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Law Offices of David W. Clark, P.C.

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Wheaton car crash lawyer Car accidents can be frightening for various reasons — life-threatening injuries, hospital or medical bills, and insurance claims. When you are the driver in a collision, the fault falls between you and the other driver. This is how insurance companies or the court can determine responsibility and any personal injury compensation for the non-faulty party. However, how does this change if you were a passenger injured in a car accident?

The Driver’s Responsibility to You 

If you were injured as a driver and the car accident was not your fault, you can file a claim against the other driver for negligent driving. This claim can award you financial compensation to cover the costs of your injuries, including hospital bills, continued medical treatments, or repayment for wage loss during your healing process. However, if the car accident was your fault, as the driver, you bear the responsibility for the other vehicle in the collision. The faulty driver most likely will not be awarded any financial compensation for personal injury. 

This changes when you are a passenger riding in a vehicle. Since you are neither driver in the collision, you can file for compensation from the negligence of either driver, depending on which one was the faulty party. For example, if another vehicle collides with the car you are riding in, that driver is at fault for any injuries they cause you as the passenger. Similarly, the driver of the vehicle you are riding in also bears the responsibility for your safety. If your driver is negligent or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and injures you during a car accident, they are liable for any injuries you sustain. If both drivers were at fault, an injured passenger could file a personal injury claim against either or both parties.

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DuPage County car accident injury lawyerCar accidents can occur in a blink of an eye and leave individuals with lifelong injuries. Injuries sustained in a severe car accident can leave victims with substantial medical bills and rehabilitation payments, leaving many people unsure of their next steps. Victims injured in a car accident in Illinois can take action to receive financial compensation to cover these costs. However, there are rules for filing for compensation, including a strict timeline.

The Personal Injury Claims Process

If you or a loved one has been injured or lost their life in a car accident, you may choose to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim to help cover the costs of medical expenses. The personal injury process includes three main steps:

  • Accumulating Evidence of Injuries — One of the essential factors in a personal injury case from a car accident is determining the severity of the injuries sustained. After receiving medical attention, a victim or their medical proxy should keep all necessary medical information, including diagnoses, surgeries, tests, hospital care, and physical therapy. This will help the court determine how severe the injuries were and maintain a money trail of how much was spent on treatment. 
  • Determining Fault — Car accident lawsuits are handled similarly to other personal injury lawsuits in Illinois. In order to sue another individual for financial compensation, the court must be able to determine who was at fault in the situation. If the defendant is entirely at fault for the car accident, it will be easier for the victim to be awarded compensation. However, if both drivers were at fault to some degree, Illinois will follow the comparative fault law. The court and jury will determine the ratio between fault and injuries sustained to decide how much compensation is awarded. For example, if the damages for an injury cost $25,000 and the victim was 10% at fault, the victim may be awarded $22,500. 
  • Filing Court Forms — To go through the court process of filing a personal injury claim, a plaintiff must begin the correct paperwork. The initial complaint form details the events of the accident. Then, subsequent paperwork will follow if the court decides to accept the complaint. 

Victims of a car accident looking to file an injury complaint and receive compensation must follow the statute of limitations for Illinois personal injury cases. Individuals have two years to submit a complaint and begin their case. If a person files a personal injury complaint longer than two years after the accident, the court will likely not accept the case. It is wise for individuals looking to receive compensation for a car accident injury to hire an attorney to ensure that paperwork and other critical information are filed correctly and on time. 

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IL accident lawyerThe majority of car crashes are caused by human error behind the wheel. However, not every accident is a result of the driver’s behavior. Sometimes, problems with the vehicle itself are the root cause of an auto accident. Vehicle defects may be caused by vehicle components that were defective in design or manufacture from the start. Other times, vehicle defects are caused by inadequate or negligent vehicle maintenance.

Car Accidents Caused by Negligent Dealerships or Repair Shops

Mechanics and repair shops cannot perform miracles. Sometimes a vehicle is damaged beyond repair or the mechanic is not skilled enough to perform the maintenance the car requires. However, repair shops have a legal duty to inform the customer if this is the case. Allowing a customer to drive away in a vehicle that is unsafe can lead to deadly consequences.

Mechanic negligence can take many forms. Sometimes, a mechanic or repair shop knowingly fails to fix the problem but charges you for the repair and pretends that they performed the repair. For example, you take your vehicle in to get the brake lines fixed but the mechanic fails to fix the problem. Now the brakes barely work, causing an accident. Another way that negligent vehicle maintenance can lead to an accident is if a mechanic or dealership installs a defective or recalled vehicle component in the vehicle. Sometimes, repair shops are understaffed and in a rush to get cars back to the customers. Mechanics end up making mistakes or oversights that make the vehicle unsafe to drive.

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DuPage County Personal Injury AttorneyCar crashes subject occupants’ bodies to strong forces. Even a low-speed car crash can lead to broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, and other serious injuries. A personal injury claim is one way to pursue financial compensation for damages caused in a collision. Through a personal injury claim, you may be able to recover monetary compensation for your medical bills, lost wages caused by missed work, and more. However, to successfully recover compensation, you must demonstrate that the car crash caused your injuries. This can be especially difficult to accomplish when a car accident victim has medical issues that predate the collision.

Whether you have a bad back, an old knee injury, or another medical concern, you may have questions about how pre-existing medical concerns can impact your car accident injury claim.

Car Crashes Can Aggravate Existing Medical Problems

A car accident can place unnatural forces on our bodies that cause significant damage. Sometimes, this causes existing medical issues to be much worse. Back pain that used to be a minor inconvenience may be debilitating after a collision. Aggravation of a pre-existing health issue or injury in a car accident can leave a car accident victim unable to work, take care of their house,  or fulfill other responsibilities. Many accident victims are left suffering in pain and unsure of their rights.

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IL accident lawyerThe National Safety Administration reports that approximately 4.5 million people suffered injuries in car accidents in the year 2019 alone. Car crashes, truck crashes, motorcycle crashes, and other auto accidents cause billions of dollars in lost wages, medical bills, and other losses each year.

The financial impact of a car accident can be enough to nearly bankrupt a victim and their family. However, the consequences of a severe car accident are not only financial. Many traffic accident victims are left facing a post-accident future that differs dramatically from their life before the accident. The psychological impact of disfigurement and scarring can be just as devastating as other damages resulting from a wreck.

Understanding the Impact of Disfigurement After an Accident

For some car accident victims, injuries heal completely within a few weeks, months, or years. Other crash victims are left with permanent disfigurement that significantly impacts their everyday lives. Disfigurement may be caused by:

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