Three Key Rules to Maximize your Auto Accident Settlement

1. Get Info – After a crash, you are almost guaranteed to be in some level of shock. Your brain will have a hard time processing what just happened to you.  You will feel surprised, scared, and possibly injured.  Nonetheless, it is important to get all the information surrounding the accident.  If possible, make sure you find out:

a. The name, address and phone number of the other drivers and passengers in the accident;

b. The police department that responded to your accident and the Traffic Crash Report number;

c. The names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the crash;

d. Photographs of the scene and of the vehicles in the accident are incredibly helpful. A few photos from your cell phone can make all the difference in determining liability.  Don’t be bashful, get some photos.

2. Get Treatment – Most people, after a crash, try to be tough. They say “I’m sure I’ll be all right,” or “I don’t need to see a doctor.”  But a car crash is a serious thing, and even a so-called “minor impact” can cause serious injury.  If you’re in a car crash, do yourself a favor and see a doctor as soon as possible.  If you even think you need immediate treatment, don’t hesitate to tell the first responders or emergency medical techs.  After your initial treatment with the emergency room, make sure you follow up with your primary care doctor or with another doctor.

3. Get Legal Advice – After the crash, don’t talk to anyone without seeing a lawyer first. The things you say on the record could severely damage your case.  Make no mistake, the representatives of the insurance company are NOT on your side.  Before you talk to anyone about the crash, see a lawyer.  We recommend you call in the Sharks!

 

 

 

Are Uber Drivers Covered? People Injured in an Accident with an Uber Driver Could Recover $1,000,000.00

Uber has had made a grand entrance into the city markets of public transportation.  The flexibility Uber offers has allowed the company to make billions of dollars on tens of millions of rides.

The new rideshare market has also created numerous concerns about liability insurance.  Uber has been unclear about whether its drivers are covered by their personal insurance policies.  Normally, professional drivers are NOT covered by their personal insurance.  Instead, it is the norm that corporations and professional drivers must procure policies to cover their business practices: including driving a car.  For instance, taxi drivers must always get insurance to cover their cab.

Historically, the difference between “personal” and “professional” driving has been very clear.  Professional drivers – taxi, bus, cargo transport, etc. – were just that: professional drivers.  The two never mixed.

Ridesharing creates a new dynamic.  Individuals are using their personal cars to act as commercial drivers. Many times, it is unclear whether a car is “personal” or “professional.”  A driver may switch back and forth between personal and professional many times during a single afternoon. This distinction is very important when determining what insurance will cover an accident.  Frequently, personal insurance will not cover an accident that occurs in a professional or commercial setting.

Lack of coverage can be a major problem for individuals injured in an accident.  For instance, if an Uber driver’s personal coverage does not

A legislative solution is still far away and many drivers still use personal insurance.  Meanwhile, many drivers hide the fact they are a commercial driver from their insurer. Fortunately, Uber has now released information relating to its commercial insurance policy.  This policy insures drivers who injure others up to one million dollars.   In the meantime, be sure to always get all the information from the other driver if you are ever in a car accident.  Also, be sure to call the police and make a report.

Chicago Taxi Drivers Protest against the City

This Tuesday, Chicago taxi drivers protested against the city for allowing the popular driving company Uber to conduct business in Chicago. Uber is a self-hailing service that offers lower prices which is ultimately destroying the traditional taxi business.

Recently, Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed a city contact with Uber forcing taxi drivers to draw attention to their dying business. Taxi drivers drove near City Hall with their hazard lights on, honking horns while refusing fares in the loop area. United Taxi Drivers Community spokesperson Peter Ali Enger claims his earnings have been down 25% since Uber has infiltrated the city. They believe the only way to reverse this trend is to reverse the city contract.

 

Chicago’s Latest Snow Storm Has Claimed the Lives of Over a Dozen People

This past snow storm, recorded as the fifth largest snowfall in Chicago’s history took the lives of over 12 people in shoveling accidents. A Cook County medical examiner concluded that the deaths of 12 men and 1 woman were related to the strain of shoveling snow. Of the 12 men, 3 collapsed in the snow and had a heart attack.

Shoveling snow is a task people typically don’t enjoy for a number of undesirable reasons. Most of the time we look at the task as something we don’t want to do instead of a task we should not do. If you are above the age of 40, you should not shovel snow for you own safety. If you don’t work out on the regular basis do not tackle the snow by yourself at once. It is understandable that one might want to get the annoying task out of the way quick and in a hurry so if you must shovel the snow please follow these tips for your safety:

 

  1. Do not shovel the snow without having someone know where you are
  2. Shoveling is a workout, stretch before working out
  3. Do not shovel snow at all if you have heart problems
  4. Shovel snow when it is dry outside and the snow is light. Wet snow is heavy causing more strain to the body
  5. Stop shoveling if you feel pain, tightness or shortness of breath in your chest
  6. Bending from the back can damage your spine; always bend your knees instead

 

For more tips click here

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Self-Driving Cars

In recent years the buzz of autonomous cars has gotten louder and louder and with technology continually rising this buzz or idea is now a reality for many companies. An autonomous car, or self-driving car is a robotic vehicle that uses sensory detection, computer vision and GPS to navigate from one destination to the next with little to no human manipulation. The National Highway Traffic Administration has created a classification system that categorizes how autonomous a car is depending on how much manipulation is needed by a human.

