An auto accident occurs when a motor vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or obstructions such as trees, utility poles, or road debris. In 2005 alone, there were over 6.4 million auto accidents across the United States, resulting in thousands of fatalities and over $230 billion in damages, and it’s estimated that these accidents result in one fatality every thirteen minutes in the U.S.
At Agruss Law Firm, LLC, we have helped thousands of clients to seek justice and compensation for personal injuries, and you won’t owe us a penny for our services unless we win your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to negligence, contact our office today for a free consultation.
2016 Illinois Auto Accident Statistics
In 2016 alone, auto accidents in Illinois resulted in 1,017 deaths, and over 20% of these (211) occurred in Cook County; the county also reported over 27,000 injuries from auto accidents in 2016, about 3,200 of which were “significant in nature.” Nationwide, there were over 40,000 traffic-related fatalities in 2016 – an increase from about 35,000 in 2015 and about 32,700 in 2014 – and these accidents are estimated to cost the country as much as $871 billion per year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Board.
Common Causes of Accidents
Auto accidents happen in many ways and a wide range of circumstances. Some involve drivers who are angry, fatigued, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while others result from lack of focus – even for a split second – and other avoidable mental mistakes associated with distraction. At Agruss Law Firm, LLC, we have helped thousands of victims of auto accidents to see justice served and be compensated for their injuries and losses, and some common causes of these accidents include:
- Aggression – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that auto accidents involving aggressive driving result in over 11,000 fatalities per year.
- Distracted driving – In 2015, the NHTSA estimated that auto accidents involving distractions – especially cell phone use – resulted in over 391,000 injury cases and 3,477 fatalities.
- Fatigue – AAA estimated that fatigued driving was a factor in 21% of all fatal auto accidents in 2014.
- Inexperienced drivers – Teenage drivers have consistently higher accident-rates than other age groups, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that drivers between 16 and 19 years of age are up to three times more likely to die in an auto accident than drivers above 20 years of age.
- Intoxicated driving – Alcohol was a factor in about 40% of all fatal traffic accidents in 2014, according to the NHTSA, and a survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that over 10 million people have admitted to driving under the influence of an illegal drug.
- Speeding – Speeding was a factor in about 28% of all fatal traffic accidents in 2014, according to the NHTSA.
Auto Accident FAQ
- What should I do after an auto accident?
- What is my timeframe for filing a lawsuit?
- Am I required to have auto insurance in Illinois?
- What are the costs of hiring an attorney?
- Can I be compensated for lost wages?
Types of Auto Accidents
To be compensated for your injuries and losses, it must be established that the other driver was negligent and that this negligence directly caused the accident. This can be straightforward or rather complicated depending on the circumstances of the accident. Common types of auto accidents include:
- Head-on collisions –When the fronts of two vehicles collide, such as when a driver veers into the oncoming lane or misjudges a turn.
- Hit-and-runs –When a driver strikes a pedestrian or another vehicle and immediately leaves the scene of the accident.
- Intersection accidents –These occur in a variety of ways and often involve traffic law violations or improper turns.
- Left-turn accidents – These occur when a driver attempting to turn left collides with a vehicle in the oncoming lane, and either the turning driver or oncoming driver may be liable for the accident depending on certain circumstances.
- Rear-end accidents –When the front of a vehicle collides with the rear of another vehicle, which can be caused by multiple forms of negligence, such as distracted, fatigued, or intoxicated driving.
- Road construction accidents –When an accident is caused in full or in part by obstructions in construction zones, such as debris or improperly-placed cones or markers.
- Rollovers –When a driver loses control and the vehicle “rolls over”, meaning to flip upside-down and sometimes back again.
- Sideswipes –When the side of a vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle, which has a variety of causes and is more common in high-traffic areas and at busy intersections.
- Vehicle-defect accidents – Accidents resulting from a vehicle’s defective design or manufacture, and these may result in a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
Common Injuries in Chicago Auto Accidents
In 2014 alone, over 84,000 people in Illinois were injured in auto accidents (according to the Illinois Department of Transportation), and over 11,700 suffered a “significant injury” which prevented them from resuming their daily activities from before the accident; these are categorized as “A” injury accidents. Injuries sustained in auto accidents can vary greatly, and here are some of the most common significant injuries:
- Amputation of limbs
- Back/neck injuries
- Bone fractures
- Brain injuries
- Joint injuries
Applicable Laws for Illinois Auto Accidents
There are numerous laws which may apply to you based on the circumstances of your accident, and one of the most important is Illinois’s statute of limitations (735 ILCS 5/13-202), which states that your personal injury claim must be filed within two (2) years of the date of the accident or you will be permanently barred from filing for that accident.
