Auto Accident Lawyer
Frequently Asked Auto Accident Questions
If someone else is to blame for causing a car accident and you suffer injuries (regardless of how minimal), it is well worth your time to contact an auto accident lawyer as soon as possible. The primary reason it is important to contact an auto accident lawyer immediately is because the insurance company for the at-fault party will contact you as soon as they can in hopes of obtaining information from you that they may be able to use to lower the amount of your claim. In addition, skilled auto accident lawyers will stay on top of your medical bills and work out payment arrangements with medical providers in order to minimize your payment obligations. Finally, a good car accident lawyer will be able to properly value and maximize your recovery through a settlement or trial.
For those reasons, even after paying attorney fees (I handle auto accident cases on a contingency basis which is discussed below), you will likely walk away with more money in your pocket by working with an auto accident lawyer than if you handle your auto accident claim by yourself.
I handle auto accident cases on a contingent basis. In other words, I am not paid a fee until a case is successfully resolved and my fee is a percentage of the overall recovery.
A contingency arrangement is advantageous for my clients because they do not pay me out-of-pocket and I am owed nothing in the event we are unsuccessful in recovering. I’ve found that even after paying attorney fees at the end of a case pursuant to a contingency arrangement, my clients walk away with far more money than if they would have handled their case alone.
I never recommend speaking with an insurance adjuster for the at-fault party prior to retaining an auto accident lawyer. While many insurance adjuster’s are very nice and friendly, their overarching goal is to minimize the amount of money their insurance company is obligated to pay on each claim. And they’re trained at accomplishing that goal; chances are that you do not have the same training.
Damages vary from case-to-case, as to the amounts of recoverable damages. That said, common forms of what the law calls “economic damages” include recovery for medical charges and wage loss. “Non-economic damages” include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of a normal life, or disability and disfigurement. You may also obtain “future damages” based in part on expected costs of treatment in the future as well as expected future pain and suffering.
If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you may be able to seek compensation from your own insurance policy. You may also sue the driver and collect against their personal resources; however, a lot of times if someone does not have insurance then they also do not have much in the way of personal resources so you may be limited to the amount available through your own insurance policy. Because your own insurance policy limits may dictate the amount of your recovery anytime you step behind the wheel of your vehicle, I strongly encourage my clients to have hefty uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage policies.
In Illinois, you must bring a legal claim within a specific time period which is called the “statute of limitations.” Most auto accident cases are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. However, the statute may be shorter than two years depending on a variety of factors. This is another reason why you should contact an auto accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to ensure that your claim does not become barred by the statute of limitations.
You absolutely have an auto accident claim if you are injured in a passenger. Injured passenger claims can be a little bit more complex than injured driver claims because there are a variety of at-fault parties and insurance coverage. For example, if the driver of your vehicle is at fault, or even partially at fault, you may have a claim against them. Likewise, if the at-fault party (whether the driver of the vehicle you were in or the driver of a different vehicle) has minimal coverage, you may be able to bring a claim against your own insurance policy depending on the policy language. Because of these complexities, it is important to simply contact an auto accident lawyer at let an expert sort things out.
Subrogation is a term that generally describes what occurs when an insurance company has to pay for injuries caused by another insurance provider’s insured. For example, say Adam suffers personal injuries because Bob rear-ended his car. Adam visits the emergency room, resulting in a bill being submitted to Adam’s own health insurance. Adam’s health insurance pays the bill. Because Bob was at-fault, Adam’s health insurance is entitled to reimbursement from Bob’s insurance policy. That right to reimbursement, or subrogation, is typically in the form of a lien placed against the recovery Adam will receive through settlement or trial from Bob’s insurance policy.