If You’ve Suffered a Motor Vehicle Accident in Rockford, Get a Consultation ASAP
Get help from a skilled Rockford car accident attorney who will protect your rights when you or a loved one is hurt or killed in a motor vehicle accident. We protect individuals in any of the following motor vehicle personal injury cases:
- Drunk driving
- Uninsured driver or underinsured driver
- Distracted or careless driver of a passenger vehicle
- Inattentive truck drivers
- Drivers of commercial vehicles with unsecured or improperly loaded cargo or other equipment, or trucking violations that caused a motor vehicle accident
- Drivers of buses, vans, cabs, shuttles, or various other public transportation
- Vehicle rollovers
The most common type of personal injury claims involve motor vehicle accidents. This is not surprising since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that a traffic accident occurs in the United States every ten seconds, and the rate of auto accidents in Rockford is no exception. Accidents can happen in only a few short moments, but can have long-lasting effects on your life.
What Should I Do if I’m Involved in a Car Accident Near Rockford?
Illinois has more than 400,000 car accidents every single year. These include 90,000 injures and around 1,000 fatalities. Even a minor fender bender can result in a trip to the hospital, lost wages, soft tissue damage, and the inconvenience of losing a vehicle for a period of time. If it’s a major car accident, it can have life-altering consequences for yourself and your family well into the future.
- First, assess the situation and call the police to report the accident. Exchange insurance information with the police officer (if available) or the other driver.
- If possible, preserve as much evidence of the scene as possible, if you can do so safely. This can be done by taking video or pictures with a mobile device. If you must move your vehicle, pay very close attention to where your vehicle is relative to any other involved automobiles, as it will be very important to address these issues when litigating your claim later, especially if pictures or other media are not available.
- Gather names, addresses, and, if possible, the plate and license numbers of the other involved drivers and their vehicles. If you see witnesses who stop, make sure you ask for their names, addresses, and contact information.
- Do NOT make any admissions (e.g., apologies) if you believe that you were at fault in the car crash.
- As soon as you are able to, write down everything you remember about the accident. The time period immediately following the accident is when things are freshest in a driver’s memory. As the months go on, it helps to have a recollection of what you may remember from the exact day of the accident.
- If you are injured, it is best for your personal well-being and eventual case that you seek proper medical treatment as soon as possible. If you cannot afford medical treatment, there are providers that will treat victims of motor vehicle accidents without upfront payment. It is significantly more difficult to litigate a claim if medical treatment is sought after a large gap in time following the date of the crash. This is something that a qualified personal injury attorney can give you guidance on so as to preserve as much medical documentation as possible that details the full extent and severity of any injuries you may have suffered in the car crash.
Common Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Every driver has the responsibility to drive safely for the sake of others on the road, their passengers, and themselves. Despite the many technological advances that enhance motor vehicle safety, more accidents occur every year. Failure to drive carefully leaves drivers responsible for any consequences of resulting accidents. If they injure someone, they are obligated to pay for it.
Despite the risks, and even when faced with the possibility of so much loss, people continue to make risky decisions when behind the wheel. According to data evaluated by the Insurance Information Institute, the following types of driver behavior are commonly involved in severe car accidents:
- Speeding above the posted limit, or driving too fast for conditions
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Distracted driving (e.g., texting or talking)
The Illinois Department of Transportation records indicate that 1,097 people were killed in car accidents in 2017. 1,017 people were killed in auto accidents throughout the state in 2016. Cook County saw the highest number of collisions, fatalities, and severe injuries compared to any other part of the state, with 211 deaths and 27,075 reported injuries, of which 3,223 were deemed significant. Meanwhile, in the same year, more than 40,000 people across the United States were killed in traffic-related incidents. According to assessments made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle accidents amount to a massive $871 billion in damages each year.
Teenagers and Driving
The NHTSA has determined that distracted driving accounts for 25% of all crashes involving teenage drivers. This was affirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reported that drivers under the age of 20 are at the highest risk of distracted driving-related crashes.
We all know how connected teenagers are to their phones. In many cases, this connection continues when teenagers take to the wheel. A study released by the CDC in 2011 revealed that nearly half of all American high school students aged 16 and over texted or emailed while driving. That study also showed that teenagers who text while driving are almost two times as likely to get in a car with a driver who has been drinking. These teens are also five times as likely to drink and drive under the influence.
