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What to Do After a Car Accident in Chicago

The few minutes following a car accident are crucial.

what to do after car accident

Although you may be feeling lost and overwhelmed, it is important to gather your senses and take control of the situation. This is the time when you have to handle several situations: getting medical treatment for the injured, calling the police, gathering evidence, and most importantly, securing safety. There are certain safety measures that one should take immediately after a car accident.

# 1 – Check for injuries

Carefully examine everyone for any injuries, even if there are no apparent symptoms. A minor ache or bump can turn out to be a serious injury, such as a muscle strain or internal injury. If you find any signs of injury on anyone, immediately call for medical help.

# 2 – Turn off the vehicle

In the chaos that follows a car accident, the driver may forget to shut off the vehicle. Immediately shut the vehicle off and apply the emergency brakes.

# 3 – Turn on your hazard lights

Turn on the hazard lights after a crash if it is dark when the accident occurred. Turn on the headlights to help everyone safely exit the vehicle.

# 4 – Carefully exit the vehicle

Get out of the vehicle and get to a safe location. Be extremely careful when exiting the vehicle; there have been cases when a person was struck by an oncoming vehicle while exiting a crashed vehicle.

# 5 – Move to a safe area

If possible, move to the side of the roadway and away from all vehicles involved in the crash. This is important to avoid injury in case any oncoming vehicles collide with one of the stationary vehicles involved in the crash.

# 6 – Call the police

In most cases, witnesses will notify the authorities about the accident. However, do not rely on others to call the police. If possible, call the police and have the accident properly documented. The police report must be made even if the accident is minor.

When Should Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?

Calling a Chicago car accident lawyer may be one of the last things on your mind. After all, you may have heard of the time limit you have in which to file a lawsuit – sometimes it’s months or even years.

You have been injured in a car accident that was someone else’s fault. You’ve had some medical treatment and perhaps you need more. You need to figure out how you’re going to get your car fixed, what you’re going to do about the medical bills and may have some serious concerns about the time you are going to miss from work. Calling a car accident lawyer may be one of the last things on your mind. After all, you may have heard of the time limit you have in which to file a lawsuit – sometimes it’s months or even years.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you should consult with a car accident lawyer right away. This doesn’t cost you anything and you may get some invaluable help and advice. A skilled and experienced car accident lawyer can begin an investigation on your behalf and preserve evidence. The odds are that the other driver’s insurance company began an immediate investigation and you do not want them to get too far ahead of you. In my experience, many people make all the wrong moves immediately after a car accident and then several weeks or months later, contact a car accident lawyer.

Sometimes the mistakes made by the injured victim can be corrected, but sometimes they cannot be. Ask any experienced and skilled car accident lawyer when he prefers to be contacted after an accident and he/she will tell you, “Right away.” Talking to a car accident lawyer very soon after an accident may help you avoid many of the mistakes that many people make.

In addition to investigating, preserving evidence, advising you and doing the other things that car accident lawyers do, a burden will be lifted off of your back. You’re main concern should be getting better and getting back on track. If you’re focused on things such as dealing with insurance companies, your focus is off.

Be Prepared in the Event of an Auto Accident

Statistics show that the longer you drive, the higher your chances of getting in a car accident are. So, it pays to be prepared for the worse. In addition to having defensive driving skills and good insurance, you should also carry a few important items in your car.

Maintenance and Repair Tools

If you ever get into a single vehicle crash, you may need some tools to be able to help yourself. Keep the car’s manual, tire inflater and sealer, jumper cables, spare tire, duct tape, and other basic tools handy. Have the contact information of emergency services and a local mechanic saved in your cell phone.

Safety Kit

Have a safety kit handy so that you have supplies until help arrives. Include a first aid kit, a blanket, a radio, a flashlight, a multipurpose tool that includes a knife, matches, water, maps, reflective signs, energy bars, and water. Keeping a comprehensive safety kit is particularly important if you are going on a long road trip.

Convenience Items

If you ever get involved in a car accident, it is helpful to have certain items on hand. For example, if you have a cell phone with a camera, you will be able to take pictures of the accident site and use as evidence in proving your claim. If you have a notebook and a pen, record the contact information of the other driver involved in the crash and any eyewitnesses. Have your insurance information ready.

Reduce the Risk of a Car Accident

There are certain things that can help reduce the risk of a car accident. For example, if you are traveling with your pet, having a kennel can make driving much easier. Pets can be a big distraction if they are allowed to move freely in the car; a kennel keeps your pet safe while traveling. Something as simple as a pair of sunglasses can make a huge difference when it comes to preventing accidents caused by glare.

