If you are injured in a car accident in St. Clair County, car accident attorneys can help you with your personal injury compensation claims, including filing the insurance paperwork and dealing with the adjuster. They will also negotiate the best possible settlement for you.
Whether you have a car accident in St. Clair County, Glen Carbon, Granite City, Collinsville, or Maryville, the processes and procedures of the state court system are aimed at guiding the litigation process. A competent car accident lawyer will be knowledgeable with the peculiarities of local jurisdictions in order to give you a sophisticated prediction of how your case will go as the trial commences.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Car Accident in St. Clair County
Things can be chaotic immediately after you are involved in a car accident, but if you follow a few basic steps, you can ensure that filing your claim is a little easier.
The first and most important step is to consider your safety and the safety of those around the site of the crash. If someone has been injured, contact 911 immediately. Try to stay as calm as you can. While being involved in a car accident is scary, getting upset can make things a lot more daunting. If you have just incurred a scratched car door or dinged your bumper, there is no need to call the police.
Preparation Is Your Best Defense
Being prepared can help to prevent a great deal of stress if you are ever involved in an accident.
Make sure you always keep a copy of your insurance information along with an extra pen and notebook in your car. This alone can make post-accident stress much easier to deal with. The law requires you to have proof of your insurance with you at all times, and insurance companies typically provide cars with all your information on them. Print out that information if you have just started a new insurance policy and not yet received your card so that you have it in the car with you.
These days, most cell phones come with a built-in camera, but if you have a phone that does not have a camera or takes really low-resolution pictures, you may want to consider keeping a disposable camera in your car, too.
What to Do Immediately After an Accident
Get off the road. Before you even start gathering information from other drivers, you must get to safety as soon as you can. If the accident was merely a small fender bender, you are allowed to move the cars out of the way of traffic or harm. The police don’t usually go out to file a report on such a minor accident, but they will come and ask you to move your vehicle if it is obstructing traffic. If you are unable to move the car without causing more damage, don’t move it. Your insurance company should be able to send a tow truck over to move the car for you.
The next important thing to remember is to watch what you say. After the crash, you should only speak to the other driver to get his or her information and ensure that they are okay. Never admit fault or apologize during the conversation as such utterances could be used against you in court.
Your insurance provider will require information to file your claim. Some offer forms that will help keep you on track when gathering information at the scene of the accident. You may have to fill out information on any other drivers involved in the crash, whether or not there is damage to your car, and the name of your insurance representative. The most important information to note down about other drivers includes:
- Phone number
- Email address
- License plate number
- Insurance policy number
- Insurance carrier
- Year, make, and model of the vehicle
If you are able to, take photos of the following:
- The location of the crash
- Any damage to your vehicle
- The people involved in the accident
If an officer arrives at the scene of the accident, get the following information:
- Officer’s name
- Phone number
- ID or badge number
- Police report number
Be sure to ask the officer for a copy of his or her report. The police officer’s opinion of the crash can be useful if you and the other driver enter a dispute during the claims process.
Filing Your Claim
You can then contact your insurance company to begin the claim’s process. If you were responsible for the accident, you will likely be required to pay surcharges. These are the premium increases that you may have to pay for a couple of years. The amounts vary between insurance companies, but the majority charge between 20 to 40 percent of your base rate, that is, the average cost of cover in the state.
It is important to keep all of these below elements in mind if you have been involved in a car accident. Some brain injuries, for example, never fully heal, which means there might be no coming back from the injuries, even for someone who is physically healthy. It may lead to the inability to earn an income and therefore a massive loss of both current and future wages. While the amounts will differ from industry to industry and person to person, it could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. In certain cases, it is possible to seek compensation for such a hefty financial loss on top of compensation for your rehabilitation, medical bills, and so on.
What Should You Do If You Are Injured in a Car Accident in St. Clair County?
Like most legal processes, there is plenty of information out there about what you should do at the scene of the accident. Mostly, there are things you shouldn’t do, like not leaving the scene, not forgetting to document the incident, and not admitting fault.
But, what happens once you get home and are left wondering what to do next? Maybe the car accident has landed you or your passenger in hospital? Perhaps you have returned to work or maybe you cannot work due to your injuries. In any event, you are probably worried about spending too much time away from work, racking up hospital and medical bills, restoring or replacing your car, and taking care of your family. There are certain car accident injury questions you must consider to help you with the entire process.
- Is Accident Fault Being Contested?
