Chicago Car Accident Lawyers
Thousands of fatalities and tens of thousands of serious injuries occur in motor vehicle accidents in Illinois each year. Over a five-year period, the Illinois Department of Transportation recorded more than 5,400 crash-related deaths. The majority of these fatalities occur on city streets and on state and U.S. highways – proof of the dangers motorists face in a major city like Chicago.
Whether you are hit by a vehicle on the Dan Ryan Expressway or I-90, injured in an accident at one of the dangerous intersections along East 87th Street, struck by a driver speeding along Lake Shore Drive or West North Avenue, or involved in a collision elsewhere in the Chicagoland area, seeking legal help is essential for recovering the compensation you deserve.
At Coplan & Crane, we understand the devastating toll car accidents take on victims and their families. Our attorneys have dedicated their careers to winning for those who have lost due to the negligence of others.
If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, please call (708) 358-8080 today for a free case review. The car accident lawyers at Coplan & Crane serve clients in Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas of Illinois.
Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
Generally, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident. An experienced lawyer can help with many aspects of your claim, including:
- Evaluating your injuries
- Determining who is at fault for the accident
- Gathering evidence on your behalf
- Consulting experts on the evidence in your case, questions of liability, and the compensation you may be due
- Calculating the full extent of damages
Insurance matters are extremely complicated in the aftermath of a car accident. Most victims don’t know what to expect when communicating with the insurance company, leaving them vulnerable to a number of underhanded tactics.
The insurance adjuster may appear friendly and helpful. It is easy to be convinced that the representative genuinely wants to assist you. In reality, however, adjusters and their employers want to pay you as little as possible. To achieve this goal, they may ask you to provide a statement on record, give them access to your medical records, and more.
Each of these tactics is designed to elicit information the insurer can use against you. When you hire a car accident lawyer, however, your interests will be protected.
Coplan & Crane knows how insurance companies operate. We stand for honest, hardworking people who have been injured through no fault of their own, and we strive to win the maximum amount of compensation on their behalf.
Common Types of Car Accidents
No two car accidents are exactly alike. However, what is always true is that victims should take the event seriously.
Any type of crash can result in serious, life-altering injuries. In the worst cases, one or more people may be killed in an accident.
Some of the common claims our car accident lawyers handle involve the following types of wrecks:
The latest Crash Facts & Statistics Report prepared by the Illinois Department of Transportation shows that front-to-rear crashes are the most common type of accident statewide. Although some are minor “fender-benders,” others result in serious injuries and fatalities.
The carelessness of the driver in the rear is a common factor in rear-end collisions. Investigation by an attorney may reveal that the driver in back was texting, talking on the phone, intoxicated, or engaged in other unsafe behaviors.
T-Bone and Broadside Accidents
Intersections are the most dangerous portion of any road. The risk of an accident increases dramatically when vehicles traveling perpendicular to each other meet.
Accidents where the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle are known as T-bone or broadside crashes. Drivers and passengers on the impacted side of the vehicle are at risk for severe trauma.
T-bone accidents frequently occur when careless drivers run stop signs, red lights, and other signs and signals designed to control traffic. However, the at-fault driver may argue that you were the one who ran a stop sign or red light. For this reason, it is crucial to speak to a lawyer promptly if you are involved in a T-bone or broadside accident.
A combination of high speeds and vehicles with a high center of gravity are at the center of most accidents where the vehicle overturns. However, any vehicle can roll, frequently resulting in devastating injuries for those inside.
It is important not to assume that you are automatically at fault for a rollover accident. One or more factors may have led to the crash, such as the negligence of another driver causing you to take evasive action, a dangerous roadway, a defect in your vehicle, and more.
Drivers crashing head-on is a relatively uncommon occurrence, accounting for less than 1% of recorded crashes. However, these accidents account for a disproportionately high number of serious injuries and deaths.
Speeding, distracted driving, drinking and driving, and other careless acts are often a factor in head-on collisions. An experienced car accident lawyer can investigate to determine how the crash happened and who is at fault.
