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IL accident lawyerIf you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. However, a successful claim typically requires substantial evidence of the negligence at hand and the damages you have suffered. Depending on the situation, this can include physical evidence, photos and videos, documented reports, and more. Various types of witness testimony can also be invaluable when it comes to supporting your claim.

Witnesses to the Incident

Whether you have been injured in a car accident, a slip and fall, a dog attack, or some other situation, chances are that someone saw it happen. Eyewitnesses can help you establish the circumstances surrounding your injuries to determine whether they were caused by a negligent act or some other incident that would entitle you to damages. Eyewitnesses can include many different people, such as:

  • Friends, family, and acquaintances who were with you at the time of your injuries
  • People who were with the negligent party at the time of your injuries, as a passenger in the other vehicle
  • Bystanders in the surrounding area
  • Law enforcement officers who saw the incident happen or responded to the scene

Other types of witnesses can also help you establish the negligence of another party. For example, a person familiar with the other party could speak to a pattern of dangerous behavior similar to the act that caused your injuries. Expert witnesses like car accident reconstruction specialists can also speak to the likely causes and effects of a collision.

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IL injury lawyerIn Illinois and throughout the United States, the vast majority of car accidents are caused by the actions of at least one of the drivers involved. However, there are sometimes other contributing factors. In recent years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that in approximately 4 percent of accident cases, the critical reason for the crash can be attributed to either the vehicle itself or the surrounding environment. In some of these cases, a defective part or product may be fully or partially responsible for the collision and resulting injuries. If you have been injured in a single-vehicle or multi-vehicle accident, an experienced attorney can help you determine whether you may have a claim for compensation based on product liability.

Defective Car Parts

Cars and other motor vehicles include a number of features to both ensure that they can be safely operated, and to protect drivers who are involved in collisions. If any of these features fails or malfunctions in the time leading up to an accident or after the impact, serious injuries can result. Some examples of defective auto parts that may contribute to accidents include:

  • Seat belts - Seat belt restraints are meant to reduce the injuries that a driver or passenger may suffer in a car accident, but a design or manufacturing defect could mean that they are unable to withstand the force of a collision and fulfill their intended purpose.
  • Airbags - Like seat belts, airbags play an important role in protecting vehicle occupants in the event of a collision. Defective airbags could fail to deploy upon impact.
  • Tires - Defective tires may rupture without warning and cause a driver to lose control, resulting in a single-vehicle or multi-car accident.
  • Brakes - Brake failure due to defects can prevent a driver from safely reacting in time to slow and avoid a collision.
  • Accelerators - Defective acceleration pedals can sometimes stick, and in some recent cases, vehicles have been known to accelerate against the driver’s intentions.
  • Cruise control - Newer vehicles commonly have automated features, like adaptive cruise control and lane maintenance, that help drivers maintain control of their vehicles in traffic. However, if these systems fail, the driver may not have time to react to avoid an accident.

Does Product Liability Apply in My Case?

In Illinois, vehicle designers, manufacturers, and retailers can be liable for injuries caused by defects in their products. Sometimes a defective part may be the primary reason for an accident, in which case one of these parties may be mostly or fully responsible for compensating injury victims. Even in cases involving driver negligence, product manufacturers and designers can be partially liable if the failure of safety features led to more serious injuries than would have otherwise occurred. However, a designer, manufacturer, or retailer may be protected from product liability if the malfunction was due to improper maintenance or unsafe alterations, or if they had issued a recall addressing the failed parts and properly notified the vehicle’s owner.

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IL accident lawyerAccording to recent estimates, more than 10 percent of Illinois drivers lack the liability insurance required by state law. When one of these uninsured drivers causes a car accident resulting in property damage—or worse, bodily injury—it can make the process of recovering compensation more difficult for the victims. Fortunately, Illinois government is taking steps to address the problem of uninsured drivers, including implementing a new electronic verification system to identify drivers who violate the state’s mandatory car insurance laws.

How Does the Car Insurance Verification System Work?

The Illinois Secretary of State’s new Illinois Insurance Verification System (ILIVS), goes into effect on July 1, 2021. All vehicles registered in Illinois will be subject to at least two annual checks, conducted at random intervals throughout the year, to determine whether they are covered by an active liability insurance policy. The verifications will be conducted automatically using records from auto insurance providers throughout the state.

If the office of the Secretary of State is unable to verify a vehicle’s insurance coverage automatically, the driver will be sent a letter requiring them to provide proof of insurance coverage within 30 days. If the driver cannot furnish proof, the vehicle’s registration will be suspended, and the driver will not be legally permitted to drive it until they obtain liability insurance and pay a reinstatement fee of $100.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_rear-end-crash_20210606-173800_1.jpgFor many employees, driving is an important part of their work responsibilities. Commercial truck drivers, delivery drivers, employees who travel between work sites, and even employees who occasionally run errands for their employer during the workday will often find themselves on the road, and this comes with exposure to the risk of serious injury in a motor vehicle accident. If you are injured while driving for work, it is important to understand your options for recovering compensation.

Workers’ Compensation Through Your Employer

In many cases, a person who is injured in an accident while driving for work is entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits through their employer. Workers’ compensation claims do not require a demonstration of fault or negligence on the part of your employer, but in order to be eligible for benefits, the following must be true:

  • You must be classified as an employee, rather than as an independent contractor.
  • The injury must have occurred during the course of your work. Usually, this excludes accidents that occur during the commute to and from work.
  • The injury must not have been the result of your intoxication or a serious criminal violation on your part.

If you are approved for workers’ compensation, the benefits will cover all medical expenses related to your injuries. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you could also qualify for temporary or permanent disability benefits to compensate for a portion of your lost wages.

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IL injury lawyerThe recent death of 32-year-old “School of Rock” actor Kevin Clark in a Chicago bicycle accident is a sobering reminder of the tragic consequences that bicyclists can face when they are hit by a motor vehicle. Each year in Illinois, more than 2,000 bicyclists are injured in car crashes, and unfortunately, some of them do not survive. You should be sure to take all reasonable safety precautions whenever you travel by bicycle, as well as be aware of what you can do if you or a loved one is seriously injured.

Promoting Bicycle Safety in Illinois

As a bicyclist, there are many things you can do to protect yourself from injury in a collision with a car or motor vehicle. These include:

  • Wearing a helmet - Helmets are not legally required for bicyclists in Illinois, but those who wear them are up to 85 percent more likely to avoid a traumatic brain injury.
  • Staying visible - Brightly colored clothing, lights, and reflectors all help make bicyclists more visible to drivers. This is especially important when you are biking at night or early in the morning.
  • Following traffic laws - Biking in the same direction as vehicle traffic, using hand turn signals, and obeying signs and signals at intersections can help you more safely share the road with motor vehicles.
  • Giving space to parked cars - A common cause of bicycle accidents is “dooring,” which happens when the door of a parked car opens into the path of a bicycle. Leaving a few feet of space between yourself and cars parked on the side of the road can help you avoid this.
  • Avoiding high-traffic areas - Serious bike accidents are far more common in urban areas. If you can avoid areas with excessive vehicle traffic, you may be more likely to avoid injury.

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims for Bicyclists

Unfortunately, bicycle accidents are sometimes inevitable because of a driver’s negligence, whether due to drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, or some other cause. If you are injured by a negligent driver, you should start working with an attorney as soon as possible to build a strong case for compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. If you lose a close family member in a fatal bicycle accident, you may also be entitled to compensation from the negligent driver through a wrongful death claim.

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