Wheeling Car Accident Lawyer
A car accident can occur when you least expect it. It’s an overwhelming situation more than nine drivers in Illinois find themselves in per hour, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, representing nearly 300,000 motor vehicle crashes in a single year.
When this happens, you need an experienced Wheeling car accident lawyer who understands the laws and is determined to hold the negligent parties accountable for your car crash and injuries. That’s where the Law Office of Jack M. Shapiro, P.C. steps in. We are more than personal injury attorneys; we are your advocates who will tenaciously fight for your right to maximum financial compensation.
The “At-Fault” Law in Illinois
In Wheeling car accidents, the at-fault system is used to determine liability. Under this system, the party responsible for causing the accident is held financially liable for the resulting damages. So, if you are involved in a car collision, you have the right to seek damages from the at-fault driver or their insurance company.
When pursuing a claim in an at-fault state like Illinois, it is crucial to gather evidence to prove the other driver’s negligence and how it led to your injuries, pain and suffering, and financial losses. The law dictates that the responsible party’s insurance company usually has to compensate the injured party for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Unfortunately, insurance adjusters are known for trying to minimize their company’s liability by disputing fault or offering lowball settlements. This is why you should have an experienced Wheeling car accident attorney like Jack Shapiro, who can protect your rights and relentlessly negotiate to secure fair compensation.
Illinois Laws Every Driver Should Know
Drivers in Wheeling, IL have to follow many laws and rules; if you don’t follow them or drive unsafely, you could face heavy penalties. This might include fines, time in jail, or having to pay for any accidents you cause. Here is a quick guide to the car accident laws you should know if you drive in Wheeling.
In Illinois, any driver who causes an accident has to pay for the damage they cause to others. If a driver runs a red light and hits another car, their insurance company may have to cover the costs that the other driver and any passengers suffer due to the crash.
To ensure drivers can cover these costs, all drivers need to have a certain minimum amount of liability insurance. This includes:
- $25,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident
- $50,000 for all injuries or deaths in one accident
- $20,000 for property damage in an accident
If you are a victim of a vehicle collision, you can get compensation by making a claim against the driver who was at fault or going to civil court to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage, you can also make a claim under your own policy – as long as you have the right coverage.
If you don’t have the right policy, you might have to pay fines out-of-pocket and face other penalties. Plus, you could end up paying for all the damage in an accident that you caused.
Reporting a car accident
If the accident was serious enough and you sustained any injuries or vehicle damage, you are legally required to file a police report. According to the Illinois State Police, you must file a crash report if your accident involved any of the following:
- A person was injured in the accident
- A person died in the accident
- Both drivers have insurance, and the accident caused more than $1,500 in property damage
- A driver doesn’t have insurance, and the accident caused more than $500 in property damage
If a police officer comes to the scene of the accident, they will write a report about your accident. But, if an officer doesn’t come, you must file a report with the Illinois State Police within ten days.
Statute of limitations
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits is two years from the accident date. If someone passes away because of the accident, you still have two years, but it starts from the day they died. However, if you are making a claim for property damage, you have five years to go to court.
Comparative negligence rule
In many car accidents, one driver is clearly at fault and has to pay for all the victims’ damages. However, some accidents are unclear, as both drivers might be partly to blame.
In these cases, Illinois’s comparative negligence laws come into play. This rule specifies that the court will reduce a plaintiff’s compensation by the amount of fault they share. If your fault is more than 50% of the total, you won’t be able to get any compensation.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
If you have been involved in a car crash in Wheeling, IL, the steps you take next will largely determine how successful your accident claim is and how much compensation you can obtain. Here’s what you need to do:
Report the accident
If the accident is serious, report it to the police immediately. They will file a report, which can be valuable evidence later. Regardless of the severity of the collision, report it to your insurance company as soon as possible.
At the accident scene, if you are able, collect as much information as you can. This includes photos of the scene, witness information, and the other driver’s details. This evidence can be crucial in showing who was at fault for the accident.
Seek medical attention
After the accident, get medical help even if you think you are okay. Car accidents can cause injuries that are not immediately apparent due to adrenaline and shock, like whiplash, internal bleeding, and concussions. Delaying medical care can lead to these injuries worsening and result in long-term health issues.
Also, if you wait to seek care, the opposing side may argue that your injuries were not due to the accident but something that happened later. A medical record that details your condition immediately after the accident helps establish a clear link between the accident and your injuries.
