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Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in car accidents around the country, particularly caused by people using their cell phone while driving. People who use their phone while behind the wheel tend to pay less attention to the road, taking their eyes completely off the road for seconds at a time. While a driver may think they have everything under control when using their phone while driving, this is not the case.

Distracted Driving in Madison County

In fact, people who drive and text are as much as 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident. This is the message that has been reported by Madison County Assistant State Attorney and it is this message that is being spread to high schools in not only Madison County, but also Granite City, Maryville, Collinsville and Glen Carbon. Looking at drivers on the road, it is apparent that texting while driving has become a problem. The campaign to make students aware of the consequences and therefore instill safe driving habits are being presented via driver’s education classes. The aim is to also teach students about Illinois’s driving laws. For example, if a driver younger than 19 years old is caught driving while using his or her phone, even if they are using a hands-free device, could face penalties, and even increased license restrictions if they are caught texting.

Besides the legal ramifications, using a phone while driving can result in devastating effects for everyone on the road.

Car Accidents in Madison County – Personal Injury Litigation and Statistics

While Madison County may be well far south of Chicago, it continues to be a common setting for litigation in the state. Below is an overview of recovery in personal injury cases that were a result of road accidents in Madison County:

Car Accidents:

  • The median recovery for victims of car accidents in Madison County is about $33,000
  • The victims recovered around 10% less than the state average
  • Of all car accident cases in Illinois, Madison County accounts for 6% of accidents
  • Of the car accident cases in Madison County, around 62% settled
  • The cases settled at a rate of approximately 14% more than the state average for settlement

Car Accident Laws in the State of Illinois

There are rare circumstances where a driver may be involved in a small car accident that is handled swiftly between yourself and the other driver. Whether you receive compensation directly out of the driver’s pocket or via insurance, you get what you are owed in order to repair your car and cover any medical bills you may have accumulated. However, many times collisions lead to complex questions in terms of laws being broken and who was at fault for the accident. Below, we discuss various Illinois laws regarding car accidents.

  1. The Insurance Coverage Requirements

One of the initial questions that usually arises after a car accident is whether all of the drivers who were involved in the crash have adequate insurance coverage. According to law, drivers who live in Illinois are required to have a minimum of $25,000/$50,000 bodily coverage and $20,000 property coverage. If a driver is visiting the state, they are required to have insurance that complies with the state in which their vehicle is registered.

If one or more of the drivers involved in an accident fail to have adequate coverage, they will be issued with tickets for violating the laws of Illinois.

  1. Hit and Run Law in Illinois

Illinois law dictates that you must stop if you are involved in a car accident. You will likely be in trouble should you leave the scene of an accident; however, your biggest worry is if the driver who crashed into you drives off. If you were the victim of a hit and run accident, you may require help tracking down the other driver who hit you or assistance with filing a personal injury claim.

  1. Comparative Fault

With car accidents, who is at fault for the accident is not always clear, and things can get even more complicated when you and the other driver are both responsible to some degree for the accident. Madison County and the state of Illinois follow a modified comparative negligence rule for personal injury claims. That means that you can recover damages provided you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident that led to your damages. But, note that if you are responsible at all, your compensation is likely to be diminished by the percentage that you are deemed at fault for the car accident. For example, if an insurance company determines that you are thirty percent responsible for the accident and the other driver involved in the crash is seventy percent at fault, the insurance company may only offer to pay for seventy percent of your damages. If another insurance company, or even another driver, claims that you are mostly or partly at fault for a car accident, you will need the assistance of a car accident lawyer since you could face along fight ahead trying to prove that you were not responsible for the crash, or only partially at fault.

  1. Time Limits for Making a Claim

If you do need to file a personal injury claim as the result of a car crash, you have a limited time period in which to do so. In Illinois, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. That means that you have just two years from the date the accident took place to begin with legal proceedings.

What to Do If You are Involved in a Car Accident in Madison County

If you are involved in a car accident, there are a few measures that you must take to ensure your, and everyone else’s safety. Firstly, stop your car in a safe space and help anyone who is injured or requires assistance. You should cover the injured person with a coat or blanket, which will help to prevent shock if they have been badly hurt. Never move an injured person, though, as movement could result in further injuries and damage. You should then call emergency services before carrying out the below steps.

  1. Exchange Information

Make sure that you exchange information with all parties and witnesses involved in the car accident. Take down names, insurance information, addresses, license plate numbers, vehicle descriptions, and driver’s license numbers.

Next, try to write down everything that you are able to remember about the crash, including the precise location, where you were on your way to, anyone else who was in the car with you, the weather at the time of the accident, and the time of day that the accident happened. Aim to record as many details as you possibly can, even if they don’t seem particularly important to you. Further, try to describe anyone else who may have witnessed the accident.

In the days after your car accident, keep a diary of your emotional and physical state, such as loss of sleep, anxiety, and instance of pain. Also, record any visits to make to a doctor or time you had to take off work as a result of the crash.

  1. File a Report

Drivers who are involved in a car accident in Madison County are required to file a crash report if the accident resulted in bodily injuries, death, or over $1,500 in property damage. Police officers are required to work on car accidents, but if one does not arrive at the scene, you must file an accident report with the local sheriff’s office, police department, or the Illinois State Police as soon as you can after the accident. If you have suffered injuries and are not able to file a report yourself but you had a passenger in the car at the time of the accident, the passenger may be able to file a report for you. You are also required to file a report at the Illinois Department of Transportation within 10 days after the accident and no later. You can get the necessary forms from your local law enforcement office or even from a local insurance agent.

If you fail to file an accident report within the required time period, you may face fines or even have to serve time in jail.

Insurance Coverage for a Car Accident

If you have been injured in a car accident or any other type of motor vehicle crash, you will need to seek advice from a car accident attorney. Seeking legal advice as early as possible is important if you want to protect your rights and preserve the evidence in your case. While the other driver’s insurance company might offer you a settlement deal, such offers tend to be a lot less than you need, or even deserve, to cover damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you receive fair compensation for the injuries you have endured.

But, what happens if the other driver was uninsured? If so, your own insurance company may need a signed statement from the other driver to establish that he or she does not have cover. Then you can make a claim with your own insurance provider for any damages you incurred. If the other driver involved in the crash was underinsured and is not able to compensate you fully for the damages, you are still entitled to make a claim for the amount that his or her policy will cover, and then make a claim via your own insurer for the balance of the compensation. Sadly, an accident with either an underinsured or uninsured driver risks putting you at odds with your own insurance provider. So, you may require the assistance of an attorney to ensure you receive fair compensation.

If you incurred physical injuries in the accident, your car insurance company will usually cover your medical bills either in part or in full. This really depends on the extent of your insurance cover. If the accident is clearly covered by your insurance policy, and the claim is relatively straight forward, the insurance company will typically cover your medical bills up to the policy limit. If your accident claim is more complex, insurance adjusters will investigate the claims first and then issue a denial or a settlement offer. The settlement offer will either cover some or all of your expenses, and may well be low initially since adjusters try to minimize damages that the insurance company has to pay out. To ensure that your medical bills are covered – be it fully or partially – you will need medical authorization from the insurance company. If the claim you make is denied, it could be due to limits set out in your policy, so be sure to thoroughly review your insurance policy to ensure your claim has not been wrongly denied.

If you suspect that your accident claim has been unfairly denied by the insurance company, or that the settlement offer was just too low, a car accident lawyer can help you seek maximum compensation. However, make sure you follow the rules of the road, do not text and drive, and have the required insurance coverage in the state of Illinois, to ensure you have done everything you can to avoid a car accident.