Steps to Take After a Car Accident

Web Admin - Thursday, June 04, 2015

illinois car accidents, Arlington Heights car accident lawyerIn the unfortunate event that you are involved in a car accident, there are several things you should do to help protect any future claims for personal injury you may have against the person at fault (or their insurance company). While it is not pleasant to think about being involved in a car accident, it can be beneficial to have an idea of what steps you should take in case an accident occurs.

Protecting Future Personal Injury Claims

After you have been in an accident, it is important to check to make sure everyone involved is uninjured. If someone is injured, you should contact emergency personnel to obtain proper medical treatment. It is important to remember that there are several requirements under Illinois law in regards to stopping at the accident, rendering aid, and reporting the accident. There are significant penalties for failing to perform any of these duties.

Quite often after an accident, it is part of natural reflex to want to apologize. However, this should be avoided, as it may indicate potential fault. Along similar lines, it is critical to not admit fault to anyone at the scene, such as the other driver or any passengers. Instead, when the police arrive and begin forming the report of the accident, you should provide the officer with an honest description of what happened.

Additionally, it may prove beneficial to take notes of the scene. Pay attention to things like the weather conditions, any stop lights or signs, and traffic conditions. All of this can end up being important while negotiating with the insurance company or during litigation. Utilize the camera on your phone and take photographs. These often provide much better evidence than people’s statements.

If you have even slight pain, as soon as possible after the accident you should be evaluated by a physician or other health care professional. While immediately after the accident you may have only minimal pain, it is possible that increased adrenaline is contributing to masking your pain. Additionally, minor pain may still be the result of a more serious condition.

Aside from obtaining needed treatment, seeking immediate medical attention will strengthen any personal injury claim you may end up making. If medical treatment is not immediately sought, it can be argued that the injury is not serious or nonexistent completely. Alternatively, assuming an injury is not contested, a gap between the accident and medical treatment can make it more difficult to prove the injury was caused by the accident.

During the period in which you are receiving treatment, it is critical that you keep track of the diagnosed injuries and the specific treatment administered. This includes keeping receipts for prescriptions and any medical bills you receive. Additionally, take note of any correspondence you have with doctors or other health care professionals. If any injuries are physically visible, you should take photographs of them, which will help demonstrate the extent and seriousness of those injuries.

Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been involved in a car accident and believe you have suffered injuries as a result, you should reach out to a passionate Illinois personal injury lawyer in your area. Our skilled professionals proudly represent individuals from Crystal Lake, Buffalo Grove, and Arlington Heights, among many other areas. Contact us today to discuss your legal options. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

The Dangers of Hands Free Cell Phone Use While Driving

Web Admin - Friday, November 28, 2014

hands free device danger, Illinois personal injury lawyerEveryone knows they should avoid texting and driving. Focusing on a smartphone screen rather than the road is a recipe for disaster, and may lead to serious accidents. This common sense principle has led Illinois to pass a law forcing drivers to only use hands free devices when they are driving. However, even though hands free cell phone use lets people keep their eyes on the road, it still does not entirely remove the distraction of speaking on the phone. Additionally, the use of hands free technology may also bring a curious piece of human psychology known as the Peltzman effect into play.

Hands Free Device Statistics

Hands free driving seems like it should make people safer, but some studies show it may actually pose even more risks. Either way, the statistics show that it can still be dangerous. For instance, even though only nine percent of drivers are using phones at any given time, these drivers are involved in 26 percent of all crashes. This is because 90 percent of crashes involve driver error rather than the environment or mechanical failures.

A lot of the problems caused by phones are a function of how the brain processes information. Although many people believe they are capable of multitasking, that is actually an illusion. The brain cannot actually perform multiple tasks at one time. Instead, the brain switches rapidly back and forth between the two tasks, but it does not do it perfectly. This means that the brain's visual processing can be reduced by up to 33 percent while on the phone. This can lead to people missing half of everything going on around them while they talk. However, that failure to multitask is not the only human mental quirk that affects this scenario.

The Peltzman Effect

People using hands free technology may also be falling victim to what economists refer to as the Peltzman effect. The Peltzman effect, which was originally identified by its namesake in the 70s, relates to the fact that people generally have a reasonably constant amount of risk they are willing to take. This can result in regulations that are designed to keep people safe actually having a diminished effect because people are then more willing to take other risks. For instance, people may feel safer when using hands free technology, so they may be more willing to drive faster or pay less attention to the road. Importantly, economists still debate how much extra risk the Peltzman effect actually encourages people to take. Although numerous studies have found evidence of its existence, the magnitude of its impact varies greatly between each study.