Call our law firm
If the accident was particularly severe or if fault is contested, consider getting in touch with attorney Jack Shapiro at the Law Office of Jack M. Shapiro, P.C. He can guide you through the process, help gather evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
If you’re unfamiliar with legal language, reading your insurance policy can feel like deciphering a foreign language. Our legal team can interpret these documents and help you understand your coverage and rights. Our team can assist with everything from filing your claim on time to understanding what kind of evidence will be most effective to supporting you if your case goes to trial.
Since Jack has previously worked as an insurance defense attorney, he knows that insurance companies aim to pay out as little as possible and may employ tactics to devalue your claim. For example, the insurance adjuster might argue that your medical bills are too high compared to “usual and customary” charges for the treatment you received. Jack knows how to counter these tactics and negotiate with them on your behalf so you receive fair compensation.
Negotiate a settlement
A car accident case in Wheeling is usually resolved through a settlement. This involves negotiating with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Acting on your behalf, we will argue for a settlement covering all your costs, including medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repairs.
Building evidence and proving the liability of the defendants is key to a successful negotiation. In car accident claims, you must demonstrate that the other driver was at fault. This typically involves proving:
- Duty of care: All drivers have a responsibility to drive safely and follow traffic laws.
- Breach of duty: You must show that the other driver did not uphold this responsibility, such as by speeding or running a red light.
- Causation: You need to demonstrate that this breach of duty caused the accident.
- Damages: Finally, you must prove that you suffered damages (like injuries or vehicle damage) due to the accident.
The stronger your evidence, the stronger your negotiating power will be when demanding maximum compensation. This is where the personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Jack M. Shapiro, P.C. can make a pivotal difference. We have the skills, experience, and resources to gather the strongest possible evidence to establish liability in these cases. Here’s how we do it:
- We will quickly collect all available evidence related to your crash. Pictures of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any visible injuries are the norm, but we may also collect clothing worn during the accident and preserve it as evidence.
- We will access and analyze important records like police reports, medical records, and, in some cases, phone records to prove distracted driving.
- If there are witnesses to the accident, we will interview them to gather their accounts of what happened. Witness statements can be powerful evidence if they support your version of events.
- When necessary, we hire expert witnesses like accident reconstruction experts who use evidence to recreate the accident, medical experts who can testify about your injuries, or even traffic safety experts.
- We have a deep understanding of state laws and can apply these laws to your situation. For instance, if the other driver broke a traffic law, we will use it as evidence of negligence.
- If necessary, we will also investigate the other driver to find evidence of negligence. This might include looking for past instances of reckless driving or DUI charges.
- We will comprehensively document all of your damages – physical, emotional, and financial. This includes medical bills and factors like lost wages, decreased quality of life, and emotional distress.
By taking these steps, we can build a rock-solid case to prove the liability of the defendant(s). And if a fair settlement can’t be reached, you can take the case to court. While this is more time-consuming and expensive, it can sometimes lead to higher compensation. As always, consult with a lawyer about the best path for your specific situation.
Choose a Wheeling Car Accident Lawyer with a Record of Large Settlements and Verdicts
When you are in a car accident, it feels like everything is against you, especially the law. The harsh “modified comparative negligence” rule in Illinois could work against you because the defendants will aim to prove you are more than 50% at fault for your injuries.
So, in the aftermath of a Wheeling car accident, you need a seasoned personal injury attorney in Wheeling, IL with a proven track record and an ability to take on powerful defendants during negotiations or at trial.
Attorney Jack Shapiro of the Law Office of Jack M. Shapiro, P.C. brings a wealth of experience from his time as an insurance defense attorney. This gives him a unique advantage: he understands how insurers think and work. They are not in the business of paying out fair settlements and employ all kinds of tactics to avoid doing so. Jack is familiar with these tactics. Not only can he anticipate their moves, but he can also use his knowledge to build a compelling case that proves your claim’s validity.
Our readiness to take your case to court if necessary is one of our strengths. Insurance companies know that trials are risky, costly, and time-consuming. And when they are up against a well-prepared attorney with extensive trial experience and a track record of success, they are more likely to settle for a fair amount rather than risk going before a jury. Jack’s reputation and proven ability to argue convincingly in court can play a significant role in getting you the maximum settlement you’re owed.
If you are ready to get an unyielding advocate with the skills and determination necessary to face down large insurance companies and fight for your rights, call us at (847) 423-6358 or reach out to us online.