The legal responsibilities of Illinois drivers are outlined in the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code 625 ILCC 5, and Chapter 11 in particular addresses the regularly-updated “Rules of the Road.” Also, remember that Illinois uses a system of “modified comparative fault” for auto accidents, meaning that your compensation for an accident may be reduced by your percentage of fault for that accident, such as recovering 80% of your compensation for an accident which was deemed 20% your fault.
Understanding Insurance Companies
Whether or not this is your first time pursuing a personal injury claim for an accident, there are some important things about insurance companies to keep in mind. First, the insurance companies are NOT on your side; their constant goal, day-in and day-out, is to pay out as little as possible for injury claims or deny them entirely. They make their money both from what is saved on injury claim payouts and what is gained from premiums, so they have a vested interest in keeping your settlement low, all in the name of profit.
Each and every personal injury claim is at risk of marginalization or outright dismissal, and insurance companies are well-prepared with attorneys and adjusters of their own who understand and serve the insurer’s bottom line. This is why the assistance of an experienced attorney is essential to ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries and losses: those who negotiate alone have slim chances of full compensation, and once a settlement offer is accepted, you can never file another claim or earn more compensation for the same accident.
Those who negotiate alone are often tempted to take the very first settlement-offer from the insurance company, especially when it seems like a high amount at first glance, and this is dangerous for a second reason: not only does accepting an offer close the claim for good but if it is a lowballed (deliberately low and insufficient) amount, it may not cover all your losses and expenses, especially possible future medical expenses if your injuries result in any long-term complications.
Personal injury attorneys understand that some injuries may produce lingering symptoms, result in lasting complications, or require long-term medical care, and these are important factors that are taken into account for your case. Remember, the insurance company wants to pay out as little as possible for your claim, if not deny it outright, and having an experienced attorney on your side ensures that your rights are protected and you can receive full compensation for your losses, including lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Compensation after an Accident
If you’ve been injured in an accident due to another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses by filing a personal injury claim. Studies have found that the average settlement is three times higher for those who are represented by an attorney than for those who negotiate alone, so contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC today for a free consultation.
Although every case is different and depends on unique circumstances, here are some common forms of compensation for victims of an accident:
- Medical expenses –These may include both immediate and future expenses for care such as ambulance transport, doctors’ visits, emergency room/hospital care, medications, physical therapy, and surgery.
- Lost wages – You may be eligible to recover both past and future wages (and related benefits) which you could not and will not earn due to your injury.
- Property damage – This refers to the damage done to your vehicle in the accident, as well as damage to any personal belongings within the vehicle.
- Disfigurement/disability – If an accident-victim is left with scarring or other visible injuries (disfigurement) or cannot attend to previous activities due to a disability, a claim for either may be presented.
- Wrongful death – The Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows the family of the deceased victim of an accident to be compensated for funeral expenses, lost financial support, and loss of consortium/companionship.
- Pain and suffering/emotional distress – These are “non-economic” categories of compensation for the physical and/or emotional pain and distress experienced by the victim of the accident. In jury trials, compensation for pain and suffering may depend on the testimony of the plaintiff and his/her physicians.
- Punitive damages – In cases in which the at-fault party was extremely reckless, such as drunk driving cases, the judge may allow the pursuit of “punitive damages” which are intended to punish the at-fault party.
Preparing for Every Case
Most personal injury claims are settled out-of-court with the insurance company before a trial by jury is necessary. However, we thoroughly prepare each case for the possibility of a trial and our invested time and resources consistently result in larger settlements for our clients.
Here are some of the steps we take in the investigation and prosecution of personal injury claims for auto accidents:
- Collecting police reports
- Speaking to witnesses and securing witness statements
- Ordering medical documents and records
- Obtaining photographs of the scene of the accident, injuries, and vehicular damage
- Hiring accident-investigators and accident-reconstruction experts
- Retrieving data from “black box” computers
- Meeting with treating physicians and requesting reports on the causation and permanency of injuries
- Communicating directly with the insurance companies
Get a Free Review
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation. We are an Illinois statewide-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have been injured in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, we are not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. There is no risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.
Cities We Serve
In addition to the Chicago area, we also serve the following cities:
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