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.

Statute of Limitations for Minors in Illinois and Other Issues

The statute of limitations for minors in Illinois is different than the statute Statute of limitations for Minors in Illinoisfor other cases. If your child is under the age of 18 and is injured in an accident, contact our office today for a free consultation 847-305-4105.

Our office is representing three different cases of minor children who were injured in different personal injury accidents. One of our clients, a 11 year old female was injured when she was bitten by a dog. The two other kids both under age 10 were injured in an auto accident.

Minors in Illinois are governed by different rules than those for are accident victims who are over 18 years of age. So, what is the statute of limitations for minors in Illinois? And what are some of the other major issues that affect minor’s personal injury claims?

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a time period in which an injured person must file a lawsuit or else they will lose their right to recover for their injuries and damages. Why is it important to have statute of limitations? For several reasons. First, it prevents the claims from becoming stale. Also, it is intended to prevent defendants from being sued years after the accident occurs.

The statute of limitations in Illinois for a personal injury claim is 2 years from the date of the accident. Note that if the party who caused your accident is a government employee or entity, you are required to file a notice of claim and your lawsuit in a much shorter amount of time.

Exception to the Statute of Limitations for Minors

There are exceptions to the statute of limitations. The most common exception to the law is if a minor is injured in an accident. If your child is under 18 at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations for minors in Illinois provides the minor with 2 years to file a lawsuit after they turn 18 (or their 20th birthday).

However, if the child was injured by a doctor’s medical malpractice, a different set of rules are applicable. In that case, the child must file their lawsuit within 8 years of the act occurring or before the child turns 22 years old. Birth injuries fall under the same rule as medical malpractice claims.

Child Sex Crimes

Previously, if a child was the victim of sexual crime, it would have to be reported and prosecuted within 20 years of the minor turning 18 years old. In August 2017, Governor Rauner signed legislation eliminating the statute of limitations.

Pursuant to the new statute, “a prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or criminal sexual abuse may be commenced at any time regardless as to whether corroborating physical evidence is available or an individual who is required to report an alleged or suspected commission of any of these offenses under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act fails to do so.”

Settlement of minors claims

When you file a lawsuit on behalf of a minor, the lawsuit is generally brought by and filed in the name of the guardian or parent as the “guardian ad litem.”

A parent does not have the final say in approving a minor’s claims, the Court does. Pursuant to the Illinois Probate Act and Illinois caselaw, all minor’s claims must be approved by the Court.

There is some disagreement as to whether all minor’s claims have to be approved by the Court. I have heard attorneys say if the case is small that they don’t need to obtain the Court’s approval.

Practically speaking, that might be correct. But legally speaking, the Court’s approval is required. If the Court does not approve the settlement, then technically the settlement is not binding on the minor who could theoretically pursue further damages on his or her own upon turning 18 years old.

If your daughter or son were injured in an accident and you want to speak with a lawyer about the statute of limitations for minors in Illinois, contact our office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Small Claims Court – Small Claim Lawyers | Chicago, Illinois

Small Claims CourtIf you suffered minor injuries in a Chicago, Illinois, auto accident, you might want to consider filing a lawsuit in small claims court. If you want to speak to a small claims lawyer, feel free to contact us at 847-305-4105.

What is Small Claims Court?

According to the Illinois Attorney General website, small claims court is the ideal court to file a lawsuit in if you have suffered damages of $10,000.00 or less (plus costs). As such, if you suffered any of the following and your damages were less than $10,000.00, you might want to consider filing in small claims court:

  • Property damage
  • Personal injury
  • Breach of contract
  • Eviction
  • Repossessions
  • Garnishments

I am a Chicago Illinois auto accident lawyer. I also represent victims of dog bites, slip/trip and falls and other personal injury matters. If you suffered damages of $10,000.00 or less in a personal injury related matter, I may be able to help you.

Why choose Small Claims Court

It’s faster, cheaper, less formal, and intended to resolve smaller disputed claims. In addition, if you were involved in an auto accident and the insurance company is being non-responsive, filing suit against their insured driver will force them to act.

Do you need an attorney in Small Claims Court

No, technically you do not need an attorney. However, the insurance company will have an attorney there representing their insured and as such, it may be a good idea for you to be represented as well.

If you are involved in an eviction or other non-injury related matter, you can probably represent yourself. However, do your research first. There is a lot of information on the Cook County website about small claims court. In addition, there is a free website offered by Illinois Legal Aid that has a lot of valuable information. I did a YouTube video on “Pro se” representation that you could view as well. Pro se basically means representing oneself.

Small Claims Court cases I can help with

I receive a lot of calls from people injured in auto accidents who suffered “minor” to moderate injuries. I’m referring primarily to soft tissue back and neck strains and sprains. Don’t get me wrong, these are real injuries. However, insurance companies simply aren’t paying for them anymore.

