Anytime you have sustained personal injury as the result of another person’s careless operation of their automobile or as the result of a combination of your own and another person’s carelessness, you may be entitled to a recovery for the personal injuries you have suffered. In the State of Illinois, it is important that the negligence contributable to you not exceed 50%, or you are not entitled to any recovery. It is important to speak with a seasoned personal injury attorney and discuss all the facts of the incident before deciding whether you have a case.
When filing a personal injury cause of action, you are entitled to recover:
- Reasonable medical expenses for reasonable medical care received;
- Your wage loss;
- Pain & suffering;
- Disability or loss of normal life;
- Any out of pocket expenses;
- Property damage to your vehicle or to you belongings;
- Car rental costs;
- All other expenses that you have incurred resulting from the incident.
If you have been involved in an automobile accident or incident in which you have sustained personal injuries, stay calm. If you are in need of emergency care, call or have someone call 911. The most important thing is to make arrangements for your own safety and that of everyone else who has been involved in the accident with you–to the best of your ability. Once you are secure and out of the danger zone, you should think about getting the evidence you will need to prove your personal injury damages.
From the moment the incident takes place, anything you say may be used against you at anytime in the future.
- Do not say you are sorry, if you feel you were not at fault.
- Do not admit fault or offer to repair the other person’s vehicle if you did not cause the damages or the auto accident.
- If you are hurt, it is important that you get the medical help you need as soon as possible and without any unnecessary delay.
If you get the opportunity, talk to the investigating police officer and tell your side of the story. If you are hurt, tell him or her that you are hurt. Be concise, do not exaggerate or minimize anything and be thorough to the best of your ability. Do not play coy–be truthful and thorough. If the other person was at fault, make sure you tell the police and tell why you think so.
Get a copy of the traffic report the investigating police officer prepares. If anyone received a traffic ticket, make sure you note the court dates and the location of the court and plan on attending the hearing.
In general, insurance companies are not your friend. You should remember that your insurance company is not there to help you. Whether they pretend to be a good neighbor or whether you feel you are in good hands, the bottom line is that the insurance company is not in the business of paying out claims or paying out full value of a claim. Therefore, always take what the insurance company’s adjuster tells you with a grain of salt. It is always a good idea to research and double check the facts and figures set forth by the adjuster.
You do have some obligations: When you signed your policy of motor vehicle coverage, it is likely that you agreed to cooperate with your insurance company if and when they choose to investigate your claim. That is, you must give them permission to get your medical records, to see and assess the damage to your vehicle, to give a statement and/or submit yourself to an “independent” medical examination if the insurance company so chooses. Of course, failure to cooperate will result in cancellation of your coverage, and/or denial of your claim.
However, there are exceptions and limitations to your obligations. These exceptions and limitations are to be assessed on a case by case basis. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to make these assessments to prevent the insurance company to have a free hand and an unabridged access to your personal and confidential information when there is no need.
Make sure you keep a record of all conversations with your adjuster. If they promise you something, make sure you ask for it in writing: If it is not in writing, it never existed, no matter how many times you tell them that you were “told.” Keep track of the date, time and subject of all conversation. Rule number 1? Get it in writing. Always.
You have no obligation to cooperate with the other party’s insurance carrier.
Contrary to the obligations to your own insurance company, you do not have any obligation to talk, discuss, prove and/or provide information to the other party’s insurance company. The other party’s insurance adjuster is certainly not your friend. In fact, the sole purpose of the call to you is for the adjuster to find a way to make sure that either no payment is made to you or if you are entitled to payment, that the most minimal amount of payment is made. To that end, adjusters have been known to lie, distort facts and the law in order to gain an unfair advantage over you and to persuade you to accept less than honest compensation for your damages. Do not be fooled by their friendliness and pleasant manner of approaching you.
IT IS HIGHLY ADVISABLE NOT TO SIGN ANY PAPER(S)
UNLESS YOU HAVE HAD IT REVIEWED BY A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER.
Usually the insurance company makes an attempt to speak to you very shortly after the incident where you injured yourself and hopefully before you have had a chance to speak with a personal injury attorney. Anything you say during the interview will be used against you and may not be able to be remedied if you choose to retain an attorney later on. You are under no obligation to speak to the other party’s insurance company even less to give a recorded statement where the sole purpose of the interviewer may be to make sure he or she gets you to say things that may not be helpful to your case.
IT IS HIGHLY ADVISABLE NOT TO GIVE STATEMENT (recorded or otherwise) TO THE OTHER PARTY’S INSURANCE COMPANY WITHOUT HAVING FIRST SPOKEN TO A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
You must remember that from the hospitals and doctors’ point of view, the bills you have incurred for the medical treatment or your personal injuries you have received are yours and are your responsibility to pay. Even if you believe you did not cause the accident and therefore the other driver has to pay, so long as your case has not settled or has not gone to trial, and so long as those bills are unpaid, the hospitals will pursue you for payment.
There are alternatives: If you have Med Pay coverage on your motor vehicle insurance, or if you have health insurance, it is advisable to make a claim and have your insurance pay for the medical bills. This way, you at least prevent collection proceedings against you by the hospitals and doctors. If you do not have insurance, an attorney is able to sometimes get a hospital or a doctor to wait for payment of their bills until the resolution of a case. Remember, you do not want to add insult to your injuries by getting negative reports on your credit.