If you live in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs, you know that car accidents are an unfortunate reality. The typical driver will be involved in three collisions in her lifetime but those who spend more time than average in their cars are at risk for more crashes. Sometimes, only one car is involved in an accident and yet in others, several cars may collide with one another. This can leave many victims wondering: what happens if I am involved in a multi vehicle collision?
If your accident happens in the city or elsewhere in Illinois, know that you are protected by state and local laws. You may have the right to obtain payment for the damages done to your vehicle through the use of a property damage claim. But more importantly, you may have the right to obtain payment for any injuries you sustain through a bodily injury claim. Knowing what must be done and how to complete the process of these claims can be complicated, but working with a personal injury attorney can make the process clear.
If several vehicles collide or otherwise are involved in a multi vehicle crash, it can be challenging to determine who is legally liable for the damages. Often, an at-fault driver might be identified and that driver may be personally liable for any harm. That driver may also have automobile insurance to cover some, if not all, of the damages. In several instances, though, a multi vehicle collision happens because several drivers make mistakes or otherwise err in their conduct. Here, all responsible drivers and/or their insurance companies may be responsible for damages. If an at-fault driver is uninsured or if the damages exceed that driver’s coverage limits, a victim’s insurance company may pay on the claim as well.
At-fault drivers often blame others or conditions beyond their control for a crash. In Chicago, poor visibility, icy or snowy roads, or stop and go traffic is often alleged to be the cause of a multi car crash but these are rarely valid excuses. More often than not, it is the negligent conduct of a driver that is the root cause for a crash and other conditions are mere contributing factors. Understanding this can help a victim realize that she may have a right to relief even if weather or other conditions were less than ideal.
Usually, a police department will conduct an investigation into a collision or will review the facts of a crash. If it is deemed reasonable, an at-fault driver may receive one or more tickets or other penalties related to the crash. This is a type of action taken by the State of Illinois or a local municipality and any fallout from those tickets will go to benefit the state. Victims who are hurt in a collision will not benefit directly from any fines, fees, or traffic charges that are levied against a responsible driver. Instead, a victim must choose to bring an action for relief in a civil court of law so that she can be compensated for the full extent of her damages. Note that this type of civil relief is possible even if an at-fault driver was found not guilty in a traffic or criminal court or if an at-fault driver was never cited in the first place.
Often, it is the right of victims who are injured in multi vehicle collisions to seek relief for the harm they suffered but they must do so within a time period specified by law to have a valid claim. If you have questions about your legal options, know that speaking with a personal injury attorney may provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision following an accident.
Prior Blog Entry:
The Role of Investigating Police Officers in a Chicago Car Accident, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 31, 2016.