Win Your Car Accident Case with Our Legal Strategies
Rockford Car Accident Lawyer
Legal Support For Your Car Accident
Don’t Let Your Rights Slip Away: Take Control of Your Car Accident Situation with Our Auto Accident Checklist
By hiring a our car accident lawyer, you can receive the compensation you deserve, and you can do so with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have an experienced professional working on your behalf.
Automotive Related Accidents We Work
- Big Truck Accidents
- DUI-Related Accidents
- Underinsured Motorist Claims
- Uninsured Motorist Insurance Claims
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Boating Accidents
Rockford and the Surrounding Areas
We take cases across the state of Illinois. We frequently travel to our clients when needed. We can immediately service Winnebago County, Boone County, McHenry County, Lee County, and Jo Daviess County. For a full list of the areas we serve please see our Service Areas.
You Can’t Control Car Accidents
Car accidents can happen when you least expect them, regardless of how careful you are behind the wheel. You could be obeying all traffic rules, maintaining a safe speed, and staying attentive to your surroundings, but there is no guarantee that another driver won’t make a mistake or experience a mechanical failure that leads to a crash.
It’s a frustrating reality, but it’s important to remember that accidents are unpredictable and out of your control. However, what you can control is how you respond to an accident and the actions you take to protect yourself, your passengers, and your legal rights.
But You Can Control What Happens After
A car wreck is sudden and unexpected, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the aftermath. While you can’t control the accident itself, you can take control of what happens next.
- The first thing to do is to make sure everyone involved is safe and call for medical attention if necessary.
- It’s also important to document the accident, take photos of the scene, and exchange information with other drivers.
- Even if you don’t feel hurt right away, it’s still a good idea to seek medical attention, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
- You can also take steps to protect yourself legally, such as contacting a car accident lawyer to help you navigate the insurance claims process and ensure that you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
By taking these steps, you can help minimize the impact of a car wreck and move forward with confidence.
Can I Handle Filing a Car Accident Claim or Lawsuit Myself
Based on published statistics your chances of a meaningful recovery are vastly diminished when filing a claim or lawsuit yourself.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer for your car accident is AT-LEAST DOUBLE as compared to representing yourself.
Additionally, insurance companies are generally easier to work with when involving an attorney. Check out The Bureau of Justice for periodically released statistics regarding nationwide tort claims.
Get Legal Advice and Guidance When You’re Unsure
This is your best first step. It’s a free consultation. We’ll guide you through this hectic time, answer any of your questions and fight for your rights.
At Rockford Personal Injury Lawyers, you can get help from a skilled personal injury attorney in Rockford, Illinois who will protect your rights when you or a loved one are hurt or killed in a car accident.
Illinois Auto Accident Checklist
After an accident, you’ll likely feel confused and unsure about what to do. But, right after an accident is when issues can come up that make or break your auto accident claim.
Remember to take care of yourself. First medically, then all the legal issues.
- Get Medical Attention – Take care of yourself first, 100% most important.
- Report the accident to your local authorities – Find local Police contact info in our Areas Served Pages.
- Exchange Insurance information.
- Gather evidence – Take photos and videos. If you must move your vehicle, pay close attention to where your vehicle was in relation to any other involved vehicles.
- DO NOT
- Make any admissions – such as an apology.
- Talk to an insurance company.
- Contact Rockford Personal Injury Lawyers. We’ll help guide you and fight for your right.
If you need immediate help, call right now (815) 964-8303
When Should You Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
You should contact us as soon as it’s safe. It won’t cost you anything for us to consult on your accident. We’ll be able to listen to what happened and give you guidance on if you should hire us or not.
When the Insurance Company Doesn’t Play Fair
If you’ve tried to work with the insurance company after an auto accident but you feel you’re not getting treated fairly. You should hire us to help. It’s common for insurance companies to protect their bottom line at the sacrifice of your wellbeing. Hiring Rockford Personal Injury Lawyer can get the insurance companies to start playing fair and get you fair compensation.
If You Find That You’re Injured Well After the Auto Accident
Injuries aren’t always apparent directly during or after an accident. Sometimes they can show up later after the accident has been dealt with. Just because your injury didn’t surface right away doesn’t mean that you should have to suffer any losses on an accident that wasn’t your fault.
In Illinois, a time limit of 2-years is set as a Statue of Limitations. This time limit starts on the date of the accident or on the date you discovered the injury. When you were injured and discovering the injury can be complicated. If you find that you discovered an injury that might have been caused by a prior accident – contact us. We can help guide you and fight for your rights.
Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
CAN I RESOLVE MY INJURY CASE BY MYSELF WITHOUT USING A LAWYER?
