Car accidents are a daily part of life in Chicago, ranging from the minor to the catastrophic. Regardless of what type of motor vehicle accident it is, however, dealing with the aftermath can be difficult and confusing. Here are some common questions many Chicago drivers have in relation to their accidents.
What should I do if I am involved in a motor vehicle accident?
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, you should follow certain accident guidelines. This includes rendering aid to any injured person, exchanging information, and taking appropriate reporting measures. For minor accidents, settling with the insurance company is relatively straightforward and a simple matter of filing a claim. More serious accidents, however, may require the services of an attorney. This includes accidents where injuries, fatalities, or major property damage occurred. The process for settling these types of claims is much more drawn out and requires you to meticulously document medical expenses, lost work time, repair bills, and more, depending on the specifics of your case.
How long do I have to file a claim or sue?
In Chicago, the time you have to file a claim depends on the Illinois statute of limitations. For cases involving personal injury, you must file the claim or take legal action within 2 years of the accident. Accidents that involve property damage require a claim to be filed within 5 years.
Do I need an attorney?
Whether you use an attorney depends highly on the specifics of your case. Generally speaking, minor accidents do not require you to enlist the services of an attorney. If there were injuries, fatalities, or severe property damage involved, an attorney is prudent. Instances where fault in the accident is questionable, you are having difficulties with the insurance company, or do not understand your rights in the process may also call for an attorney.
Should I be medically examined even if I feel fine?
Yes. Unless the accident was very minor, seeing a doctor after an accident is always a good idea. There are many types of injuries that do not manifest themselves immediately and injuries that appear minor can be more serious than you think. It is better to presume injury until you have been cleared by a doctor.
What amount of compensation can I expect if I am in an accident caused by another driver?
How much money you can expect out of a settlement depends on the nature and strength of your case. In Illinois, insurance companies will offer payouts based on comparative negligence. This means a driver who is 10 percent at fault can attempt to receive compensation for 90 percent of the damages. If the other motorist is entirely at fault, you could receive compensation for 100 percent of damages. Losses you are entitled to compensation for may include any medical expenses, lost income/wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and rental vehicle fees.
How should I deal with the insurance company?
Insurance companies are notorious for trying to minimize the amount of money they need to payout in settlements. File a claim as soon as possible after the accident, but be wary of given any specific information to the insurance adjuster at first. Wait until you have had the time to fully assess the nature of your losses, including injuries and damages. Carefully document any details you can and do not attempt to negotiate until you are fully prepared. You may wish to consult with an attorney to understand your rights and exactly what compensation you may be entitled to, particularly for serious accidents.