Each year, approximately 2.5 million people suffer severe injuries in auto accidents. Every 12 to 15 minutes, a car accident victim is killed. Sadly, innocent victims are left to pay the price for at-fault drivers’ negligence, recklessness, and intentional behaviors. When negligent drivers are not held liable for the injuries and fatalities they cause, they continue to jeopardize the safety of everyone on the road. The Chicago auto accident attorneys at DePaolo & Zadeikis believe that even one severe injury, or one death, is one too many. It’s time to make negligent drivers and their insurance companies pay.
Our lawyers have more than 70 years of combined experience helping car accident victims like you recover fair compensation. Table of Contents
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If you were injured in a motor vehicle crash, call the car accident attorneys at DePaolo & Zadeikis right away at 312-263-7560 for a free consultation. When you’re involved in a serious car accident, the initial shock from the crash may have a significant impact on your judgement, your ability to make decisions, your sense of pain and loss, and more. The way you handle the minutes, days and weeks after a crash, however, can substantially affect your ability to recover the compensation you deserve.
Our auto accident attorneys provide guidance and legal representation from the moments right after a crash until your case is settled to ensure that your rights are protected.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 60,991 injury crashes across the state in 2021, and more than 1,200 fatal collisions.
Without warning, a car accident can leave you with serious injuries or the loss of a loved one. Dealing with the physical and emotional impact of the crash is just the beginning. If you suffered serious injuries, you will also incur substantial financial losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, that affect your ability to provide for yourself and your family. Without an experienced car accident attorney to protect your rights, a full financial recovery may never happen.
Car accidents are caused by a wide variety of driving behaviors, road conditions and equipment failures. Most auto accidents are the result of negligent or careless actions on the part of motorists. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, the most common causes of car accidents include:
As the use of cellphones, GPS systems, and other types of technology continues to rise, distracted driving is more common. Texting, posting on social media, and adjusting music aren’t the only culprits, however. Eating and drinking behind the wheel, talking with friends, and gazing out the window at roadside sights and sounds play a big role in driving distractions as well.
In fact, anything that takes drivers’ hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or attention from safely driving is considered a distraction. Distracted drivers may not see or have the time needed to respond to dangerous situations on the road. As a result, they often contribute to car accidents and truck accidents, causing serious injuries and death.
When a driver willfully disregards the safety and wellbeing of other people while operating a moor vehicle, that person is driving recklessly. Reckless driving encompasses a wide range of driving behaviors. Tailgating, speeding, zigzagging through lanes of traffic, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are just some examples. Aggressive driving and road rage are forms of reckless driving as well.
Reckless driving is usually considered willful behavior that endangers the lives of other people. As such, plaintiffs in car accident injury cases that involve reckless drivers may receive punitive damages in addition to compensatory damage awards.
Drunk driving frequently results in catastrophic accidents for motorists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Despite the dangers of drunk driving, drivers continue to get behind the wheel while impaired. Drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs aren’t the only ways to drive impaired, however. Studies show that an increasing number of people are getting into car accidents after taking certain prescription and over-the-counter medications.
People who use alcohol and drugs that cause impairment may experience changes in vision. They may have difficulty judging distance and the movement of other vehicles. They may also have trouble with color distinction, which may affect their ability to distinguish streetlights, signs, and signals. Drunk driving also causes reduced coordination and slowed reaction time, and it interferes with decision-making.
Nearly 50,000 people suffer serious injuries in auto accidents caused by drowsy drivers each year. In 2020, 633 people lost their lives. Drowsiness or fatigue can cause impairments similar to those resulting from alcohol consumption and drug use. Lapses in focus and attention, combined with impaired judgement and slower response times, increase a drowsy driver’s chances of causing an auto accident.
Various factors contribute to driver fatigue. Lack of sleep, taking some prescription and over-the-counter medications, sleep disorders like sleep apnea and narcolepsy, and even the time of day may influence a driver’s ability to stay alert behind the wheel.
Speeding is a factor in approximately 29% of fatality accidents in the United States. Speeding includes driving faster than the posted limit, as well as too fast for the road, traffic, or weather conditions. Despite the dangers, drivers speed because of rushed schedules, the desire to drive fast in certain types of cars, to impress others, and because of road rage, aggression, or a complete disregard for others’ safety.
Traveling at excessive speeds can contribute to loss of vehicle control, increased stopping distance, and the reduced effectiveness of motor vehicle safety equipment. Elevated speeds also cause increased force in car accidents, which may lead to catastrophic injuries or fatalities.
Hazardous conditions can increase motorists’ accident risk. For example, weather, such as rain or snow, or road problems, like potholes or cracks, can create challenges for the safe operation of motor vehicles. Other road hazards include debris in the roadway, slick surfaces from spills, and visual obstructions like low-hanging or overgrown shrubbery.
