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Experienced Chicagoland Personal Injury Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions about Car Accidents and More

Getting hurt in an accident can be a scary and confusing time. Figuring out how you are going to meet your expenses, and knowing what to do to protect your rights to compensation is likely high on your list of concerns. Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about Chicago car accidents and other personal injury matters. If you have other questions or have been hurt by another’s negligence and need to speak with an attorney, call D&W Law Group at 312-888-8888 for a free consultation.

Q. What am I supposed to do after a car accident?

A. Immediately after the accident, your health and safety should be your primary concern. This includes seeking First Aid or calling 9-1-1 if anyone is seriously injured, as well as getting yourself to a safe location out of traffic. If there is serious damage to a vehicle, or if anyone is hurt, the police should be called, and you should remain on the scene until they arrive. It is important to exchange information with the other driver, including your insurance company and policy number, but it is not recommended to discuss your actual coverage or policy limits with anyone. Similarly, try to obtain contact information from other witnesses or people at the scene, but don’t engage in conversations with them about who was at fault. In the days after the accident, follow up with your doctor, even if you didn’t receive medical treatment at the scene or at a hospital. You will also need to notify your insurance company in a timely manner. Last but certainly not least, contact an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney who can personally guide you through the steps toward obtaining compensation for your injuries.

Q. The insurance company says the accident is my fault and not the other driver’s. What do I do?

A. A common trick of the insurance companies is to defend their insured by alleging that your own negligence either caused or at least contributed to the accident. Even if you win your lawsuit, any portion of blame that gets assigned to you reduces your monetary award proportionately, and if you are deemed more than 50% to blame, you can be denied any recovery at all under Illinois personal injury law. Don’t let the insurance adjusters tell you the accident was your fault when it wasn’t. Our experienced injury attorneys conduct our own investigations, utilizing experts in the field of accident investigation and reconstruction. We work to build a strong case that proves the defendant’s negligence, while keeping you from being painted as the negligent party without any proof.

Q. How are railroad or train accident victims compensated?

A. The path to compensation after a railroad accident depends upon the status of the injury victim. A motorist or pedestrian injured in a train accident may pursue a claim under Illinois negligence and personal injury law, much like the victim of a Chicago car or truck accident, unless the lawsuit is preempted by federal regulations. Since railroads are common carriers, train passengers are owed a much higher duty of care than are motorists or pedestrians. Injured railroad workers pursue claims for compensation under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) instead of Illinois workers’ compensation. D&W Law Group is experienced and equipped to represent all kinds of railroad and train accidents victims. We provide knowledgeable, insightful and effective representation in this complex area of law and the catastrophic injuries railroad crossing and train derailment accidents often cause.

Q. How long do I have to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit?

A. In most cases, you have up to two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. In the case of medical malpractice, you may have two years from the date the malpractice was discovered or should have been discovered, up to four years from the date of the malpractice. Don’t delay in contact a personal injury lawyer to evaluate your claim, however. In some cases, the limitations period may be considerably shorter than two years, and in any event, your attorney will want to investigate the accident while memories are still fresh and before evidence is lost or destroyed. Don’t let your right to obtain compensation lapse due to a legal technicality.

Q. Can an accident victim get punitive damages from the responsible party?

A. Personal injury victims can recover the full range of compensatory damages meant to compensate them for losses such as medical expenses, lost or reduced income, pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and so on. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are meant to punish the wrongdoer and are reserved for situations beyond mere negligence, where the party acted with “reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and conscious indifference to the rights and safety of others.” Punitive damages might be available against a drunk driver, for example, or a building owner who purposefully created a dangerous condition. In Illinois, punitive damages are not allowed in cases of medical malpractice or wrongful death. Where they are allowed, punitive damage awards can be up to three times the economic damages, and they must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. Although difficult to obtain, our dedicated Chicago personal injury attorneys always step forward and seek punitive damage awards in appropriate cases.

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