What to Do if You Were In a Car Accident in Illinois but You weren’t At Fault

Posted in: Car Accidents

Car accidents can be traumatizing. The situation becomes even worse when you aren’t the driver responsible. Whenever someone has injured you or damaged your property, you deserve compensation after a crash in Illinois.

Learn more about what you should do after a car accident someone else caused, and how to recover damages.

What is Fault in a Car Accident?

Illinois is an “at-fault” state, so determining fault in a car accident is vital in determining who is responsible for paying damages. In personal injury law, fault, or liability, lies with the person to blame for the accident that caused harm.

In the case of a car accident, this could be a driver that drove through a red light. If a driver hits another car because they didn’t stop when they were supposed to, they are at fault for causing the crash.

Suppose a driver is following another driver too closely when the leading car uses its brakes suddenly. If the following vehicle causes a rear-end collision, liability lies in the vehicle that was following too closely.

Defining Fault Under Personal Injury Law

To prove the other driver was at fault for your crash or injuries, personal injury law states you also need to prove the elements of negligence. These elements are:

  • The other driver had a legal obligation to follow the law and drive safely
  • They violated that duty
  • You were injured or had property damaged because of their violation
  • Proof that their negligent or reckless behavior caused your damages

When drivers get behind the wheel, they operate knowing they need to be careful, and that they need to follow the rules of the road. If another driver decides to engage in behavior that breaks the law or endangers other drivers, they are behaving negligently.

After a crash, you will need to prove their negligent actions caused your injuries.

Why Does Proving Fault Matter in a Car Accident?

Fault is a key component to recovering damages after a car accident. The person who caused the accident will be responsible for covering the victim’s expenses. This is usually covered with insurance, but you need to protect yourself before you can expect a payout.

Insurance companies are profit-driven entities. While they advertise protection for their clients, they’re looking to avoid payouts and settlements that will hurt their bottom dollar. If they can make fault seem questionable after a car accident, insurers will have a better chance of avoiding paying for their client’s accidents.

Damages Available After a Car Accident

In a personal injury case, you can pursue damages for your economic and non-economic losses. That means you can look for compensation for your out-of-pocket expenses and more conceptual losses.

Examples of economic losses include medical bills, prescriptions, damage to your property, or any wages you lost while you were recovering.

Non-economic losses are conceptual, and, therefore, more difficult to calculate. Examples include mental anguish, loss of social life, or emotional distress.

Car Accidents with an Obvious At-Fault Driver

While determining who is at fault for causing a car crash might not always be apparent, there are instances when the fault is more obvious than not.

Some examples include:

  1. Rear-end collision: If a driver hits the car in front of them, they are almost always at fault for not maintaining a safe following distance.
  2. Failure to yield: If a driver doesn’t yield to traffic that has a clear right of way, then causes a collision, they are typically at fault. This typically happens at left-hand turns or suddenly entering traffic.
  3. Running a red light or stop sign: If a driver ignores a traffic signal and causes a crash, they are almost always at fault.
  4. Driving under the influence: Even though there are legal limits for drivers’ blood alcohol content, drivers that cause a crash while drinking are at fault for putting themselves and others in danger.
  5. Distracted driving: Drivers should not be engaging in risky activity while they drive. If a driver causes a crash because they were using their phone or talking to their passengers, they are typically at fault.

It’s important to note that there should still be a clear investigation to show that the other driver caused your crash. There can be circumstances where drivers share equal fault: if the lead driver in a rear-end collision failed to follow traffic rules, they could be partially at-fault for contributing to the crash.

How Do I Prove the Other Driver was At Fault?

If you’ve been injured by another driver, you’ll need to prove they caused the crash that hurt you. It can be complex to gather the evidence you need, but it’s necessary to protect your claim and win the maximum compensation.

There is a variety of evidence you can use in a car crash, including:

  • Photos of the Accident: Pictures can show how the accident ended, and where the vehicles involved actually were during the event. Photos from around the crash can depict road signs, skid marks from abrupt breaking, or weather conditions. These can bolster your case.
  • Crash Reports: In Illinois, drivers involved in a crash must submit a report within ten days if the police do not arrive at the scene. If police do show up, they will get an account of the crash. They’ll speak with all drivers involved, passengers, eyewitnesses, or anyone that can provide insight into what happened. This report can show who the police assigned fault to after a crash.
  • Traffic Laws: To show the other driver was negligent, you need to show they broke the law when they caused the accident. Providing evidence that they broke the law as they checked their phone before hitting you could be critical to a successful claim.
  • Video Footage: Like photos of the crash, a video of the event is strong evidence to show what happened. If there was a recording of the crash, you can use it to prove the other driver was negligent before they hurt you.

What Should I Do After the Crash?

The aftermath of a crash can be confusing, especially if you or your passengers were hurt. It’s critical to stay calm and preserve evidence.

After a crash, you should:

  • Get Medical Attention: Emergency personnel will be called to the scene if the crash is serious enough. If you need treatment after a crash, emergency medical technicians might treat you at the scene or take you to a hospital. If they don’t transport you away, go see a doctor as soon as possible. You need to get on the road to recovery, and you can also use medical professionals’ testimony in your insurance claim.
  • Exchange Contact Information: You need to give the driver that hit you your information, and get their name, available contact information, and their insurer’s information. You need to make sure you can get the compensation you deserve after the crash. If they caused the crash, their insurance company will be responsible for paying for your damages.
  • Give Your Statement to Police: When the police arrive on scene, they will work to secure the area, then start getting the story. Cooperate. Explain that you were in the crash, but do not accept responsibility, as the other driver might use this against you.
  • Take Photos of the Area: If you aren’t being taken away for medical treatment, you can take photos of the aftermath. Take pictures of the cars, any damage, any injuries, or anything else that might secure your claim’s credibility.
  • Call a Reliable Car Accident Attorney: You can file an insurance claim on your own. However, you stand a better chance of getting the maximum compensation possible by working with an attorney. They can speak with your insurer, with the at-fault driver’s insurer, or the courts throughout your claim process. They can investigate and help prove the other driver caused the crash that hurt you.

Contact an Illinois Car Accident Lawyer

The aftermath of a car accident can be blurry. Although you have two years to file a lawsuit for your damages in Illinois, that statute of limitations will go by faster than you realize. You stand the best chance of working with a seasoned car accident lawyer. The personal injury lawyers at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can provide you with the help you need to make the best case for recovery.

We understand how upsetting a crash is, especially when you weren’t the driver responsible. We can work with you to build your case. We’ll discuss your situation, answer your questions, and help you plan for recovering damages. We offer free, no-risk evaluations.

Call (312) 236-2900 or use our form to get started on your future today.