What You Need To Prove Negligence in an Illinois Car Accident
It can happen out of nowhere. You’re driving down the road, moving through your normal routines, when all of a sudden – a sudden impact. Car accidents can be alarming and damaging, and they’re much more common than we like to think. Car accidents are so common, in fact, that each one of us is likely to be in at least one accident during our lifetimes. When an accident occurs, it’s essential you’ve taken the time to understand how to move forward and advocate for yourself. If you’ve been in an Illinois car accident, understanding the ins and outs of negligence on the road will be essential.
What do you need to know to maximize your compensation after a car accident and get yourself back on your feet? Read on and we’ll walk you through the basics.
What is Negligence?
Before we can talk about proving negligence in a case, it’s important to talk about what this term actually means.
Duty of Care
The open road can be a dangerous place. Every driver that gets behind the wheel of an auto vehicle has a responsibility to understand this and to take care when operating a vehicle. This is an implied legal responsibility that all people face.
You have a ‘duty of care’ as a driver to avoid actions that could lead to others’ injury or death. One must try to exercise a reasonable amount of care, attention, and watchfulness.
When a driver fails to act in this way, they have breached their duty of care. There are many forms this breach might take. A driver might be driving recklessly, they might be texting and driving, or they may have gotten behind the wheel inebriated.
Failing to yield, signal, running a stop sign, and so on are all examples of a breach of the duty to care that all drivers share.
Causation Between Lack of Care and Injury
This breach of duty alone isn’t enough to bring a case forward against someone. However, if this lack of care leads directly to an accident occurring, causation between the action and the result can be demonstrated.
Someone must have experienced a loss of some kind (‘damages’) in order to obtain payment as part of a lawsuit. In a car accident, that could be damage done to your vehicle, injuries sustained by you or other passengers that require medical attention, lost wages from work that you can’t make it to, and so on.
If you can prove that this negligent behavior led directly to these damages, you’ll have a strong case on your hand.
Proving Negligence After an Illinois Car Accident
In the immediate wake of a car accident, you may not be thinking about how to make a case for yourself. If anything, you’re likely in shock.
However, understanding ahead of time how car accident cases are generally decided can help you ensure that proper evidence is being collected at the scene of the accident.
After an incident, you’ll need to prove that the opposing driver was responsible for the accident.
If you can prove that the accident was a result of their negligence, their insurance company will need to cover the damages associated with the incident. This is because Illinois is an at-fault state (as opposed to no-fault, as the laws are in some other states).
In an at-fault state, the driver who was responsible for the accident is the one who will be on the hook to pay for the damages. It is their insurance company that will need to step up and pay.
In some cases, comparative negligence might be in play – where each driver is found to be somewhat at fault for the accident, and a percentage of blame is assigned to each driver.
What evidence is needed to prove that the accident was a result of the opposing driver’s negligence?
One of the most helpful pieces of evidence can be witness testimony. While you may not have seen what led to the accident from your vantage, many others might have. If witnesses to the accident can testify that the other driver ran a stop sign, for example, you’ll have a strong piece of evidence for your case.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to get the contact information of any witnesses from the accident. You may even want to record their accounting of the accident on your phone while their memory is still fresh – though they will have to consent to your filming ahead of time.
Photos and Videos
Any kind of media from the scene of the accident can be helpful in building your case.
This includes evidence you might collect on your phone after the accident, showing the damage done, the position of the cars, and so forth.
It also includes footage that you may be able to access after the fact, from CTV cameras or traffic cameras located near the scene of the accident. If you work with an Illinois car attorney on your case, they can help you access this kind of footage.
When the police come to the scene of the accident, they will also create a police report that details their conclusions about the accident and which driver was at fault.
Police officers see hundreds of accidents a year and their opinion on fault in the matter will hold a lot of weight in a court of law.
Getting a copy of this police report will be essential in proving negligence later on. It can be a very helpful piece of evidence.
Medical Records & Doctor’s Notes
In most cases, after a car accident, you’ll be seeking compensation for the damages that you and other sustained in the form of personal injuries.
Proving the extent and cost of these personal injuries will require a number of pieces of evidence from your doctors. For one, you’ll want to pull together your medical history, to prove that the injuries you suffer from now did not exist prior to the accident.
You’ll also want to see a doctor immediately after the accident and throughout the recovery. This will help ensure that the opposing side cannot argue that your own negligence in seeking care contributed to your injuries.
Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer
Gathering all this evidence can be difficult and a lot of work, especially if you have no prior experience in the matter. A personal injury attorney can be a worthwhile hire if you’re worried about proving your case.
They’ll have handled cases just like yours dozens of times before, and they’ll know just how to collect and present the evidence.
They’ll also be experienced in combatting insurance company lawyers – they’ll be able to ensure you get the compensation that you really deserve. The weeks after a car accident can be hard to adjust to, and having someone to rely on as you get your life back on track can be a lifesaving decision.
Contact an Illinois Car Accident Lawyer
Been in an Illinois car accident? It’s important to understand how to advocate yourself and fight to get the compensation that you deserve. Car accident damages can be expensive and no one should have to pay out of pocket for an accident that was not their fault.
You’ll need to understand how to prove negligence in a car accident case if you hope to get the compensation that you deserve. The above information can help you to understand the ins and outs of this process.
Need immediate help with your case? Give us a call anytime for assistance.