Belleville Car Accident Lawyers
A motor vehicle accident can be devastating. If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision, you may be unsure of what to do next. Our Illinois car accident lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC can help you navigate the legal issues while you focus on your recovery.
Car accidents are common across America, and drivers must know how to handle these incidents should they occur. There are several things that could occur when drivers get behind the wheel, and it is important that accident victims seek compensation when they have been hurt, forced into medical debt, or lost someone they love.
When the accident occurs, it can be difficult to respond, given the injuries and distress involved. Reach out to a Belleville car accident lawyer to ensure the legal process is handled properly. Depending on the situation and vehicles involved, accidents range from mild to severe. Compensation varies depending on the nature of the case. Evidence can be collected from many sources, and the victims must know what to do in the wake of an accident.
What Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents Do We Handle?
Car accidents involve a range of other vehicles, depending on the circumstances. Keep in mind that a motor vehicle is any motorized form of transportation that does not use rails. Even so, railroad accidents are also common as many rural railroad crossings do not have traditional signal lights or bars. A lawyer is prepared to handle all these accidents or a combination thereof:
Aviation accidents: In rural Illinois, aviation accidents may occur as pilots fly into rural airfields or vehicles cross runways. While these accidents are rare, drivers should be aware of any aircraft flying in the area. Aircrafts are also used to dust crops, and an errant plane might cause damage to a vehicle or cause an accident. Helicopters may crash or cause damage when traveling between properties. Even hot air balloons may land unexpectedly and cause a car accident.
Bicycle accidents: These accidents are common on rural roads as a bicycle is a reliable form of transportation used throughout rural Illinois. Most people behind the wheel of a speeding vehicle cannot see a small bicycle on the side of the road. While bicyclists are supposed to remain as close to the shoulder as possible and accept the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, that does not protect them from distracted driving.
Boating accidents: When these accidents on local lakes and rivers, the results can be catastrophic. An often-overlooked issue with hauling a boat or jet-ski is that the vessel can detach from the trailer. Anyone who is hauling one of these vessels must attach the vessel to their carrier properly. When the vessel has not been secured, the boat carrier has not upheld their duty of care to other drivers.
Bus accidents: Buses cross Illinois every day. Commercial and charter buses are often used to travel from Chicago to St. Louis. Interstates 64 and 55 enter the city, and Interstate 255 circles the city. US 50 also runs through the area, carrying large buses that must be given room to drive. A bus driver often stays in the right lane and should not be bothered by passenger vehicles. When a bus driver is forced into a dangerous situation, they often cannot correct in order to prevent an accident.
Motorcycle accidents: Motorcycles should be given room to drive normally in the same manner drivers would avoid bicyclists. Motorcycles can easily coast on the straight and mostly flat roads of Illinois, but they can also be struck by drivers who are too busy seeing the sights instead of driving.
Pedestrian accidents: Over 4,900 pedestrian accidents occurred in Illinois in 2017. Pedestrians are often vulnerable on rural roads because they are difficult to see, especially in the dark. Walking on rural roads is common among farmers and those living in small towns. Anyone living in a rural area is likely to think the road is a safe place to walk or even allow their children to play.
Recreational vehicle accidents: Recreational vehicles are fun to ride in rural areas as there is plenty of space for riders to roam. Unfortunately, recreational vehicles are extremely vulnerable when they enter the road. This is especially important to remember as children are often allowed to ride and are assumed to be safe because they are wearing helmets. Additionally, inexperienced or relatively new drivers between the ages of 15 and 29 were involved in 436 fatal crashes in 2018 alone.
Truck Accidents: Large trucks represent the backbone of many of the rural industries in Illinois. Long-haul truckers cross Illinois every day, and they cannot avoid reckless or speeding drivers. Rural roads are often quite narrow, and drivers must avoid large trucks, never cut them off, and give them enough room to stop. Do not stay in the driver’s blind spot and do not tailgate.
In all cases, reach out to a car accident lawyer in the event of an accident. The negligent party must be held liable for damages, but a lawyer must be the one to file a lawsuit and research liability in each case.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
The horrible results of a car accident can leave families splintered and without direction. In cases such as this, families must understand how to deal with the car accident in a manner that helps them move forward with litigation and recovery of compensation.
When families follow these steps, they are more likely to handle the accident with grace, dignity, and poise. A calm demeanor and cool head will help substantiate a lawsuit and any other compensation that may be required.
- Call 911 immediately. Calling 911 brings an ambulance and police officer to the scene. If the accident is serious, fire trucks may also be deployed. Everyone on the scene will receive the care they need. If there is no emergency or police response, there may be no record of the accident.
- Speak to the police officer. The police officer will ask questions, but victims should not provide revealing information about the accident. Victims should not say anything that might come across as incriminating, and they should not apologize as the officer will begin to think that the victim is, in fact, responsible.