You certainly can, BUT the chances of a meaningful recovery are vastly diminished based on all published statistics over using a lawyer, or not using a lawyer. NOLO, Martindale-Hubble, and various bar association affiliated type groups have crunched the numbers and the recovery overall is on average at LEAST double what a pro-se, or un-represented person can squeeze from an insurance company when trying to settle a case. The Bureau of Justice periodically releases statistics regarding nationwide tort claims that show a stark issue with someone navigating a case if litigation is required. For example: There is a question of fault, or a question of what the true medical or pain and suffering damages actually are. If you believe the amount is $500,000.00, but the insurance adjuster assigned to your case believes the damages are $75,000.00, your only options are to either a.) accept pennies on the dollar of what you’re actually owed (insurance companies love this), or file a lawsuit. The issue becomes that once a lawsuit is filed the nationwide average is that it takes at least 20 months for such a suit to be brought to a trial (if it’s one of the few that goes the distance which is under 5% nationwide).
Typically, in the time period after a lawsuit is filed, there are written discovery requests back and forth between the injured party (plaintiff), and the insurance company’s counsel representing whoever caused the injury (defendant). Once those requests are responded to, and all issues about those requests are litigated, the next step is typically depositions where the parties meet at a mutually agreed location and take oral testimony from witnesses, treatment providers, the injured party, and the defendant. In some cases this part of the case makes liability so overwhelmingly provable that an insurance company will opt to settle short of going to a trial if their client has little chance to prevail at trial. BUT if the case continues beyond that point, it could be an issue that the insurance company would rather make an injured party prove their damages to a jury if they want a complete recovery, or conversely the plaintiff may have testified inconsistently with their injuries, or failed to disclose a previous injury in testimony at the deposition that does exist in their medical records as the sole cause or contributing cause of pain in the current case. Such a disclosure could make a jury believe that the plaintiff is not credible, or that the damage award should be reduced. Since the Defendant would be able to argue that about plaintiff’s omission, the insurance company may decide that going to trial is worth it unless the plaintiff will accept a low value settlement offer.
With popular culture painting plaintiffs as “Money hungry”, “greedy”, “opportunistic”, etc., there is a burden to overcome as a plaintiff in a legal sense (preponderance of the evidence – meaning you must show by 50.01 to 49.99 that the other party is responsible for the injury), but also in the mental sense that when it comes time to talk about what the outcome should be to a jury, that you are concise, and know how to handle the mental hurdles certain jurors may have against awarding a large award to an injured party. A layperson likely will not have the skills to filter out potentially bad jurors during voir dire or know how to structure arguments aimed at curtailing preconceived biases and notions of jurors that end up sitting on their panel/jury. It’s a simple fact that you won’t get 12 people on your panel that 100% are on your side, you or your lawyer will need to convince many of them during the course of a trial. There are actual injury lawyers who do NOT file lawsuits, simply because they are not trained, and not well versed in trial techniques or strategies to maximize verdict returns for their clients. We have been hired by clients who have come to us because they initially found a “settlement lawyer”, that does not go to court. We’re in court every day, of every week taking your case the distance is planned for, not something to be avoided.
On the other side of this coin, if you have a lawyer that is known for filing lawsuits and arguing cases, the insurance companies track this information internally. If you are unrepresented, or if you have a “settlement” lawyer that won’t go to court for your case by filing a lawsuit, the insurance company knows you are playing poker with your cards face up. If they see that you have hired a lawyer that goes to court, and will make life difficult for the insurance company and the attorney they have to hire to defend the case, you have a better chance of resolving your case with a fair settlement just because they know you have someone that will hit them back if they try to run you over with a bad settlement offer. So, yes you can handle your own personal injury case. BUT the chances that you can self teach all of the nuances that goes into making a strong claim pre-suit, asking the right questions during written discovery and during depositions, then being able to back it up with the proper voir dire, opening statement, direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and closing arguments at a trial would be difficult for a non-lawyer. In a recent motor vehicle accident case we had a client who was facing a significant injury that was not at fault in the crash. The insurance company for the Defendant, prior to us being involved, told this client they caused the crash, not the other driver. Once hired we immediately ordered the crash report, FOIA requested the police reports, looked up what citations had been issued to the at-fault driver, and quickly established our client was getting treated badly by the insurance company. Ultimately that client received the maximum value under the policy of $100,000.00 when they may have received absolutely NOTHING from the insurance company if they had not hired us.
WHO PAYS FOR EVERYTHING AFTER AN ACCIDENT?
At the risk of sounding like a lawyer: It depends. If you have health insurance then your health insurance whether it’s privately funded, or government-funded typically picks up the treatment tab and then will send the insurance company covering the person responsible for the injuries a lien. This means that at the end of your case any amount settled or agreed upon will have money taken out to pay back whoever paid your medical bills.
If you do not have health insurance, you may be able in some cases to have your own auto insurance pay medical bills. Last, if you do not have health insurance you may need to seek a doctor or treatment provider that will treat you based off of a lien which is essentially outlaying the expenses to treat you now, with the hope that they will be paid back later. If that is not possible, there is a fourth option that any reputable lawyer is wary of pursuing because it can cause a host of issues during the course of a case and that is helping the client to obtain a loan against the future value of their case from a case loan company.
Typically these companies charge absurd interest rates and it can result in a client receiving little money at the end of a case as their loan that has been accruing interest during the course of the litigation has amounted to the client then owing a large amount of money when the case is settled or a verdict is returned. The question of “who pays” is an important consideration when we first take on a client.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M INVOLVED IN A CAR ACCIDENT?
