FAQ's. Common Questions answered here.
Going through something as difficult as a major legal event can leave you filled with questions about the past, present, and what to expect in the future. Get answers to some of the top questions I receive, to help put your mind at ease. Check back often for even more answers to your legal questions. Better yet, give us a call to see how we can help.
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Am I legally responsible for a car accident if my car slid on ice or snow?
All Chicago drivers are familiar with the awful feeling of losing control of their car when they hit a patch of ice or when their tires just can’t get a grip on a snowy road. Even in bad Illinois weather, we still have to get to work and have places to go, which means sometimes having to drive on icy or snow-covered roads. When someone loses control of their car due to the weather, it is easy to blame the weather conditions for causing the accident. After all, far more accidents happen right after a snowstorm or on days when we have had freezing rain and ice. Black ice is especially dangerous because of how hard it is to see. Ice forms fast on Chicago roads because of how close we are to Lake Michigan and the wind chill factors that develop.
Is the car accident my fault if snow or ice caused me to lose control?
Legally, fault for a car accident cannot be placed on the weather. All drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable caution once they get behind the wheel and can still be found at fault for a car accident, even if they hit a patch of ice and the car skids. The reasoning is that everyone must drive even more carefully in winter weather. This means slowing down and may even mean that cars should be slowing to a crawl if that is what it takes to keep everyone safe. We’ve all heard the expression “driving too fast for conditions”. Everyone needs to go slower when roads are slick. The same hold true for rain and freezing rain. In bad weather, drivers should also keep a further distance between their car and the car in front of them. Headlights should be turned on and extra care taken. If your car slides on ice or you cannot brake well in the snow and this causes an accident, you could be held responsible for driving too fast for the weather or not keeping a safe distance.
What if there were multiple cars involved?
Black ice, blizzards and otherwise snowy and icy roads often cause multi-car crashes. Fault can be even harder to pinpoint in multi-car crashes and more than one driver might be at fault. Fault for an accident is not always clear cut and even if you suspect that you may not be blameless for causing an accident, do not admit fault until you discuss the facts of how it happened with an attorney. Even if you were partially at fault, you might still be able to bring a claim against another driver if you or one of your passengers got hurt and if the other driver was also at fault.
What should I do if I was hurt in an accident during bad weather?
The advice on what to do is the same for all car accidents, regardless of weather conditions. Do not leave the scene, seek medical attention if you were hurt, speak to the police, report the accident to your insurance, and do not talk to the other person’s insurance company without first talking to a lawyer. Avoid common mistakes made by accident victims and give us a call at 630 250-8813 to discuss the facts surrounding your accident with an attorney and get advice specific to the circumstances.
How Does the Insurance Work in a Hit And Run Accident?
You can use your uninsured motorist coverage if you were the victim of a hit-and-run. Even though the person who hit you may have had insurance, you can’t collect from someone (or their insurance) if you cannot identify them. This essentially turns your case into an uninsured motorist claim. Check your policy to see the limits of your own insurance as this type of coverage is designed exactly to protect you if you were hurt in an accident and cannot pursue another driver’s insurance- either because they didn’t have any or because you cannot identify the other motorist. Even though it is the law to carry at least a minimum amount of car insurance in the State of Illinois, this does not mean that everyone does. Do not be afraid to use your uninsured motorist coverage. You have paid the premiums and since the accident wasn’t your fault, your rates will not go up. Dealing with insurance companies can still be a pain and you may wish to at least consult with an injury attorney to help you decide whether or not it is worth hiring one to help on your uninsured motorist claim, depending on the circumstances of your accident. We will be happy to discuss the details with you and provide honest feedback without any obligation on your part. Call us at 630 250-8813 if you were hurt in a hit and run car accident.
The Other Driver’s Insurance Wants me to See their Doctor- Do I have to go?
Medical Exams set up by the insurance company for the other driver are unusual in Illinois car accident cases, but sometimes it will come up.
I spoke to someone today who was rear ended less than 24 hours ago by someone who took their foot off the brake as both cars sat in a fast food drive through lane. It was relatively minor but that same evening, the insurance company for the driver who did the rear-ending was already calling the woman who was hit. They started asking her all about her medical history and after learning that she had a back injury many years ago, they immediately told her that she needed to go see one of their doctors.
Insurance companies will act very quickly in trying to contact the other driver, especially when they know that it was their own driver’s fault. This is deliberate and done for the sole protection of the insurance company, so that they can get out of paying you anything or paying you as little as they think they can get away with. In the situation above, it is likely that the reason that the insurance company pushed for a medical exam by a doctor who is paid by the insurance company, is so that they can try to get a report written which says that her injury was not related to the accident and has to do with her prior back problems, which they also hope to pry further into using the medical setting. If a doctor says that the pain she felt after the accident isn't really because of the accident, then the auto insurance company does not have to accept responsibility for her injury. Whether or not what she feels relates to the accident is best determined by her own doctor and by what she herself notices about her own body.
Make no mistake about it, following a car accident, when someone else’s insurance company wants to send you to their own doctor, this is not so that they can help you or provide you with medical treatment. It is solely for their protection. Do not let their insurance company tell you what you need to do because their motives are not in synch with your own objectives, especially if the accident was not your fault. If you are being told what to do by the other driver’s insurance company, you should speak to your own attorney immediately and before agreeing to anything.
If you are being either bullied or gently guided into doing something that you aren't sure about by an insurance company, give us a call before its too late.