How to Win a Car Accident Case

Dodds Law Office, PC
A frustrated young woman with smartphone making a phone call for help by the damaged car after a car accident. How to win a car accident case

When a car accident happens, you may suffer serious injuries that require hospitalization, surgical and medical treatments, time away from work, and mobility aids. If you suffer physical injuries and vehicle damages, it’s important to find a personal injury attorney who knows how to win a car accident case and get you the money you deserve for your pain and suffering.

A frustrated young woman with smartphone making a phone call for help by the damaged car after a car accident. How to win a car accident case

If you were injured in a motor vehicle crash in Bloomington, call car accident lawyer Terry Dodds at 309-807-3600.

Fault-Based System in Illinois

In Illinois, personal injury laws give you the right to recover compensation from a car accident when you sustain car accident injuries and/or property damages caused by another person. These laws also explain certain obligations that must be met before you can exercise your rights. To understand your legal rights and your liability if you’re in a Bloomington car accident, you must understand Illinois laws and how the fault-based system works.

Establishing Fault

Illinois uses a “fault” or “at-fault” insurance system to determine liability for injuries and losses that result from motor vehicle accidents. In Illinois, the driver who causes the accident is responsible for covering the damages and expenses incurred by the other driver or drivers. These damages usually include medical expenses and property damages incurred by the injured party. The “at-fault” insurance system plays an important role in how to win a car accident case in Illinois.

Modified Comparative Negligence Rule

In personal injury claims, Illinois uses the modified comparative negligence rule to calculate fault allocations. The percentage of blame for the accident is shared between the plaintiff and the defendant. If the defendant is found entirely liable for injuries, the plaintiff will receive 100% of the compensation awarded. If the plaintiff is found partially liable, his/her compensation will be reduced accordingly. If the plaintiff’s liability is more than 50%, he/she will not receive any compensation.

Car Insurance Requirements

Because of the “at-fault” insurance system, Illinois requires all drivers to have liability insurance to lawfully drive within the state. This liability insurance pays for expenses and losses that are incurred by the injury victim in a personal injury car accident claim. In most cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay these damages and losses. Minimum liability coverage in Illinois includes:

  • Bodily injury coverage per individual – $25,000
  • Bodily injury coverage per accident – $50,000
  • Property damage per accident – $20,000

Illinois also requires drivers to have uninsured/under-insured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This insurance kicks in if a car accident results in injuries, but the at-fault driver either has no liability insurance or has inadequate liability insurance coverage. The minimum UM/UIM coverage in Illinois is $25,000 per individual and $50,000 per accident.

It’s important to note that Illinois UM/UIM coverage only pertains to physical injuries sustained in a car accident. It does not cover any damages to a vehicle or damages to other types of valuable possessions. However, drivers are permitted to add UM/UIM coverage for property damage to their auto policy to ensure an extra layer of protection.

Accident Reporting Requirements

Illinois law mandates that all drivers must notify the police of car accidents that lead to injuries, property damages, or a person’s death if they total $1,500 or more. If the driver involved in the car accident does not have liability insurance, this amount will be reduced to $500. When a car accident occurs, drivers are permitted to notify the nearest police department by calling 911 at the accident scene. This officially fulfills the reporting requirement. If no police officer shows up at the accident scene, drivers have up to 10 days to file an accident report with the Illinois State Police.

How to Determine Liability and Negligence

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 90% of all car accidents are caused by careless or negligent actions or driver errors behind the wheel. Negligence is defined as careless or reckless conduct that causes harm to another person. When a car accident occurs, a driver can be found liable for physical injuries and vehicle damages if his/her negligent actions are responsible for the accident.

When do most car accidents happen? Car accidents can happen any time during the day or at night, but certain factors increase the risks. In Illinois, the risks of car crashes increase significantly with heavy congestion during rush hours, winter weather that causes snow and ice, rain that creates reduced visibility, slick roads and oil slicks, and open roads and highways that encourage higher speeds. Car accidents happen more frequently in busy, congested areas where more cars are on the road, but rural areas are not immune.

Negligent driving behaviors are also to blame for increased car accidents. Common negligent driving behaviors include:

  • Distracted or drowsy driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Driving a vehicle with defective equipment
  • Ignoring traffic signs and signals
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding

When car accidents result in physical injuries and property damages, they must be investigated to determine liability and negligence. Personal injury attorneys who handle car accidents understand who investigates car accidents in Bloomington and how to work with those entities to get the best results for their clients.

To determine liability and negligence in a car accident, the scene of the accident must be investigated by police officers, who are usually the first responders to the scene. Police officers will inspect the accident scene and involved vehicles, gather physical evidence, and create official reports. This information is held as evidence for insurance claims and legal proceedings that go to civil court.

When Should You Hire a Car Accident Attorney?

If you’re involved in a car accident, contacting a knowledgeable car accident attorney right away is essential, especially if the accident results in physical injuries and property damages. These types of car accidents are often complex, and they require a skilled attorney who can obtain the necessary evidence to prove liability by getting police reports, gathering medical records, interviewing witnesses, and negotiating with insurance companies. Your attorney will review all the evidence in your case, identify liable parties, and determine how much your car accident is worth. Depending on the evidence, your attorney will secure fair compensation for you by either negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance provider, negotiating a settlement agreement, or proceeding to a civil court trial.

Depending on the severity of your injuries and property damages, navigating car accident cases can take months, even years, before they are completed. While some cases go to court, the majority of cases are settled out of court between attorneys and insurance companies who reach a fair average settlement for a car accident. Whether your case is settled or proceeds to a civil court trial, it’s best to work with a Bloomington car accident attorney who knows how to win a car accident case and can get you compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Common injuries sustained from car accidents include:

  • Back Injuries – Car accidents often result in severe back injuries caused by an impact to the spine. Symptoms of back injuries may take months to manifest after the car accident but can cause permanent injuries that require mobility aids.
  • Broken and Fractured Bones – Due to the impact of a car accident, broken and fractured bones are commonly found in the arms and wrists, legs, ankles and feet, and ribs. Many victims are often left with a broken pelvis.
  • Whiplash – Whiplash is another common personal injury caused by car accidents. It develops when the impact of the accident causes the neck to bend back and forth vigorously. This injury usually damages ligaments, nerves, tendons, joints, and muscles in the neck.
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) – Unfortunately, TBIs are the most common types of injuries associated with car accidents. They occur when a sharp blow to the head, often from hitting the windshield, causes brain damage. TBIs commonly result in long-term or permanent disabilities or even death.

The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries

If you are injured in a Bloomington car accident, it’s important to contact your attorney about how to win a car accident case as soon as possible following the accident. The statute of limitations sets a strict deadline for exercising your rights after getting injured in a car crash. In Illinois, you generally have two years after the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver for damages.

The two-year statute of limitations applies to bringing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. If you begin settlement negotiations with your attorney and the guilty party’s insurance company, the deadline will continue counting, and it will expire if you fail to start a lawsuit within two years. Contacting your attorney quickly after your car accident will help you monitor your deadlines and initiate a formal lawsuit in civil court if necessary.

If you’re injured in a car accident, contact us for a free evaluation of your case. Our Bloomington law offices can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Attorney Terry Dodds has been protecting the rights of the people of Bloomington, Illinois for over 20 years. Whether you were injured in an accident, or you have been charged with a crime, Terry Dodds can tip the scales of justice in your favor.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:Illinois State Bar Association Missouri State Bar Association McLean County Bar Association