The results of these behaviors are tragic. They destroy lives. They destroy families.
In 2013, almost one million teenage drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 were involved in motor vehicle crashes. These accidents resulted in 2,865 deaths and 383,000 injuries nationwide.
Mobile phone use (e.g., talking, texting, or searching for information) was implicated as a cause for 12% of teen accidents. In more than half of the rear-end crashes involving mobile phone use, the distracted teen driver had no idea he was about to be hit.
Common Injuries Caused by Motor Vehicle Accidents
While there is no denying the impact of an injury or loss of life caused by an accident, we are committed to making the legal process that follows as stress-free as possible. We understand that the trauma of a motor vehicle accident itself is difficult to shoulder, and are committed to relieving your anxieties about a legal battle. We fight for our clients and their rights to recovery.
According to Illinois Department of Transportation data 84,652 people were injured to some extent in a vehicle-related incident in 2014. 11,755 of those individuals sustained a significant injury that prevented them from participating in the normal day-to-day activities that they enjoyed before the accident. This is categorized as an “A-type” injury crash. Some of these life-changing injuries include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Fractured bones
- Joint injury
- Amputation of limbs
Regardless of the scope of your injury, we can help you. We understand that no accident is the same, and will treat you with respect and individualized attention from your consultation and beyond.
By law, all Illinois drivers are required to carry liability insurance coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, according to the Illinois Secretary of State. Despite these requirements, more than 13% of drivers on Illinois roads and highways operate vehicles without any liability insurance, according to data from the Insurance Research Council.
So what happens if an uninsured driver causes a crash that injures you?
Recognizing how pervasive uninsured drivers are, most automobile insurance companies offer uninsured motorist coverage (often referred to as UM coverage). In these situations, after it has been established that the at-fault driver did not carry any insurance at the time of a crash, a claim may be presented to the injured party’s insurance company, which essentially stands in the place of the person who caused the accident.
While the logistics of presenting a claim to your auto insurance company for an accident that you did not cause may seem strange, you are entitled to the same types of damages that you would have had the offending driver carried insurance.
On a similar note, when a driver who causes an accident has insufficient liability coverage to compensate an injured party for their injuries — either an underinsured motorist claim or UIM claim — may be made with the insured party’s auto insurer.
How Are Motor Vehicle Injury Cases Governed?
Motor vehicle accidents are governed by the law of negligence. In general, drivers must exercise “reasonable care under the circumstances.” A deviation from this standard of care may require the at-fault party to pay for the damages caused. However, who is determined to be the at-fault party is not always clear. This can quickly turn into a case of “he said, she said.” It can be difficult to know what actually happened and who is legally at fault. A consultation with a personal injury attorney can give you a clear and unbiased opinion of liability in your case, and help you better understand your options.
Damages are the monetary compensation awarded to an injured party after an accident. They can include medical bills, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, permanent impairment, lost wages, property damage, etc. Consulting an attorney early on in your case is the best way to ensure that your damages have been properly documented so that you receive fair value for your claim.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Rockford, Illinois, or in a surrounding community, there are essentially two ways to recover compensation for your injury.
- The “law and order” type path, where a suit is filed and a judge or jury ultimately rules on liability and/or damages at a contested trial. You would be present, and the insurance company would provide an attorney for the other involved party to your accident. Testimony would be taken on all sides, and then a decision would be rendered on your case. Certainly, some cases must go to trial; perhaps liability is questionable as to who caused the accident. However, in some cases with severe injuries and high monetary (money) damages, some insurance companies would rather pay for a civil defense firm to litigate the case to try to avoid what’s fairly owed to the victim of their driver’s bad act.
- This leads us to option, which is litigating your claim through the Illinois Car Accident Settlement Process, which will be described further on this page.
- Section 5/11-401 of the Illinois Vehicle Code says you must report any car accident that results in injury to or death to a person. If you are injured, you must let the responding officer or police agency know about your injury. It is required by statute, and the officer on scene will be a key component in not only requesting medical assistance (e.g., an ambulance), but also in formulating a crash report on how your accident happened. Having information regarding the extent of your injuries in a police report is a good starting point when your lawyer begins to investigate your case.
- Under Illinois’ mandatory insurance law, all drivers of a motor vehicle in Illinois must be covered by the following minimum insurance requirements: i. $25,000 for an injury to or death of one person in an accident, ii. $50,000 for injury to or death of more than one person in an accident, and iii. $20,000 to cover damage to property of another person.
