Depending on the definition of “minor,” hundreds of minor car accidents happen every day in Chicago, IL. Over the course of a year, these crashes injure thousands of people and cause hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage.
In many cases, you will not need a lawyer after a minor traffic accident. When you suffer no injuries and your vehicle sustains no damage, you might not need a lawyer. But in some situations, you may want to hire a lawyer even when you view the accident as minor.
What Is a Minor Car Accident?
Laws in Illinois do not use the term “minor car accident.” Neither do police officers and insurers. As a result, there is no generally accepted definition of what a minor car accident might involve.
Instead, traffic experts classify car accidents into three categories:
- Property-damage-only accidents cause only property damage to vehicles or structures, like bridges
- Injury accidents involve at least one injured motorist, pedestrian, or cyclist
- Fatal accidents cause at least one injury that results in death within 30 days
You could define a minor accident as one that causes only property damage. In this case, you will probably need a lawyer only if you have a dispute with the at-fault driver’s insurance company over the value of your property.
But if you define a minor car accident to include those that cause non-life-threatening injuries, you may need a lawyer after a minor car accident.
Situations When You Might Need a Chicago Car Accident Attorney After a Minor Crash
Illinois uses a fault-based car insurance system. You must have liability insurance if you own a vehicle in the state. When you get into an accident, anyone injured will file a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
Suppose that you collided with a vehicle that ran a stop sign. If you and your passenger suffered an injury, you would file a personal injury claim against the other driver’s insurance because they caused the accident. The other driver must bear the costs of the injuries.
Many accident victims handle their insurance claims without a lawyer. But there are a few situations where you might need to hire a lawyer for a minor injury claim. These situations include the following:
The Other Driver Blames You
You have two problems when the other driver blames you for the accident. First, your injury claim will get denied. Liability insurance pays victims only if the policyholder caused the accident.
Second, the other driver might file an injury claim against you and your insurance policy. Thus, you will not only bear financial responsibility for your injuries, but you might become liable for the other driver’s injuries as well.
A Chicago personal injury lawyer can gather the evidence to show that the other driver caused the crash and owes you money for the resulting injuries.
Your Claim Is Taking Too Long
Under Illinois law, insurers are supposed to make a prompt settlement after accident victims prove the liability of policyholders. At the same time, insurers have a financial incentive to deny and delay claims as long as possible. The longer an insurer holds onto your money, the more it earns from its investments.
A lawyer can hold an insurer’s feet to the fire to ensure it is working on your case and not delaying for an improper purpose.
The Insurer Denied Your Claim
Insurers can deny claims for many reasons, including:
- The policyholder did not cause the crash
- Your injury was not caused by the crash
- Your treatment was not necessary for your injuries
When an insurer denies a claim, you must act quickly to respond with evidence and arguments. A lawyer can help you overcome a claim denial.
Meeting with a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer About Your Minor Collision
Most lawyers offer a free consultation. Consider speaking to one about your minor accident to find out how they can help.