Fatal Traffic Crashes in Chicago

Fatal Traffic Crashes in ChicagoAll traffic accidents can be devastating, however, crashes that result in fatalities are particularly tragic events. The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that 1090 people died in traffic crashes in our state in a single year. Chicago news sources are constantly reporting fatal traffic crashes in Chicago:

These are only a few of the many tragic accidents that happen on a regular basis throughout the Chicago area on a regular basis. For each fatality, there are often family members who are left with a loss that permanently changes their lives in numerous ways.

Illinois law recognizes that family members in this situation should have important legal rights if someone else caused the fatal accident. If the accident victim had survived, they would have the right to file a personal injury action and seek damages from a negligent party. Since the deceased person cannot file a lawsuit, the law gives that opportunity to certain surviving family members who can file a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful Death Laws in Illinois

Each state has its own unique laws regarding wrongful death claims. In Illinois, a wrongful death is one that occurs due to another party’s neglect, default, or wrongful act. According to the law, if an injured person would have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident, the law allows surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim if the injuries were fatal.

In many states, family members file the lawsuit themselves, though Illinois requires that the lawsuit be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Often, the personal representative happens to be a close family member, such as a spouse or an adult child, though this is not always the case. If the deceased did not designate someone in their will or died without having a will, the court will appoint a personal representative.

Though the family members do not directly file the claim, certain damages paid are meant for the benefit of a surviving spouse, children, or other next of kin of the deceased, such as damages for mental suffering, grief, and loss of care and companionship. The damages will be distributed to a surviving spouse and other qualifying family members based on the proportions of their losses. Damages for monetary losses including medical and funeral expenses will go to the estate to ultimately be distributed to beneficiaries.

Liability for Fatal Accidents

While any type of traffic accidents can result in fatalities, certain types can have a particular risk of causing fatalities, including:

  • Head-on collisions
  • Rollover crashes
  • Accidents involving large commercial trucks
  • Accidents involving motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians

In many cases, fatal traffic crashes in Chicago happen because someone else acted in a negligent manner. When someone owes another person a duty of care and breaches that duty, causing injuries, they are deemed to be negligent under the law. In order to prevail in a wrongful death claim, the personal representative must sufficiently prove negligence on the part of another party.

Other drivers are commonly the at-fault party for fatal traffic accidents. Other drivers have the duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner to prevent accidents and injuries. They can breach this duty and cause fatal crashes in many ways, including:

  • Aggressive driving, including tailgating, cutting off other drivers, and excessive speeding
  • Texting, talking on a phone, or other forms of distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Fatigued driving that can lead to a lack of focus or falling asleep at the wheel
  • Violating any Illinois traffic safety laws

It is important to know that another driver is not always liable for wrongful death on the roads. In some cases, a company such as an auto manufacturer may be negligent. Such companies have the legal duty to ensure they sell safe vehicles and auto parts. If an auto part is defective and malfunctions while someone is driving, the malfunction can cause them to lose control and crash.

Auto parts that have caused fatalities include brakes, tires, steering systems, and even airbags. Manufacturing company Takata notoriously produced millions of defective airbags that shot metal shards toward vehicle occupants upon deployment, causing several unnecessary fatalities. In this situation, the wrongful death claims were against the companies involved in producing and selling the airbags.

Negligent parties can also be government entities or construction crews that fail to properly inspect, maintain, or repair roads. Chicago roads can have many dangerous hazards, including potholes, cracks, inadequate guardrails or shoulders, and more. Taking on companies or government agencies can be particularly difficult, though families still deserve to recover from these liable parties.

Civil v. Criminal Claims

As mentioned above, a Cook County sheriff’s deputy recently died in a drunk driving crash. The driver who caused the accident has been criminally charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless homicide, among other offenses. While a criminal conviction and sentence may bring a sense of justice to the family, it does very little to provide surviving family members with the financial recovery they deserve under the law.

