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Common Mistakes Made After an Auto AccidentUnderstandably, many people are in a state of shock after being hurt in a serious traffic accident. They may not realize that the actions they take immediately after being in an auto accident can mean the difference between receiving full compensation for the expenses incurred by their injuries and being saddled with burdensome medical bills and other costs related to the accident. If you or a loved one are ever involved in an accident, make sure to avoid these common mistakes.

  1. Not Calling the Police: There are many reasons that a person involved in a car wreck may not call law enforcement to the scene of an accident. Perhaps the driver has had a negative interaction with a police officer in the past or does not realize how much a formal police report will benefit him or her if he or she ends up filing a personal injury claim. In some situations, a driver does not call the police because another driver involved in the accident suggests or outright demands that the police remain uninvolved. Do not let another driver convince you not to call law enforcement. Even if you do not plan on filing a claim, calling the police and getting a police report after an accident is essential.
  2. Underestimating Your Injuries: There are many injuries such as whiplash and traumatic brain injuries that are not immediately evident. You should always get checked out by a medical professional after a major auto accident – even if you think your injuries are only minor. If you do end up being more injured than you realized, receiving compensation for medical expenses or lost income caused by the injuries can be nearly impossible without an official record of these injuries.
  3. Not Gathering Evidence and Witnesses Information: After an accident, get the names and contact information of witnesses. These witnesses can be extremely helpful if you need other people to corroborate your version of the events in the future. Take pictures and videos of the accident scene, damage to your car, damage to the other car, and the position of the vehicles.
  4. Assuming You Cannot Receive Compensation if You Were Partially At Fault: Imagine this scenario: A man is driving down the highway when he is struck by another vehicle. He sustained major injuries in the accident, incurred massive hospital bills, and is left unable to work. However, he does not pursue compensation for these damages because he was speeding at the time of the accident and assumes that he cannot win a personal injury claim. This is a common misconception about personal injury claims. Under Illinois comparative negligence law, a plaintiff may still receive partial compensation for an injury as long as he or she was less than 51 percent at fault.

Contact a Joliet Car Accident Attorney

After an auto accident, you should always call the police, get evaluated by a medical professional, and gather evidence and witness information. If you or a loved one were hurt in a car accident and you want to learn more about your options for receiving compensation, contact an Illinois personal injury lawyer from Schwartz Injury Law. Call our office at 815-723-7300 to schedule your free, confidential consultation.

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What Should A Victim Do After a Hit-and-Run Car Accident?Being involved in an automobile crash can be a life-altering event. Pain and suffering, serious injuries, extensive medical bills, and extreme property damage can leave a victim unsure of how to proceed. After an accident takes place, it is likely that everyone who was linked to the collision will remain at the scene, exchange information, and wait for the authorities to arrive. However, there is always the possibility that the driver at fault will flee the scene. Before reckless actions are taken, there are several “Do’s and Don’ts” that the victim of a hit-and-run accident should consider.  

Do: Gather as Much Information as Possible

Without risking injury or breaking the law, the victim of a hit-and-run car accident should look to collect any relevant information for the police. For instance, if the at-fault vehicle starts to drive away, the victim should try to remember:

  • A description of the vehicle, such as the year, make, model and color
  • The license plate number
  • A depiction of any exterior damage done to their car
  • The direction the motorist was heading
  • The time and location in which the accident occurred

In addition, any pictures or video footage taken could immensely help law enforcement catch the driver. New information can be found within the footage that might not have been originally noticed, such as the motorist’s race, age, and gender.  

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Most Common Traffic Laws Broken by Illinois DriversGetting behind the wheel means business. Abiding by Illinois driving laws, rules, and regulations is important to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road. 

Unfortunately, rules get broken, accidents happen and injury occurs. The Illinois Vehicle Code lists hundreds of transportation offenses and their matching penalties, but there are the five outstanding rules of the road drivers constantly and continuously break:

  1. Failure to Stop at a Stop Sign or Running a Red Light: Red is the universal color of traffic signs and signals meaning “stop.” Even though you are supposed to come to a complete stop at stop signs, many drivers do what is known as a rolling stop. At a stop sign or stoplight, you are required to come to a complete stop before the white line, which marks the start of the intersection and allows other cars and pedestrians to travel safely when it is their turn to do so. Penalties for improper stopping at a stop sign, failure to stop at a stop sign, and/or running a red light range from a fine to points on your driving record.
  2. Speeding: Exceeding the posted speed limit decreases your ability to control your vehicle. If you are pulled over for speeding, there are different levels of consequences you could endure depending on how fast you were going.
  3. Operating a Vehicle Without a License or Proof of Insurance: A valid driver's license and auto insurance is required to operate a vehicle. Penalties for failure to have one or both range from license suspension to revocation.
  4. Driving without Wearing a Seatbelt: Illinois law requires all drivers and passengers age 8 and older to wear a seatbelt, regardless of whether they are in the front or back seat. Passengers under age 8 must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system that complies with the Child Passenger Protection Act.
  5. Distracted Driving: The odds of getting into a car accident increases drastically if you are distracted. It is important to minimize distractions before getting in the car and stay focused on the road while you are driving. Distractions while driving include but are not limited to:
  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Smoking
  • Eating and/or drinking
  • Singing or listening to music
  • Applying makeup or shaving
  • Trying to retrieve something that fell
  • Rubbernecking
  • Trying to read a map, newspaper or book

Providing Tinley Park, Oak Lawn, and Northern Illinois with Car Accident Representation

If you have been injured in a car accident from another driver breaking the law, contact Schwartz Injury Law. We will provide you with the best legal representation to get you the compensation you deserve for your case. To schedule a free consultation with a Cook County personal injury attorney, call our law firm at 708-226-9000 or fill out a form online today. 

