Car accident claim

How Do I Know if I Have a Car Accident Lawsuit?

February 24, 2022

After a serious auto accident, there are several considerations and steps that must be taken in order to determine fault, how damages are to be allocated, and how the recovery process will be handled. When dealing with the pain and confusion that accompany a car wreck, it can be difficult to know if you have a case at all, let alone what amount of compensation you may deserve.

The Chicago car accident lawyers at Coplan + Crane are committed to helping our clients recover the full and fair compensation to which they are entitled under Illinois law. If you were hurt in a wreck, you need experienced counsel on your side. We can help.  

3 Key Factors to Determine if You Have a Car Accident Lawsuit in Chicago

While there are lots of ways to break down the elements of a car accident lawsuit, the simplest way is to focus on three key factors. These key factors are: 

1. Was Someone Else Responsible for the Accident?

To file a lawsuit for your car accident, you must be able to prove that someone else is responsible for the crash. If you caused your own injuries, you do not have anyone else to hold accountable (though you may still be able to file a lawsuit if you were partially at fault in the accident).

There are lots of possibilities when it comes to who (or what company) might be legally responsible for a car accident in Chicago. For example, depending on the circumstances involved in your accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against:

  • The Other Driver’s Insurance Company – Most car accidents result from driver negligence, and this means that recovering just compensation involves dealing with the auto insurance companies in most cases. Illinois law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance; so, if another driver is responsible for your injuries, you should be able to file a claim against his or her insurer. 
  • Your Insurance Company – In addition to filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance company, you may need to file a claim under your own policy as well. This could be the case, for example, if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage and either: (i) the other driver isn’t insured, or (ii) the other driver’s liability coverage isn’t enough. 
  • The Other Driver’s Employer – In Illinois, employers are vicariously liable for their employees’ negligence on the job. So, if the driver who hit you was working at the time of the crash, you may be able to sue his or her employer. Hiring unqualified drivers, forcing drivers to spend too many hours behind the wheel, and other corporate mistakes can also justify direct liability claims against drivers’ employers.
  • An Establishment (or Social Host) that Overserved the Driver – If you were hit by a drunk driver, you could potentially have multiple claims for damages. If a bar, club, restaurant, or social host overserved the drunk driver, the establishment or social host could share liability for your crash. Illinois’ dram shop law applies to establishments regardless of the drunk driver’s age, while the state’s social host law applies when the drunk driver is a minor. 
  • A Vehicle Manufacturer, Dealership, or Repair Shop – If your accident was the result of an issue with your car (or someone else’s vehicle), you could have a claim against a vehicle manufacturer, dealership, or repair shop. Accelerator defects, tire defects, and faulty brake jobs are just a few examples of numerous vehicle-related issues that can cause a crash. 
  • Another “Third Party” – In some cases, car accident victims will be able to file lawsuits against government agencies, government contractors, and other “third parties.” From road defects to negligent rideshare drivers, there are several issues that can establish third-party liability for a car accident in Chicago. 

2. Can You Prove Your Accident-Related Losses?

If you can prove that someone else is responsible for the accident, then the next question is whether you can prove your accident-related losses. Under Illinois law, car accident victims can seek just compensation for all of the financial and non-financial costs of their injuries. But, to win just compensation in court, you need to be able to prove how much you are entitled to recover. 

There are several steps involved in proving the financial and non-financial costs of a car accident. Your medical records are important evidence, but they are ultimately just one piece of the puzzle. Employment records, expert testimony, testimony from friends and family members, and your personal notes will all help as well, and you will need to work closely with your lawyer to formulate an accurate (and provable) claim for damages. 

3. Do You Still Have Time to File a Lawsuit?

The final key factor is whether you still have time to file. Under Illinois’ personal injury statute of limitations, the general rule is that you have two years from the date of your car accident to file a lawsuit in court. 

But, even if the statute of limitations for your car accident hasn’t expired, you could still be running out of time. The longer you wait to take legal action, the more difficult it could become to prove your claim. If your lawyer is no longer able to collect the evidence he or she needs to prove your legal rights, it doesn’t matter if you technically still have time to file. 

Call a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer for Free

While the vast majority of personal injury claims settle out of court, the car accident attorneys at Coplan + Crane meticulously prepare every case as though it will go to trial. This level of preparation and effort sends a strong message to insurance companies that we will not be intimidated and we are prepared to fight diligently for every penny our clients deserve.

If you have been seriously injured in a wreck and would like to know more about filing a lawsuit, contact Coplan + Crane today to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. Call (708) 358-8080 now. Our firm serves clients throughout Illinois, including Chicago, Oak Park, and Rockford.