Hit and Run Accidents
Few accidents are more galling than those involving a hit and run. The driver who causes the accident is typically the one who leaves the scene, usually in an effort to evade responsibility.
When drivers hit and run, accident victims may not receive medical attention until it’s too late. Even worse, actually finding the hit-and-run driver can be extremely difficult. For both of these reasons, it is imperative to seek the assistance of an attorney as soon as possible.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Determining the cause of the car accident is a cornerstone of your claim. If you can’t prove that someone else is at fault, you don’t have a viable case.
Very rarely will the driver who causes an accident admit fault. Even rarer is the insurance company agreeing to pay fair compensation for your injuries and other losses.
At Coplan & Crane, we delve into the circumstances of the accident to determine who is at fault. We collect evidence and take action against the liable party to recover damages on your behalf. Our attorneys represent clients who have been injured or lost loved ones in car accidents involving the following factors:
The faster a vehicle travels, the less control the driver has. This is especially true in suboptimal conditions, such as bad weather and low lighting.
Tragedy often strikes when drivers exceed the speed limit or drive too fast for conditions. However, bringing an accident claim in this situation can be challenging because it often comes down to your word against that of the other driver.
If you believe the at-fault driver was speeding at the time of the accident, you need to be able to prove it. Thorough documentation of the accident and expert assessment of the evidence can strengthen your case.
Drunk Driving Accidents
Blood alcohol concentration in excess of 0.08% is the legal limit for driving under the influence. However, any amount of alcohol can impair a motorist’s ability to drive. If you were hit by a drunk driver or a driver under the influence of drugs, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
Although drunk driving is the epitome of negligence, your claim against the drunk driver is hardly a “slam dunk.” Multiple legal issues may arise in these cases, especially if the driver is successful in disputing the admissibility of DUI tests administered by law enforcement.
Distracted Driving Accidents
The vast majority of motorists give in to the temptation of distractions at some point when they are behind the wheel. Unfortunately, a moment of distraction is often all it takes for an accident to occur.
Cell phone usage (including texting and talking on the phone) is the most common issue when people talk about the dangers of distracted driving. However, there are many factors that lead to distracted accidents, such as interacting with passengers, eating and drinking, grooming, and more.
Because most distractions are momentary, prompt investigation is essential. The car accident lawyers at Coplan & Crane can obtain eyewitness testimony, cell phone records, and other evidence to prove that the at-fault driver was distracted.
Fatigued Driving Accidents
One commonly overlooked cause of motor vehicle accidents is fatigue. Motorists who are fatigued behind the wheel are nearly as dangerous as those who drive drunk. However, with no roadside test to measure lack of sleep, fatigue is often only discovered as the cause of an accident when a driver falls asleep behind the wheel.
Driver fatigue is commonly an issue in commercial vehicle accident claims. For example, examination of the driver’s records after a truck accident may reveal that the driver of the big rig exceeded the federally mandated hours of service.
Another scenario where fatigue may be a factor is an accident involving a rideshare driver. Drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services frequently do so to supplement their income. As such, they may be transporting passengers after already working a full day – a sure contributor to fatigue. Coplan & Crane will perform a comprehensive investigation to identify issues of driver fatigue and develop a sound legal strategy for bringing a claim in this emerging area of litigation.
Defective Auto Accidents
Many different vehicle defects can make a car dangerous to drive. Some of the most serious mechanical issues that contribute to accidents include:
- Defective tires
- Defective brakes
- Defective steering mechanisms
- Defective electrical components
- Defective acceleration and fuel systems
- Defective automotive design
Automakers commonly announce recalls for defective parts and components. Unfortunately, it can take multiple accidents before a manufacturer recalls an unsafe vehicle or part.
If you are one of the unfortunate victims of a mechanical failure, Coplan & Crane can help. Product liability is a complex area of law, and it is of the utmost importance to work with an experienced lawyer who can help you bring a strong claim against an automaker and additional parties involved in the design, manufacturing, and sale of the vehicle.
Common Injuries in Car Accidents
Even so-called “minor” car accidents can lead to serious injuries. You should never underestimate the trauma that may happen as a result of the crash, or how your injuries may affect your life long-term.
