Few accidents are as jarring as a hit and run car accident. For most people, the thought of speeding off when after a serious accident would never enter their mind. Yet, there are hundreds of hit and run accidents each year in and around Chicago. Sadly, many of these accidents result in serious injury or death. And unfortunately, recovering after a Chicago hit and run accident can be difficult for accident victims.

While recovering financial compensation after any Chicago car accident can raise certain challenges, hit and run accidents often present unique difficulties for accident victims. For one, in a Chicago hit and run accident, there may not be another party to look to for financial responsibility. By their very nature, a hit and run accident involves a situation in which one of the motorists leaves the scene of the accident without calling the police or providing their information to other drivers. Thus, when it comes to pursuing a claim for compensation, the only option is often with the accident victim’s own insurance policy, under the Uninsured Motorist (UM) provision.

Illinois Auto Insurance Requirements

The death of a loved one is always a sorrowful time. However, it can be especially traumatic when the situation could have been avoided, as is the case in Chicago drunk driving accidents. According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every year in Illinois over 300 drivers are killed in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. While criminal charges are often pursued in these cases, this does not meaningfully help the victim’s family with expenses and the emotional distress they suffered as a result of their loss. However, when someone’s death is the result of a wrongful or negligent act, such as driving under the influence, Illinois law allows the victim’s family to pursue a claim for compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. While filing a lawsuit after losing a loved one may be the last thing on a person’s mind, a wrongful death lawsuit can help the victim’s family to ease their financial burdens while they are psychologically recuperating.

Earlier this month, a 41-year-old man was killed in Naperville after a car crossed onto the road’s eastbound lanes and struck him. According to a local news report covering the accident, the responsible driver’s truck rolled over after slamming into the man’s car, eventually coming to a stop on its roof. Sadly, the man was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was later charged with aggravated driving under the influence and reckless homicide.

Although the families of Illinois car accident victims cannot have their loved ones back, Illinois state law allows them to bring a claim for their damages resulting from the loss of their loved one. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the family of the victim can file civil charges against whoever is responsible for the accident. Notably, a wrongful death case is completely independent of any criminal charges that may be brought. Thus, even if criminal charges are not filed, or a defendant is acquitted, a wrongful death case can still be filed.

Anyone who lives in Chicago or the surrounding area is more than a little familiar with cold winter weather. Last month, when temperatures dropped and winter weather hit, snow and below-freezing degrees created icy roads, leading to an increase in traffic accidents. On the morning of April 15th, there were more than a dozen crashes reported in Chicago and the surrounding areas.

One crash, in particular, made major headlines, as over 50 cars and 3 semi-trucks were involved in a pileup on the Kennedy Expressway. According to a local news report covering the incident, the pileup occurred at around 5 in the morning. Fourteen individuals involved were transported to hospitals—which are already burdened by COVID-19 patients—and 45 others were evaluated for injuries at the scene. While fire officials and police made sure to do their job and respond appropriately to the tragic, and massive, incident, they did so whilst trying to maintain proper social distance, to lessen the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The crash was so massive that the expressway at North Avenue was shut down as it was cleaned up, with over a dozen Illinois Department of Transportation vehicles towing away cars that could not be driven. It was about five hours until the expressway was re-opened. While the crash is still under investigation, a Chicago Fire Department Deputy Chief stated that he thought speeding may have been a contributing factor. Vehicles driving quickly on icy roads are more likely to get into a crash, and then the vehicles behind them are unable to stop in time, and instead slide on the ice. This may explain why the pileup became so incredibly large.

Drivers who are involved in an accident are required by Illinois law to stop at the scene of the crash and alert authorities if the accident caused any injuries or property damage. A driver is being sought by Chicago authorities after he struck a man in a crosswalk in the city’s Brighton Park neighborhood recently and failed to stop. According to a local news report, the auto-pedestrian crash occurred when the driver of a red SUV hit a 73-year-old man while he was crossing a crosswalk at the intersection of South California Avenue and West 44th Street. After hitting the pedestrian, the driver sped off without stopping to render aid or alert authorities. The report stated that other witnesses to this Chicago car accident called 911, and the pedestrian was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for several fractures and a head injury.

