Chicago Car Accident Guide_ Essential Steps to Protect Your Rights

It’s important to be familiar with the legal steps after a car accident in Chicago when someone else caused a crash that injured you. Even if you’re a responsible motorist, you can’t be certain you’ll never get hurt in a motor vehicle wreck. Someone else may cause a crash that leaves you with injuries.

In Illinois, you can file a claim with the insurance carrier of the driver who caused your crash. Filing a claim allows you to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and related losses. Your odds of receiving the compensation you’re entitled to will be greater if you take the right steps after your crash.

After a Chicago Accident: Immediate Actions in the Aftermath of a Collision

Taking certain steps right away after a crash can protect both your rights and safety. These steps include:

  • Checking yourself for injuries
  • Checking your passengers for injuries
  • Tending to any injuries requiring immediate attention
  • Moving to a safe spot away from traffic (and only moving your vehicle if you’re absolutely certain you can do so safely)
  • Calmly approaching the other vehicles (if it’s safe to do so) to check on the other drivers involved in the crash
  • Calling 911 to report the wreck
  • Not saying anything that might suggest you contributed to the crash
  • Not saying you’re “fine” or saying anything else to suggest you’re not hurt
  • Not confronting another driver in anger, even if you think the crash was their fault
  • Exchanging contact and insurance information with the other drivers involved in the wreck
  • Getting the names and contact information of witnesses (and recording their statements if they agree to let you)
  • Taking pictures of the collision scene from multiple angles
  • Taking pictures of any visual signs of your injuries

Cooperate with the police as they investigate the crash. The police will file an official report. You can request an accident report from the Chicago Police Department online. Doing so is another task to include on a Chicago car crash checklist.

The Importance of Seeing a Doctor Right Away After a Crash

In a list of “car accident steps for Chicago drivers,” this task deserves its own section. Seeing a doctor once the police give you permission to leave the scene of the crash is vital.

However, some car crash victims don’t seek medical care right away. They may think they’re uninjured if they don’t notice any signs of injury.

A lack of injury symptoms doesn’t always mean you weren’t injured. For example, a traumatic or stressful experience like a motor vehicle crash can cause a spike in adrenaline. That spike in adrenaline may prevent someone from noticing injury symptoms. In addition, a concussion or similar injury might not cause noticeable symptoms until hours or days after a crash.

Seeing a doctor on the day of a collision is critical. A physician needs to check you for any signs of injury you may have overlooked. Being able to show that you saw a doctor right away also lends credibility to a car crash injury claim.

As with many car accident steps in Chicago, taking this step late is better than never taking it at all. If you haven’t seen a doctor yet in the aftermath of a wreck, schedule an appointment now. The sooner you seek care, the better. Always keep copies of medical records after your crash as well.

Car Accident Steps in Chicago: What NOT To Do

a man talking on a phone next to a car accident with a woman in the backgroundUnderstanding proper legal steps after a car accident is important. It’s also essential to know what not to do after a wreck.

Mistakes to avoid making include:

  • Posting about your crash online – Try to avoid posting on social media until you receive a settlement or court award. When you file a claim, an insurance claims adjuster may try to find reasons to justify paying you less than you’re seeking. One tactic they may use involves searching your social media for any posts they can use against you. For example, a picture or video of you smiling and engaging in physical activity might indicate your injuries aren’t severe. If you don’t post on social media, you’re not giving an adjuster this ammunition.
  • Openly discussing your crash – Your impulse after a frightening collision may be to talk about the experience with as many people as possible. However, you run the risk of saying the wrong thing when doing so. An offhand comment that suggests you caused the crash might hurt your case if it gets back to a claims adjuster. Guard against this by being very cautious about who you discuss your crash with.
  • Working directly with the insurance company – A claims adjuster might pretend to be on your side when speaking with you. Often, adjusters use compassionate language to put claimants at ease. What you must remember is that a claims adjuster is an employee of the insurance company. Their job is to limit how much money their employer pays you.

If you work directly with the claims adjuster, you might say something they can use to justify a low payout. For example, maybe an adjuster calls you on the phone. They ask how you’re feeling, which is a common way to start any conversation.

You might say you’re feeling “okay.” Perhaps this isn’t entirely true. Maybe your injuries have caused you more discomfort than you’re letting on. However, like many people, your knee-jerk response may be to say you’re fine when someone asks how you feel.

An insurance adjuster may be listening for such statements. They could cite this statement to argue your injuries aren’t severe.

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer

Review your case with an attorney instead of working directly with the insurance company. A qualified Chicago car accident lawyer will understand insurance company tactics to minimize your claim. Thus, they’ll know how to improve your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.

At JJ Legal, our team is prepared to offer the representation you need. You’ll have more freedom to focus on your recovery when you hire us to handle your claim. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us at 312-200-2000 for a free case review.

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