Serious injuries that may occur in a car accident include:
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries to the head and face, including the eyes, the nose, the inner ear, the mouth and jaw, etc.
- Whiplash and other neck injuries
- Broken bones and soft tissue injuries to the fingers, hands, arms, and shoulders
- Broken ribs and damage to organs in the chest and abdomen
- Back injuries, including herniated discs, spinal cord injury, etc.
- Injuries to the pelvis
- Knee and ankle injuries
- Burn injuries
- Amputation injuries
Each of these injuries can be expensive to treat and result in a long and difficult recovery. Many accident victims are unable to work, making the financial burden even more extreme. In addition, victims of serious auto injuries frequently suffer from physical pain as well as psychological trauma as a result of the ordeal.
In the most extreme instances, one or more of the occupants of the vehicles involved may die as a result of their injuries. Attorneys at Coplan & Crane recognize the devastating effects such an event has for you and your family, and we can pursue a wrongful death claim on your behalf.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Exchanging information with the other driver, taking photos of the scene, talking to witnesses – these are all steps that accident victims would ideally be able to take if they are involved in a car accident. However, depending on the severity of the accident, this may not be an option for you.
The following checklist can help you navigate the aftermath of a car accident both at the scene and after the fact:
1. Call 911 Immediately
Your safety and well-being should be your top priority after a car accident. Dialing 911 will get fire and rescue personnel to the scene who can evaluate your injuries and safely remove you from the vehicle.
You should also ask for the police to respond to the accident scene. A law enforcement officer will investigate the accident and write up a report of what happened.
2. Seek Medical Care
If you are seriously hurt in the accident, you may be transported to the hospital immediately. If you are not, however, you should go to the emergency room for a full examination.
Delaying medical treatment could result in an injury you didn’t know you had getting worse. It also gives the insurance companies room to deny your claim.
3. Report the Accident to the Police
If you spoke to the police officer at the scene of the accident, you have already fulfilled your obligation. If not, you may be required to report the accident to the police.
The following accidents must be reported to the police within 10 days:
- Accidents resulting in injury
- Accidents resulting in death
- Accidents resulting in more than $1,500 in damage to private property
- Accidents resulting in $500 in damage to personal property if a driver is uninsured
Even if you are unsure if the car accident needs to be reported to the police, it is in your best interest to do so. The police report is an official record of the crash that can be useful for building your claim.
4. Gather Your Thoughts and Take Notes
Many accident victims only recall crucial details after the initial shock of the crash and their injuries wears off. As you recuperate, keeping a diary of what you remember can be immensely helpful for bringing a car accident claim at a later date.
Perhaps even more important is documenting your losses after the accident. Keep all medical bills, receipts, communications from your employer, and other paperwork that shows the damages you have sustained as a result of the accident and your injuries. This and other documentary evidence is crucial for establishing your right to compensation.
5. Discuss Your Case with a Car Accident Lawyer
Speaking to an attorney is the best way to overcome the challenges you face after being injured in a car accident. Lawyers at Coplan & Crane review your case for free and provide honest legal guidance rooted in extensive experience.
Our car accident attorneys will assess the facts of your case and advise you of your options for filing a claim. We can also answer any questions you may have about pursuing the compensation you deserve.
If you try to handle a car accident claim on your own, you are likely to end up recovering less in damages than you deserve. Accurately calculating the compensation you are owed is extremely difficult without knowing (a) what losses are recoverable and (b) the total dollar value of the various damages in your case. You will also likely face enormous difficulties getting the insurance company to accept liability, not to mention negotiating a favorable settlement.
Hiring an experienced lawyer gives you the greatest likelihood of a successful outcome. Coplan & Crane has achieved millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients in auto accident claims, and we will strive to win for you, too.
Who Is At Fault for the Car Accident?
Fault for most car accidents is attributable to one or more of the drivers involved. However, even this fairly “simple” description does not make recovering compensation any easier.
