Why Sue After a Car Accident

Dodds Law Office, PC
Young woman by the car after an accident and a man with smartphone. Sue after a car accident

Car accident injuries place victims at risk of substantial financial hardship. When an accident is caused by the reckless or negligent acts of another party, victims can file a lawsuit or claim to avoid sustaining unnecessary financial burdens in addition to their injuries.

Young woman by the car after an accident and a man with smartphone. Sue after a car accident

To sue after a car accident in Illinois, you must prove that the other driver caused the accident and your injuries. Illinois follows a fault-based car insurance system, meaning you can only file a personal injury lawsuit in a car accident when the other driver is at fault.

Did you suffer injuries in an Illinois car accident? Call Dodds Law Office in Bloomington to discuss a personal injury lawsuit. 309-807-3600.

Illinois Car Accidents Are a Public Safety Issue

In Illinois, car accidents are the leading cause of injuries. In October 2023, the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT) reported 833 fatal car crashes that caused 905 deaths within the state. DOT data shows that the 833 fatal crashes are linked to the following circumstances: 193 crashes involving passengers not wearing a seat belt, 138 crashes involving pedestrians, 127 crashes involving motorcyclists, 97 crashes involving a car crash with a semi-truck, 24 crashes involving bicyclists, and 17 crashes involving accidents in construction work zones.

In addition to statewide car accident data, the DOT provides county data. In 2022, about 32% of motor vehicle crashes occurred in Cook County and Lake County, neighboring counties to Bloomington. In 2023 and 2024, statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that car crashes and fatalities remain a growing concern for Cook County, Lake County, and surrounding counties.

Liability in Illinois Car Accidents

In Illinois, liability for car accidents can be complicated because Illinois is a fault-based state. This means liability must be proven before damages can be paid to victims. According to Illinois law, the at-fault driver in an accident must compensate injured parties for their damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and property damages. When you’re injured in an Illinois car crash, you can sue after a car accident, but it’s best to talk to a car accident attorney first. An attorney can help you determine who is liable for the accident and if you can file a personal injury lawsuit to collect compensation for your injuries.

Typically, a thorough investigation at the scene is done by local law enforcement agents. They examine the accident site, gather physical evidence, talk to crash victims and witnesses, take photos of visible hazards, tire marks, and property damages, and file police reports. The information found in these official police reports can be used as evidence to prove fault in a car accident lawsuit.

Why You Should Sue After a Car Accident in Illinois

Suing after a car accident in Illinois can be a crucial step in protecting your rights and securing fair compensation for your losses. Here are several compelling reasons why you should consider taking legal action:

Recovering Full Compensation

After a car accident, you may face significant financial burdens, including medical bills, lost wages, and repair costs. Insurance companies often aim to settle claims quickly and for as little as possible. By suing, you can pursue the full compensation you need, covering not only immediate expenses, but also long-term costs like ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Dealing With Insurance Companies

Insurance companies are businesses focused on minimizing payouts. They might use tactics to delay or deny your claim, or offer a settlement that doesn’t fully cover your expenses. Hiring an attorney and pursuing a lawsuit can level the playing field, ensuring that your interests are represented and that you receive a fair settlement or judgment.

Proving Liability

In some cases, the at-fault party might deny responsibility for the accident. A lawsuit allows you to gather and present evidence to prove liability, such as police reports, witness statements, and expert testimony. This is particularly important in Illinois, where comparative negligence laws may reduce your compensation if you are found partially at fault. Establishing clear liability can maximize your recovery.

Compensation for Non-Economic Damages

Beyond medical bills and lost wages, car accidents can result in non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. These damages can be substantial, but they are often difficult to quantify. A lawsuit provides an avenue to seek compensation for these intangible losses, acknowledging the full impact of the accident on your life.

Holding the At-Fault Party Accountable

Suing after a car accident is not just about financial compensation; it’s also about holding the responsible party accountable for his or her actions. Whether the accident was caused by reckless driving, distracted driving, or other negligent behavior, a lawsuit can bring attention to these issues and prevent future accidents by encouraging safer driving practices.

Peace of Mind

The aftermath of a car accident can be stressful and emotionally draining. Knowing that you have taken steps to protect your rights and seek justice can provide peace of mind. A lawsuit offers a structured process for resolving your claim, allowing you to focus on your recovery and move forward with your life.

Suing after a car accident in Illinois is a decision that can have a profound impact on your ability to recover and rebuild your life. It allows you to pursue full and fair compensation, navigate the complexities of the legal and insurance systems, and hold the at-fault party accountable. By taking legal action, you can protect your rights, secure your financial future, and achieve a sense of justice and closure.

Seeking Compensation Through a Lawsuit

When a car accident occurs in Illinois, most cases are resolved through a civil lawsuit filed in court by a car accident attorney, or through an out-of-court settlement agreement made between the injured party’s attorney and the at-fault party’s insurance company.

A car accident lawsuit is filed in an Illinois civil court by a car accident attorney who represents the injured party in the accident (the plaintiff). Car accident lawsuits can be complicated and lengthy because they must go through several processes during the court trial:

  • Filing a Complaint – Your attorney will outline the details of your car accident, the injuries you sustained, and the damages requested in your civil lawsuit.
  • Discovery – Attorneys for both parties (the plaintiff and the defendant) will submit evidence such as when and how the accident occurred, official accident reports, witness statements, medical records, and other pertinent information about when most car accidents take place.
  • Trial – When your case goes to civil court and a trial, a judge or jury must evaluate the case evidence, hear witness testimonies, decide on who is at fault for the accident, and award compensation for injuries.
  • Appeal – If your trial is unsuccessful, your car accident attorney can appeal the court’s decision by requesting a higher court review of the case based on errors or misconduct.

Recoverable Damages in a Car Accident Lawsuit

The average settlement for a car accident includes a variety of damages that help bring a victim back to a state of financial wholeness. These damages are categorized as economic and non-economic.

Economic Damages

Economic damages include the type of expenses that are fairly easy to calculate for financial losses in a personal injury case. They are calculated by adding up all the victim’s calculable expenses, and they typically cover the following:

  • Present and future medical bills caused by the accident
  • Present and future lost wages due to time away from work
  • Property damages to vehicles or personal property
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses for medications, medical equipment, and transportation costs

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify because they are not based on calculable expenses. They are calculated by using a “multiplier method” that multiplies the total economic damages by a set number, often ranging from 1.5 to 5.0. Non-economic damages are awarded to compensate victims for things that are not attached to bills and receipts. Non-economic damages are typically awarded for the following:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Physical disfigurement and scarring
  • Emotional stress and psychological trauma
  • Loss of the quality or enjoyment of life
  • Loss of the consortium of a spouse, child, or other family member

If you’re injured in a car accident caused by another driver, contact us about your legal options. At Dodds Law Office in Bloomington, we offer a free consultation to discuss your case and help you get compensation.

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