As an experienced Chicago auto accident attorney, I have represented countless individuals involved in both minor and major accidents like the one that occurred last week in Northbrook, Illinois.
On April 21, 2019, five vehicles were involved in a serious crash on Edens Expressway in Northbrook. The accident occurred when a tractor with a semi-trailer struck four passenger vehicles stopped in traffic. Five people were transported to local hospitals with critical injuries.
Like the majority of Illinois drivers, many of our clients do not know what they should do, or not do, if they have been involved in a car accident. This post is intended to provide our readers with a basic overview of procedures to follow in the event they have been involved in a car accident.
- What Should I Do in the Event I Am Involved in a Car Accident in Illinois?
The most important step following an accident is to determine the safety of all involved. If you are unharmed, immediately call 911 to request medical assistance. Why call 911 even if there are no injuries – check out my blog on why you should always file a police report after an accident.
If you are injured and unable to call, ask for help from the other driver(s) or anyone that has stopped to assist. If no one is hurt, contact local law enforcement to report the accident. If there has been damage to the vehicles you will need a police report, as well as the other driver’s insurance information.
2. Do Not Ignore the Possibility that You Could be Injured
Often those involved in a car accident are in shock following the accident and do not realize that they have been injured. While major injuries such as broken bones and contusions are easy to detect, other injuries may not be detected for hours, or even days, following the accident. In fact, the majority of car accidents result in “soft-tissue injuries” such as whiplash and torn ligaments. Once the period of shock has worn off you may become aware of the injuries for the first time. If so, seek immediate medical assistance.
3. Cooperate with Law Enforcement but Maintain Your Composure
Once law enforcement arrives on the scene the officers will first check to see whether the parties require immediate medical assistance. Next, the officers will question the parties and collect insurance information to determine the cause of the accident and to complete the police report.
It is important to cooperate with the police but also to maintain your composure. Anything you say to the police will be documented and could be used against you later when your insurance company or a jury attempts to determine fault for the accident.
This also applies to statements you make about your injuries to the police, emergency personnel or your physicians. They routinely document what an accident victim says. If you tell the police that you are not in pain when interviewed, that might be used against you later. That is not to say that you should overstate your discomfort or lie to the police. Just keep this fact in mind.
4. Gather Evidence
If you are able, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible from the accident scene. The availability of high-quality cameras on all of our smartphones has made this process fairly easy.
- Take photographs of the vehicles attempting to capture all the damage (especially points of impact).
- Take photographs of surrounding debris, the intersection and/or roadways, as well as traffic signs.
- Gather the names and contact information of any witnesses if they are willing to provide you with their information.
- Ask all officers for their names, badge numbers and agency contact information.
5. File a Traffic Crash Report with IDOT
While there is no law in Illinois that requires those involved in a car accident to file a police report, accident victims are required to file a written report with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) within 10 days of an accident that resulted in death, injury or more than $1,500 in property damages pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/11-408. Typically, those involved in a car accident in Illinois will be given a form to complete by law enforcement. In the alternative, the crash report can be filed online by visiting IDOT’s website.
6. Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Chicago
If you have been injured in a car accident in Chicago, it is important to speak with an experienced Chicago auto accident lawyer. A lawyer can inform you of important rights such as the time period in which you must file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
You will also be required to communicate with your insurance company, as well as the insurance company for the other driver. An experienced lawyer can advise you of important procedures, as well as suitable responses to the questions that you are asked. It is not uncommon for your own insurance company to attempt to minimize the extent of your injuries to limit their liability.
7. Talking with Insurance Companies
When communicating with third party insurance companies:
- Never agree to provide a recorded statement. Direct all communication from insurance agents to your attorney.
- Do not discuss your case with anyone except your attorney and close family members.
- Do not provide them your medical records. You or your attorney will gather all your medical records and provide them to the insurance company when ready
- Do not sign a medical release giving the insurance company authority to access all your medical records
If you have been involved in an accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Please contact us today for a free consultation.