It’s easy to see that because of these low minimum standards, it is a wise decision to ensure that you not only have a comprehensive insurance policy of your own to cover uninsured motorists who may collide with your vehicle, but also a policy to cover underinsured motorists who may have only a minimum policy for an injury of $25,000. In practical effect, without covering yourself with such a policy, you risk a two-fold injury to yourself or your family. Imagine you are driving through an intersection and someone with minimal insurance runs a red light and drives into your door at 45 miles per hour. Perhaps the resulting injury causes an injury such as a crushed foot or leg that will never return to normal after the accident, and you have a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, or that you have small children who you regularly engage in play with. Not only will you never be the same physically, but you’ll also never be the same mentally or emotionally; you likely will never be able to return to the same job with the same duties you had before, and you may never be able to engage with your children the same way as before either. With medical bills alone, it’s hard to imagine that an at-fault driver’s insurance coverage of $25,000 is going to cover your medical bills, let alone the pain and suffering someone would endure in the aforementioned situation.
- The car accident settlement process roughly flows in this order:
- The accident occurs.
- You seek treatment and a lawyer (we can refer you to various healthcare providers if you don’t have your own providers).
- You work on getting better through treatment. Yes, this can be a time-consuming process, but we take care of everything with your insurance, and handle your property damage claim to get your vehicle fixed in as short a time period as possible.
- We investigate your claim, and perhaps bring on an accident reconstructionist or other useful experts to build your case in preparation for a jury to hear your story.
- When you are back to how you were prior to your accident, or as close to 100% as your doctor believes you will get, we start to compile your medical bills.
- We then compile any of your lost wages (e.g., time missed from work for medical appointments, time lost to various treatments, and time you were out of work from the injury).
- We then assess how your quality of life has been impacted from your accident. So, if you can no longer participate in the activities you did prior to the accident, if you can’t pick your children up anymore, or if you have problems grocery shopping, among other limitations, we start to formulate what we may be seeking in pain and suffering amounts for an accurate idea of what to ask an insurance adjuster or jury to award you.
- We then submit what is known as a “demand” letter to the other driver’s insurance company, requesting a specific amount to avoid litigation. From there, they have the choice to accept the demand, counter offer a different amount, or reject settlement.
- If we cannot arrive at a resolution that you are satisfied with, the next step is to pursue a trial. Steps 2-9 can occur while a lawsuit is pending. If negotiations don’t work, we move into a trial or arbitration stage of your case, in which we make an argument to a judge, jury, or panel of arbitrators, and argue over liability (i.e., who caused your accident) and/or what a fair amount of money is to resolve your case (i.e., damages).
Illinois Time Limits on Filing Suit
Illinois sets a time limit of two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in the state’s civil court system. In most cases, this two-year time limit, known as a “statute of limitations,” begins to run on the date of the accident. Sometimes, however, a statute of limitations might run from the date that you discovered you were injured, rather than the date of the event that injured you. This later date is known as a “discovery date.”
For injury claims against a city or county, you have one year to file a lawsuit. The time limit to sue the state is generally two years, but you must file a formal claim within one year in order to sue.
A qualified personal injury attorney can help guide you through this difficult time and alleviate some of the stress.
Have a Question? Call or Text Our Office
At the Law Office of Paul M. Marriett, we understand that car accident victims may have questions about their legal rights following a motor vehicle accident. We are committed to helping injured drivers, passengers, and pedestrians understand these rights and how they may be able to obtain compensation to cover damages such as medical bills and lost wages. Depending on the details of your crash, you may be able to seek compensation through insurance claims or a lawsuit against a negligent driver.
For a confidential, compassionate, in-depth, free, and, most importantly, thorough consultation with a Rockford Personal Injury Lawyer about your car accident case in Rockford, Belvidere, Freeport, Rochelle, Oregon, Loves Park, Byron, Machesney Park, Roscoe, Rockton, or elsewhere in the State of Illinois, call or text message us at (815) 391-0089, or e-mail us 24/7/365. We offer in-office consultations, and routinely make visits to clients’ homes, hospital rooms, nursing homes, and other off-site locations to make retaining our services as easy as possible.
Best lawyer I have ever had. Always on top of my case, keeping me updated. Worked with me on everything I needed and went above and beyond on my case. I would recommend him to anyone who needs help. He was phenomenal.