Being involved in an accident is scary. Often, you will need to seek medical treatment for your injuries after the accident and the medical bills to treat your injuries can quickly add up. You may even consider putting off medical treatment until you figure out how your medical bills will get paid. While it is not a good idea to delay your medical treatment, there are several options to deal with medical bills while you receive treatment for your injuries. Continue reading
Often, our clients ask why they need to notify their insurance company of the motor vehicle accident when they weren’t at fault. They are concerned that notifying their insurance company of the collision will raise their insurance rates and negatively impact them in the future. Even if you weren’t at fault in causing the motor vehicle collision, there are several reasons why you should notify your insurance company.
First, your insurance company may require you to notify them of an accident regardless of whether you were at fault or not. Different insurance companies have different notice requirements, including the time frame of when notice must be given and whether notice must be given in writing. If you fail to comply with your insurance company’s notice requirements, there may be adverse consequences, including your insurance company dropping your insurance or an inability to bring an uninsured or underinsured claim. Continue reading
Every vehicle has experienced the occasional rock or road debris striking their windshield. While the resulting damage is usually minor and covered by auto insurance, what happens when you encounter a dangerous road hazard such as fallen semi-truck cargo? If the cargo in a commercial truck is not properly loaded or secured, the cargo can shift in transit, causing the driver to lose control and tip over. Falling cargo can act as a projectile and penetrate the windshield of a trailing vehicle resulting in serious bodily injury or even death.
According to AAA, over a period of three years, more than 200,000 accidents were caused by falling debris. Approximately 25,000 crashes and 80-90 deaths occur in the United States each year. Traveling at a high rate of speed increases the risk of cargo falling from vehicles but decreases other drivers’ ability to react to hazards created by the airborne debris or debris on the roadway. More than one-third of all deaths reported in the study occurred when a driver swerved to avoid the falling debris. Overcorrecting at the last minute to avoid debris also increased a driver’s risk of losing control of their vehicle and making a bad situation even worse.
We all know the dangers of drinking and driving. But what about getting behind the wheel the morning after a night of heavy drinking? The average person can break down a single unit of alcohol — a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot — in about an hour. (Bear in mind that bars and restaurants may serve you more than a single unit of alcohol per drink.)
One hour to break down one standard drink is an estimate for the average person, but not everyone breaks down alcohol at the same rate. There are several factors which affect how quickly your body breaks down alcohol, including your height, weight, gender, age and metabolism, whether you were eating, and whether you take medications that affect the absorption of alcohol. Ultimately, the only thing that can actually reduce your blood alcohol content is time. Late nights and excessive drinking lead to painful mornings and the dreaded effects of a hangover.
Last month, 10-year-old Srijan Panthi and his mother, Mina Panthi, were hit by a city garbage truck in Corona, Queens, New York at around 7 a.m. on their way to school. The garbage truck was pulling out of a commercial driveway and making a right turn when it struck Mina and Srijan. According to a local resident, there was a stoplight at the intersection where the truck turned, but there was no dedicated crosswalk sign for pedestrians. Because there was no crosswalk sign, authorities had difficulty determining who had the right-of-way.
After the accident, the truck driver stayed at the scene, but no charges were filed against him. However, he was suspended from work immediately following the fatal events of the morning. Mina and Srijan were taken to a nearby emergency room. Mina survived, with serious injuries, but Srijan was pronounced dead four hours later. Continue reading
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, it is important to know how the insurance company is going to evaluate your claim. Long gone are the days of a skilled insurance adjuster pouring through your records. Nowadays, most insurance companies use a software program, called Colossus, to evaluate your claim. Colossus takes the pressure off the insurance adjuster to evaluate your claim and allows the adjuster to input certain data into its system to arrive at what it thinks is an appropriate settlement number for your claim. Continue reading
As a car accident lawyer, I am always looking at what makes us less safe on the road. At the top of this list is distracted driving. In Illinois, drivers are generally allowed to use cell phones, but are prohibited from using cell phones, hand held or otherwise, when driving in a school zone or when driving in a highway construction zone. Recently, Illinois tightened these restrictions and prohibited all hand held cell phone use while driving.
