Auto Accident Lawyer

auto accident between a red car and a white car at a stop sign (auto accident lawyer in Decatur, Illinois)

Frequently Asked Auto Accident Questions

Auto accidents are never fun, but they’re one of those not-fun things that we all need to be prepared to deal with. After all, even if you exercise the utmost caution when behind the wheel, you have no control over any other drivers. And because of how common auto accidents are, you’ll likely find yourself involved in one at some point.

A significant portion of my law practice is devoted towards helping folks who suffer personal injuries in auto accidents. The following FAQ’s are questions I frequently receive from my clients and prospective clients. If you have a question not answered here, or have a question about injuries you’ve suffered in an auto accident, feel free to send me an email (zanderson@brelaw.com) or text message (217-247-4775).

If you suffer injuries in an auto accident caused by someone else, it is well worth your time to contact an auto accident lawyer as soon as possible. One reason why it is important to contact an auto accident lawyer immediately is because an insurance adjuster from the at-fault driver’s insurance company will likely contact you within a couple of days of the accident. If you talk to the insurance adjuster, you will likely unknowingly provide information or say something that may de-value your injury claim. In addition, skilled auto accident lawyers will work with your medical providers to stay on top of your medical bills in order to minimize your medical payment obligations. Finally, a good auto 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, so you do not pay me anything out-of-pocket), you will likely walk away with more money 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. 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. Plus, 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 adjusters are very nice and friendly, their overarching goal is to minimize the amount of money their insurance company is obligated to pay to the injured person. And they’re trained at accomplishing that goal – chances are that you do not have the same training (but a good auto accident lawyer does). 

Damages vary from case-to-case, as do 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 at-fault driver and collect against their personal resources; however, I’ve never encountered a situation where a non-insured person has any resources to pay a monetary judgment. So as a general rule, it’s safe to assume that if you are injured by a non-insured person, your recovery will likely be limited to the amount of un-insurance you have available through your own auto insurance policy. 

Because there are A LOT of un-insured drivers on our roads, it is important to check your own auto insurance policy to see how much un-insurance coverage you have available in the event you find yourself in such a situation.

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.

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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 and Adam’s own health insurance pays his medical bills. 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. 

If you are injured while driving for work, you are generally entitled to obtain workers compensation benefits subject to certain limitations apply which are heavily fact-dependent on the exact situation. In addition, depending on who was at-fault for the accident, the injured worker may be entitled to bring a third-party claim against the at-fault driver.

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About Me . . .

Zach Anderson

Zach Anderson

I'm a lawyer and partner at BRE Law. My practice is focused on representing individuals throughout Central Illinois who suffer physical, mental, and financial injuries.

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