CAR & TRUCK ACCIDENT FAQs
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A LAWSUIT FOR A CAR ACCIDENT?
In most cases in Illinois, the statute of limitations for a car accident is 2 years from the date of the accident. Where the injured party is under the age of 18 at the time of the collision the suit may be filed within 2 years of the minor's 18th birthday. In any event, you should contact our office as soon as possible so that we can begin our investigation as close to the date of the accident as possible. Waiting too long before contacting an attorney can be detrimental to your case or even bar you from recovery altogether. Contact our office to discuss your case as soon as possible after the accident.
MY CAR IS DAMAGED. WHO PAYS FOR THE REPAIRS?
If another driver was at fault for the accident, their insurance company should pay for the repairs to your vehicle. If you were at fault and had full coverage at the time of the accident, your insurance company should pay for the repairs. If you were at fault and had no insurance or had a liability-only policy, you are responsible for paying for the repairs. Although it is usually clear who caused the accident based on the circumstances (e.g. someone ran a red light or rear-ended you) you should still speak to an attorney to make sure all of the facts and laws are properly considered.
I HAVE MEDICAL BILLS. WHO PAYS FOR MY MEDICAL TREATMENT?
Medical bills stemming from injuries incurred in a car accident can be paid in a variety of ways. Insurance companies settle cases in one lump sum and only after obtaining and reviewing the related medical file. In the meantime, your medical bills might start piling up and you might start getting calls from collection agencies. Our attorneys typically recommend the following with regard to medical bills prior to settlement/verdict:
-Group Health Insurance
If you have health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare you should bill all of your medical treatment through your health insurance policy. Your health insurance company is entitled to be reimbursed for these payments out of any settlement or verdict obtained on your behalf, but insurance companies often pay for medical treatment at a discounted rate. At the very least, if you bill through your group insurance you know your bills are taken care of and you won't have to deal with bill collectors.
-Medical Payment Provision of your Automobile Insurance
Call your insurance company to see if you have a medical payment policy. Many policies will include $5,000, $10,000, or more in medical coverage for accident-related injuries. Your insurance company is entitled to be reimbursed for these payments out of any settlement or verdict obtained on your behalf, but at least you can get a large amount of your bills paid upfront. This option is particularly good if you have no other group health insurance to pay your bills.
-Health Care Liens
If the first two options are unavailable or exhausted, many providers will agree to place a lien on your personal injury file if you are represented by an attorney. If the physician agrees to place a lien on your file you will be able to receive medical treatment from that provider without having to pay for the charges as they are incurred. Instead, the provider's lien entitles them to be paid out of any settlement or verdict amount obtained on your behalf. In the event that you don't recover from your injuries, you will be responsible for paying the balance owed to the physician.
MY INJURIES PREVENTED ME FROM WORKING. CAN I RECOVER FOR LOST WAGES?
Lost wages should be included in any insurance claim where injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision prevent you from working. Always get a doctor's note for the days of work missed. Any days you miss that aren't missed at the direction of a physician are unlikely to be reimbursed.
I WAS THE PASSENGER IN A CAR ACCIDENT AND WAS INJURED. WHO PAYS FOR MY MEDICAL TREATMENT, LOST WAGES, AND PAIN AND SUFFERING?
The at-fault driver's insurance is responsible for paying your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering even if the driver of the car you were a passenger in caused the accident. If another driver was at fault, in addition to the other driver's insurance, the driver of the vehicle in which you were a passenger may have a medical payment policy and/or uninsured/underinsured motorist policy which may apply to you. If that is the case, recovery may be had under one or both of those policies where applicable.
THE OTHER DRIVER'S INSURANCE HAS OFFERED TO SETTLE MY CASE WITH ME. IS THEIR OFFER FAIR?
Insurance companies very rarely offer a fair settlement to an unrepresented person early on in a case. Adjusters are paid to save the insurance company money and they are looking out for their best interest...not yours. Our attorneys negotiate injury settlements every day and have the experience necessary to evaluate the value of your case. Do not accept a settlement offer without discussing your case with one of our experienced attorneys first.
THE OTHER DRIVER'S INSURANCE COMPANY IS CALLING ME. SHOULD I GIVE THEM A RECORDED STATEMENT?
The insurance company will attempt to investigate the accident to determine which driver was at fault and they will need to know your version of the facts before that determination can be made. You should speak to an attorney before giving a statement to anyone about your case.
MY INSURANCE COMPANY IS CALLING ME. SHOULD I GIVE THEM A RECORDED STATEMENT.
Even if another driver caused the accident, your insurance company will attempt to investigate the accident to determine which driver was at fault and they will need to know your version of the facts before that determination can be made. You should speak to an attorney before giving a statement to anyone about your case.
I WAS THE VICTIM OF A HIT AND RUN. WHO PAYS FOR MY PROPERTY DAMAGE, MEDICAL BILLS, LOST WAGES, AND PAIN AND SUFFERING?
If the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident and is not subsequently located, you will need to look into your own insurance policy to see if you have uninsured motorist coverage. If so, you would be entitled to file a claim with your insurance company for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage and the at-fault driver is not found after the accident but you have a full coverage policy, you can file a claim for property damage under your policy. If you have a medical payment policy, you can pay for medical treatment with those funds. If you have a liability-only policy or were uninsured on the date of the accident you will be responsible for paying for your property damage and medical bills.
THE OTHER DRIVER HAD NO INSURANCE OR POLICY LIMITS THAT ARE LESS THAN MY MEDICAL BILLS, PROPERTY DAMAGE, ETC. WHAT CAN I DO?
-Uninsured motorist coverage
If an uninsured driver hits you and you suffer injuries and/or property damage you are not necessarily out of luck. First, you should call your insurance company and open a claim for your property damage. Next, check your policy or ask your insurance company representative if you have medical payment coverage. If yes, you should open up a claim for medical payments. Then ask if you have uninsured motorist coverage. If yes, then you may be able to recover from your injuries and/or property damage through your own policy. Lastly, you may wish to investigate the possibility of suing the at-fault driver directly. Suing an uninsured individual is often the last resort and rarely advised because collecting a judgment from an individual can be very difficult, if not impossible. Chances are if the other driver couldn't afford insurance, they won't be able to afford to pay a judgment either.
-Underinsured motorist coverage
If you sustain property damage and/or injuries that exceed the other driver's insurance policy limit you may be able to settle the case with the other driver's insurance company and then file a claim against your insurance company for the difference if you have an underinsured motorist insurance. Your insurance company is entitled to a set off for the difference between the full policy limits of the at-fault driver's insurance policy and will only be responsible for the amount by which your damages exceed the at-fault driver's policy limits. For example, if you have $100,000 in damages, but the other driver's insurance policy limit is $50,000, your underinsured motorist policy will only be liable for the extra $50,000. In Illinois, you must obtain approval from your underinsured motorist insurance carrier prior to accepting a settlement for policy limits from the at-fault driver's insurer. Additionally, you must provide notice of your intent to pursue an underinsured motorist claim to your insurer.
WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH?
Only a thorough review of all of the evidence in your case including your medical records, bills, property damage, photographs, traffic crash report, etc. will allow our attorneys to estimate the value of your case. There are many factors that are weighed, including the extent of your injuries, the medical treatment required to cure or alleviate those injuries, whether your injuries are permanent, whether or not you have pre-existing injuries, whether or not any of the liability for the accident can be attributed to you, and even which county the case would be filed in (juries in certain counties are more conservative than others). Call us today for a free consultation so we can review your case. Our personal injury clients are taken on a contingency basis - you don't pay attorney's fees unless we collect money for your injuries.