Distracted Driving Accidents
There are many things to distract modern drivers, not the least of which are text messages, in-car entertainment systems, and social media. In addition, some distractions have been around forever, such as radio knobs, people walking by on the street, and engaging conversation or lively debate with passengers.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another person’s negligence, there is a good chance that distracted driving was at play. In addition, you have probably had to deal with various medical treatments, multiple medications, and a lot of time away from work.
How Does Illinois define distracted driving?
The Land of Lincoln prohibits texting or talking on a handheld cell phone while driving. Because so many teenagers get into accidents due to distracted driving, only people older than 19 are allowed to use a Bluetooth or speakerphone when on the road. Unfortunately, there are few exceptions to this law.
You may make a call if it is to report an accident or if you are pulled over to the side of the road. If you are in a traffic jam, you may use your cell phone so long as the car is in neutral or park.
As distracted driving laws are relatively new, the penalties for them are not especially harsh. When a driver is caught driving distracted for the first time, they will get a $75 fine, a second-time offense receives a $100 penalty, and a third-time offender will face a $125 fine.
The laws are much harsher if a distracted driver injures someone. For example, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor if a person causes extreme harm to someone because of a distracted driving accident.
If a driver causes a person's death because of distracted driving, they may be charged with a class 4 felony. As of July 2020, a distracted driver who severely injured a person in Illinois may face fines of up to $1,000 and license revocation for up to a year.
If a distracted driver has injured you, the new penalties may seem like a moral victory. However, those penalties will not pay your bills. You will need the assistance of an attorney to get you the compensation you deserve.
Proving Distracted Driving
There are two kinds of insurance rules in the United States, fault and no-fault. A driver’s insurance will pay for their bills in a no-fault state, no matter who caused an accident. On the other hand, in a fault or tort state, the person who caused the accident is responsible for its bills.
Illinois is a fault state when it comes to auto insurance; more specifically, it is a comparative fault state which means that you can get compensation for an accident even if you were partially responsible for the crash. However, you must prove that you were less than 45% to blame.
There are a few pieces of evidence you should collect at the scene. First, make sure to call the police and wait for them to arrive. Ask the law enforcement officer for a copy of the accident report. Get the names of any witnesses and exchange information with the other driver or drivers involved in the collision.
You may also want to take a peek into the front seat of the other driver’s vehicle. Is there a phone with the screen on in the passenger seat? Did you notice if the other driver’s radio was on full blast when they hit you?
An attorney can subpoena the records of the at-fault driver’s social media accounts. Social media accounts will have time stamps on any post that the person might have made. They can also subpoena cell phone records to determine when a call was made, or a text message was sent.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
Even if you can establish the other driver was distracted, their insurance company may not be willing to pay you your due. Instead, they may try to say that you are exaggerating your injuries for your pain and suffering.
Be sure to collect every medical bill that you have as well as the receipts for any prescription or non-prescription drugs you've taken because of your injuries. You should also get a letter from your employer stating the number of hours that you missed from work. Be sure to bring all this paperwork with you when you come to your first consultation with us.
Our law office is staffed with a team of legal professionals who hate injustice and love hard work. We know how to negotiate with insurance adjusters, and we will fight to get you every penny you need to move on with your life.
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