The car accident lawyers at Coplan & Crane will investigate to identify all of the liable parties. You may be able to bring one or more claims against:
- The driver of the other vehicle
- The manufacturer of a defective vehicle or automotive part
- The employer of a driver who was negligently operating a vehicle for work
- The municipal authority responsible for a dangerous road
- The vendor that sold alcohol to a drunk driver (known as a dram shop liability claim)
Each of these claims comes with its own unique set of challenges. If multiple parties are involved, they may point the finger at each other in an effort to avoid paying what is fair. You may even face accusations that you were at fault for the accident.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?
YES. Just because the evidence shows that you are not at fault does not mean that the liable party or parties will agree to compensate you fairly.
Furthermore, liability disputes can leave you unable to recover compensation at all. The threshold for comparative fault in Illinois is less than 50%. In other words, if you are equally responsible for the accident (or share a higher degree of fault), you will be barred from recovery.
Simply assuming that you are in the right leaves you in a vulnerable position. Our car accident lawyers will collect evidence to prove that you deserve compensation for your losses. And, if you are partially at fault for the car accident, we will fight to maximize your recovery to the amount permitted by law.
How Much Do Car Accident Victims Get?
Each car accident case is unique. As such, there is no “standard” settlement amount or award. Rather, fair compensation is a monetary sum that covers your specific losses, not what someone in a situation different from yours might accept as fair.
The car accident lawyers at Coplan & Crane will assess the evidence and consult expert witnesses to determine the full value of your claim. Our attorneys can pursue compensation on your behalf for the following damages:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses (both current bills and the cost of treatment you need in the future)
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Expenses you pay for out of pocket, including the cost of traveling for medical appointments and therapy, assistive devices, modifications to your home and vehicle, etc.
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
Obtaining fair compensation may be a matter of negotiating with the at-fault parties and their insurance companies. Alternatively, going to court may be necessary if the opposing side refuses to negotiate or a settlement cannot be reached.
How Long Do I Have to Sue After a Car Accident?
The majority of car accident claims are resolved through an out-of-court settlement. This is especially true of cases that only involve property damage or relatively minor injuries.
However, when a car accident results in serious injury or wrongful death, the likelihood of a case proceeding to trial is much greater. If your case doesn’t settle, Illinois law allows you to file suit up to 2 years after the car accident.
Two years is a limited time to seek the compensation you need to pay your expenses and overcome the other challenges you face in the wake of a car accident. Unfortunately, victims who try to handle claims on their own frequently miss this critical deadline.
No matter how injured you are and what damages you face, you will almost certainly be barred from filing suit after the statute of limitations expires. Our experienced car accident lawyers can build a strong case on your behalf and ensure that it is filed on time.
How Our Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
Nobody expects to be involved in a car accident. When it happens, however, you need a team you can trust to help with your claim.
When you hire Coplan & Crane, we start building your case right away. Our team handles all aspects of the investigation, including:
- Visiting the scene of the accident to take photos
- Interviewing witnesses to the crash
- Obtaining available video footage of the accident
- Reviewing the Illinois Traffic Crash Report
- Evaluating your medical records
- Assessing other evidence of your losses
- Investigating the damage to your vehicle, as well as any defects that may have played a role in the accident
Coplan & Crane works with leading experts to provide testimony on the cause of the accident, your injuries, and more. We also review the available insurance coverage to determine what your policy covers, as well as your options for pursuing a claim or claims against the party or parties at fault.
Recovering from a car accident is difficult enough without having to worry about pending insurance claims and legal matters. Our team handles everything so you and your family can dedicate the necessary time and energy to getting your life back.
Unlike many other law firms, Coplan & Crane has extensive experience in the courtroom. We know what it takes to go up against insurance companies at trial – and win.
Winning for those who have lost is the spirit with which Coplan & Crane handles every case. Our attorneys and staff strive to make a positive difference in the lives of those who have suffered through no fault of their own.
The lawyers at Coplan & Crane have achieved millions of dollars on behalf of clients in car accident claims. We work hard to achieve superior results, providing you with honest guidance and compassion for your difficult situation.
For a free evaluation of your accident claim, please call Coplan & Crane at (708) 358-8080 today. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas of Illinois.