FAQs Following a Car Crash

On June 1, 2017, in Auto Accident, by K. Lindsay Rakers

I represent those injured in both downstate Illinois car accidents and Missouri car accidents.  I find that oftentimes, my new clients seem to have the same questions.  I have tried to answer these questions with my Missouri Accident Guide and my Roadmap to Your Illinois Car Crash Case.  My guess is that many folks, those who are not my clients, those who want to try to handle their case on their own (and some people should do this, please check out my post here) may have similar questions.  So below, I will try to answer some of these common, and important, questions about Missouri car accidents and Illinois car accidents:

  1. Will I have to go to court to resolve my Missouri accident claim or Illinois accident claim? Not always.  If the adjuster refuses to be fair, it may be required in order to get your the compensation you deserve.  But some people don’t want to go to trial no matter what – it is a conversation you should have with your attorney so that you are both in the loop and feel comfortable with the decision.
  2. How long do I have to file my claim?  It depends.  In Missouri, you have 5 years to file a personal injury claim (2 years to file a medical malpractice claim, 3 years if wrongful death). In Illinois, you have 2 years to file a personal injury claim, medical malpractice claim or wrongful death claim.  As with everything, there are caveats so you will want to check with a licensed attorney.
  3. What do I do when the adjuster calls me about my Missouri car accident or Illinois car accident?  If it is the adjuster for the driver who hit you, do not talk to the adjuster.  Politely tell the adjuster that you are seeking legal representation and do not feel comfortable talking to him or her.  Do not give a recorded statement without speaking to an insurance adjuster.  If it is the adjuster from your insurance company, you likely have a duty to cooperate.  You will likely need to give a statement to your own insurance company but again, I think it is helpful to speak with a personal injury lawyer first.
  4. What if I am partly at fault for the accident? This doesn’t mean that you cannot recover.  In both Illinois and Missouri, it is possible for a plaintiff to recover for her injuries even if she is partly at fault.
  5. Can’t I just handle my car accident claim? Sure, but be careful.  I speak about this on my website – read here for further information.  Sometimes an attorney isn’t needed, no doubt. But there are some circumstances where a lawyer can really help if not to clarify issues and serve as your advocate, but if nothing else, to take things off your plate.
  6. What if I was confused when I spoke with the police after my Missouri car crash or Illinois car crash?  This happens more often than you think.  If you believe you misspoke, it is important to call the police officer at the scene and clarify.  Be sure to not only talk to the officer but keep your own diary, journal.
  7. What if I didn’t go to the hospital or talk to the ambulance personnel at the scene of the crash?  This is the most common concern I hear from clients.  Following a crash, your adrenaline is pumping – you may be worried about the other driver, passengers in your car, work, or you may be suffering from a concussion.  I always recommend that you get checked at the scene and go to the hospital for evaluation.  But if you didn’t and you are feeling sore, be sure to follow up with your internist or primary care physician immediately.
  8. Do I have to tell my insurance company about my car crash?  It is usually a good idea. You may have MedPay coverage which will help with your medical bills.  Also, if you later find out the other driver was uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM), you will need your own automobile insurance coverage.  Most policies require that you put the insurance carrier on notice in a timely manner.  So you don’t want to wait too long to tell your insurance company about the car crash, even if it wasn’t your fault.
  9. What if the driver who hit me didn’t have insurance?  In both Illinois and Missouri, all drivers are required to have minimal insurance ($25,000 in Missouri and $20,000 in Illinois).  Of course not everyone follows the law.  If the driver who hit you didn’t have insurance, you will need to make a claim with your own insurance company.  There are certain steps you need to take to do this so speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
  10. What if my injuries aren’t getting better after my car crash? It is very important to have your injuries evaluated by a physician as soon as possible after the crash.  If, after that visit, you aren’t feeling better, call your doctor back – even if there was no follow-up appointment scheduled.  Your doctor cannot help you if he/she doesn’t know you are still hurting.
  11. What if I didn’t have my seat belt on at the time of the car accident?  Each state is different on this issue – sometimes, not wearing a seat belt has no legal effect on a claim. Don’t assume that just because you didn’t have your seat belt on (or helmet on if you ride a motorcycle), that you are at fault for your own injuries.
  12. What should people do right after a car accident? Always always always call the police. Don’t assume that the other driver is nice and will take care of the damage to your car.  Take photographs of yourself, your car, the other car, witnesses, anything you can photograph. Get the names and phone numbers of witnesses.  Don’t assume the police officers will do all of this.  Get to a doctor.  Don’t assume you aren’t hurt.  Talk to an attorney.  A good, reputable attorney will tell you whether you need legal representation or not.

*What is “downstate” Illinois?  I don’t represent people who have been injured up near Chicago.  There are many fine personal injury attorneys in that area and my clients are better served if I don’t travel that far.  Therefore, when it comes to Illinois, I limit my roadway accident practice to “downstate” Illinois, which includes all cities and townships south of Bloomington.

*What is a “roadway accident”?  I don’t just limit my practice to car crashes.  I am happy to help anyone who has been injured as a result of any type of crash on any type of roadway.  That means I will represent those injured in a car accident, bike or bicycle accident, truck accident, tractor trailer accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian accident, taxi accident, or boat accident.  And I will represent those injured on any type of roadway, including highways, interstates, private roadways, parking lots, state roads, county roads, and rural routes.

*This was originally published on The Legal Examiner, July 13, 2013.


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