Steps to Take If You’re Not At Fault in an Illinois Car Accident

Posted in: Car Accidents

Car accidents can be deeply traumatic, especially when you are not the one at fault. Understanding your rights and the necessary steps can significantly impact the compensation you might be entitled to in Illinois. Here’s what you need to do following an accident that wasn’t your fault.

What to Do Right After a Car Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault

There are a few crucial and simple steps you should take to protect your health and your chance at recovering compensation. Your safety should be your priority right after an accident, but this guide can help you understand how to handle the aftermath of an injury crash.

Get Medical Attention

Your health and your safety should be your first thought. Get treatment from emergency responders once they arrive. If you don’t need to be taken to the hospital, you should go see a medical provider as soon as you can for a full evaluation.

A doctor can identify any invisible injuries, and the medical records will be crucial pieces of evidence in your insurance claims and potential personal injury lawsuits.

Document The Scene

You should take photos or video of the accident scene. If you aren’t able to move about the scene, ask for help. You need to document any vehicles involved in the crash, any visible damage, your injuries, the road conditions, or traffic signs.

This evidence will be crucial to support your claim and hold the at-fault party responsible for your crash.

Exchange Information With Other Drivers

You’ll need to get the names, contact details, insurance information, and vehicle details of any other drivers involved in the crash. These details are crucial to your insurance claim.

You should also try to get contact information from eyewitnesses: you might not be able to ask them questions then, but a car accident lawyer can contact them later to get their statement to benefit your lawsuit.

Report the Accident

According to the Illinois State Police, drivers must report a crash if it caused death, a bodily injury, or more than $1,500 of property damage, provided that all the drivers are insured. If a driver doesn’t have insurance, the threshold goes to $500.

Once the police have arrived, they will investigate the crash. They will take photos, get witness statements, and the drivers’ important information. The police will create a report, one of the most valuable pieces of evidence in your claim. That report provides an official account of the accident and may indicate fault.

Consult a Car Accident Attorney

Before you start negotiations or settlement talks with insurance companies, you should contact a car accident lawyer. They can protect your rights, ensure you are accounting for all of your damages, and show the liable parties that you mean business.

Your attorney will be your advocate when dealing with the insurance company or in any court proceedings. Finding an Illinois car accident lawyer with a proven track record is critical.

Understanding Fault in Illinois Car Accidents

Illinois is an “at-fault” state, meaning the person who caused the accident bears responsibility for the damages. Proving fault is critical and involves showing that the other driver was negligent or reckless. Here are a few scenarios where fault might be more apparent:

  • Rear-end Collisions: Typically, the driver who crashes into the back of another vehicle is at fault.
  • Disobeying Traffic Signals: Such as running a red light or a stop sign.
  • Driving Under the Influence: Any accident caused under the influence typically pins the fault on the impaired driver.

Proving Fault and Collecting Evidence

Proving the other driver’s fault involves gathering comprehensive evidence such as:

  • Photographs and video footage of the accident scene.
  • Eyewitness statements and police reports.
  • Demonstrating violation of traffic laws through dashcam footage or security camera recordings.

Why Proving Fault Matters

Establishing fault is crucial for receiving compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Without clear evidence of fault, insurance companies may attempt to reduce or deny rightful claims.

Types of Damages Available in a Car Accident Claim

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Illinois that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. Damages in car accident claims can generally be divided into economic, non-economic, and sometimes punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages cover tangible financial losses related to the accident:

  • Medical Expenses: Includes costs for emergency care, ongoing treatment, and rehabilitation.
  • Lost Wages and Earning Capacity: Compensation for lost income if the accident affects your ability to work.
  • Property Damage: Covers repair or replacement of your vehicle and other damaged personal items.
  • Other Out-of-Pocket Costs: Includes miscellaneous expenses like travel to medical appointments.

Non-Economic Damages

These damages compensate for intangible losses:

  • Pain and Suffering: Addresses physical pain and ongoing discomfort.
  • Emotional Distress: Compensates for psychological impacts, such as stress and trauma.
  • Loss of Enjoyment: For inability to engage in hobbies and activities previously enjoyed.
  • Loss of Consortium: Related to the effects of injuries on your relationships.

Punitive Damages

In rare cases where the at-fault party’s actions were particularly harmful or reckless, punitive damages may be awarded to deter similar behavior in the future.

Illinois Car Crash FAQs

Can I Still Get Compensation for an Accident I Share Fault For?

Illinois follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which means you can still recover damages if you are less than 50% responsible for the accident. However, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. For example, if you are found to be 30% at fault and your damages amount to $100,000, you would receive $70,000.

Assigning fault can complicated, so working with an experienced car accident lawyer is your best chance at an accurate claim that doesn’t leave money on the table.

How long do I have to file a car accident claim in Illinois?

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is two years from the date of the accident. For property damage, the limit is five years. It’s crucial to initiate legal proceedings within these time frames to avoid losing your right to compensation.

What should I do if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you still have options for recovering damages. Illinois requires drivers to have uninsured motorist coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. You can file a claim with your own insurance company under this coverage. Consulting with a car accident lawyer can help you navigate this process and ensure you receive fair compensation.

Contact an Illinois Car Accident Lawyer

If you find yourself involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, the skilled team at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., can help you navigate the complex landscape of personal injury law. We offer free consultations to discuss your case and outline the best path to securing the compensation you deserve.

Call us at (312) 236-2900 today to schedule your consultation. Let us fight for you.