Texting – the most dangerous form of distracted driving – has long been prohibited in Illinois. Exceptions to the prohibition from texting while driving are quite limited: reporting an emergency situation and continued communication with emergency personnel during the emergency situation; using a device in hands-free or voice-activated mode; if the driver is parked on the shoulder of a roadway; or when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park. Absent an exception, texting is prohibited.
Every day, Illinois drivers are injured in motor vehicle accidents with hit-and-run drivers or drivers who are uninsured or underinsured. In 2012, over 13% of Illinois drivers were uninsured, and the increasing number of uninsured and underinsured drivers nationwide only underscores the importance of having uninsured motorist coverage for the rest of us. In Illinois, it is the right of every policyholder who carries Uninsured Motorist coverage, or “UM” coverage, to have his or her injury claim seeking UM coverage heard at arbitration, to decide how much compensation or “damages” will be paid.
An UM arbitration is a legal proceeding held before a panel of arbitrators. The arbitration hearing is set up much like a trial, where parties represented by lawyers call witnesses and present evidence to the arbitration panel. After the hearing, the arbitrators render a decision, referred to as an arbitration “award.” The decision of the arbitrators determines whether the injured person has a right to receive any damages under the insurance policy and how much.
Rental car insurance is confusing. Before you rent, it is important to know if your insurance provides coverage for the rented vehicle, and under what circumstances that coverage may be limited. The answers to these questions may depend on the language of your own automobile insurance policy concerning “substitute vehicles.” To trigger a “substitute vehicle” clause, an important fact to consider is whether your car is “disabled” and “withdrawn from use,” rather than when you simply are concerned that it may be on the brink of becoming disabled or possibly in need of repair. If your rented car is involved in a car accident, questions may arise as to whether your own insurance policy will still cover you for a bodily injury liability claim (if you cause an accident, injuring someone), an uninsured motorist claim (if you become injured due to the fault of an uninsured driver) or an underinsured motorist claim (if the at-fault driver carries an insufficient amount of liability coverage to adequately cover your injury claim).
Your automobile insurance policy likely has a “Substitute Vehicle” clause, which provides coverage for a “temporary substitute vehicle” when the insured vehicle is not in “normal use” or has been “withdrawn from normal use.” When your rented vehicle meets the requirements of a “Substitute Vehicle,” the rented vehicle is covered to the same extent as your own vehicle. The public policy behind enforcement of substitute vehicle clauses is to prevent an insurance company from being liable for two vehicles while the insured has paid only one premium.
Motor vehicle accidents raise many complicated issues of fault and proof. One way to prove a defendant’s liability is by using an admission of guilt (“guilty plea”) in the underlying traffic court proceeding, which is ordinarily conducted soon after an accident is reported. Often, a potential defendant will plead guilty to a traffic citation. The guilty plea may be used in the civil case to demonstrate the fault of the motorist. “[G]uilty pleas to traffic offenses have been admitted in subsequent civil proceedings as admissions.” Young v. Forgas, 308 Ill.App.3d 553, 565 (4th Dist. 1999). A defendant’s claim he did not appreciate the effect of a guilty plea in a traffic case is irrelevant. As stated in Young, a “person must realize that civil litigation is a very real possibility and that the guilty plea to the traffic charge could reflect adversely upon him in a subsequent proceeding.” Id.
A guilty plea is an exception to the hearsay rule. “A guilty plea to a traffic violation is admissible as an admission against interest in a later civil action on the same facts.” Mivatovich v. Chicago Transit Authority, 112 Ill.App.2d 437, 442 (1st Dist. 1969). Courts reason that “a judicial admission is a deliberate, clear, unequivocal statement of a party about a concrete fact within that party’s peculiar knowledge.” Sohaey v. Van Cura, 240 Ill.App.3d 266, 280 (2nd Dist. 1992). “[A] judicial admission is conclusive upon the party who made it, and the party may not controvert the admission at trial or on appeal, so the effect of a judicial admission is to withdraw a fact from contention. Id., at 280-81. Additionally, “a party cannot create a question of fact for purposes of a summary judgment motion by attempting to contradict a previous judicial admission.” Id.