Distracted driving is dangerous, regardless of the distraction. If you have recently been injured by the carelessness of a distracted driver, contact a Crystal Lake personal injury attorney today. Our firm helps injured victims across the northwest suburbs in towns like Palatine, Schaumburg, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, and Barrington.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Recovering in a Hit and Run Accident

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

illinois hit and run lawyerAfter a car accident, people have a variety of duties that the law requires them to fulfill. Among these duties is the requirement that the drivers stop and exchange insurance information. This allows the parties the opportunity to recover from the insurance companies for the damages once fault has been decided. However, some drivers ignore this duty and instead flee the scene of an accident. In fact, these hit and run drivers are responsible for over 1,000 deaths every year, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This trend of hit and run accidents is a particular problem because victims of these sorts of accidents can find it difficult to receive compensation from the driver who caused their injuries. Yet, such victims are not without recourse. People injured in hit and run accidents may be able to use a variety of resources to discover the identity of the other driver. Further, even if the other driver cannot be identified, the injured person may be able to file a claim with their own insurance company to help handle their medical costs and repairs.

Identifying the Driver

Hit and run accidents can be a chaotic experience, which makes it difficult for the victim to get any identifying information about the fleeing car. However, injured drivers do have some tools at their disposal. Oftentimes, there will be eyewitnesses on the scene who can help provide descriptions of the car or license plate numbers. Additionally, there may be video evidence of the accident from nearby traffic cameras that can help police determine the identity of the fleeing driver. Finally, some hit and run drivers experience remorse for leaving the scene. Drivers who flee the scene out of fear, especially those under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, have been known to turn themselves in to the police at a later date. All of these methods can help tie a person to the accident, and allow victims to receive full and fair compensation for their injuries.

Without an Identified Driver

In the event that the driver who perpetrated the hit and run cannot be identified, injured motorists may still have the ability to file a claim using their own insurance to receive help with their medical and repair bills. Many insurance policies include insurance for collisions with uninsured or underinsured motorists. These policies are mostly intended to come into use when the policyholder gets into an accident with someone without insurance or someone whose insurance will not cover all the damages. However, many of these policies count unidentified drivers as uninsured drivers, so it is possible that they would cover hit and run accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit and run accident, contact a Palatine personal injury lawyer. Our team of experienced attorneys serves clients in towns like Deer Park, Inverness, and Des Plaines.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance Claims

Web Admin - Thursday, April 17, 2014

illinois uninsured motorist attorney

Driving is such a mundane part of many people's lives that they often take it for granted. However, because driving is so common, it is only a matter of time for most people before they end up in an auto accident. In fact, according to estimates done based on car insurance industry data, most people will experience three to four accidents over the course of their lives. That means that for the majority of drivers, car accidents are a matter of when, rather than a matter of if.

Consequently, carrying car insurance protection is not only a good idea, but it is actually legally required in Illinois. However, despite these laws, many motorists take to the roads without any insurance at all. Furthermore, even those who do carry state minimum coverage may not have enough to cover the injuries and property damage that often arises from more serious accidents. That means that drivers should take their security into their own hands by maximizing theiruninsured and underinsured motorist (UM or UIM) coverage.

What Is UM/UIM Coverage?

UM covers both your property damage and bodily injury in cases where the driver at fault for the accident either does not have insurance or has too little insurance to pay for the full cost of the crash. Many"full coverage" insurance policies in Illinois already have this sort of coverage built into them. It is important to read the policy carefully to understand whether they involve UM coverage, as well as the maximum amounts of property damage and personal injury that the plan will cover.  Ask you agent to maximize your UM/UIM coverage.

Using UM/UIM Coverage

UM coverage comes into play in two circumstances. The first circumstance occurs when there is no way to receive damages from the driver at fault for the accident. Often, that is because the driver at fault is illegally driving without insurance, but UM coverage may also protect against hit-and-run accidents where the driver at fault flees the scene.

The second circumstance occurs when a person ends up in an accident with a driver whose insurance will not cover the full cost of the accident. Suppose someone with $100,000 in personal injury UM coverage is hit by a driver with only $30,000 of personal injury insurance. If the accident is serious enough that the medical bills exceed $30,000, then the driver with UM insurance can pursue a claim against their own insurance company to make up the difference.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, seek help from a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Filing UM insurance claims can be a complicated process, and our team of attorneys helps people across the northwest suburbs in towns like Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, and Crystal Lake. Our attorneys will help ensure that you receive the full protection provided in your insurance contracts.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

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