Car accidents, regardless of their severity, can be a distressing and overwhelming experience. The immediate aftermath is often filled with confusion and uncertainty, making it easy to overlook important steps or make mistakes that could potentially jeopardize your ability to receive adequate compensation.
Our Chicago car accident lawyers are here to help you. Contact us today.
Failing to Contact Law Enforcement
Regardless of the perceived severity of the accident, it is imperative to contact the police immediately. Their presence at the scene ensures that an official accident report is generated, providing a factual account of the incident.
This report can prove to be a critical piece of evidence when filing an insurance claim or if a lawsuit ensues.
Car Accident Resulting in Injury or Death
According to Illinois law (625 Ill. Comp. Stat.§ 5/11-407), if the accident resulted in injury or death or property damages in excess of $1,500, you must notify the police by “the fastest available means of communication.”
Leaving the Accident Scene
The law requires a motorist to remain at the scene of an auto accident and share information. This is covered under 625 ILCS 5/11-402. The driver must immediately stop at the scene or as close as possible, and remain until the requirements of Section 11-403 have been fulfilled.
The driver must share the following information with the other driver:
- Your name
- Your address
- Vehicle’s registration number
- Name of vehicle’s owner
- You must exhibit your driver’s license only if requested.
Only Property Damage
Leaving the scene of an accident involving damage to another vehicle in Illinois is a Class A misdemeanor. This is a serious crime in Illinois; and can include penalties of up to a $2,500 fine.
Injuries or Death
If an accident results in only injuries, all drivers involved must stop their vehicles as close to the accident scene as possible. If the accident is not reported, you are liable for a Class 4 felony resulting in one to three years in prison. If you leave and report the accident within 30 minutes, you are liable for a Class 2 felony with penalties of one to three years in prison or $25,000 in fines.
If the accident resulted in death, leaving the scene is a Class 1 felony which may result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years or a fine of up to $25,000.
Overlooking Immediate Medical Attention
In the aftermath of an accident, adrenaline and shock can often mask the symptoms of injuries. Some injuries may not manifest immediately and can have delayed onset. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly following the accident. Ensure you follow all medical advice and keep a record of your treatments and consultations.
It is natural to feel a sense of guilt or responsibility after an accident. However, it is important not to admit fault at the scene. The determination of liability often involves several factors that you may not be aware of. Don’t say anything at the scene or to the insurance company that could be interpreted as admitting you were at fault.
Inadequate Documentation of the Accident
Comprehensive documentation of the accident can significantly strengthen your claim. This includes taking photographs of the accident scene, your vehicle, and any visible injuries. Additionally, write down a detailed account of the incident while your memory is fresh. This information can be invaluable during the claim process.
Delay in Contacting Your Insurance Company
It is essential to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Prompt reporting allows your insurer to start the claims process immediately, ensuring that you receive your benefits in a timely manner.
Accepting the First Settlement Offer
Insurance companies often propose a quick settlement to close the claim. However, these initial offers may not fully cover your medical expenses, vehicle repairs, and other damages. It is advisable to consult with a lawyer before accepting a settlement to ensure it adequately compensates for your losses.
Not Calling a Chicago Accident Lawyer
Engaging a lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been in a car accident, consider consulting with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury and car accident cases.
Remember, every car accident is unique, and this list is not exhaustive. Always consult with a professional Chicago car accident lawyer to understand the best course of action in your specific situation. Contact us at 312-757-8640 for your free case review.