My car is totaled in a Chicago auto accident and I owe more than what it’s worth

Chicago auto accident


What happens if your car is totaled in a Chicago auto accident and you owe more than it’s worth? Be prepared to pay. But there is a way to protect yourself. Call my office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Intro

According to an article on insurance.com, Experian Automotive said around 86 percent of new car buyers finance their vehicle and the average new car loan is about $30,000 for roughly 68 months. So, people are financing millions of vehicles. As such, drivers in Illinois who get in a Chicago auto accident are often faced with paying money owed on newly purchased vehicles that are involved in accidents.

Example

You purchase a car for $30,000. You put $1,000 down and you finance $29,000 through a bank or the auto dealership’s finance company. A few months later you are involved in an accident and your car is totaled. You file a claim with your auto insurance company and they determine that the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle is $27,000. What happens?

Your auto insurance company will write a check to your finance company for the ACV of your vehicle and you owe the remaining balance outstanding of $2,000. It’s unfair, you did not cause the Chicago auto accident. Yet you are still on the hook for the balance outstanding.

Gap Insurance

The only way you can protect yourself from this situation is to purchase Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance. In the situation above, your GAP insurance would have covered the difference between what your vehicle is worth and what you owe.

You can purchase GAP insurance when you purchase your vehicle from the dealership or you can likely purchase it from your auto insurance company.

If you don’t have GAP Insurance

How do you pay the balance owed if you do not have GAP insurance? Generally speaking, my clients in this situation have been able to continue to make their monthly payments until the balance is paid off. You may also be able to contact your finance company and figure out an alternative payment arrangement.

That’s little solace to someone who just lost their investment in a vehicle including their down payment, has to pay money for a vehicle they can’t drive and may not have money for a down payment on a new vehicle.

If you want to fight it

If you are unhappy with your auto insurance company’s valuation of your vehicle, you do have the option of contesting the valuation of your vehicle. You can try to get your own appraisal from a resource like Kelley Blue Book. That probably won’t work and as such, you will likely have to hire an appraiser to provide a new appraisal to give to the insurance company.

If that doesn’t work, you will have to demand arbitration from your insurance company. If you are dealing with the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident, your only option would be to file a lawsuit.

Do I need an attorney?

Most personal injury attorneys won’t get involved in a matter that only involves property damage. It’s not that I don’t want to help. However, as a Chicago auto accident attorney, I represent people who suffer injuries in auto accidents.

Regardless, I am happy to speak with you about how to proceed with your claim against the insurance company. Call me for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Social Media as Evidence

Bottom line, be careful what Social Media as Evidence

In most personal injury cases, this issue of whether you can use social media as evidence comes up often. In this

Social Media as Evidence

article we’re going to do discuss what you should and should not do with regard to your Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts. If you have any questions about this issue or you have been involved in an accident, contact our office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Social Media as Evidence

Personal injury cases are won and lost based on evidence. In the past, this was restricted to witness testimony, the statements of the parties involved, and the written documents, usually in paper form, that supported your case.

Today, evidence is totally different. While the above sources are still available, the first place we look today for evidence is online. Our clients were involved in automobile, slip and fall, or other types of accidents. Most of our clients have social media accounts as do most of the people involved in the accidents with our clients. As such, when we get a call from a new client, the first thing we do is look them up on the internet. The most abundant source of information comes from Facebook.

Statistics

Facebook has more than 1 billion daily active users. YouTube has 1.5 billion active monthly users. These people are posting content online at an astounding rate. And they spend an enormous amount of time online. It’s estimated that the average person spends five hours a day on their mobile device. Most of that time is spent on apps. We’re now spending more time on apps than we spend watching television.

Criminal Conduct

This corresponds with an increase in criminal conduct on Facebook. On Facebook Live, there have been at least 45 instances of violence, such as rape and murder, broadcast live. What is wrong with these people?

Personal Injury Cases

Our firm does not practice criminal law, we are a civil practice. Our cases do not involve incarceration, but rather financial compensation for our clients who were victims of accidents. Most of our clients have Facebook or other social media accounts, as do the people who caused their accident. We look every one of them up.

Social Media as Evidence – Example

Believe us, if we are checking your social media, so are insurance adjusters. And the insurance adjuster’s sole job is to pay you as little as they can for your injuries. As such, we advise all our clients not to post excessively on Facebook about your accident. And, be wary of what you post period.