Pedestrian Accidents Are Common in Chicago

Auto-pedestrian accidents are common throughout Illinois, but they are especially prevalent in busy Chicago neighborhoods and the surrounding suburbs. Although drivers are required by law to yield the right of way to pedestrians who are crossing at a marked and active crosswalk, negligent drivers often fail to do so and hit pedestrians, sometimes causing serious injuries or death. Because of the high danger posed by auto-pedestrian crashes, it is recommended that pedestrians establish eye contact with drivers of vehicles that may cross their path, even when the pedestrian has the right of way.

IMG_3521-300x225Recently, a pedestrian was struck and killed in a tragic Chicago pedestrian accident on a road near the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. According to a local news report, the 70-year-old Hanover Park man was pronounced dead after being transported to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital shortly after the crash.

Witnesses noted in the report told authorities that the accident victim was in a roadway near the international terminal at O’Hare when he was hit by a city-owned tow truck. According to the report, the accident did not occur at or near a crosswalk.

Pedestrians should always use crosswalks when crossing roadways, if they are available. Of course, drivers still have a duty of care to avoid hitting pedestrians in the roadway, even when the pedestrian is not crossing at a designated crosswalk.

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have grown in popularity over the past decade, quickly replacing may of the yellow taxi-cabs that many in Chicago remember from their youth. By and large, the move to the rideshare model benefits consumers by offering a more convenient and often less expensive alternative to taxis. However, the prevalence of rideshare drivers on the road has begun to raise questions about who is liable in the event of a Chicago rideshare accident.

Rideshare companies boast that they maintain significant insurance policies on behalf of their drivers. However, because most rideshare drivers use their own vehicles, these policies do not provide coverage at all times. For example, according to Uber’s website, the insurance provided by the company is implicated in only two of three following situations, and the $1 million coverage is only available in one scenario.

  • If the driver is offline or the Uber app is off: Uber’s insurance will not cover the accident, and the driver’s individual policy will be responsible for coverage.

Commuters often take public transit, use rideshare apps, or hop in a taxi to avoid the dangers of a possible Illinois auto accident. However, a recent news report demonstrates that no passenger is ever completely safe, no matter how they are traveling on the road. According to a local news source, a man was killed when the taxi he was riding in collided with another vehicle while making a left-hand turn in Chicago near the 100 block of North Wacker Drive. Emergency vehicles responded to the crash, and the passenger was transported to a nearby hospital with internal injuries. The man later died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the crash. Evidently, the driver of the taxi and two people from the other vehicle involved were not injured in the crash.

Although the article did not mention if the passenger in the taxi had been wearing a seat belt, Illinois state law curiously exempts backseat taxi passengers from wearing seat belts. Although the law does not require backseat passengers to buckle up, it is essential for all drivers and passengers to wear a seat belt whenever a vehicle is running. Passengers in the backseat of a car should be especially diligent about wearing a seat belt, as back-seat passengers are not usually protected by airbags, and are at an increased risk of being seriously injured or killed if they are not wearing a seat belt.

When a passenger is injured or killed in an accident, several parties may share responsibility for injuries and damages related to the crash. Whether the driver of the vehicle carrying the passenger was at fault, or the collision resulted from the negligence of another driver on the road, it is almost sure that the injured passenger was not at fault. In cases involving public transit crashes, taxi accidents, or rideshare collisions, there may be several insurance companies and other parties who could be financially liable for the crash. Because of the complicated relationship between taxi or rideshare companies, their drivers, and any personal or other insurance companies representing taxi drivers as well as other drivers potentially involved in an accident, accident victims may struggle to receive fair compensation for their losses in the event of an accident.

