Car Accident Lawyer in Joliet, IL
Joliet is one of the largest cities in Illinois. The area serves as a transportation center, and Interstates 55 and 80 run through the city. The city experiences moderate to heavy snowfall in the winter and a high population density. Each factor contributes to the risk of car accidents, especially around well-known attractions.
Motor vehicle accidents can cause serious injuries leading to mounting medical bills and financial hardships. If you were injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your damages. The Joliet car accident lawyers at Zayed Law Offices are experienced in handling car accident cases and are ready to help you recover compensation for your car accident damages.
What Compensation Can Car Accident Victims Receive?
Joliet car accident victims can receive monetary awards as compensation for the damages they suffered as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Identifying all the damages you suffer in an accident can be difficult. Our Joliet car accident lawyers can review the evidence in your case to determine the value of the damages you may be entitled to.
There are different categories of compensation for car accident claims in Illinois:
Economic damages are expenses that result from accident-related injuries. These include:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages or income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Property damages
Sometimes called general damages, non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify because they are more subjective. These include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Scars or disfigurement
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of companionship
In rare circumstances, Illinois personal injury law allows punitive damages as a form of punishment in cases where the at-fault person or party acted with intentional disregard for the safety of others or extreme negligence.
Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Case
To be awarded damages in Illinois, the car accident victim must show that the other party was mostly liable for the accident. Our Joliet car accident lawyer can review the circumstances of your accident to establish negligence.
Personal injury law requires injured victims to establish the four elements of negligence:
Duty of care: The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. For example, drivers must follow traffic laws and drive safely to protect other drivers and pedestrians.
Breach of duty: The defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff. For example, a driver who runs a red light is breaching their duty of care to others on the road.
Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty caused a car accident that resulted in the plaintiff’s injury.
Damages: The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of their injuries. For example, the plaintiff’s accident-related injuries may have resulted in damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional distress, or lost income due to missed work.
An experience Joliet car accident attorney can review your case to determine if your auto accident meets all the criteria for negligence, and that your percentage of fault still allows you to seek compensation.
How Does Illinois Comparative Negligence Rule Affect My Car Accident Case?
In Illinois, the modified comparative negligence standard is applied to car accident cases. This means that the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) can still recover damages from the defendant (the person being sued) even if the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident, as long as the plaintiff's fault is not greater than 50%.
If the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, they are barred from recovering damages. However, if the plaintiff is found to be less than 50% at fault, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to them.
For example, if the plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault for the accident and their damages are $100,000, the damages awarded to them will be reduced by 20% to $80,000.
If the plaintiff is found to be completely at fault for the accident, they are unable to recover financial compensation for their damages.
Who Do I File a Car Accident Claim Against?
Illinois is an "at-fault" insurance state. That means the driver who is responsible for causing the accident is liable for any damages resulting from the accident. If more than one person is at fault, then the liability is divided among them—per Illinois' modified comparative negligence rule. It is best to notify your insurance company as soon as possible after a car accident. If you wait too long, your insurer may deny your claim or cancel your policy altogether.
Illinois state law requires all drivers to have car insurance with a minimum required amount of liability insurance for injury-related expenses. You can seek compensation from the at-fault driver's car insurance company or from your own insurance company.
Be aware that insurance companies are notorious for short-changing their policyholders. They may try to get you to admit fault, or at least partial fault, to lower the amount of damages you receive. They will likely offer you a quick settlement that doesn't cover all the damages you have suffered. If you are not familiar with the damages you can be compensated for, you may not realize the full extent of your damages and the true value of your claim.
A Joliet car accident lawyer with experience dealing with insurance companies can negotiate with insurance companies and help you recover the maximum compensation you deserve. And if negotiations fail, your experienced attorney can file a car accident lawsuit on your behalf.
Types of Car Accidents
A driver's negligence can lead to a head-on collision. The incident occurs when the front ends of two cars come into contact. Both vehicles travel in opposite directions, but one motorist might not have yielded to oncoming traffic.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 57 percent of fatal crashes are head-on collisions. The impact of the accident could send the vehicles in different directions. You might not know how the crash occurred at first. However, a lawyer can determine the cause.
One of the most common types of car accidents is a rear-end collision. A rear-end collision is when the front of one car hits the back of another vehicle. Tailgating can increase the chances of an incident. Injuries generally are less likely to become fatal compared to head-on collisions.
A common injury in rear-end accidents is whiplash. Even if the vehicles traveled at low speeds, you could still sustain damage.
Thousands of crashes across the country involve pedestrians annually. In Illinois alone, around 4,299 non-fatal pedestrian accidents occur every year. People refer to these as single-vehicle accidents, since the situation usually involves one car. A person could experience a traumatic event when they walk down the street or cross at an intersection.
The evening increases someone's risk due to low visibility. The injuries a pedestrian sustains generally are severe. An individual on a sidewalk has less protection compared to a vehicle passenger. Cars can cause acute damage even at low speeds.
Larger and heavier vehicles have a higher potential for rollover accidents. Incidents occur when a car suddenly flips onto its side. In some cases, the vehicle rotates and lands on its roof. The incident can throw some occupants from the car, and others can become stuck inside.
The driver could have lost control, or an object caused the vehicle to flip to the side. An estimated 3 percent of car accidents are rollovers. However, they account for a significant portion of fatalities. Rollovers are more hazardous on a highway or interstate due to the surrounding traffic.
