While motor vehicle accidents are much lower compared to the rest of the United States, the state of Illinois still sees quite a few car crashes. In 2020, around 21% of the 246,752 crashes in the state resulted in injuries according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Even though the odds are relatively low for you being involved in a car accident in Illinois, it’s still helpful to know what to do if you are involved in one.
The first thing you should do if you’re involved in a car accident in Illinois is call the police. Illinois state law requires all car accidents that result in an injury, death, or more than $1,500 in property damages to be reported to the police. Even if your car accident didn’t result in a death or (known) injuries, it’s still a good idea to report it to the police, especially if there are visible damages to either vehicle. It’s not always easy to estimate the cost of damages by looking at them, and injuries can occur well after the accident occurred.
Not many people have a cell phone that doesn’t take pictures these days, so it’s very easy to take photos of the scene of an accident. You should be taking pictures of all vehicles involved in the accident: the damage, license plates, and anything else that may be useful in resolving legal matters.
Get the Other Driver’s Information
In addition to pictures, you’ll also need to get information from the other driver or drivers. Make sure to get their:
- Phone number(s)
- Car insurance information
It’s also a good idea to get information from anyone who witnessed the accident. This can be any passengers in any of the vehicles involved and other bystanders. Written statements and your own written account should also be documented. It’s important to do this after calling 911 and taking pictures so that it’s still fresh in everyone’s memories.
Ask for a Copy of the Police Report
When the police are involved, a police report is filled out, which is made up of statements from the witnesses. You’re usually able to get a copy of this within a few days. This is good to have when reporting the accident to your insurance company.
Visit a Healthcare Professional
If you have any obvious injuries after your car accident, you should visit a healthcare professional. Some injuries may be able to wait until you can get an appointment with your PCP (primary care provider), while others may warrant a visit to an urgent care center. More serious injuries require a visit to the emergency room, and calling 911 can bring emergency care services to you. Some of the most common injuries from car accidents include:
- Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Cuts, scrapes, and lacerations
- General pain and swelling
Notify Your Insurance Company
Next, you should report the accident to your insurance company. This will help you get the money you need to repair your car, if necessary. Depending on your insurance policy, you may have to report the accident immediately, or you may have a longer window of time to do so. Illinois requires all drivers to carry car insurance and insurance companies to get back to you within 21 working days of the accident being reported.
Unfortunately, insurance companies usually only want to pay the least amount of compensation possible, and this won’t always be enough to cover damages to your car, let alone any medical bills you may have received. This is where contacting a personal injury lawyer will be helpful.
Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer
A car accident lawyer (also known as a personal injury lawyer) can offer you legal advice regarding your car accident. You can even contact one before you contact your insurance company if your policy doesn’t require you to contact them immediately. A personal injury lawyer who specializes in motor vehicle accidents (as most do), can help you get fair compensation for both property damage and bodily injury.
Overall, calling the proper parties and documenting as much of the accident as you can is most important when involved in a car accident anywhere. Of course, this is assuming that you’re not critically injured, as more serious injuries can happen in motor vehicle accidents. Fortunately, the majority of accidents in Illinois aren’t as serious, but you still need to follow these steps to make this less stressful than it already is.