Motorcyclists and their passengers face increased dangers while navigating Illinois roads, and car accidents involving motorcyclists are more likely to result in serious injury or death than accidents involving only cars or trucks. According to a local news report, a woman who was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle is dead following a head-on collision with a truck on a roadway in Perry County. It is noted in the report that the driver of the truck was making an illegal pass on a blind curve when he struck the Harley Davidson motorcycle. The impact threw both the operator of the motorcycle and the passenger from the bike, seriously injuring the operator and leaving the passenger dead at the scene.

Negligent drivers pose an extraordinary threat to motorcyclists. Drivers of cars, trucks, and commercial vehicles have a legal duty to pay attention to the road and take care not to endanger anybody else on the road, and they can be held accountable for negligence in the event of a crash. Motorcycles are more difficult to see on the road and may not be riding on areas of the road where other drivers expect to see a vehicle, and collisions between motorcyclists and other vehicles can be catastrophic.

Of course, Illinois motorcyclists and their passengers should always wear a helmet and other protective gear to protect themselves in the event of an accident. However, there is no law in Illinois that requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet. Moreover, negligent drivers who injure or kill a motorcyclist in a crash can be held accountable for all a victim’s damages caused by the crash, regardless of whether the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet.

After someone is involved in an Illinois car accident, insurance coverage for bodily injury liability may be insufficient to cover the actual damages suffered by an accident victim. Because many accidents result in damages in excess of the at-fault party’s insurance coverage, Illinois drivers are required to carry underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage to protect themselves and their passengers in the event of such an accident. A recent decision by the Appellate Court of Illinois demonstrates that insurance companies may dispute paying out damages claimed by a client under an underinsured motorist provision.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured in two car accidents and suffered $44,000 in damages, which exceeded the $40,000 in total coverage from the other drivers’ insurance policies. The plaintiff made underinsured motorist claims with his own insurance company for the amount of medical damages he suffered from the accidents, and was awarded $44,000 at arbitration. Thus, the plaintiff would collect the $44,000 from his insurance company in addition to the $40,000 he had already collected from the at-fault drivers’ insurance companies. The plaintiff’s insurance company appealed this decision to state court, claiming that the plaintiff would collect nearly double the amount he was entitled to under relevant state law. The trial court agreed, reversing the arbitration award.

After the plaintiff appealed, the higher court also ruled in favor of the defendant. The court found that an insurance company is allowed to “set off” the amount that the plaintiff actually received from the at-fault drivers’ insurance companies before applying their own underinsured motorist coverage to compensate the plaintiff for the unpaid amount of damages resulting from the accidents. The court reasoned that underinsured motorist coverage is designed to fill the gap between an at-fault driver’s coverage and the damages actually suffered, so that the insured would be in the same position as if the other driver had sufficient coverage for all the damages. Under the court’s ruling, the defendant was allowed to set off the $40,000 already paid to the plaintiff, and only needed to pay $4,000 in underinsured motorist benefits to the plaintiff.

Collisions between a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck are often catastrophic. One of the most common semi-truck collisions are merging accidents. Semi-truck merging accidents occur frequently in the Chicago and surrounding areas as many large trucks travel through the area entering and exiting expressways to make their deliveries.

A semi-truck merging accident occurs when a vehicle is attempting to merge and does not notice a vehicle in a parallel lane or fails to leave enough room between itself and another vehicle when merging. When a semi-truck is the vehicle responsible for a merging collision the results are often deadly due to its large size. Thirty percent of fatal truck accidents nation-wide occur on interstates and freeways where merging is a common practice.

The majority of fatalities in large truck crashes are the occupants of passenger vehicles. As semi-trucks can weigh up to 20-30 times more than a passenger vehicle, the impact of a collision to the smaller vehicle will be substantial. In addition, because large trucks are much taller than passenger vehicles there is great risk a vehicle could become stuck under the truck.

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