221 N. LaSalle St. Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60601
(800) 332 - 1254 | (312) 332 - 0072
 
 
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Car, Truck and Motorcycle Accidents


McDevitt Law Offices, P.C. is a personal injury law firm serving seriously injured clients in Chicago, the surrounding counties and throughout Illinois. We provide our clients personal attention, a track record of proven results and the experience necessary to maximize the compensation they receive.  

A car, truck or motorcycle accident which causes serious injury raises a lot of questions.  What do I do? Who do I talk to? How do I find help?  We are happy to meet with you to answer your questions either at our office or we can come to you.  

Below are answers to some of the questions you may be asking.  If you need legal assistance after a serious car, truck or motorcycle accident please contact our office at 312-332-0072 to discuss your legal options and the ways in which we can help.

 

Do I need a lawyer?

 

If you were seriously hurt (broken bones, torn ligaments or anything which may be long-lasting or permanent) or if you required significant medical care, such as a hospital stay or extensive evaluation, it is important to speak with a lawyer.  If your injuries were minor and resolved quickly, a lawyer is probably unnecessary.  

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Who will pay the medical bills?

If you have health insurance it is important that you provide that information to the hospital or doctor.  It is preferable that the bills be paid by the health insurer as the health insurer will likely receive a discount of the amount to be paid on your behalf.   Some doctors and hospitals will not submit the bills to a health insurer if there may be a claim against some other party.  Your auto insurance may also cover some of your medical bills if you have medical payments coverage on that policy.  Sometimes, the medical payments coverage must be exhausted before health insurance will cover the bills.  This is an issue a lawyer can address on your behalf.   

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How much is my case worth?

The value of a personal injury claim is driven by the nature and extent of the injury, the medical care received and whether the condition is long-lasting and/or permanent.  Whether the other party was clearly negligent will also impact case value.  Other important factors include whether wages were lost, and what other impact the injury had or will have on the person’s life in the future.  

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The other insurance company is calling and wants to talk, what do I do?

You are not obligated to provide a statement to the other driver’s insurance company or to actively participate in their claim evaluation.  In cases when you will need a lawyer it is preferable not to give a statement without a lawyers help.  A sworn statement given to the other driver’s insurer can be used against you.  There is no advantage to providing information and being cooperative if ultimately litigation is likely and you will have to give a deposition in the future. 

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My own insurance company is calling, what do I do?

If your own insurance company is involved in handling your property damage claim or requires your assistance, it is important to cooperate.  Most insurance policies require that you cooperate with your insurer as requested and needed.  Failure to cooperate with your own insurer can impact your insurance coverage. 

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What about damage to my car?

If your auto insurance includes collision coverage than your insurer will pay you the cost of repairs or the value of the vehicle if it is a total loss.  Your insurance will pay this amount less your deductible which is typically $250, $500 or $1,000.  Your insurance company will seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurer in a process called subrogation.  If your insurer recovers money from the opposing insurer, you will be reimbursed for the deductible paid.  Using your own collision coverage is typically a more efficient way to resolve the property damage claim shortly and secure a replacement vehicle.  
 
You may choose to seek payment of the property damage claim directly from the opposing insurer.  Although this saves the deductible, some insurers first require a statement which is not recommended without the involvement of an attorney.  This may be the only option if collision coverage is not available. 
 

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What about time missed from work?

Lost wages are an important element of damage that can be pursued as part of your claim. Unfortunately, compensationfor lost wages is available only at the conclusion of the claim and not as the claim pends.  This can cause severe financial hardship.  Some employers provide short and long-term disability benefits on their employees behalf.  Some people have their own personal disability policies as well.  If the injury suffered is severe, disability benefits may be available through the Social Security Administration.  Whether you are eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits is driven by the type of injury and permanency of the condition.  A lawyer can explore all of the potential disability benefits with you.  

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The other driver doesn’t have insurance. Now what?

Whether the at-fault driver was insured and how much insurance was in place can dramatically impact your claim.  If the negligent driver did not have insurance, you may have a claim for uninsured motorist benefits under your auto policy.  This is typically part of the coverage that you pay for every month.  It protects you by stepping in to provide coverage as though the uninsured defendant had the same coverage you purchased. These claims don’t typically involve a lawsuit or trial but rather involve arbitration if the case cannot be resolved.  Making an uninsured motorist claim does not typically impact the premiums paid in the future or the willingness of the insurer to continue as your carrier.  