Take Pictures of the Car Accident Scene

If you are involved in a car accident, it is important that you take photographs at the scene of the crash. These days, almost everyone has a cell phone that has a camera. If you have your cell phone with you at the time of accident, you can use it to create a visual record of how the crash occurred and what its outcome was. These pictures can act as a valuable piece of evidence for victims who want to pursue a claim for compensation.

Why is it important to take pictures at the accident scene?

When you get into a car accident, you should call up the emergency responders and police to come to the scene of accident. If you are not too badly injured, and are able to move around easily, you should start taking pictures of the vehicles involved in the accident as you wait for the police to arrive. You should take pictures of the place where the accident took place, any debris on the roadway, skid marks on the road and vehicle damage.

You should also take photographs of all the things that might be relevant to prove either the seriousness of your injuries or how the collision happened.

Here are some reasons why taking a lot of pictures at the accident scene may prove beneficial in the future:

  • Pictures can prove how bad the collision was – photos of the crash and the damage to the cars can give an accurate visual representation of how serious the accident was. It can be used to convince the insurance company or a jury that you did suffer serious injuries for which you deserve financial compensation.
  • Pictures can help show how the collision occurred – There can be some disagreement and confusion about how the accident occurred and who was at fault. In such cases, pictures can show what exactly happened. The photographs may show damage to specific areas of the vehicles and debris on the road, which experts can analyze.
  • Pictures may explain what factors led to the accident –  With photographic evidence, you can show the factors that led to the accident. For example, it can show how visibility was blocked or how poor road design caused the crash.

Apart from taking pictures of the accident scene, there are various other things that you should do at the scene to protect your rights. The victim should seek immediate medical attention so all injuries are diagnosed, treated, and recorded.

 

Never Leave the Scene of a Car Wreck

If you have been involved in a car wreck, do not leave the scene of the accident. The law requires that you take certain steps immediately after an accident such as stopping your vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so, and exchanging information with the other parties involved in the crash. Here are some of your legal obligations and suggested steps you should take after being involved in a Chicago car accident.

Penalties for Fleeing the Scene of an Auto Accident

State laws differ on how they classify fleeing the accident scene as a crime, and setting appropriate penalties. However, in all states, this crime is classified as felony or misdemeanor based on the seriousness of the accident.

The penalties can range from a low level misdemeanor to a high level felony, depending on the seriousness of the crash and resulting injuries and damages. For example, a driver who flees the scene of a single vehicle accident that resulted in minor property damage could be charged with a Level 3 misdemeanor, but a driver who flees the scene of a fatal crash may be charged with Level 2 felony.

Will A Lawyer from Willens Injury Law Offices Come to My Residence or Hospital Bed For A Free Consultation?

Often it is important when you have been injured to retain an attorney promptly so that time-sensitive evidence  can be collected and preserved. An injured person might not be able, or prefer not to, come to downtown Chicago. No worries. We’ll come to you.

Many individuals who sustain an injury due to someone else’s negligence are immediately transported to medical facilities and subsequently hospitalized. Yet, it is often crucial when you have been injured to retain an attorney promptly so that time-sensitive evidence is collected and preserved while you heal and recover. In some situations, though, it is virtually impossible for the injured individual to leave the hospital in order to visit an attorney’s office to procure legal services. In other cases, you may just not be willing to make that arduous trip to downtown Chicago, even if your body can probably hack it. No worries. We’ll come to you. As the founder of our law firm, Mr. Willens often says, “If you can’t show compassion in someone’s living room, how can you convince a jury to have compassion in the Courtroom?”

Traveling to the Client’s Location

We believe that there is a lot of value in having face-to-face meetings with our clients; it establishes a real connection between the attorney and the client and a lot can be accomplished in a short amount of time. Yet, the attorneys at Willens Injury Law Offices understand that it can sometimes be difficult or very inconvenient for a client to travel to our main office in downtown Chicago for an in-person meeting. As such, our attorneys make a regular practice of meeting with clients at locations that work best for the client anywhere in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. In ceratin situations, we’ve even traveled to downstate Illinois and other states for an in-person meeting. Situations that require legal representation are stressful enough, and we try to accommodate our clients as best we can so that their overall experience is pleasant and personal. We believe each case we undertake is important and we want our clients to feel valued and significant. I guess you could say that we just care more.