We had a case where our client suffered a real knee injury as a result of a motorcycle collision that was not his fault. He underwent significant medical treatment (not surgery) and physical therapy. The medical records were filled with references to his pain and discomfort.

Unfortunately, at the same time our client was reporting pain in his knee to his physical therapist, he continued to engage in a very active lifestyle that included working on small, personal helicopters. He posted photos of him engaging in this activity on Facebook. He was bending down, working on the engine, bending over, carrying things, flying the helicopter and so on. Sure enough, the insurance adjuster looked him up on Facebook. They used his social media as evidence against us. Because of this, the adjuster scoffed at our demands and we were forced to resolve the matter for far less than it would have been worth but for the social media evidence.

We have also used social media as evidence against the person who caused the collision. People often admit fault on Facebook. We’ve seen posts where people admitted they ran a stop light or didn’t see someone before an accident. All we had to do is take a screenshot of those posts to enable us to capitalize on them. Ultimately, we would have to authenticate them as evidence in court if the matter went that far. But that is not the topic of this article.

Other Electronic Evidence

As an aside, other forms of electronic evidence are excellent as well. We’ve had several cases where our clients and the defendants who caused their injuries texted about the collision after it happened. We’ve had more than one occasion where a defendant admitted fault in a text. In one case, the defendant, a young woman, admitted she was texting while she was driving and as a result did not see our client. She lied to her insurance company and told them she was blinded by the sun. This did not go well for her.

Conclusion

Bottom line, be careful what you post online as the insurance company or attorneys involved will use your social media as evidence against you. If you have any questions about the use of social media, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

The Dangers Of Driving While On The Phone

The digital age has brought with it a new menace on the roads.

That menace is drivers who use their cell phone while driving. A study by Cambridge Mobile Telematics has shown that about one-quarter of drivers involved in accidents, were on their phones within a moment of crashing. It was also shown that more than half of the accidents in the study were the result of distracted driving due to cell phone use.Auto Accident Attorneys Chicago

When you are driving in Chicago, dealing with distracted drivers is an unavoidable reality.
Areas to be particularly wary of include:

• The drop-off areas at both airports
• Solidarity Drive between the Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium
• King Drive
• Grand Avenue
• The Stevenson Expressway
• Lake Shore Drive

As the economy has improved and gas prices have gone down, more cars have gone on the road. When you throw distracted driving into the mix, traffic fatalities tend to rise.

The Cambridge study shows that despite the ban on using hand held devices while driving, places like Illinois are not seeing a dramatic reduction in the average amount of time drivers spend on the phone.

Enforcement of the ban is very difficult. There are far more drivers on the road than the police can keep track of and almost all of them have cell phones. For this reason, police only catch about one in ten violators of this ban.
In Illinois, if you are caught using your phone while driving, you can expect to pay a $75 fine for the first offense and up to $150 for any subsequent offenses.

With all these drivers looking at their phones instead of the road, no one is safe. Even the most alert drivers are at risk of being involved in an auto accident. Having a good auto accident attorney on your side has never been more important than it is today.

If you spot a driver texting while driving, call the attorneys at Chicago Legal Group at 847-305-4105.

Traffic Accidents on the Rise in Illinois

Have you noticed that there seem to be more accidents on the sides of Illinois highways and roads recently? As a Chicago personal injury lawyer, I am acutely aware of what is going on out on our roadways. Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of accidents. Maybe it was the bad weather. Surfaces were frozen and slippery longer. Maybe its because now that the world has thawed there is construction everywhere altering traffic patterns everywhere. Whatever it is, one thing for sure is that there are more accidents on Illinois roads then there were last year.

The Illinois Department of Transportation recently released a study reported on in the Chicago Tribune article entitled “Traffic accidents on the rise in state, to almost 800 a day.” The study results were from 2013, the year most recently studied by the Department. In short, there were 782 accidents per day in the State of Illinois in 2013. 782! Its no wonder that insurance premiums are so expensive. Most of those accidents are fender benders not involving significant injuries however the cost in property damage alone is staggering let alone paying for medical bills and compensating victims for their pain and suffering. The National Safety Council estimated that the cost of all those accidents was $5.7 billion – with a “B” – dollars.