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Four Tips for Reducing Roadway Collision Risk this Winter SeasonIn even the most ideal conditions, venturing out onto the highways as a motorist is scary and can be downright dangerous, posing many risks to our health and safety. Car accidents happen on all kinds of roadways, for a million different reasons, and no one is immune to the hazards responsible for these collisions. Whether the source of an accident is due to road construction, a negligent driver, or inclement weather, prevention efforts on behalf of motorists nationwide can go a long way in reducing our collision risks. This is especially the case for those who live in cold-weather regions throughout the winter season, as roadways are exceptionally hazardous during these icy, snow-filled months.

Preparation is Key

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasizes the need to pay special attention to safe driving habits during the winter months, reminding us that preparation is key in not only the prevention of collisions but also in the event that you are involved in one. Being prepared better equips you to handle the challenges that come with the aftermath of a crash, like avoiding movement that might worsen any injuries you have incurred. As the winter months approach and you get ready to hit the roads, prepare in the following ways to lessen your chances of collision:

  1. Tune-up: Staying on top of your vehicle maintenance is crucial before and during the winter months. Be sure to inspect your tires and all of your lights, including headlights, brake lights, and emergency flashers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends having your mechanic check your battery as well to ensure you have enough amperage, voltage, and reserve capacity. Do not forget to keep your windshield wipers in proper working order, too, with enough fluid in the washer reservoir. Also, make sure your front and rear window defrosters are fully functional.
  2. Get Packing: Have a supply bag packed and stored away in your car for emergencies, should you end up stranded. This will come in handy in the event you are involved in a collision and need to wait for help. Pack blankets, food, water, medications, flashlights, jumper cables, and an abrasive material, like kitty litter. Flares, an ice scraper, and snow brush are also essentials for winter driving emergencies. 
  3. Rehearse: Carve out some time to practice driving your vehicle in winter weather conditions before you set out for longer trips. Rehearsing your movements beforehand will help you get comfortable operating your car in the ice and snow. OSHA recommends practicing in the daytime, in an empty lot. Try steering into a skid and getting familiar with your brakes by pumping non-antilock brakes or stomping on antilock brakes.
  4. Drive Defensively:  Brush up on defensive driving techniques and put them into practice the moment you hit the road. Continually scan your mirrors to keep an eye on what is happening around you, do not tailgate, and obey the rules of the road, especially speed limits. Cut out any distractions, from texting and talking on the cell phone to eating while driving. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the highway. In the wintertime, in particular, do not crowd snowplows. Give them space and pass with extreme caution.

Contact an Orland Park Car Accident Lawyer

If you find yourself in a car collision due to a negligent driver during the winter months, do not panic. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Reach out to a qualified Cook County personal injury lawyer, who can address your concerns and help protect your rights in a court of law. Call Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000 today to schedule a free consultation.

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Research Shows Distracted Driving Is More Than Taking Our Eyes Off the RoadFrom the implementation of state-to-state cell phone laws and public awareness campaigns to startling news reports in the media, it seems the warnings about the dangers of distracted driving and related car accidents are everywhere we turn. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported over 3,000 deaths in 2017, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in recent years, nearly 400,000 people have been injured due to distracted driving incidents. Despite the fact that statistics such as these keep surfacing, the number of alarming accidents continues to leave trails of both fatal and non-fatal injuries across our roadways.

Distracted Driving Takes Different Forms

Cell phone use is typically the first thing most drivers think of when it comes to the subject of distracted driving, but research shows that the issue is more complex than simply using a cell phone behind the wheel. According to the CDC, distracted driving takes many different forms and can be anything that pulls our attention away from the road. The CDC tells us that our attention can be disrupted in three different ways: visually, manually, and cognitively. Here are some examples of how these distracted driving incidents can take place: 

  • Visual Distraction: Texting alone takes our eyes off the road for a minimum of five seconds, but our ability to safely operate a vehicle is instantly impaired anytime we are visually distracted, whether our eyes are peeled from the road due to sightseeing or we are engaging in a heated debate with a passenger next to us. Not only are we unable to see what is happening directly in front of us, but we are also losing sight of our speed and the proximity of other cars around us, rendering us incapable of driving defensively. 
  • Manual Distraction: Physically removing our hands from the wheel can be just as deadly as taking our eyes off the road, and usually, these two forms of distracted driving intertwine. Some common dangers that involve taking our hands off the wheel include adjusting the radio or air conditioning or eating while driving. Operating a navigation system while in motion is another common, risky activity.
  • Cognitive Distraction: One of the biggest reasons texting and talking on the phone garners so much attention and racks up the highest statistics is the cognitive factor behind the risk. A cognitive distraction is considered anything that takes our minds off the road, and replying to a message or engaging in a phone conversation is more than a simple glance out the window. Conversations redirect our thinking entirely, consuming our attention and eliminating our ability to focus. While science may prove we are able to multitask, we also know that it does not automatically mean we can divide our attention evenly. We can only devote so much focus on a particular task, especially when it comes to driving and the distractions competing for our attention.

Contact an Orland Park, Illinois, Personal Injury Attorney

Studies show that young adults and teen drivers are most at risk for crashing due to distracted driving, but victims of all ages are affected on a daily basis by the negligence of those causing these types of accidents. If you have had the unfortunate experience of becoming a victim statistic, it is important to inform yourself of your rights so you can fully advocate for your health. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The moment you are involved in a collision, speak with a knowledgeable Cook County personal injury lawyer, who can examine your case and determine the nature of the crash. Call Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000 and ask for a free consultation today.

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