A wrongful death claim is filed in civil court, separate from any criminal proceedings. These claims seek money damages instead of criminal penalties such as jail time. The burden of proof is also lower in civil claims than criminal cases, so it may be possible for family members to prevail in a wrongful death lawsuit even if a prosecutor cannot prove a crime beyond of reasonable doubt. It is always worth it to discuss a possible wrongful death claim if you lose someone in a tragic accident.

Contact a Glenview, IL Car Accident Lawyer to Learn About Your Rights

While a wrongful death case can provide compensation for your family, it can also be difficult to discuss what happened. You should not wait to contact an experienced Chicago wrongful death attorney at the Chicago Legal Group for help. We will handle your claim while you focus on your emotional recovery after a tragic loss. Call 847-305-4105 or fill out our online contact form to request a free case evaluation.

Mount Prospect Auto Accident Attorney

Mount Prospect Car Accident Lawyer

It doesn’t take much for an ordinary, unremarkable day in Mount Prospect to become a day you will never forget. All it takes is a texting driver who plows into the back of your car, a trucker on the road too long who runs through a red light, or someone who got behind the wheel after too many drinks t-boning your vehicle. All it takes is a serious auto accident to change your life for years to come.

As a Mount Prospect car accident attorney, I regularly meet with people who are struggling in the aftermath of a car wreck caused by another driver’s negligence or recklessness. They share their stories about how their injuries have impacted their lives and those of their loved ones. They express their worries about how they will cover their bills while their injuries keep them from earning a paycheck. And they ask me whether I can help them hold the other driver responsible and get them compensation for their losses.

If those concerns ring familiar to you after a recent car accident, I stand ready to be your ally and advocate, just as I have for so many others in Mount Prospect and throughout Chicagoland. With decades of experience and a practice focused exclusively on personal injury law, I work tirelessly to get my clients the compensation they need and deserve after a car wreck upends their life, including injuries sustained in:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist crashes
  • Hit-and-run collisions
  • Drunk driving accidents
  • Rideshare/Uber/Lyft accidents

mount prospect car accident statsCar Accident Spotlight: What Is A “Contingency Fee” Arrangement With A Mount Prospect Auto Accident Attorney?

You’ve probably seen ads on TV or billboards on the side of the expressway where a personal injury lawyer exclaims something like: “You pay nothing unless I recover compensation for you” or “If we don’t get you money for your injuries, our services are free.”

What those lawyers are referring to is a contingency fee arrangement. Almost all car accident and personal injury attorneys provide their representation on this basis. As the name implies, your payment of attorney’s fees to your lawyer is “contingent” on them recovering compensation for your injury. If they don’t get you money, you owe them nothing.

Under a contingency fee arrangement, your attorney bears the risks and costs involved in your car accident case, including the risk of losing. They may work potentially hundreds of hours and pay substantial sums for expenses with no guarantee of ever seeing a dollar for all that work or receiving reimbursement for what they pay out in hard costs.

If, however, your car accident lawyer does obtain damages for you, either through settlement or after a trial, they will take an agreed-upon percentage out of that amount as their fee and pay any incurred expenses out of that sum.

The arrangement needs to be reflected in a written contingent fee agreement signed by you and your car accident lawyer at the start of their representation of you in your case.

Without contingent fee arrangements, most car accident injury victims would have no way to seek justice and recover damages for their injuries. Already struggling with large medical bills and missing paychecks, few injury victims have money to pay for a lawyer. By not having to go out of pocket to pay for a lawyer, those injured by the negligence of others have the means to get the compensation they need.

Co-pays After An Auto Accident in Mount Prospect

If you were injured in an auto accident or any other type of personal injury accident, you probably sought medical care shortly thereafter. Perhaps you went to the emergency room or a local urgent care. After your medical care is completed, you will begin to receive medical bills for the treatment.

The auto insurance company for the driver who hit you will NOT pay your medical bills until your case is resolved. However, your health insurance may pay for the bills. You may have to pay your health insurance back out of the proceeds of your settlement.