At-Home and Hospital Visits

We understand that some clients can be hospital bound, or homebound, and need for us to come to them. If invited to your home or hospital room, our attorneys are more than happy to make arrangements to set up a meeting with you. Our attorneys always request the client’s permission to have an in-person visit, and will never solicit you or harass you while you are in the hospital. Recovery should be about healing, not stressing over legal matters. Our attorneys empathize with your feelings of vulnerability and stress and we will do everything possible to help you get the justice and compensation that you deserve for your injuries.

Tips for a Car Accident Deposition

You have filed a car accident lawsuit, and you now have to attend a deposition. It is normal to feel nervous and uncomfortable.

However, at Willens Injury Law Offices, we will help you through this entire process. Here are some simple, yet important tips that will help you prepare for a deposition.

What is a Deposition?

A deposition takes place during the pre-trial discovery process. Each party involved in litigation is allowed to depose the other party and witnesses before the case goes to trial. Attorneys on each side will ask a series of questions to the person being deposed. It is conducted under oath and is recorded by an official court reporter.

Things to Remember During a Deposition

Since a deposition is vital to a trial and includes cross-questioning by the opposing attorney, there are a few important things that you should keep in mind before going for your deposition:

  • Preparation– A deposition needs careful preparation. Claimants and defendants are both required to provide answers via written interrogatories before the actual deposition. Therefore, proper preparation in terms of giving appropriate and truthful answers to questions is essential. Moreover, these questions and their answers should be revised before submitting so that written responses match verbal testimonies.
  • Listening and understanding – Respondents should carefully listen and understand each question asked, and any doubts should be clarified and cleared with the representing attorney before answering.
  • Be truthful – Honesty is vital and trying to be politically correct when it is not the truth can harm the case and will amount to lying under oath.
  • Only answer what is asked – Respondents should stick to precise answers and avoid exaggerating or providing information that is not required.
  • Avoid speculation – Attorneys will ask you to speculate on the events and happenings surround the car accident. If you don’t know the answer to a question, avoid speculating about what could or should be.
  • It is ok to not know an answer – There is no harm in being honest about not knowing or remembering a fact. One should politely answer that they ‘don’t know’.
  • Never guess – Guesswork during a deposition can go against the respondent and thus should be avoided.
  • It is okay to make a mistake – It is alright to make a mistake during a deposition. Respondents should stay calm and politely clarify the mistake made.
  • Avoid jokes – A deposition is not a joking matter and jokes are viewed in bad taste just as sarcasm is. It is better to avoid it.
  • Stay calm – Respondents should maintain composure and avoid losing their temper and getting frustrated. Aggressive emotions tend to backfire.

Steps to Take After a Parking Lot Accident

Parking lots are a breeding ground for car accidents because of tighter spaces, low lighting conditions, and a large number of vehicles moving in and out at any given time. Many of us have experienced coming back to our vehicle in a parking lot to find a ding, dent, or something even worse on our vehicle, and realize that there is no one that you can blame for the damage. Even if there has been a side sweep accident or a backover accident in a parking lot, the police may not respond if there are no injuries, as many parking lots are privately owned.

How to Handel a Parking Lot Car Accident

If you have been involved in a parking lot car accident, it should be handled like any other car accident that may have happened on a roadway or highway. You should get the contact information from the other person, along with other relevant information such as driver’s license and insurance information.

Include information about the vehicle including the model, license plate, color, and anything else that may be important for the car accident claim. Call the police and report the accident. If you have suffered any injuries in the accident, seek immediate medical attention even if the injuries are seemingly minor. In case of a hit and run accident, look for eye witnesses. If anyone has witnessed the accident, get their contact information. Call the police to file an accident report. This may be helpful in helping you recover any damages.

Parking Lot Car Accidents Involving Pedestrians

Most parking lot accidents that are reported are for property damage claims; however, there are others that involve injuries to pedestrians as well. Research shows that as many as 19 percent of fatal car accidents take place in commercial parking lots. In addition, 52 percent of back over accidents involving injuries occur in parking lots. If a driver fails to look before backing out or darts into a parking lot carelessly, the driver may hit someone who is leaving the parking lot after parking his or her vehicle. Even if an accident occurs at a low speed, a person can sustain serious injuries.

Giving Information to the Insurance Company After a Chicago Car Wreck

It’s important to know what information you should and should not share with the insurance company after you’ve been in a Chicago car accident.

After a Chicago car accident, there are three important things that an accident victim should do. First, get immediate medical attention for any injuries. Second, contact a car accident lawyer to clearly understand your legal rights and how to recover compensation from the at-fault driver. Third, contact your insurance company and notify them about the accident.

