance.

What’s the Catch?

Once you file a claim against your own insurance policy, you and your insurance company become adverse. Meaning, that your personal injury law firm is trying to recover the maximum amount from your auto insurance and your insurance company wants to pay out as little as possible. That’s correct, you can and will get low-balled by your own insurance company.

Mandatory Arbitration Clauses

The first trick the insurance company already used to reduce your recovery against your own policy is that they inserted a mandatory arbitration clause in your auto insurance policy. You already bargained away your right to a jury trial for your damages. Don’t feel bad. We all agree to these clauses. They are inescapable if you want auto insurance. Unfortunately, juries, especially like those in Cook County, Illinois, can award large verdicts in cases involving severe injuries. In contrast, arbitrators are much more conservative when doling out compensation.

How to spot an arbitration clause

A typical um arbitration clause will look just like the clause below, which I copied from a former client’s policy. The name of the company will not be disclosed:

Arbitration. “Any dispute with respect to whether the insured is legally entitled to recover damages or the amount of damages recoverable by the insured shall be submitted for arbitration to the American Arbitration Association and shall be subject to its rules governing the conduct of arbitration hearings…”

How do you select an arbitrator? Usually set forth in the policy as well. The same policy as above stated that:

“Upon the insured requesting arbitration, each party to the dispute shall select an arbitrator and the 2 arbitrators so named shall select a third arbitrator.”

The arbitrator’s decision could be binding (meaning your stuck with it whatever it is) depending on the language of the policy. It might also provide that cases under a certain value are limited to arbitration but that cases in excess of that value might have the right to a bench (though probably not jury) trial. Meaning, a judge might hear your case, but a jury will not. And as stated above, a jury verdict is what you want, especially in Chicago.

Benefits of an arbitration clause

It wouldn’t be fair to completely diminish the value of an arbitration clause. There are benefits of an arbitration clause to you and your personal injury law firm. For example, it can take eighteen or more months to get to trial. However, the arbitration process moves much quicker. As such, you can obtain a resolution of your case and get access to your money quicker.

Also, the costs of arbitration can be much less than going to trial. That’s a benefit to you because accident victims represented by a personal injury law firm will have to pay the firm back for the expenses it fronted out of the proceeds of the recovery. The more costs, the less you recover.

Finally, arbitration is a less formal process. If you are intimidated by sitting in a courtroom and testifying to a jury, arbitration might be a better forum for you to have your grievance heard.

If you are injured in an accident and want to talk to a personal injury law firm, feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 847-305-4105. We can help you decipher the arbitration clause in your auto insurance policy and decide on the best course you can take to recover against it.