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Category: Car Accidents

No-Doubt Liability in Auto Accident Cases

In certain car accident cases, some drivers are considered at-fault 99% of the time. These cases are often called "no doubt" liability cases. Two such instances that fall into this category are: rear end collisions and left-turn accidents.

Illinois Rules of the Road are largely responsible for the "no-doubt" designation in these cases. And as insurers are less likely to argue fault in these cases, it becomes all the more necessary to have experienced Counsel on your side to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement for injuries and losses.

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Duty of Care and Personal Injury

Negligence is a basis for many successful personal injury claims and when negligence is proven, what the defendant did or didn’t do to constitute it often hinges on what is called a “duty of reasonable care.”

What is a duty of reasonable care? That can be a tricky nut to crack. Often, definitions of negligence differ from circumstance to circumstance based on conditions, relationships of individuals involved. So it is often necessary to contact an experienced personal injury attorney when you have a question about liability or fault in an accident.

For instance, a man walks into a home that is being remodeled and clearly marked as a construction site to inquire about a contractor’s services or a job with the contracting company or any innocuous question about the residence. When he knocks on the door there is no answer. He finds no one in the foyer, yet he enters further and calls out to find anyone who might be around. In the process he knocks over a scaffold, injuring himself in the process. Is he likely to receive a personal injury claim as a result? The answer is likely not. The man entered a clearly marked construction site without authorization. He took no precaution in wearing a hard hat or reasonable care when in the space and as such, his own actions constituted negligence.

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Damages An Insurer Must Pay in Accident Cases

In car accident cases, insurers are responsible for covering a wide assortment of damages for which their client is liable. When a person is injured due to neglect, those damages can add up quickly. Among the list of damages insurers are often responsible for are: medical care and related treatment expenses; lost income resulting from the accident or time spent recuperating; any permanent physical disability or disfigurement; loss of social, consortium, missed school, training, vacation and special events; emotional damages (stress, depression, strains on relationships); and damage to property.

As you can see, many of these kinds of damages can mount to a significant award. But insurers are often compelled to limit those damages. Despite the requirement to cover the array of damages for which their client is responsible, insurers take great pains to pay as little as possible. That’s all the more reason it’s important to be represented by a practiced personal injury attorney who can negotiate on your behalf.

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Negligence and Personal Injury

In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff must demonstrate negligence in order to recover damages.

"Negligence" is a legal term that simply means an individual behaved in a careless or thoughtless way, which can open them up to liability should that negligence give way to harm or damage. Negligence may be shown in either the action or inaction of others. For instance, a driver may speed recklessly through a school zone or a driver may fail to yield to a child in the same school zone while driving at a reasonable rate of speed. In both cases the driver is likely guilty of negligence.

The fact is drivers have a duty to act in a responsible manner when behind the wheel of a car. This duty or responsibility is sometimes called a "duty of reasonable care." Of course, all drivers have a responsibility to observe to rules of the road in their state or local municipality, but they also have a distinct responsibility to maintain safe driving practices should road conditions change to warrant it.

For example, if a highway's speed limit is published at 35 mph, yet weather conditions at the time of an accident included heavy rain and sleet providing slippery surfaces and low visibility. The responsibility of the driver should have been to proceed more slowly and approach road conditions more carefully. Failure to do that would expose the driver and his/her insurer to liability should an accident result and injury or damages occur.

If, in fact, both drivers act irresponsibly then the fault for resulting injuries may be shared by both drivers. The applicable theory of legal liability then becomes comparative negligence. Proving negligence is, not the only basis, however, for a personal injury claim. Claimants must also prove not only that the other party was indeed negligent but also that they themselves suffered injuries and/or damage.

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When the At Fault Driver is Not The Only Person Liable for Damages

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If you have been the victim of driver neglect that resulted in a car accident, it’s likely that finding the at-fault individual responsible for your injuries was not that difficult a task. In most cases, the at-fault individual is the driver that did not use reasonable care or caution when behind the wheel (that is if you, yourself were not also in some way negligent and partially responsible, in which case comparative negligence would come into play). But in some cases the driver that caused the accident is not the individual responsible for your injuries or damages. In some cases, Illinois law attributes responsibility to someone more than those behind the wheel and, perhaps, not even in the car at the time of the accident.

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