- Receive medical care from an EMT. Receiving medical attention from an EMT is the best thing that victims can do. There is nothing wrong with speaking to an EMT because the EMT is a medical professional who can assess the situation. Subsequently, victims should go to the hospital, see a doctor, and gather medical records or receipts.
- Take as many pictures or videos as possible. Pictures and videos of the accident scene are an important part of any investigation. These pictures and videos help the lawyer file a lawsuit and complete their investigation. Unless the accident results in major damage or injuries, local authorities may not take any photos or videos.
- Do not speak to the other drivers. While other drivers may want to check in, there is nothing to be gained by having a conversation after the accident. These people should be avoided because they might look for anything negative to say about the victim.
- Call a lawyer as soon as possible. Speaking to a car accident lawyer helps the victim plan their response to the accident.
A lawyer may also be needed because the insurance company could be reluctant to pay claims, the other drivers might plan to file suit, or an investigation might show that compensation is owed by truckers, trucking companies, or other entities. Lawsuits are rarely simple, and they are always contested by a lawyer or team of lawyers.
How Does Drunk Driving Affect Drivers?
Drunk driving is a major issue in the state of Illinois, and rural roads in the state are often seen as safe places to drive drunk. Teenagers and young adults might drink and drive near open fields. Moreover, speeding on rural roads is quite common. Drunk driving can be avoided, but drivers must understand how to prevent drunk driving and what alcohol or drugs can do to drivers who believe they can drive safely. Drunk drivers may experience the following:
Mood swings: This makes driving difficult as the driver cannot properly regulate their emotions and avoid road rage. A lack of awareness of immediate surroundings makes driving dangerous, even in parking lots. A drunk driver might suddenly pull out of a parking space and strike a pedestrian who should have been safe in that situation.
Slower reaction times: This makes it difficult to avoid accidents. Impaired perception causes the driver to believe objects may be farther or closer than they appear. Lack of muscle control makes controlling the steering wheel, even on a relatively straight country lane, difficult.
Poor coordination and slurred speech: While these are obvious signs that someone should not drive, drunk drivers who get behind the wheel cannot multitask. Should memory loss occur, that is no defense when an accident has injured or killed other motorists. Drivers who cannot remember where they are going and do not know how they arrived at a certain destination should not continue driving. If someone exhibits these symptoms, they should not be allowed to drive. Take their keys, call a cab, or use a ridesharing app. It might also be wise to walk home as a group and pick up the car the next day.
A designated driver is the perfect person to bring on any trip so that the rest of the group will arrive safely. Even with a designated driver, open container laws regarding how alcohol should be handled by passengers must be followed. Illinois does not allow open containers of alcohol in a vehicle, regardless of who is handling the beverage. Alcohol may only be transported if it is in the original container and the seal has not been broken. If alcohol has been poured into a new container, it should not be kept in the vehicle.
Additionally, the Illinois Dram Shop Act allows accident victims to sue a provider or distributor of alcohol when the recipient:
- Was a minor or obviously intoxicated
- Caused an accident
- Injured or killed someone where alcohol was clearly a factor in the accident
What if There are Issues with the Insurance Company?
Insurance companies may choose to deny claims or make the claims process laborious for victims who are not legal professionals and may not remember the accident. When the insurance company causes problems for the victim, a lawyer should be retained to mitigate the situation. First, a lawyer will review the client’s insurance policy to ensure that the policy has been executed properly. Second, the lawyer will communicate with the insurance company to negotiate appropriate coverage.
A lawyer can sue the insurance company for coverage or damages. An insurance company often will not take the victim seriously until a lawyer gets involved. Complaining to an insurance company or asking to speak to management will not overturn the carrier’s decision. If the insurance company’s negligence has caused further injury or death, it can be sued for compensation related to those losses.
What Types of Compensation are Available After a Motor Vehicle Accident?
Car accident lawsuits have a total value that must be determined by the family’s lawyer. Because damages vary by case, the family must produce as much information as possible. This information may come from the accident scene, medical records, or eyewitness testimony. A lawyer will obtain a copy of the police report to better understand the circumstances of the case. Medical experts may be contacted for an opinion, or the investigation may need to focus on a negligent entity rather than a person. Lawyers will file suit for damages up to and including:
Disability: Disability claims help the family pay for long term care and wage loss due to permanent disability. Car accidents can be life-changing, and disability claims provide money to support the family, purchase medical equipment, schedule rehabilitative therapy, and more.
Disfigurement: This goes beyond disability as the victim no longer looks as they did before the accident. Disfigurement is painful and traumatic. These lawsuits may also claim loss of quality of life or a normal life.