If you attempt to negotiate a settlement on your own, Allstate or Farmers will likely offer you your medical expenses plus a very small sum on top to compensate you for your pain and suffering. When I small I mean $250-$1,000.

That is not enough money to adequately compensate you for what you’ve been through. However, most attorneys cannot take on a case like that because there is so little of a payoff down the road.

I may be able to help you. If you:

  • Went to the emergency room or sought medical treatment the day of the accident
  • Have $3,000 to $6,000 in medical bills
  • Suffered a significant sprain/strain that required you to obtain a MRI or physical therapy

If your injuries were worse than that or your medical bills are in excess of that, then you may have an even larger case.

What is required of you?

If you do retain my office to represent you for your injuries, I will obtain your medical bills and records at my own cost and will only be reimbursed for those costs if we recover for your damages.

However, I expect clients that retain me to represent them as their small claims lawyer to pay for the fee for filing their complaint. If we prevail, you may be reimbursed for this and other costs.

If you would like to discuss your small claims court case with a small claims lawyer, contact me at 847-305-4105.

Chicago Pedestrian Accident Attorney

Barry Zlotowicz is a Chicago pedestrian accident attorney who is dedicated to maximizing your recovery for injuries suffered in a pedestrian accident. Chicago is a huge urban center with thousands of citizens walking to easy-to-reach destinations. Downtown Chicago is flooded with Chicago Pedestrian Accident Attorneyworkers making the daily commute to and from work from the collar counties. Unfortunately, downtown Chicago is also filled with taxi cabs, buses, Uber and Lyft drivers and thousands of other cars. Collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians are inevitable.

Recent Settlement

Our office just settled a case involving a woman who was hit when a car driven by a former friend hit her while she was standing in a driveway. We recovered the full policy limits of $100,000.00 on her behalf for her injuries, which included a severely fractured leg which required an open reduction internal fixation surgery to repair it.
If you are involved in an Illinois pedestrian accident, contact our office today at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation. We have the experience and the know how to maximize your recovery.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

A new study was recently released by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association that analyzed pedestrian accidents from 2017. There were some alarming statistics. According to the report, pedestrian deaths have “grown substantially faster than all other traffic deaths.” From 2007 to 2016, the number of pedestrian fatalities increased 27 percent compared to a decrease of 14 percent for other traffic-related deaths. And pedestrian accidents as a percentage of total vehicle accident related deaths increased from 11 percent in 2007 to 16 percent in 2016.

Why the increase in pedestrian accident deaths?

The reason for the increase in pedestrian accident related deaths appears to relate to the rise in the use of cellphones and marijuana use. There were 7 states that legalized the use of marijuana between 2012 and 2016. These include Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. According to the GHSA report, these states combined reported a 16.4 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2017 compared to a 5.8 percent increase in all other states.

Check out this video clip on CBS News entitled “Rising trend in pedestrian deaths may be linked to pot, phone use.”

No numbers were provided specifically relating to cell-phone related pedestrian accident deaths. However, GHSA study states that the number of smartphones increased 236 percent between 2010 and 2016. And according to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance database, the number of cellphone-related emergency department visits is greatly increasing as well.

Illinois pedestrian accident statistics

In the first six months of 2017, there were 66 reported Illinois pedestrian accident fatalities. That was actually a decrease of two fatalities from 2016. Illinois ranks 12th in the country in the number of pedestrian fatalities. But that is not surprising based on the size of Illinois’ population and the massiveness of the Chicago metropolitan area.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the most recent review of Chicago pedestrian accident statistics which was done in 2015, revealed that in 2014, there were 2,655 crashes involving one or more pedestrians. An additional 789 crashes were reported in suburban Cook County.

Vision Zero Chicago

As a Chicago pedestrian accident attorney, I am always looking for new and interesting information about pedestrian and other motor vehicle related accidents.

Chicago has a great new concept called Vision Zero Chicago where the city has created the goal of eliminating all deaths and serious injuries from motor vehicle related crashes by 2026.

Your Chicago pedestrian accident attorney is here to help

If you are injured in an Illinois pedestrian accident, call our office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation. If retained, our office will handle all aspects of your claim.

We will:

  • Investigate the matter
  • Obtain the police report
  • File a claim with the vehicle driver’s auto insurance company
  • File a claim with YOUR auto insurance policy as you may have coverage
  • Help you obtain medical treatment
  • Order your medical bills and records
  • Assemble the data in a demand package for the insurance company
  • Resolve your dispute
  • Obtain reductions of your medical bills or health insurance liens

We look forward to hearing from you.