If you do use your health insurance to pay your medical bills, you will likely have co-pays, co-insurance and/or a deductible that must be paid before your health insurance kicks in. That does not change after an auto accident.

If you receive a bill for a co-pay you must pay it. Otherwise, the bill could go to collections. If you are attempting to obtain follow-up care, for example, with your primary care physician, or more significantly, if you are attending physical therapy, you will have to pay your co-pay on every visit.

That can be costly. I’ve had more than one client who did not pursue additional medical care because she/he could not afford the co-pays.

The same applies for your deductible. Let’s say hypothetically that you have a deductible of $2,500. If you go to the emergency room and your bill is $5,000, you will get a bill for $2,500. If you don’t pay that bill, it may very well go to collections.

People often ask if they will recover for the co-pays after an auto accident. Yes, you will, but not how you think. After you are done treating, your Mount Prospect attorney will demand that the defendant driver’s auto insurance company reimburse you for ALL of your medical bills – not just your deductible.

Your co-pay is just a fixed part/portion of an entire medical bill. As such, you will not receive reimbursement specifically for the co-pay. Rather, you will seek reimbursement for your entire bill.

Auto accident settlement example

This is frustrating to some people because the settlement offer the auto insurance company makes you is intended to compensate you for your pain and suffering as well as pay for your medical bills.

For example, if you have medical bills of $3,000 and the insurance company offers you $10,000 to settle your case, the $3k in medical bills are included in the $10,000 offer. Often accident victims think that the $10,000 all goes to them. It does not. By the way, if you have attorneys’ fees, those come out of the settlement amount as well.

So, Yes, you will recover for your co-pays

Regardless how you get compensated, you will receive reimbursement for your medical bill co-pays and your deductible. It may just not be when you want it or you need it.

There are other options to pay your medical bills. Those can be found in my blog article on this topic. But in some they include obtaining medical service on lien or using your medpay insurance in your auto insurance policy.

Call Chicago Legal Group Today To Arrange For Your Free Initial Consultation

If you were in a Mount Prospect car accident, answers, assistance, and an attorney dedicated to your well-being are only a few miles away. Located in Glenview, Chicago Legal Group focuses exclusively on the representation of personal injury victims, using 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

Chicago Pedestrian Accident Deaths Increasing

Involved in a Chicago pedestrian accident? According to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, in 2016, 15% of all deaths caused by vehicle collisions were pedestrians, which is an 11% increase from just a decade ago.

Chicago Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Chicago pedestrian accident

Possible factors that contribute to this increase include increased use of smartphones, which can cause distraction, improved safety features in automobiles, which may help in reducing the risk of serious injury to the occupants, but do not offer any benefits to pedestrians who are struck by vehicles, and an increase in the US population walking for environmental, health, or economic reasons.

In February 2017, the National Safety Council reported that there was a 6% increase in traffic deaths overall across the nation in 2016.

According to the council, the increase was spurred by “a perfect storm” of factors. A stronger economy and low prices of gas have resulted in more cars on the road and people driving more often. However, it says, this is only a small part of the story, and that there is something else at play in the increase of pedestrian deaths.

Distractions Caused by Mobile Devices

Experts say that if you look at both the drivers of the countless cars as they inch their way through traffic AND the scores of pedestrians crossing busy intersections, there is a common thing you will notice in both – their eyes are down, busy with their phones. This has been the cause of many a Chicago pedestrian accident.

For pedestrians, this is called “distracted walking!”

It is without a doubt that people, whether inside vehicles or walking on the street, are distracted. The Active Transportation Alliance reports that distractions, particularly by electronic devices, are the third most common cause of pedestrian deaths, after speeding and failure to yield.

Distracted driving and distracted walking are both a major cause of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities. But vehicle speeds and drunk driving are also significant factors. Safety advocates say that better road designs, more sidewalks, and lower speed limits can help reduce fatalities.

If you have been the victim of a Chicago pedestrian accident, contact attorney Barry Zlotowicz at 312-848-9783.