Car accidents can be overwhelming and traumatic experiences, leaving you feeling confused and uncertain about what to do next. They can lead to you or someone you love suffering an injury or, worse, passing away. If you have been in a car accident in Waukegan, Illinois, it is important to know your rights and take the necessary steps to protect them. From seeking medical attention to filing a police report and notifying your insurance company, you must take several critical actions in the aftermath of an accident. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about navigating a car accident in Waukegan, Illinois, so you can feel confident and empowered as you move forward. While you hope to never be in an accident, it’s best to be prepared in case the worst should come to pass.
Please note that if you feel unsafe moving, stay in your vehicle and let emergency personnel handle the immediate actions to be taken after a car accident. Forcing yourself could aggravate your injury and worsen things, extending the time you need to recover and adding more expenses. Instead, give yourself a few minutes to breathe and let your adrenaline die down; shock has quite the effect on humans, including minimizing pain responses and allowing you to push past your normal limits.
First and Foremost, seek medical attention. Even if you feel fine, you need documentation in case something such as whiplash pops up a few days down the line. Medical personnel can also ensure you are not still in shock and take precautionary X-rays. Emergency services should be the first call to bring out medical care for anyone injured and inform the police. In Illinois, you are required to have a police report for car accident claims over a certain amount. Getting police on the scene to take the report immediately helps ensure information accuracy.
If you feel confident after those breaths and letting your nerves settle, you can exit your vehicle. Take a couple of quick pictures, and then see if you can move the vehicles involved out of traffic’s way. This is essential for traffic safety so other cars can move around you without additional risk. If the vehicles cannot be moved for any reason, set your flashers and any other hazard signs available. Once emergency personnel arrives, they will set up a blockade.
Next, exchange information with other drivers. Gather contact information for any passengers, police officers, and witnesses. Take pictures of all damages to your vehicle, the other car, and any injuries. All of these photos will help you file a claim with your insurance and potentially seek compensation. If you have a dashcam, even better; make sure to save the footage in addition to your photos.
Be careful what you say on the scene, to any involved parties, and on social media. Anything you say can be used against you in an insurance claim, settlement negotiations, and even court to lessen the amount you receive.
Be aware of scam artists who prey on recent accidents. Wait to let anyone tow your car until the police arrive. Emergency personnel will ensure that a respected tow company handles matters; if you call your insurance from the scene, they can also dispatch a tow truck to your location.
The Following Days
Make sure you follow all directions from your initial healthcare provider and set an appointment to follow up with your primary care physician. Attend all appointments, take all medications, go to physical therapy if needed…anything necessary to help your recovery. Keep copies of all your statements and receipts related to your injuries and the accident.
Another step you should take is to contact a car accident attorney local to Waukegan. Attorneys are critical in car accidents because they are on your side, and they know the process like the backs of their hands. They will be familiar with all laws and regulations, including those specific to Illinois, and will negotiate on your behalf to ensure a fair settlement. The opposing insurance company, attorneys, and/or drivers will be working for their own benefit— you need someone experienced in your corner.
Your personal injury lawyer will help you gather evidence, build your case, and calculate fair damages. These damages often include medical bills and lost wages, any cost directly resulting from your injury. They will work to negotiate with the opposition; if no settlement can be agreed upon, they will represent you in court.
Crossing the Finish Line
The entire process of a car accident claim and the potential lawsuit can take weeks, even months, despite your attorney’s best efforts. It requires patience, but it’s hard not to be anxious and concerned. During this time, you should focus on your recovery and getting back to your everyday life. If the accident leaves you disabled, you’ll have more to adjust to, such as new care regimens and accessing new resources. Your attorney may be able to point you in the right direction, as they will have many local contacts from their experience in the field.
Perseverance will pay off eventually, whether through settlement or a jury’s deliberations. However, until matters are settled, do not sign anything without consulting your lawyer, and direct all calls that aren’t from a medical professional to your lawyer’s office. They will handle communication with parties involved on the legal side of matters and ensure you aren’t lured into agreeing to something that doesn’t benefit you.
You’ll want to work closely with your attorney through the entire process. Continue to provide them with documentation related to your injuries, and ask them for any advice seeking aid or medical care. If your case is not settled quickly, they may also have advice on financial services in the area to help you in the short term without falling prey to a loan shark. Losing wages and covering expenses after an accident can be terrifying as the costs build; most of these should be tied up with the case, but you still have your living expenses. Let your lawyer help guide you in making wise decisions to guide you through this tough time.