Illinois has more than 400,000 car accidents every single year. Of those about 90,000 will involve 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 as well as your family well into the future, such as a significant time period of missed work, a lengthy recovery process involving medical, dental, and rehabilitative efforts to try and get back to what “normal” used to be. These are some tips to remember if you or a loved one is struggling with the after effects of a car crash.
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.
DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT give a recorded statement until speaking with a lawyer. That means don’t even talk to your OWN insurance until you’ve talked to a lawyer. We have seen cases where clients have come in, the other driver who caused the crash had a minimal insurance policy and we had to make a claim against our own client’s insurance company under a UIUM or “Under-Insured Motorist” policy. The client’s own insurance company then fought with us tooth and nail over a recovery because of some of the language that was used in the client’s recorded statement in the hours after the crash.
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 numbers and license numbers of the other involved drivers and their vehicles. If you see witnesses that stop, make sure you ask for their name, address, and contact information.
Do NOT make any admissions such as making apologies if you feel you were at fault in the car crash.
As soon as you are able to, write down everything you remember about the accident. This time period is when things are the freshest in a driver’s memory and 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 both for your personal well-being and your 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 payment upfront. It is significantly more difficult to litigate a claim if medical treatment is sought after a large gap in time from the date of the crash to the date of first treatment. This is something 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.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON CAUSES OF MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS IN ILLINOIS?
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 great loss, people continue to make risky decisions when they get 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 too fast for conditions
- Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescribed medications
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Distracted driving such as texting or talking
- Young/Inexperienced drivers
- Road Rage/Aggressive Driving
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.
WHAT ARE COMMON INJURIES CAUSED BY MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS?
While there can be 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 handle, and we are committed to relieving your anxieties during this tough period. 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 and Broken Bones
- Joint Injuries
- Amputation of limbs from crush injuries
Regardless of the scope of your injury, we can help you with your injury case. We understand that no accident is the same, and will treat you with respect and individualized attention from your consultation and beyond.
SO WHAT HAPPENS IF AN UNINSURED DRIVER CAUSES A CRASH THAT INJURES YOU?
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.
Recognizing how pervasive uninsured drivers are, 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. It is very important to follow the correct procedural rules when pursuing an uninsured motorist claim, because failing to abide by the strict rules could result in losing your case on a technicality.
When a driver who causes an accident has insufficient liability coverage to compensate an injured party for their injuries, an underinsured motorist claim, or UM claim, may be made with the insured’s auto insurer. We have helped numerous individuals who have been hit by an uninsured driver to recover compensation for their injuries.
HOW DOES A PERSONAL INJURY WORK? DO I HAVE TO GO TO COURT? DO I HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING? WILL THE JUDGE TALK TO ME?
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 and 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. We offer a free consultation with a personal injury attorney at Rockford Personal Injury Lawyers, and 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, loss of a normal life/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 and calculated 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 – Filing a Lawsuit or Settlement.
- Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit – 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 (the Defendant). 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.
- Settling Your Personal Injury Case – This leads us to option 2, 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 the 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 with 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 can, we start to compile your medical bills and re
- 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 by 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. This is a crucial part of all cases, but even more important in catastrophic cases. It is not uncommon for your lawyer to be visiting you at your home, during treatment, even bringing a film crew in to see your day to day routine to see how your life has been impacted by a major injury. We’ve spent considerable time with our injured clients in their homes to spend the entire day living in the environment our client has been forced into, because when we understand what your day to day life is like, if we have to tell your story to a jury or a judge to ask for you to be compensated, we NEED to be able to tell it, with 100% accuracy because we’ve seen it first-hand.
- 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, the insurance company has the choice to accept the demand, counter offer a different amount, or reject the settlement.
- If we cannot arrive at a resolution that you are satisfied with, the next step is to pursue a trial. 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).
HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE TO FILE A LAWSUIT?
Illinois sets a time limit of TWO YEARS to file MOST personal injury lawsuits 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.” Likewise, certain cases involving State entities may require suit to be filed in the Illinois Court of Claims, which carries a 1-year Statute of Limitations. The main thing is, talk to a lawyer immediately, or soon after an accident to ensure that your rights are protected. There is no more difficult meeting than looking over a prospective client’s paperwork and realizing that they did not come to a lawyer in time to initiate a lawsuit and that they are not able to recover anything for their injury because of the filing deadline having passed by.
Call or Text our Car Accident Law Firm
We understand that car wreck victims have questions about their legal rights. Our experienced car accident lawyers are here to guide you through the legal process and help you get the compensation you deserve.
It’s a difficult and stressful time and we are here to help take the burden off your shoulders. We’re able to guide you and relieve the stress that accompanies the unknowns around how you’ll get back on your feet after the accident.
Contact us now for a free consultation to discuss your case and see how we can help regarding your Rockford car accident case. Call, or text message 24/7/365 the Rockford Personal Injury Lawyers at (815) 964-8303.