You will have to communicate with the insurance company details about the accident and the at-fault driver. You should understand what information to share with the other party’s insurance company and what kind of information should not be shared.

Information that Can Be Shared

When speaking to the insurance company, an accident victim should be articulate and precise, divulging only information that is absolutely necessary for the insurance company. While most of the conversation will center on the accident itself, the other party’s insurance agent could require a written or a recorded statement detailing the accident. An accident victim should divulge information regarding:

  • The location of the accident
  • The date and time the accident occurred
  • The type of accident / collision (e.g. T-bone accident, Rear-end collision, etc.)

What Not to Divulge

Accident victims should remember that any extra information they divulge could weaken their case. They should first consult with their own Chicago auto accident attorney before discussing the accident with the insurance company. They should avoid discussing details that could be important for their case.

  • Witness Identification: The insurance adjuster could question the witnesses present, ask for their contact details, and request a copy of their statements. Such information need not be given immediately. They can be divulged at a later date after consultation with their own attorney.
  • Injury details: Discussing details about the injuries immediately can weaken the accident victim’s case. Some types of injuries can present more serious complications later on. While the severity of the injuries will decide the settlement amount, the details regarding the same can be shared later after understanding the extent of injuries and expenses incurred. Giving a general description like (I have injured my neck, back, leg, etc.) will suffice.
  • Medical Records: Eventually, the other party’s insurance could request medical records for settlement. Providing them with medical records early in the case can damage the accident victim’s claim. It is prudent to divulge medical records to the other party’s insurance adjuster only after consultation with their own lawyer. Moreover, the accident victim has the right to decide the amount of information they want to divulge.

What to Do if a Loved One has been Killed in a Car Accident

At Willens Injury Law Offices in Chicago, we have assisted many grieving families find the answers they need and deserve after a fatal car accident.

If you need to read this post, our hearts go out to you. Losing a loved in one in a fatal car accident is simply devastating and upends your entire world. Even while you’re overwhelmed with grief, you are likely consumed by the questions:  How could this possibly happen?  Who is to blame?  What will I do now?

At Willens Injury Law Offices in Chicago, we have assisted many grieving families find the answers they need and deserve after a fatal car accident, as well as help them recover financial compensation to help pay for funeral expenses, reimburse lost income and more.  We would like to help you too. To this end, we have complied the following list of things you should do – or shouldn’t do – after a wrongful death fatal accident. This list will help you secure your rights and protect your family.

  • Inform relevant insurance companies. You should contact your loved one’s life insurance, auto insurance and other insurance companies as soon as possible after the fatal accident.  Some of these may help pay for funeral and related expenses.  With respect to the auto insurance company, you may be entitled to a rental car under the policy if your loved one was driving your household’s only vehicle at the time of the crash.
  • Secure all documents relating to the car accident.  Keep in a safe place all documents relating to the car accident, including police reports, photographs, accident reconstruction reports, medical records, autopsy reports, witness statements.  You will need these later if you file a claim against a negligent driver. If you do not have many of these documents, a Chicago wrongful death car accident lawyer can help you collect them.
  • Avoid speaking to an insurance adjuster from another company. If a negligent driver is responsible for the death of your loved one, that person’s insurance company may try to contact you.  They may offer to pay for funeral expenses or offer you a low-ball sum as a settlement. But beware!  Remember that no matter how kind or compassionate insurance adjusters may sound – or how tempting their offer – their job is to give you as little money as possible.  Never assume that they’re giving you as much as you actually deserve. Do not speak to them without first consulting with a wrongful death lawyer.
  • Contact a knowledgable Chicago wrongful death car accident attorney.  In the case of a fatal collision, you should contact an experience car accident lawyer as soon as possible.  Your lawyer can conduct an immediate and thorough investigation of the facts, help find and obtain statements of witnesses to the accident, retain professionals to reconstruct the accident, if necessary, and file a lawsuit against any and all parties responsible for the death of your loved one. Your attorney will be the one to stand up to unscrupulous insurance companies that try to give you as little money as possible or blame the victim.  And your lawyer will fight for your rights to receive compensation such as:
    • funeral and burial expenses
    • medical expenses arising from the accident
    • loss of income and future income
    • pain and suffering
    • loss of companionship
    • rehabilitation, therapy and other costs

We realize that no amount  of money could truly compensate for the love and companionship of your loved one, but holding the negligent parties responsible for the death of your loved one culpable can help secure your financial future and keep you from sliding into ruin.

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