Car accidents are common in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Transportation reported 295,604 traffic crashes in 2021. DuPage County, where Naperville is located, reported 15,442 crashes that year, including 43 fatal crashes.
Illinois law requires drivers in automobile accidents to stop at the scene. They must remain at the accident scene until they fulfill their legal duty to render aid and provide information.
The moments after a car accident can be overwhelming and stressful. As a result, it is easy to forget the steps you should take to protect your legal rights. Therefore, keeping a written checklist of steps to take after a Naperville car accident in your vehicle can help remind you what to do in the moment.
Steps To Take Immediately Following a Naperville Car Accident
The first thing to do after moving your vehicle to a safe location (if you are able to do so) is to call 911 and report the car crash to the police. The 911 operator dispatches law enforcement officers from the agency that has jurisdiction over the crash site. The operator can also send emergency medical services to treat the injured victims.
Try to remain calm and think clearly. Things to remember include:
- Never admit fault for causing the accident. Saying sorry or apologizing for the crash could be interpreted as admitting fault.
- Do not confront the other driver. Instead, let police officers handle the situation, especially if the driver appears intoxicated or angry.
- Document the accident scene by taking photos and making a video with your cell phone. However, do not endanger yourself or others by doing so.
- Ask eyewitnesses and bystanders for their names and contact information.
- If possible, make notes about things the other driver said or things you notice that you might forget.
- Contact an attorney for legal advice and report the car accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
The police officer should interview each driver to obtain their statement regarding what happened. Tell the officer what you remember without adding unnecessary information.
Seeking Medical Treatment After a Naperville Car Accident
It is vital that you see a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. If you do not go to the emergency room by ambulance, do not say that you are "okay" or "fine." Instead, it is better to say that you intend to see your family doctor for an examination.
Stating you were not hurt or you think you are not hurt could hurt your personal injury case. Delays in medical care could also cause problems. For example, the insurance provider for the other driver might claim that the accident did not cause your injuries or that you failed to mitigate damages by delaying medical treatment.
When you seek medical treatment, tell the doctor you were involved in a car accident. Report all symptoms, regardless of how minor you might believe the symptom to be at the time. Aches and pains could be an indication of a severe injury.
Follow your doctor's treatment plan and keep detailed records of your expenses and financial losses. You could be entitled to reimbursement for your economic damages, which include lost wages, medical bills, and out-of-pocket expenses.
You might also want to keep a "pain and suffering" journal detailing your recovery. Accident victims can receive compensation for their non-economic damages, including emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life. A journal can provide critical details a lawyer can use to build a strong case to maximize damages.
Seek Legal Advice From an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
Accident attorneys offer free consultations. You can talk with a car accident lawyer without any obligation to hire the law firm after your initial consultation.
An insurance adjuster might contact you after the car accident. The adjuster may ask you to provide a recorded statement or answer questions on a recorded line. Be very careful when speaking to an insurance company because the statements you make could significantly impact the outcome of your injury claim.
It is best to refer the insurance company to your personal injury lawyer. An attorney handles all communications with the insurance company so that you do not need to worry about an aggressive claims adjuster trying to manipulate you into accepting a settlement amount that does not compensate you for all damages.
Before signing a settlement agreement or other documents, have a lawyer review the documents. Your car accident case could be worth much more than the insurance company offers for settlement. If you sign a settlement agreement without consulting a lawyer, you could give up your right to pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault party.