The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that traffic was down about 16 percent for 2020 due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The National Safety Council (NSC) reported that drivers put in 13 percent less miles on the road for that year. However, even though there was a decline in traffic and car accidents, the rate of fatal collisions increased by eight percent during that year.
Additionally, highway safety advocates and government agencies found that more crashes were due to irresponsible behaviors, such as speeding, which may have been more tempting since less cars were on the road. Illinois road safety advocates have attributed some of the increase to the pandemic reducing traffic on the roads. Local, state, and federal agencies have all reported a marked increase in speeding. Along with speeding, government agencies reported an increase in unlicensed drivers having accidents, drivers operating under the influence, and people not wearing seat belts.
Where Do Most Car Accidents Occur?
Most car accidents in Illinois occur on city streets and state and local roads. According to the NHTSA, nearly 47 percent of all fatal crashes that occur on roadways with a speed limit of between 45 and 50 miles per hour happen in rural areas. So, accidents are not necessarily more likely on a busy highway. Most fatal crashes on roads with over 55 miles per hour speed limits are also in rural areas.
Regardless of where a car accident happens, a victim may have legal options. Illinois has complicated laws surrounding car accidents, and a legal mind is needed to protect the rights of the victim. Medical bills and damage from an accident are expensive, and the claims process is often complicated. An Illinois car accident lawyer can help victims recover compensation.
Why is Speeding Dangerous?
The NSC and the NHTSA chalk up one-third of all accidents annually to speeding. While risky driver behaviors increased in 2020 seemingly due to the pandemic, the problem of drivers going too fast is constant. Even a minor collision can cause traumatic injuries. When high speeds are involved, the impact is much greater for the car occupants. Speeding can lead to severe or catastrophic injuries. In some cases, a speeding accident is fatal.
The death of a loved one is devastating for a family, even more so when it is sudden. Families do not get a chance to prepare for these deaths the way they would for a long-term illness. Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit will not reverse the emotional damage, but it will help offset the bills for medical care, funeral costs, and the loss of financial support.
Which Injuries are Linked to Speeding?
Those who survive serious car crashes may also be changed forever. High-speed car crashes greatly increase the chance of a severe injury for those involved. Seat belts save lives, but the impact of a collision can cause significant injuries to passengers and the drivers. Common speed-related car accident injuries include:
- Broken bones: The force of impact during a collision can break or fracture bones. Broken ribs and broken collar bones are common in speed-related accidents. A broken collarbone is extremely painful, and it can make it hard for the victim to use their arm. Broken ribs make it difficult to breathe because the rib could break on or near the lungs and puncture it.
- Internal organ damage: Internal organs can be forced by momentum into the chest wall and can very easily become damaged in the process. A lot of times, those involved in a car accident do not know that they are bleeding internally. This is yet another reason to see a doctor immediately following a collision.
- Ruptured bowels: Bowels can also be impacted during a car accident. If a bowel is damaged, it needs to be repaired right away. A rupture in the bowel can lead waste and bile to spread into the body. That waste is poisonous and can be deadly.
- Head injuries: These can range from concussions to traumatic brain injuries. Objects in the cars move around in a collision, and vehicle occupants will be moving as well. A person’s head can hit an object in the car.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries commonly occur in car accidents. A spinal cord injury can cause a total loss of sensation and mobility.
- Nerve damage: A car accident can also lead to nerve damage, which can cause a lack of sensation or tingling pain in a body part.
- Soft tissue injuries: This includes damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. A soft tissue injury may require surgery.
While people involved in a serious car accident may feel like they are okay because there is no obvious pain or bleeding, seeing a doctor right away is the best course of action. Internal bleeding is not going to be obvious, and many people have delayed symptoms following a crash. This is the result of adrenaline and endorphins, and even obvious injuries might not be painful right away.
What Should I Do After a Speed-Related Car Accident?
Rules governing car accident cases vary all over the United States. In Illinois, those involved in an accident must be proactive. It is required that injured car accident victims report the collision to the police. Police do not get alerted to all accidents, but in Illinois, if there are injuries to people and damage to the cars involved, it is expected that the parties in the crash will call the local police right away.