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The other driver has insurance but the insurance coverage is not sufficient. Now what?

You may have heard ads on the radio for “full coverage.”  Full coverage often means state minimum coverage which in Illinois is $20,000.00.  It is not unusual for emergency room bills and immediate follow-up care to cost more than that limit.  Similar to when the driver is uninsured, your underinsured motorist coverage may apply if the value of the case exceeds the other driver’s policy limit.  Your insurance company is entitled to a credit for the payment made by the “at-fault” insurer.  There are requirements in terms of providing notice to your insurer before accepting an offer from the other drivers insurance company.  If you suspect an underinsured motorist claim, it is important to involve an attorney early in the process or you risk impairing a potential underinsured motorist claim.  
 

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I received a questionnaire about the accident…

Most health insurance policies provide that if benefits are paid on your behalf because of an accident caused by someone else, the health insurer is entitled to get their money back if you recover money from the other party.  There are companies that health insurers hire to review claims and investigate.  Many of them look at billing codes for ER care or other bills associated with trauma and then send questionnaires to follow-up.  It is important to cooperate with your health insurer as your policy likely requires it.  Some policies require cooperation with the investigation before benefits will be paid which may include completing a questionnaire or speaking with a representative.   
 
Although the policy may require that the health insurer be reimbursed, the insurer is not typically repaid for every dollar paid on your behalf.  A lawyer can typically negotiate a reduction of the amount to be repaid although the type of plan and plan language is important.  A lawyer can review the plan language and negotiate a reduction on your behalf.  

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How is McDevitt Law Offices, P.C paid for representing me?

Most attorneys who handle personal injury claims charge a contingent fee of one-third of the total amount recovered.  The fee is “contingent” because no attorney fee of any amount is charged if money is not recovered for you.  Similarly, Dwyer & McDevitt will pay litigation expenses on your behalf for things such as court filing fees, obtaining medical records, court reporting fees and if needed expert witnesses.  Dwyer & McDevitt is reimbursed for those amounts only if money is recovered for you.  Dwyer & McDevitt does not require any type of retainer or other amount up front before representing you.  
 

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What materials does a lawyer need initially to get the case started?

A lawyer will typically want to see the traffic crash report which is a more complete version of the motorist report provided to the parties at the time of the accident.  The attorney will want to discuss the injuries suffered and the treatment received to date.  The attorney may also have questions regarding your medical history and whether you had suffered any similar type of injury before.  The lawyer will want to learn more about your work history, whether you are able to work as well as the amount of medical bills incurred to date.  The lawyer will want to know what the doctor has suggested you will need in the future and whether you are continuing to receive medical care.  Finally, the amount of insurance coverage at issue and whether you have as yet given a statement or otherwise taken any action with the other insurance company will be important.  If you were seriously hurt and required significant medical care it is important to speak with an attorney.  

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The other driver received a ticket and I was told there was a court date. Do I need to go?

The answer is typically, “no” although it can be helpful.  If you are subpoenaed by the State’s Attorneys Office then your attendance is required.  If you are physically unable to go to court because of your injury but wish to go, an accommodation can be made and the court date moved.  Whether it makes sense to go to court depends upon the circumstance of the case and should be discussed with an attorney.  If the defendant pleads guilty to a traffic citation that can be helpful to the civil case.  If the defendant pleads not guilty or is found guilty, that has little or no bearing to the case for money damages.  Under some circumstances, a trial may be conducted in the traffic proceeding which could impact your civil case such as when sworn testimony is given.  It is wise to address these issues with an attorney.  

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What should I look for when hiring a personal injury attorney?

How long has the attorney been in practice and how long have they been handling claims like this? Does the attorney handle only personal injury claims or other types of cases as well?  Does the lawyer represent plaintiffs and defendants or exclusively plaintiffs (people who are hurt)?  Is the lawyer actively litigating cases now and have they taken cases before a jury?  What is their success rate?  Are they AV rated by Martindale Hubble?  What does their profile look like on sites such as AVVO? What do the firm’s clients say about them?  Answers to these questions give you the best chance to find a lawyer capable and qualified to handle your case.  

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