Car accidents can be overwhelming and stressful, especially if they result in injuries. You should know how to safeguard your rights and ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to if you or a loved one is hurt in a vehicle accident in Naperville, Illinois.
The first step is to call 911 and seek medical attention, even if you think your injuries are minor. Some injuries may not show symptoms immediately, such as whiplash, and delaying treatment can worsen your condition. Illinois also requires a police report for wrecks that cause over $1500 in damages; since you don’t know the amount on the scene, having a police report on file taken immediately after is a good idea. This ensures all information is accurate.
Additionally, move your vehicle out of traffic if you or a passenger are able. Make sure to document the scene before doing so, but moving your vehicle lessens the chance that another accident will occur while you work through everything. If you cannot move your vehicle, whether due to injuries or damage, turn on your flashers and set out any hazard signals you might have in a roadside emergency kit. Otherwise, the police will set up a blockade with emergency vehicles as soon as they arrive.
The day-of advice in this article assumes you are well enough to handle matters on scene. If you do not feel safe to move and gather information, stay in your seat. Police on the scene will collect contact information for all involved and make a report with input from emergency medical personnel.
Gather Information and Notify Your Insurance
After you’ve called 911, the next step is to gather information about the accident. This includes:
- Names, phone numbers, and addresses of all drivers and passengers involved
- Insurance information for all drivers involved
- License plate numbers of all vehicles involved
- Names and contact information for any witnesses
Take pictures of the accident scene and any visible injuries. These can be used as evidence if you file a personal injury claim. Additionally, talk to the police on the scene about how to get a copy of the police report.
Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you must notify your insurance company about the accident. Failing to do so can result in the denial of your claim. So be sure to provide your insurance company with all the information you gathered at the accident scene.
Be careful what you say, to the other drivers, to anyone present, to the police, and to your insurance company. Avoid admitting fault or making statements that could be used against you later. Instead, stick to the facts and let an attorney handle communication with the other parties involved.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Contact a lawyer with experience with car accidents as soon as you can. While you may be tempted to handle the case on your own or rely on the insurance company to address it for you, the reality is that an attorney can help ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Here are some key reasons why hiring an attorney is so important after a car accident:
- Understanding of the Legal System: Personal injury law is convoluted, and navigating the legal system on your own can be overwhelming. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand the legal process and guide you through each step.
- Experience with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies have teams of attorneys and adjusters who settle claims for as little money as possible. An experienced personal injury attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and work to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation possible.
- Knowledge of Personal Injury Law: A personal injury attorney deeply understands the laws governing personal injury cases, including those specific to Illinois, and can help you build a strong case that proves liability and damages. They can also help you identify potential sources of compensation, such as insurance policies and third-party liability claims.
- Access to Resources: Personal injury cases often require access to medical experts, accident reconstruction specialists, and other professionals who can provide testimony or evidence to support your claim. An experienced attorney will have access to a network of experts who can help strengthen your case.
- Peace of Mind: By hiring an attorney, you can focus on your recovery and leave the legal work to the professionals. Knowing that you have an experienced advocate working on your behalf can give you peace of mind during a difficult time.
Personal injury claims can take time to resolve, so patience is important. Your attorney will work diligently to ensure that your claim is resolved as quickly as possible, but the process can take several months or even years.
After the Accident
Even if you received medical attention immediately after the accident, continuing with any recommended follow-up care, including doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and other treatments is important. Follow-up care can help ensure that your injuries are properly treated and provide the necessary documentation of the extent of your injuries.
If you file a personal injury claim, document all damages resulting from the accident, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. Keep records of all medical bills, invoices, and receipts related to your injury. Document any time missed from work or other financial losses. In addition, keep detailed records of all communication with insurance companies and other parties involved in the case. This includes emails, phone calls, and written correspondence. Your attorney can use this information to negotiate a fair settlement or present a strong court case.
Stay in communication with your attorney throughout the process. They can guide you on the next steps, advise you on any settlement offers, and represent your interests in negotiations or court.
Don’t Sign Anything Without Your Attorney’s Approval
You may be approached by insurance adjusters or attorneys representing the other driver’s insurance company. They may ask you to sign a document, such as a release or waiver of liability, as part of a settlement offer or to close the case quickly. However, it’s important to remember that signing any document without consulting with your personal injury attorney can have serious consequences.
First, you may be signing away your right to pursue further legal action or to receive additional compensation for your injuries. This can be especially damaging if your injuries are more severe than initially believed or if complications arise down the line. Once you sign a release or waiver, you may be legally bound by its terms, even if they are not in your best interest.
Second, insurance adjusters and opposing attorneys are trained to negotiate and settle claims for the least amount of money possible. If you sign a settlement agreement without the advice of an attorney, you may be agreeing to a settlement far less than what you are entitled to receive. An experienced personal injury attorney can review the terms of any settlement offer and negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation possible.
Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be complex and challenging, but with the right guidance and support, you can work towards a positive resolution. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Naperville, Illinois, don’t hesitate to reach out to a skilled personal injury attorney for help.