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.

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.

Illinois Comparative Negligence – When Should You Accept Some Fault for an Accident?

In Illinois, comparative negligence is a phrase often used by insurance companies to dispute or diminish the amount of an auto accident victim’s Illinois comparative negligence | When should you accept some fault for an accident?damages. My name is Barry Zlotowicz, my Glenview law firm deals with allegations of comparative fault regularly. If an insurance company accuses you of being partially at fault for an accident, contact us at 847-305-4105.

What is comparative negligence?

In Illinois comparative negligence basically means that the victim of an accident can recover if they are not more than 50% at fault for the accident.

Many states follow the concept of comparative negligence or comparative fault. Not all states do however. California for example follows the concept of “pure comparative negligence.” This means that even if you are 90% at fault for the accident, you can still recover 10% of your damages from the defendant.

This is huge in that if you suffer catastrophic damages in an accident, that 10% recovery could be a large amount. Large enough at least that a personal injury lawyer would agree to represent you.

Other states such as North Carolina, follow the concept of “contributory negligence.” This is a draconian law that states that if the victim in an auto or other accident is 1% or more at fault for the accident, that they are barred from recovery.

A couple of tips

  • Never admit fault for an accident at the scene of the accident.
  • If the other party admits fault for an accident, document it immediately. Just don’t secretly record them making the admission or you will have committed a crime.
  • Do not give a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance adjuster before you consult with an attorney. Statements made in those conversations can be used against you.

How does comparative negligence work?

Generally speaking, you do not want to accept any comparative negligence on your part. If you do, this will diminish the value of your claim. It can thus affect how much you will recover for your property damage, your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering.

How does it work?

If you get in an auto accident and you accept 20% of being at fault for the accident, you will be entitled to 80% of your damages from the other party. So, if your car costs $10,000 to repair, you will receive $8,000 from the other side and you will have to come up with the extra $2,000.

Same for your medical bills, pain and suffering. If your case is worth $100,000 and you are 20% at fault for the accident, your maximum recovery will be $80,000.

When should you accept some fault for an accident?

In very few circumstances. However, there is one situation where you can accept some limited fault for an accident.

I have had more than a couple auto or motorcycle accident cases where the defendant’s insurance adjuster alleged that my clients were comparatively negligent and would not budge from their stance. So what do you do?

In a few of those cases we accepted limited negligence on the part of our client. Note: the client him or her self did not admit to fault on the record. We simply accepted part of the fault on their behalf.

Why did we do this? If we didn’t accept partial responsibility for the accident, we would have had to immediately file a lawsuit against the defendants. That would begin an 18 to 24 month process of costly litigation.

Conversely, by accepting fault, we were able to resolve our clients’ property damage claims immediately and move forward toward resolution. Even though their claims had been minimally diminished.

Most importantly however, we accepted being at fault only in cases where our client’s injuries were so significant that despite some comparative negligence, we knew well in advance that we would recover the entire insurance policy from the defendant.

What do I mean?

Take for example one motorcycle accident case I worked on a while back. The victim was T-boned while riding his motorcycle through an intersection. The car turned left in front of him and thus the majority at fault. But the motorcyclist had slightly caught speed at the time of the accident.

The insurance adjuster alleged comparative negligence. The defendant had a $100,000 auto insurance policy. However, our client’s injuries were worth much more than that. As such, we accepted partial comparative negligence to move on with his case while knowing that we were going to recover the entire $100,000 regardless how much fault we accepted.

If you were involved in an auto accident and an insurance adjuster is alleging Illinois comparative negligence, reach out to our Glenview law firm for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

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.