When a crash occurs because of hazardous road conditions, an experienced car accident lawyer can help auto accident victims determine who was responsible for maintaining safety or warning drivers about the hazards. Those responsible might include private property owners, trucking companies, or local government agencies and road departments.
When negligent driving behaviors or preventable hazardous road conditions cause a crash, car accident victims have a right to recover damages for the losses they suffer. Our personal injury law firm can help Chicagoans file a car accident claim with the other driver’s insurance company. If the insurer fails to offer a fair settlement, we will proceed with a car accident lawsuit.
Whether they’re headed to work, running errands, or taking the kids to school, driving is a part of many people’s everyday lives. Unfortunately, so are car accidents in Chicago. Approximately 800 motor vehicle crashes happen each day across Illinois, and most of these occur on the highways and downtown streets of Chicagoland.
You cannot ensure the other drivers on the road are taking their responsibility behind the wheel seriously. However, there are steps you can take steps to help keep yourself and your passengers safe.
Our auto accident lawyers recommend following these safety tips to help minimize your risk of a crash:
Despite taking every precaution, the actions of a negligent driver may still cause you serious injury. Call our experienced Chicago car accident lawyers at 312-263-7560 to schedule a free consultation.
Suffering severe injuries in a car accident in Chicago can take a significant toll on you and your family. In addition to your physical and emotional pain and suffering, you could face considerable medical expenses and a substantial loss of income. You may need to depend on your family members or home healthcare providers while you recover.
Fortunately, if your car accident was caused by the negligence or recklessness of someone else, monetary compensation may be available. You may be able to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company to recover economic and non-economic damages.
Compensatory damages in a Chicago car accident claim typically include:
Pain and suffering can be separated into two categories: physical and emotional. If you were injured in a car accident, you are most likely experiencing physical discomfort because of your injuries. This may come in the form of back pain, neck pain, muscle pain, or pain from broken bones. Unfortunately, the accident itself, or the situation it left you in, may also result in emotional distress. You may be experiencing PTSD, depression, anxiety, greif, or cognitive changes caused by a brain injury. Since these are subjective losses, it can be difficult to put a price on them. While the insurance company may use the multiplier method or the per diem method to value your pain and suffering, the court will decide your award if your case goes to trial. Pain and suffering damages are often substantial in motor vehicle accident cases.
As a result of your injury, you may not be able to work for quite some time. Some car accident victims never regain their ability to perform their pre-accident job duties or earn a fulltime income. You may also lose out on career opportunities, bonuses, company benefits, and other perks of working. Since you can recover compensation for your lost wages as well as your future loss of income, your Chicago car accident attorney may work with a forensic economist to determine your losses.
The medical bills you incur because of your crash can also be recovered when you file a personal injury claim or car accident lawsuit. To ensure you receive maximum compensation, your car accident lawyer will calculate the cost of the medical treatment you have received so far, the medical care you will require in the future, any medications you need, and special medical equipment that is necessary because of your condition. Your Chicago car accident lawyer will review your medical bills and receipts, and may obtain statements from medical experts, to determine the compensation you are entitled to receive.
Punitive damages are less common in Chicago car accident cases, but when they are awarded, they are often substantial. If the at-fault driver acted maliciously, or the behavior was especially egregious, the jury may determine that punitive damages are applicable. Unlike compensatory damages, which are intended to make auto accident victims whole, punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer. They are also used to prevent similar behaviors in the future.
If your loved one died in a Chicago car accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation. If you are the spouse, child, or parent of the deceased, you can receive compensation for the financial and non-economic losses you’ve experienced because of the wrongful death. The personal representative of the deceased may also be able to file a survival action to recover the compensation the deceased person would have been entitled to receive if he or she had lived.
At DePaolo & Zadeikis, we are determined to hold the at-fault driver accountable for the harm he or she caused you, and your recovery is our priority. Let our Chicago auto accident attorneys help you get the compensation you deserve.
Determining fault after motor vehicle accidents will play an important role in assigning financial responsibility for your injuries and damages. Under the fault-based system in Illinois, you will need to prove to the jury that the defendant(s) caused your injuries for your case to be successful. Key pieces of evidence that may be used to determine fault include:
When you hire a personal injury attorney at DePaolo & Zadeikis, our law firm will work to uncover the truth about how your car wreck happened. Identifying all factors that contributed to your car crash ensures that all parties are held liable for your losses, and you recover maximum compensation.
One of the most commone questions our clients ask after suffering injuries in car crashes is, “Should I talk to the insurance company?” Dealing with insurance companies after a car accident is complicated. Whether it’s your own auto insurance or the other driver’s insurance company you’re talking to, handling insurers involves skillful negotiation, as well as the ability to identify insurance company “tricks of the trade.” Our auto accident attorneys know how to handle auto insurance companies, and we can take the stress of dealing with them off of your plate. In the mean time, knowing what you should and should not say can make all the difference in the outcome of your car accident lawsuit.
