The time immediately after a sudden car accident may have stress, shock, confusion, vehicle damage and, in some cases, extremely serious injuries. But your compliance with Illinois law and your right to compensation against a negligent driver depends on what you do after motor vehicle accidents.
First and foremost, you must stop when there is an accident. Leaving the scene of any accident, no matter how minor, is a criminal offense. When stopping your vehicle, do what you can to safely prevent further risk to any person or property.
If possible and safe, have someone warn other vehicles. Use any available flares, flashlights or reflectors at night.
The health and safety of anyone takes precedence. In Illinois, any motorist involved in an accident must give reasonable aid to any injured person. This includes helping an injured person get needed medical care by taking them to a health care facility or calling for first responders.
Until help arrives, provide any aid that you can. But do not perform acts that you are not trained to do which can worsen injuries. Moving an injured person, for example, can aggravate neck and back injuries.
If you have nay concerns about your condition or whether any of your passengers suffered injuries, go to an emergency room or see your doctor as soon as possible. Ask your passengers to take this precaution. Follow your doctor’s care and advice.
When an accident takes place within a city, village or town, you should call the municipal police or 9-1-1. On an open highway, call the nearest state police station, the county sheriff’s office or 9-1-1.
Police are trained to deal with an accident scene so let the officer take over. Their accident report may assist you in a personal injury lawsuit.
Turn over information
Illinois law requires a driver of any vehicle in an accident to give their name, address and registration number to the other motorist in the crash. If requested, the driver should also present their driver’s license.
If a driver crashes into an unattended vehicle, state law requires them to locate the owner or operator and tell them their name, address and vehicle registration number. If the owner may not be located, leave a note with that information and the circumstances of the accident.
Less is more
Do not provide more information than the law requires. Never admit fault even if you think you are wrong. The other driver may be at fault and you may be unsure of what happened. Do not comment on the crash. You have the right to speak to an attorney before giving a statement to the police or anyone else.
Obtain the same information from the other motorist that you are required to give. Additionally, try to get the names and addresses of any accident witnesses.
If reasonable, make notes of important items in the accident. Diagram the vehicle’s positions before and after the crash. Take photographs of the vehicles. Step off important distances such as skid marks.
Under Illinois law, you must file a written report of an accident where there was death or injury to anyone and, in most cases, where there was property damage. Reports must be filed within 10 days or you may lose your license. Forms may be obtained from the police or sheriff.
You should also notify your automobile insurance company.
A car accident victim may be entitled to compensation for injuries or disfigurement, temporary or permanent disability, medical and hospital expenses, loss of income and property damage. Family members of a person killed in a crash may be able to recover damages if the deceased was no more than 50 percent at fault.
You should not settle an accident claim or act without speaking to an attorney. Lawyers will help assure that your rights are protected.