A side-impact collision, or a T-bone, happens when one motorist strikes another vehicle from the side. The position of the vehicles almost looks like the shape of a “T.” Accidents commonly occur at intersections since some motorists run red lights or stop signs.
In many cases, people sustain acute damage. Airbags are less effective when the impact comes from the left or right side of the car. Side-impact collisions make up roughly 23 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.
Causes of Car Crashes
Usually, the source of a car crash is human error. In a few instances, a non-driver cause led to the accident.
Common reasons for vehicle collisions include:
- Distraction. In Illinois, police issue about 15,150 citations for distracted driving each year. Distractions can be visual, manual, or cognitive. A phone or other object could cause someone to take their eyes off the road. An activity might remove both hands from the wheel. Daydreaming can divide a driver's attention as well.
- Exhaustion. Drowsy driving is likely to occur late at night when people need to sleep. A person could become tired during the day if they received fewer hours of sleep. Exhaustion can impair concentration and blur a driver's vision.
- Weather conditions. Rain and snow can make the road slippery. Ice on the road could be the reason a rear-end collision occurred. Heavy rain reduces a driver's visibility. Motorists must drive slowly and carefully during harsh weather conditions.
- Car defects. A mechanical error in a vehicle part could have caused the accident. The brakes might malfunction, or the windshield wipers fail to work. The source of the error might be a flawed product design.
- Speeding. A common cause of car accidents is speeding. When someone goes above the speed limit, they might not have time to stop. As a result, they fail to avoid a collision. Speeding typically falls under the category of reckless driving.
At Zayed Law Offices, we investigate every aspect of a car accident to discover the cause. Once we prove the cause, you are a step closer to compensation.
Car Accident Lawsuits in Illinois Have Strict Time Limits
The appropriate time to file a car accident claim with your insurance provider is within days following the collision. You may want to contact an attorney as well to help you through the process. If your car accident claim cannot be settled fairly, your lawyer may want to file a car accident lawsuit.
Most personal injury lawsuits in Illinois have a two-year deadline that begins on the date of the accident. For fatal collisions, a personal representative of the deceased has two years after the victim's death to begin a lawsuit.
If the defendant is the local government, you need to start your case within a year. You usually need to submit a written notice as well.
It is important to heed these deadlines. If you don't file a legal claim within this statute of limitations, you lose your right to compensation.
Why Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you suffered injuries in an accident, you aren’t required to hire a lawyer. You can work directly with the insurance company. However, the insurance company doesn’t have your best interests in mind. Insurers often offer low-ball settlements hoping you won’t try to negotiate a better deal with them.
Insurers prefer dealing with victims without legal representation because they are usually unaware of the full value of their damages and are more likely to accept a low settlement offer. Once you have accepted an offer from an insurance company, you cannot go back to them for more money even if you discover that your injuries require further medical treatment or you are out of work due to your injuries longer than anticipated.
The car accident lawyers at Zayed Law Offices can handle all aspects of your accident case, including:
- Determine the extent and value of your damages
- Establish negligence on the part of all other parties involved
- Negotiate with insurance companies for full compensation
- File your case before the statute of limitations if negotiations fail
Frequently Asked Questions
What Happens if an Uninsured Driver Hits Me?
When you get into an accident, the at-fault party's insurer pays for the damage. You might wonder what happens if the other driver does not have insurance. Around 11.8 percent of drivers in Illinois lack coverage. Chances are low, but you can still find yourself in a collision with an uninsured driver.
The law requires motorists to have at least the minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage. You can add the protection as part of your auto insurance policy. The coverage pays for your bills if you get into a crash with an uninsured driver.
If damages exceed your policy limit, you still have the option to sue the negligent party. We can help you hold the other side personally liable to get the compensation you need.
What Does Compensation Cover for Car Accident Victims?
Car accidents usually result in medical expenses. Expenses include hospital stays, surgeries, and medical equipment. You can recover money for property damage if your vehicle requires repairs. The bill for a rental car impacts the value of your claim. You might need to spend resources to fix a phone or laptop as well.
Many people miss one or more days of work due to their injuries. You can recuperate the wages you lost during recovery. A settlement includes compensation if you are unable to return to work. Fatal accidents lead to damages for funeral and burial expenses.
Many victims receive reimbursement for pain and suffering. Courts do their best to award a fair amount of money for mental anguish. Other damages are loss of companionship and loss of support.
What Steps Do You Take After a Car Accident?
After a collision, you should first make sure you and others are okay. You should not move anyone unconscious. Call 911 to report the accident. The police will arrive to investigate, and an ambulance can provide some treatment.
While you are on the scene, collect the driver's name, phone number, and insurance details. You should not apologize or admit fault. You should obtain the contact information of any witnesses as well. You can use their statements for your lawsuit.
The next step is to take pictures of the accident. Multiple photos should show the damage to your vehicle and your injuries. When the police officer clears you to leave, you should see a doctor for medical treatment. Call a car accident attorney once you have recovered enough.
Contact Our Joliet Car Accident Lawyer Today
The effects of a car accident can persist for years. The impact a traumatic motor vehicle accident has on you and your family is one reason why you should work with an experienced attorney. The personal injury lawyers at Zayed Law Offices fight to obtain maximum compensation for every client.
Our Joliet car accident lawyers deal with the paperwork and serve your needs during recovery. We have the resources to protect your rights and negotiate with the insurance company. Our team does not back down no matter who the defendant is in your case.
You should have a firm you can trust by your side. Contact Zayed Law Offices at (815) 726-1616 for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.