People involved in a car accident in Chicago, Illinois, might wonder, “Can you sue for a car accident?” You can sue for a car accident that leaves you or a loved one with serious physical or emotional injuries. Suing allows you to recover compensation enough to cover all the losses and expenses, including future costs, arising from the car accident. Taking legal action also helps ensure that negligent parties are held accountable for their actions.

You must, however, follow the right steps after your accident to protect your health and to preserve your right to file a car accident claim or lawsuit. Get a knowledgeable car accident lawyer involved shortly after the crash to bolster your odds of receiving full and fair compensation.

Types of Lawsuits in Car Accident Cases

Car accident victims in Illinois may have various legal options available to them. In some cases, plaintiffs may have different types of claims against multiple parties.

Car Accident Liability Claims Against Another Motorist

You could file this type of lawsuit if you were a driver or passenger who was in an accident that was caused by another motorist. You could also make this type of claim if you were a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist who was struck by a vehicle.

These claims usually arise from the negligent actions of a driver who was distracted, fatigued, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Dram Shop Liability Claims

Under this type of injury claim, you can sue a business that served alcohol to a motorist who caused an accident because he or she was impaired. Illinois’ Dram Shop law allows you to sue a business that kept serving alcohol to the defendant despite knowing the defendant was intoxicated. You can also pursue compensation from an establishment that served alcohol to a minor who later caused your accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims

Sometimes, the liable driver may lack auto insurance, or the driver’s insurance may not be enough to cover your losses. In such instances, you can pursue compensation from your insurer by filing an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. You can also file a lawsuit against the negligent party directly. For example, you can sue a drunk driver with no insurance to recover compensation for your losses.

Car Accident Liability Claims Against Government Agencies

Car accidents can sometimes result from poor road design or maintenance. In such a situation, you may hold the government agency that is responsible for designing or maintaining that road liable for your injuries. You must prove that the agency was aware of, or should have been aware of, the dangerous conditions on the road.

Product Liability Claims

You may file a product liability lawsuit if the accident that caused your injury stemmed from a defective part. For instance, a defective steering or braking system may have stopped working, or a defective tire may have burst unexpectedly, causing you to lose control of the car.

Wrongful Death Claims

Illinois law allows you to recover compensation if your loved one dies in an accident caused by another person’s negligence. However, only a personal representative can make a wrongful death claim.

Steps to Take to Protect Your Well-Being and Your Right to Sue After a Car Accident

Check for Injuries and Call 9-1-1

Check yourself and any car occupants for injuries. Call 911 and get emergency responders on the way. Ask anyone at the scene to call 911 if you cannot do so yourself.

Illinois law requires motorists to call the police following a car crash that results in injuries, fatalities, or property damage worth $1500 or more. The police will conduct a preliminary investigation, interview all involved parties, and compile a report.

If you’re able, write down the responding officer’s name, contact information, and badge number. You can reference this information later to get a copy of the police report. You will need this report to make a claim to your insurer or the other party’s insurer. The report will also help a personal injury lawyer in Chicago, IL, determine the party or parties who may be liable for your injuries.

Seek Medical Attention and Document Your Injuries

Seeking medical attention helps protect your health, future, and eligibility to seek compensation from the liable party. Do not assume that you are okay or ignore any slight pain after an accident. Instead, see a doctor for a medical assessment.

Your doctor can use imaging tools like MRIs and X-rays to detect injuries that might take several days or even months to show symptoms. These tools can detect fractures, whiplash, soft tissue injuries, and other internal injuries.

Seeing a doctor also generates official documentation of your injuries. Medical documents that may be generated after seeking treatment for your injuries include diagnostic reports, doctor’s notes, prescription records, and medical bills. These documents help establish a direct link between the accident and your injuries. They are instrumental in obtaining a favorable outcome in an insurance settlement or lawsuit process.

Gather Evidence and Witness Information at the Scene of the Accident

Obtain the other driver’s name and contact information. Write down your recollection of the events that transpired before and after the crash. Perhaps the driver was talking on the phone or tuning the radio. Maybe the driver appeared intoxicated or admitted to causing the crash. Recording these details while your memory is still fresh can help strengthen your case.

Take pictures or videos of the crash scene. Capture traffic signs and signals, skid marks, damage to the car or any valuable personal property, and all road debris.

Check around the accident scene to determine if anyone may have witnessed the accident. If so, record names contact details. Your lawyer can use this information to obtain witness statements or request that they testify in court.

Evidence collected at the accident scene helps link your financial and non-financial losses to the car accident. It also helps establish who is to blame for the crash and who should cover all the resulting losses. Be sure to hire a lawyer whether you think you caused the accident or someone else was liable.

Benefits of Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer

An Excellent Mastery of the Law

A lawyer with a long history of handling car accident cases has an excellent grasp of the law. The lawyer can analyze your case and identify relevant laws to your case, including statutory limitations and modified comparative negligence. You have a better chance of receiving adequate compensation if you hire a lawyer with a deep understanding of car accident laws than if you handle the case alone.

Calculating the Value of Your Claim

A lawyer can calculate how much compensation is enough to cover your losses. The type and amount of damages entitled to you vary with time and at every phase of medical treatment. As such, your lawyer will ensure you have attained maximum recovery before determining your claim value.

The lawyer will consider all recoverable damages in your case when calculating your claim value. He or she will send an official request for your medical records to your treating doctor or medical facility. The lawyer will then persistently follow up with the doctor or facility to speed up the processing. Medical records are essential in calculating and proving current medical bills, future treatment expenses, and income or wage loss because of the injury.

How Your Lawyer Can Help Negotiate with Insurance Companies?

Proving Financial Liability

Your lawyer helps you negotiate with an insurance company by first demonstrating that the company is financially liable. The lawyer will start by proving that the other party was to blame for the crash and cite relevant clauses in the other party’s insurance policy.

Witness statements and police reports placing liability for the crash on the other party may be helpful. Your lawyer will gather additional proof to demonstrate that the other party’s actions were reckless enough to violate a duty of care owed to you.

The lawyer will obtain crash scene footage from intersection cameras and smartphone pictures. An accident reconstruction report may also be necessary to show how the accident happened and who was to blame.

Sending a Demand Letter to the Insurer

Your lawyer will send a demand letter to the other party’s insurance company. The letter will feature an account of the accident, information about the liable party, and how much is enough to settle the case.

The company will likely differ with the demanded amount and send a much lower counteroffer. This response will set the settlement negotiation in motion. A lengthy negotiation may happen before the insurance company suggests a higher settlement offer.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Your lawyer will file a lawsuit if he or she cannot reach acceptable terms with the company. The lawsuit shows the insurer that you know the actual value of your claim and are prepared to fight for fair compensation in court.