Many people involved in car accidents are unsure whether they require legal representation. If it was a minor collision that caused minimal property damage and no injuries, you probably don’t need a lawyer.
However, if you sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident, at a minimum, it’s best to consult an attorney as soon as possible. Most Illinois car accident lawyers offer a free initial consultation, allowing you to discuss the circumstances of your crash. The attorney will assess your case and tell you whether you’ll benefit from representation.
It’s also essential to understand that insurance companies are primarily concerned with making a profit. An adjuster may reach out immediately after your collision and offer a settlement. It’s likely much lower than the actual value of your damages.
If you accept the offer, you’ll lose your right to receive more money later – even if you discover hidden injuries caused by the accident. That could leave you on the hook for thousands of dollars in medical bills that would have otherwise been covered by the at-fault party’s insurance.
Below, we discuss various scenarios that may necessitate the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney.
You’re Unsure What Your Car Accident Claim Is Worth
One of the biggest mistakes is to negotiate with an insurance company without knowing what compensation you can potentially receive. You need to understand what your car accident case is worth so that you recover an amount that fully compensates you.
Under Illinois law, you’re entitled to pursue economic and non-economic damages from a negligent party, including a careless driver.
Potential damages resulting from a car accident may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Physical therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Reasonable out-of-pocket costs
- Lost income and job benefits
- Reduced earning capacity
- Disability or disfigurement
- Loss of companionship
- Property damage
Non-economic damages and future losses are challenging to calculate. Even the most experienced attorneys often consult financial experts when assessing some cases.
If you hire an attorney after a car accident, they’ll have the knowledge and resources to accurately value your claim.
Your Injuries Are Severe, Resulting in Substantial Medical Expenses
Car accident victims who sustained severe injuries will have higher-value personal injury claims than others. Opposing parties (usually insurance companies) fiercely fight these claims. They do everything possible to minimize their liability and pay as little as possible.
Therefore, you should consider hiring an attorney if you’ve suffered severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, broken bones, or a back injury.
Your Illinois car accident attorney will negotiate on your behalf. They’ll tell you if an offer is too low and push back for a higher amount. While the decision is always yours whether to settle your case, you’ll have someone advocating for the maximum amount available under Illinois law.
You’re Being Unfairly Blamed for the Collision
One common insurance company tactic is to attempt to shift blame to the accident victim. They may not have any evidence to substantiate their allegations. Or, they may have taken your statements out of context.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s time to hire a car accident lawyer.
Under Illinois law, everyone who is partially responsible for a collision is assigned a percentage of fault. If your responsibility exceeds 50%, you’re barred from receiving compensation from the other driver for your injuries. This is known as a modified comparative negligence rule with a 51% bar to recovery.
If you’re found to be 50% or less responsible for the crash, your damages will be reduced accordingly. For example, if you are 20% at fault, you can recover 80% of your awarded compensation.
So, if the insurance company alleges that you were partially to blame for the car accident, you risk receiving a reduced payout – or nothing at all. An attorney will protect your right to fair compensation.
The At-Fault Driver is Uninsured
All Illinois drivers are required to carry and maintain liability insurance. This covers injuries and property damage in the event that you cause an accident. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to comply with the state’s auto insurance requirements.
If an uninsured motorist caused your collision, they’re personally responsible for your damages. However, they may not have the ability to afford to pay.
An attorney will identify all potential avenues for compensation. For example, you may have uninsured motorist coverage, or a third party may share financial responsibility for the crash.
You Were Involved in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
Accidents involving multiple vehicles can result in complex litigation. Liability is often in question, and parties are trying to shift blame to each other. There may also be several different claims, further complicating things.
An Illinois car accident lawyer can assist you with a multi-vehicle accident claim and help you navigate the legal process.
The Insurance Company Unreasonably Denied Your Claim or Engaged in Other Bad Faith Practices
Not all claim denials are unreasonable. For example, if the policyholder failed to pay their premium, the insurance company may refuse to pay the claim.
However, if the insurance company denies your claim without giving a valid reason, you need to hire an experienced car accident attorney.
You should also contact a lawyer if the company engaged in other bad faith insurance practices, such as:
- Unreasonable delays
- Lack of communication
- Offering far less than what your insurance claim is worth
- Failing to investigate your claim
- Making false representations
- Refusing to pay a valid insurance claim
- Making unreasonable demands, such as requests for irrelevant documentation
If you suspect that an insurance company is acting in bad faith, seek legal guidance immediately. During a free consultation, a personal injury lawyer will evaluate your claim and advise you of your options moving forward.
Were You Involved in a Collision? Contact Our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers for a Free Case Evaluation
If you were involved in a collision in Chicago, IL, you likely have many questions, such as whether you need to hire a car accident lawyer. While you aren’t required by law to obtain legal representation, it’s often a wise decision to do so.
People who are represented by an attorney typically walk away with much more compensation for their damages than others. You’ll put yourself in the best position by seeking legal advice and guidance from an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer.
Our attorneys offer a free consultation to evaluate your claim. We’ll give our honest assessment of whether your case requires an attorney. There’s no risk or obligation in reaching out to discuss your car accident with our experienced personal injury lawyers in Chicago.
You have a limited time to take legal action due to the Illinois statute of limitations, so contact us as soon as possible for help.