In Illinois, if property damage is expected to cost more than $1,500 in damages, the collision must be reported, which may seem like a hard figure to estimate without a background in insurance appraisal. However, the $1,500 threshold is for people who have insurance. If one of the drivers does not have insurance, the threshold for reporting the crash to police goes down to $500.
A police report will help the injured party build a case if they wish to pursue legal options. In cases where more than one driver made a mistake, the police report will help determine how much responsibility each party had in the accident. This will help determine the total damage award.
It is important to call the insurance company right away to file a claim for damages. If one person plans to file a personal injury lawsuit, the police report will help build a case within the Illinois statute of limitations for car accidents, which is two years. This statute of limitations applies to all involved, whether the person filing is a driver, passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian. The statute of limitations extends to five years in Illinois for those who are only seeking financial reparations for vehicle or property damage.
There are many car accidents that do not warrant lawsuits. It is best to consult with an experienced lawyer following an accident, even if the parties involved filed insurance claims already. It takes time to file a lawsuit, and one should be mindful of the statute of limitations in Illinois. It is best to consult with a lawyer to determine if a lawsuit is the best course of action.
What Does Comparative Negligence Mean in Illinois Car Accident Cases?
The state of Illinois uses the legal concept of comparative negligence. This means that if both drivers contributed to the collision, the total damage award for each party will be deducted by their percentage of fault. If one person is entirely at fault for the crash, then that driver needs to compensate the injured party for medical bills, property damages, lost wages, and other financial losses.
If a driver is found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the collision, they cannot collect any damages. For example, if the court and jury determine that the plaintiff suffered $100,000 in damages from the accident, but they are also found to be 40 percent at fault, they are eligible to collect 60 percent of the total damage award.
It is important to note that the legal concept of comparative negligence governs the way car insurance firms handle Illinois car insurance claims as well. The amount of compensation for any given claim may be less than the total amount of bills from the accident.
Is Car Insurance Mandatory in Illinois?
Illinois requires that everyone driving a car be covered by an auto insurance plan. There is a minimum fine of $500 for those driving uninsured. In 2020, the state began an electronic verification program for vehicles registered in Illinois, a process that happens at least twice a year. This ensures that more of the bills resulting from an accident will be paid, but it also provides more incentive for those involved in a car accident to report it to the police.
If one of the drivers is uninsured, the other parties will know right away. Vehicle registrations will be suspended for those who cannot prove that they have insurance. If a person is driving a vehicle with suspended plates due to a previous insurance violation, fines start at $1,000.
Why Do Drivers Speed?
Speeding is a remarkably common problem, especially on roads with low speed limits. Despite the knowledge that speed is a huge factor in accidents and that tickets are high if one is caught speeding, drivers continue this behavior. The following are a few reasons drivers exceed the speed limit:
- Time: Most drivers speed to get to their destination faster or to save time.
- New drivers: New drivers, particularly younger drivers, may try to show off their skills behind the wheel.
- Too comfortable: Going over the same roadway multiple times per day can make a driver too comfortable, relying on instincts instead of posted speed limits.
- Under the influence: The NHTSA reports that almost 30 of people suffer fatal injuries in the U.S. every day due to car accidents related to drunk driving. An intoxicated person is more likely to be overconfident with many everyday tasks. Thankfully, drivers now have a lower-cost option to get home if they had a few drinks, such as a ridesharing service.
- Road rage: Drivers may be using their time behind the wheel to exercise frustration from some other area of their life. This can create accidents and high-speed car chases. Speeding may be just one of the behaviors shown on the road by a driver with road rage.
Illinois Car Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Assist Personal Injury Victims
In the turmoil following a car accident, a victim should reach out to one of our Illinois car accident lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC for help filing a claim. You may need a strong lawyer on your side to protect your rights. Call us at 618-277-3644 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients throughout St. Louis, Belleville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo, Chester, Carbondale, St. Clair County, Madison County, Monroe County, Randolph County, and other regions throughout Southern Illinois.