Of note from the statistics is that in 2014, nearly 900 people were killed in those accidents with nearly one-half of the deaths occurring in Cook County, Illinois. 130 of those victims were killed in the City of Chicago.

What causes so many accidents? Again, weather conditions are partially at fault but so is human error. Approximately one-third of all the accidents were caused by excessive speed and another one-third were caused by alcohol. Deer were responsible interestingly for five percent of crashes – we do get a lot of calls from motorcyclists who got in accidents caused by deer (and occasionally a Moose or other animal). Tractor trailers were involved in four percent of all accidents and a high percentage (10%) of fatalities.  Only two percent of all accidents were vehicle-pedestrian and only one percent was vehicle-bicycle (3,586 in 2013 resulting in 30 cyclists dying). The other group primarily responsible for accidents were teens between 16-19 years old who accounted for ten percent of severe injuries and seven percent of fatalities.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a vehicle accident, feel free to contact Chicago personal injury lawyer Barry Zlotowicz at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation

Who is responsible for my slip-and-fall injuries?

Slip And Fall Accident AttorneyProperty owners are responsible for providing a safe environment or warning visitors of hazards. When property owners fail to do this, accidents such as slip-and-fall injuries may result. These injuries often involve preventable factors, such as spills, poorly maintained floors or dim lighting. The victims of these accidents may be entitled to compensation. However, as any injury lawyer in Illinois can explain, visitors do not enjoy absolute legal protection.

Continue reading “Who is responsible for my slip-and-fall injuries?”

Illinois drivers gear up for new 70 mph limit

 Illinois Car Accident Attorney In December 2014, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation permitting 70 mph speed limits on state toll highways. According to The Quad-City Times, the change will impact more than 300 miles of roads near Chicago. Critics have expressed worries about the safety impacts of these higher speeds. As any Illinois car accident attorney can attest, speed can contribute to more severe crashes and injuries. At higher speeds, drivers may also have more difficulty preventing or avoiding accidents.

Continue reading “Illinois drivers gear up for new 70 mph limit”

Show a little love to truckers and give them the space they need

Truck AccidentsTruck drivers often must mitigate unique safety issues while operating their vehicles. Large trucks can outweigh smaller vehicles by 30 times, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Due to this weight, trucks require more stopping distance than other vehicles, as any Chicago truck accident lawyer knows. Large trucks also can ride over other vehicles because of their high clearance.

Continue reading “Show a little love to truckers and give them the space they need”

4 Driver distractions that have nothing to do with cell phones

 Driver distractionsWith all the media attention given to texting and driving, it is easy to dismiss other forms of distractions in the vehicle as insignificant. However, any activity that takes the eyes, hands or attention away from the task of driving is considered a distraction and can be potentially deadly. Driver distractions that pull attention from the road for two seconds double the risk of a crash.

Continue reading “4 Driver distractions that have nothing to do with cell phones”

Prospect Heights Bus Accident Attorney

Illinois is one of the most significant locations for passenger bus transportation.  Whether or not children take the school bus, public bus riders or passengers taking a long-distance bus trip, there are a large number of people in Prospect Heights that count on bus transportation every single day.

Bus accidents occur all too often on America’s streets and highways.  Roughly 300 fatal bus crashes take place each year, in accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Bus accidents without any fatalities, the damage to property and the price of serious injury is much higher.

As soon as stepping foot on a bus, the passenger has faith that the driver is licensed, rested and prepared to operate the bus in the safest possible way to protect the safety of all passengers.  A passenger also trusts that the bus has been properly inspected and all parts of the bus are fully functional.  Even so, bus accidents do take place, and in many cases it is the consequence of negligence on the part of the bus driver, the bus company or the bus manufacturer.  When passengers are severely injured in a bus accident, they might be able to take action and hold everyone who is responsible accountable.

Our Prospect Heights bus accident lawyers take care of all sorts of bus accident cases.  A number of these types of accidents include the following types of buses:

  • School buses
  • CTA buses
  • Shuttle buses
  • Chartered bus tour buses
  • Sight-seeing buses
  • Interstate passenger buses – including Greyhound

Because of the size of most buses, the injuries can be quite serious and even life-threatening for some.  Passengers located from Prospect Heights, Illinois that are involved in accidents can possibly suffer from some serious physical injuries requiring hospitalizations and continuous medical care, plus many injured victims may even lose the capability of being able to work and earn an income.  The long-term repercussions of an accident of this nature can be very devastating, so it is vital to take action very early if involved in a bus accident to guarantee your rights will be protected.