Is the other driver or their insurance provider contesting fault in the accident? If so, you may require the assistance of a car accident lawyer to help organize and present your case in the best possible light to prove that it was the other driver who was at fault and ensure that you recover your medical bills and lost wages, as well as receive fair compensation for your pain and suffering. Failure to properly present your claim could result in it being denied. When expenses like repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and other bills are at risk, you will want to present as solid a case as possible.
- Loss of Income, Medical Bills, and Other Costs
When it comes to expenses that result from a car crash, some seem a little more obvious than others. For example, you are likely to receive bills or invoices for hospital and other medical expenses as well as car repair costs. But, you may not be able to determine the cost of time spent away from work, your pain and suffering as a result of the crash, and other expenses related to the accident that you might not realize you are entitled to.
In fact, even when you do know what the expenses are, you may not know how to handle them the best way. For example, many car accident victims are reluctant to turn in their medical bills to their health insurance company if the bills are for treatment of injuries caused by another driver. They believe that their health insurer should not have to pay for such expenses since it was another driver’s fault. To a point, this may seem logical, but it is incorrect. Your health insurance provider will cover the bills at discounted rates. Even though the bills are paid at a discounted rate, you can still recover the entire amount from the person whose fault the accident way. This is thanks to the Collateral Source Rule. The Collateral Source Rule is a legal principle that does not allow the faulty party to benefit from the fact that you have health insurance cover.
- How Extensive Are Your Injuries and Recovery?
Injuries caused by a car accident can take time to heal, and some may affect you permanently. That is why, when it comes to life-changing consequences like compensation for your injuries that could potentially affect the rest of your life, you must understand everything that you fight for and agree to. Understandably, if you have been injured in a crash, you probably feel fragile. That’s why it is important to seek professional help from a car accident attorney.
- Will Your Case Go to Court?
Even if you have thoroughly prepared your case and evidence, there are several procedural rules that are to be followed in a court of law. A car accident lawyer will act on your behalf right from the beginning of your claims process to the end and negotiate for you with your and the other party’s insurance companies. He or she will also represent you in court.
- What About Insurance Cover?
As you are recovering from your accident, it is important that you understand that the other party’s insurance provider as well as your insurance company are both mostly interested in minimizing claims. In other words, they want to pay you as little as possible for your damages and injuries.
For example, if you are involved in a car accident and the other driver is either underinsured or even uninsured, you will want to seek compensation from your own insurance company. The insurance company’s number one interest is settling your claim for as small an amount as possible, even if it means you do not receive full compensation for your injuries or damages. To put it simply, insurance providers would never agree to enter into an agreement without proper counsel, and neither should anyone involved in a car accident.
Financial Recovery – The Statistics
Interestingly, in Illinois, St. Clair County is one of the most common areas for car accident cases. When it comes to determining what your case will be worth though, it is important to never completely look at the numbers. But, they are still a good guideline, especially when arranged by injury and accident categories. However, when it comes to the car accident award range in St. Clair County, 61% of plaintiffs have received between $1 and $49,999, with just one percent receiving more than $5,000,000. The median recovery for victims of car accidents in the area is about $33,000, but compared to the Illinois average, victims recovered around 10% less.
What Damages Can You Seek If You Have Been Involved in a Car Accident?
An injury as a result of a car accident can be catastrophic – for your finances and your health, which is why it is only natural that you will want to know how much compensation you can seek. Many victims of car crashes sustain injuries that make it difficult or impossible for them to return to work and often, their personal life is also affected. The injury could prevent you from enjoying your hobbies and lifestyle; they may prevent you from looking after others who depend on you; and they may cause you a great deal of pain and suffering.
This is why it is important to understand what damages you may be able to claim after being involved in a car crash. For example, compensatory damages are those that we can attach a dollar amount to. For instance, property damage and medical bills are compensatory damages that can be quantified relatively easily. But, trying to place a dollar value on suffering and pain or the inability to enjoy the lifestyle you have before your car accident can be a difficult task.
Typically, compensatory damages include:
- Physical therapy
- Medical treatment
- Lost wages, including the loss of a future income
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of property
Compensatory damages may also relate to your ability to enjoy your daily life and even the loss of a spouse or companion as a result of the impact of your car accident injuries could be considered as damages.
However, your action, behaviors, or even your inaction, may affect the amount of damages you will be awarded. If it is determined that you are partly at fault, your award may be reduced to the degree to which it is found that your conduct contributed to the accident. It is also worth mentioning that you are responsible for mitigating damages. For example, it is essential that you follow through thoroughly by seeking out the recommended treatments to avoid your injuries getting worse. If you fail to do so and your injuries do get worse, the blame will be placed on you for not taking the recommended advice and actions to minimize the effects on your life.