Emotional distress: The emotional distress the family has experienced must also be compensated. Everything that has changed since the accident should be brought to light during a trial or settlement negotiation. Aside from their distress, the victims may recover all their medical expenses. These expenses include emergency medical care, follow ups with doctors, consultations with specialists, necessary procedures, medication, and counseling.
Wage loss: Wage loss claims involve all the time that was missed before the victim could go back to work. Some victims recover but cannot go back to their jobs. These victims require job training or vocational rehabilitation. Lawsuits hope to calculate the difference between the victim’s current job prospects and their old job.
When the total value of the case is determined, the family’s lawyer will start a settlement negotiation hoping to recover as much money as possible. Settlements may be reached when the family does not wish to go to court or cannot wait to receive compensation. A lawyer might advise the family to take the settlement as the offer is fair, or they may go to court knowing that more money can be won during a trial.
Punitive damages: These damages are not included in the original complaint. The complaint, however, may be amended before going to court to request punitive damages. If awarded, punitive damages cannot total more than three times the compensatory damages. The victim does not experience a financial windfall so much as the guilty party is punished even more for their actions.
What is Modified Comparative Negligence?
Illinois follows the modified comparative negligence rule in personal injury cases. Each state is allowed to establish laws regarding the liability of accident victims. Comparative negligence allows the plaintiff to recover damages, minus the percentage they were deemed responsible for. Modified comparative negligence, however, states that a victim who is 51 percent responsible for the accident or more can no longer recover damages. Hire a car accident lawyer with experience arguing these cases in Illinois courts.
How Do I Handle Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents?
Unfortunately, thousands of people are fatally injured in motor vehicle accidents every year. The results can be devastating for friends and family members. Medical bills may be left over, and other expenses may need to be paid to reconcile the victim’s estate. If a loved one was fatally injured in a motor vehicle accident, the family may be able to recover compensation for the following:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Grief, sorrow, and mental suffering
- Loss of consortium, or the relationship with a loved one
- Loss of economic support
- Loss of instruction, moral training, and superintendence of education of children
- Medical bills and other expenses incurred prior to the passing of a loved one
Burial and funeral expenses can be paid in a wrongful death lawsuit to ease the family’s financial burden. The family’s grief, sorrow, and mental suffering must also be taken into account. Some situations are extreme, and they involve small children who have lost their parents, the death of a spouse, or the death of a child.
Loss of consortium, economic support, and instruction can impact families in different ways. While a father of five made money to support the family, he also helped the children with school, supported their endeavors, and provided them with emotional stability. When the family is destabilized because of his death in a car accident, the responsible parties must compensate a family that has been altered forever.
Other expenses might also be claimed, depending on how much administration the deceased’s estate requires. The estate files the wrongful death suit in the name of the administrator or executor of the estate. The spouse and children benefit from compensation gained in a lawsuit, and parents, grandparents, or siblings may benefit if no immediate family members remain.
If more than one person died in the accident, each family will file a separate wrongful death lawsuit. Friends or random loved ones cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit because they are not handling the deceased’s estate/directly benefit from the estate. There is a two-year statute of limitations for both personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Illinois. Do not delay when filing a lawsuit so that a lawyer can begin an investigation at once.
Why Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Because the statute of limitations in Illinois is only two years for both personal injury and wrongful death claims, it is best to retain a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer should begin an investigation of any accident while the evidence is still fresh, and that investigation may take some time to complete. Plaintiffs will likely be discouraged from representing themselves.
The lawyer will collect medical bills, eyewitness statements, and pictures or videos from the accident scene. More information may come to light during the investigation, and a lawyer will advise the family of its best course of action.
When an individual is not responsible for an accident, a lawyer will uncover how a business or government agency caused the accident. Something as simple as a puddle of water near a construction site can cause a massive accident, which is the fault of the construction company. If a truck driver was made to break federal regulations or drive a malfunctioning truck, the business will be held liable.
A settlement is a desirable outcome for both parties in most cases, but the lawyer will negotiate the settlement. The client does not need to be present. Phone calls or letters coming from other interested parties should go to the lawyer. The lawyer will prepare their clients for trial if necessary, and the case will be litigated until the client obtains a favorable outcome.
Contact us today
Our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with motor vehicle claims in Illinois and throughout the United States. We are familiar with the laws that will enable you to recover compensation for your losses. We will help you understand the law and what kind of claim may benefit you most.Contact us today at 618-277-3644 to let us begin working for you.
Belleville Car Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Assist Injured Victims
After a car accident, victims should reach out to the Belleville car accident lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC for help filing a claim or investigating their case. We can help you recover compensation after any accident. Call us today at 618-277-3644 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve victims throughout Belleville, Carbondale, East St. Louis, Granite City, Edwardsville, Chester, Waterloo, St. Louis, Madison County, St. Clair County, Monroe County, and Randolph County.