If ever in a bus accident whether or not physically injured, help dealing with stress and anxiety may very well be needed aside from any physical injuries.  With that said, you might just be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills and any lost wages resulting from the bus accident.  If death occurs, the liable driver can also face criminal charges for wrongful death.

We represent all kinds of Prospect Heights bus accidents, whether you have been injured or not, you will be pleased to know that our office is well equipped to assist you with recouping from any damages. If you have been in a bus accident or car crash, don’t delay in getting touch with a qualified Prospect Heights auto accident lawyer.  Contact us today for a free consultation with Barry Zlotowicz, a Prospect Heights personal injury attorney at 312-848-9783 or 877-LAW-4312.

Understanding The Role Of Illinois Injury Attorneys

what do injury attorneys do in illinoisIllinois injury attorneys handle thousands of Chicago personal injury cases every year. If you’ve been injured or suffered a loss due to someone else’s negligence and are considering a lawsuit, you’ll work closely with a personal injury lawyer in Chicago or, in the case of the loss of a loved one, an Illinois wrongful death lawyer. Understanding just what is involved in this type of lawsuit and everything that your lawyer has to do in order to represent you is the first step toward resolving the problem. Most people think the majority of the work done is in the courtroom like we see on television programs. The reality is that the vast majority of legitimate claims settle prior to going to trial. If you have a good Chicago personal injury lawyer, he or she will work your case as if you are going to go to trial but with an eye on settling the case prior to trial.

Determining What Type Of Chicago Personal Injury Case To Pursue

Cases generally fall into one of two categories – negligence or intentional torts. An intentional tort includes any case where the defendant intentionally caused the injury or injuries. In other words, the person or persons being sued deliberately committed the act that resulted in harm. These can be difficult cases to pursue because your attorney has to demonstrate that the defendant’s act that led to the injury was intentional. Still, an experienced and skilled Illinois injury attorney can pursue this type of a case effectively. Some of the most common types of intentional liability cases include battery, false imprisonment, defamation, and/or abuse. In most cases, if you’re the victim of a criminal act that resulted in an injury, you may also be able to sue for damages in civil court.

A negligence lawsuit is different – in a negligence lawsuit, the case hinges on whether the person or persons being sued exercised appropriate care and consideration for the safety of others. Your attorney won’t have to prove that the act that resulted in your injuries was deliberate; he’ll only have to prove that the action was careless and contributed to your injuries. This is based on the assumption that every individual owes a reasonable amount of care toward protecting the safety of others. The vast majority of Chicago automobile accidents are negligence cases – in other words, you will allege that the driver who is at fault failed to exercise reasonable care when driving his or her automobile resulting in the Chicago car crash. Slip and fall accidents and Chicago medical malpractice cases are other common types of cases where a plaintiff will allege negligence.

An Illinois wrongful death lawyer may file a lawsuit on your behalf alleging either an intentional act or that negligence contributed to the death of a loved one. If you’ve lost someone you love, be sure to hire an Illinois wrongful death lawyer who is experienced at pursuing these types of cases. Paul Wolf, the attorney affiliated with the Chicago Legal Group has extensive experience with Illinois wrongful death cases.

The Many Roles Of A Chicago Personal Injury Attorney

Your Chicago personal injury attorney will wear a variety of hats during the course of pursuing your case. In addition to understanding and applying the law, he/she will have to have an understanding of the complexities of your situation and the accident or malpractice in question. He will be an investigator – talking to all the doctors, nurses, witnesses, and other professionals connected with the event leading to your injuries. He will be an instructor – consulting with experts who can recreate the scene, engineers who can testify as to whether the accident could have been avoided, or others who will lay the groundwork for your lawsuit.

Many experienced attorneys become advocates for their clients as well. They may talk to physicians, physical or occupational therapists to determine and obtain the best possible medical and other care for their clients. Choosing an Illinois injury attorney who will help you find the best treatment possible can make your recovery easier.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contacting us is the first step toward recovery. The best Chicago injury attorneys will not only represent you in court, they will guide you throughout your recovery to ensure the best possible outcome.