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Motor Vehicle Accident Knowledge Center
Chicago Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys
Illinois Auto Accident Lawyers
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among persons age 5-34, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, more than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated for injuries in emergency departments in 2009 as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Auto accidents carry significant economic effects as well – according to the CDC, the lifetime costs of auto accident-related injuries and deaths was $70 billion in 2005 alone.
Determining Who Is At Fault in Motor Vehicle Accident
Auto accidents are the one of the most common types of personal injury lawsuits and, generally, these cases are governed by the law of negligence (except in those states that have passed no-fault laws). Negligence is a legal theory arising under tort law which provides that drivers are expected to exercise reasonable care when operating a motor vehicle. If a driver fails to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances, he or she is considered to be negligent and may be required to pay for any damages or injuries caused by the negligence.
In order for an injured party to be successful in a personal injury lawsuit, he or she must prove that the defendant was negligent, that the negligent conduct caused the auto accident, and that the auto accident caused the injuries and/or damages.
A driver may also be at fault for an auto accident if the accident was caused by the driver’s intentional or reckless misconduct. Intentional misconduct includes deliberate actions that cause an auto accident, such as purposely rear-ending another car. More common, reckless misconduct consists of unsafe driving, in which the driver “willfully and wantonly disregards” the probability that such driving could cause a crash.
Determining whether a driver was negligent can be complicated and fact-intensive. A court will often look to factors such as the following to determine whether a driver was negligent:
- Failure to obey traffic signs or signals;
- Failure to use turn signal prior to turning;
- Disregard for weather or traffic conditions;
- Failure to drive on the right side of the road; and
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Drunk driving auto accidents in Illinois continue to cause serious injuries, considerable property damage and, in some cases, even death. The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that in 2009 there were 301 alcohol-related fatalities and 41% of all fatally injured drivers had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of 0.08. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and property damage. In the event that a loved one was killed by a drunk driver, you may also wish to pursue a wrongful death claim.
Cell Phone Use and Distracted Driving
Distracted driving was responsible for 5,474 deaths and an estimated 448,000 additional injuries in motor vehicle crashes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The US DOT also reports that 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving and, of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction.
A common source of driver distraction is cell phone use, whether talking on the phone, texting or sending an email. Even when a driver uses a hands-free cell phone while driving and both hands are on the wheel, talking on a cell phone alone distracts a driver and can lead to accidents caused by inattentive driving. In fact, the use of a cell phone while driving, even if it is a hands-free cell phone, delays a driver’s reaction time as much as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08, according to the USDOT. Moreover, drivers that use cell phones are four times more likely to get into auto accidents that result in injuries, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Distracted driving does not just include cell phone use, but it encompasses any non-driving activity, such as eating/drinking, talking to other passengers, grooming, reading, watching a video or changing the radio station.
Speeding was a contributing factor in 31% of all fatal crashes in 2008 and 11,764 lives were lost in 2008 due to speeding-related crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When a motor vehicle accident occurs as the result of speeding, the negligent driver can and should be held accountable for the damages, injuries or deaths that were caused as a result. The skilled Chicago speeding accident attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC have significant experience representing victims of motor vehicle accidents, including those caused by speeding.
Compensation for Injuries and Damages in Motor Vehicle Accident
If an injured party is successful in his or her personal injury lawsuit, the defendant may be required to pay for medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering, past and future lost income, permanent impairment and permanent disfigurement. In certain situations, family members of a person injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident can bring a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible driver.
The actual amount of recovery in an auto accident case depends on a number of factors, including:
- State law regarding negligent, intentional and reckless misconduct while driving
- Facts available to support the case
- Type and severity of injuries and damages
- Type of medical treatment required
- Insurance coverage available
- Amount of past and anticipated future medical bells
- Extent to which the accident has affected income
- Circumstances surrounding the accident
Auto accident personal injury lawsuits can be factually and legally intensive, making the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney invaluable to supporting your legal claim. The skilled Chicago auto accident attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC have extensive experience representing the victims of personal injury accidents, including motor vehicle accidents of all kinds. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an auto accident, contact one of our knowledgeable Chicago auto accident attorneys to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible personal injury lawsuit.