While you should cooperate with your own insurance company, you will need to be careful about what you disclose. Keep your comments to a minimum, and try to avoid making any type of recorded statement. Provide only necessary information, like the location of the accident, the time and date when the crash occurred, and the names of the people involved. Do not go into details about what happened, and under no circumstances should you apologize, say you feel bad about the accident, or admit fault in any way. If the other driver’s insurance coverage doesn’t pay for all of your losses, you may need to file a claim against your own underinsured motorist policy, and your insurer will use anything they can to minimize or deny your claim.
You are not required to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, they will probably try to contact you before yu have a chance to hire a car crash attorney, and they are going to try to catch you off guard. If you find yourself in a position where you must communicate with their representatives, be polite. Do not offer any information about the accident, however, and do not make a recorded statement. Once you’ve hired an experienced car accident attorney to handle your case, you should direnct all correspondence from the insurance company to your lawyer.
Various types of injuries cause victims to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against an at-fault party and the auto insurance company after a car accident. While some victims walk away from a crash with only minor injuries that heal fairly quickly, others suffer serious injuries that require months or even years to heal. In the worst car accidents, victims never fully recover, and some people lose their lives.
Common types of serious injury our Chicago car accident law firm sees include:
Bone fractures are common after a car wreck. Sometimes, victims realize they have broken a bone right away. Other times, the adrenaline surge after such a traumatic event can mask serious car accident injuries. Seeking medical attention right away can help ensure your car accident injuries are diagnosed and treated promptly.
Blows to the head, changes in momentum that causes the brain to move within the skull, or penetration of the brain tissue can cause traumatic brain injuries. Depending on the type and severity of the head trauma, a car accident victim may experience a headache or dizziness, sensory effects like sensitivity to light or sound, or cognitive symptoms such as mood swings and concentration problems. When they are severe, coma or death may occur.
Spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord, vertebrae, disks, or ligaments are crushed, compressed, penetrated, or otherwise damaged. Minor spinal cord injuries can be treated with pain medication, rest, and physical therapy. Sometimes, surgery is required to repair the damaged area. Severe spinal cord injuries can cause partial or complete paralysis.
Sometimes, the impact of a car accident can cause one or more of the vehicles to catch fire, or even explode. This isn’t the only way people suffer burn injuries in car accidents, however. Burns can also be caused from the release of an aerosol of sodium hydroxide during airbag deployment, or when there are chemical leaks caused by the crash.
Sometimes, car accidents in Chicago sometimes cause victims to lose limbs. Two types of amputation are caused by car accidents: traumatic amputation and surgical amputation. Traumatic amputation occurs when a body part is partially or fully severed in the crash. Surgical amputation happens when the body part is damaged so severely that it must be amputated in surgery.
The most severe motor vehicle accidents cause fatal injuries. Although wrongful death can occur from any type of crash, some accidents are more likely to cause fatality than others. Victims are more likely to die in commercial truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and crashes involving high rates of speed.
The steps you take in the moments, days, and weeks after an auto accident can impact your ability to recover fair compensation. After checking for injuries, you should report the car accident to law enforcement. Retain a copy of the police report for your records, and get the contact information for the other driver and any witnesses. Avoid apologizing or making other statements that may be taken as admissions of fault. As soon as you are able, contact a Chicago car accident attorney to schedule a free consultation.
The time it takes to settle car accident cases depends on the evidence of fault, whether multiple vehicles and insurance companies are involved, and each side’s willingness to reach an agreement. In Illinois, the auto insurance company has 15 working days to acknowledge receipt of a car accident claim and provide further instructions to injured victims. Generally, the insurance company must conduct an investigation within the next 21 working days, and decide whether to approve or deny the claim in the next 30 working days. It is common for insurers to delay processing claims, however, to avoid paying for victims’ medical bills and other losses.
Personal injury law firms usually handle car accident cases on a contingency fee basis. With this type of fee arrangement, you will not pay any upfront legal fees for your case. Rather, a pre-agreed upon percentage is deducted from your settlement or judgment to pay your attorney if your claim is successful. At DePaolo & Zadeikis, we don’t get paid unless you do.
Under most circumstances, you have up to two years after the date of your auto collision to file a car accident lawsuit in Illinois. If you file after the statute of limitations expires, the court may dismiss your case. Contacting a Chicago car accident lawyer right away will help protect your right to recover compensation.
Chicago car accident lawyers will use various types of evidence to prove your crash was not your fault. These include, but are not limited to, police reports, witness statements, medical records, and photos or videos of the car accident scene. Your attorney may also work with accident reconstructionists to prove fault for a wreck.