  • Level 0: The driver completely controls the vehicle at all times.
  • Level 1: Individual vehicle controls are automated, such as electronic stability control or automatic braking.
  • Level 2: At least two controls can be automated in unison, such as adaptive cruise control in combination with lane keeping.
  • Level 3: The driver can fully cede control of all safety-critical functions in certain conditions. The car senses when conditions require the driver to retake control and provides a “sufficiently comfortable transition time” for the driver to do so.
  • Level 4: The vehicle performs all safety-critical functions for the entire trip, with the driver not expected to control the vehicle at any time. As this vehicle would control all functions from start to stop, including all parking functions, it could include unoccupied cars.

Experiments on self-driving cars began in the 1920’s, and since then a multitude of companies have made great strides to develop autonomous cars. Companies at the forefront of this wave include Audi, Google and Mercedes-Benz. Four states in the US have passed laws allowing these companies to drive self-driving cars on public streets including Nevada, California, Florida and Michigan. Google claims that by the year 2020 their level 4 car will be ready to purchase. According to SmartPlanet, Self-driving cars will be an estimated $87 billion market by 2036.

With new technology on the road comes new laws. The idea that driverless cars will reduce car accidents and make careless decisions such as drunk driving extinct is progressive. However, we must look at new problems we face with self-driving cars. If an accident shall occur with a self-driving car, who will be liable? A robot cannot be liable because a robot is of course not human. Would the car owner or the car manufacturer be liable in this case? Theoretically speaking all parties involved except the victim(s) would be responsible. When these cars become popular in the near future, lawmakers will need to figure out the terms of liability for each party involved.

 

Self-driving cars will be our future and we must learn to adapt when the time comes. John F. Kennedy once said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Don’t miss the future.

Uninsured Motorist (UIM) Claims

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Even though there are mandatory automobile insurance requirements in Illinois, many drivers are uninsured or underinsured for the damages and injuries caused in an accident. Most people think that you cannot recover damages if an uninsured motorist hits you. However, when an accident occurs, you may have a claim for underinsured motorist benefits. The thing to remember is this: always call a lawyer to review your options.

Uninsured Motorist Claims

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Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you when you are hit by an uninsured driver. Generally, the policy will pay damages to the policyholder for bodily injury caused by the owner or driver of an underinsured motor vehicle. In order to satisfy this requirement, two elements must be met:

  1. The other owner or driver must be at fault; and
  2. The other driver must be uninsured.

Overall, if you are in an accident and the other driver is legally responsible, and they are uninsured, UM coverage can pay for any injuries or property damage sustained by the accident. You will want to contact a lawyer to discuss your options, as the process of making a claim against your uninsured motorist policy is very complicated.

Underinsured Motorist Claims

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Underinsured motorist claims arise when the at-fault driver carries an insufficient amount of insurance coverage. When the injuries from an accident exceed the amount of coverage provided by a policy, a UIM claim can be pursued.

In Illinois, UIM claims must be filed against your own automobile insurance policy. Bringing a UIM claim is far beyond merely reporting a claim. Written notices must be filed and technical steps must be taken. If you fail to take the proper steps, you may lose your right to make a claim. You should consult with a knowledgeable lawyer right away to help you through the process.

Why Seek Counsel? Ways a Lawyer Will Help

If you have been involved in an accident with an underinsured motorist, there are ways an attorney can help. A lawyer can help you…

  1. Identify available UM/UIM insurance coverage or other insurance that may pay for your injuries;
  2. File the claim against the insurance carrier in a timely manner, in accordance with the rules for UIM claims, and in the specific terms of coverage under the policy;
  3. Maximize your recovery;
  4. Resolve hospital and physician bills.

 

Remember, UIM claims create a conflict of interest between you and your insurance carrier, and an experienced attorney can help you. If you have been involved in an accident with an underinsured motorist, call the sharks and we can help explain your legal options. 312.878.2357

What to Do After a Car Accident

Most motorists drive defensively, take driver education courses, and use caution when on the road, however car accidents still occur.  An auto collision can be an emotionally exhausting and stressful situation, so knowing what to do in advance can help you handle the unexpected.  The best way to avoid problems after an accident is to be prepared.  Keep a pen, piece of paper, camera, and a copy of your insurance card easily accessible at all times.  Drivers are responsible for knowing what to do following an accident, so it is important to follow these steps in order to properly document the event.

  1. Assist the Injured
    1. Call 9-1-1 if medical attention is needed
    2. Make sure you are not in impending danger at the roadside
  2. Control the Scene
    1. Get to a safe place before exchanging information.  If the vehicle is drivable, safely drive to the right or left emergency lane.  If the vehicle is not drivable, turn on your hazard lights.  Finally, do not leave the scene of the crash; find a safe place and wait until emergency services arrive.
  3. Notify the Police and Submit a Report
    1. It is required by law to notify the police
    2. Having a police report will help later if a liability claim is filed
  4. Document the Scene and Exchange Information
    1. Gather the information of all parties involved in the crash, including witnesses, to help complete future paperwork or address potential problems
    2. You should document

i.     Names

ii.     Addresses/ email addresses

iii.     Vehicle information (make, model, and year)

iv.     Vehicle identification/ license plate numbers

v.     Insurance carriers and policy numbers

vi.     Photographs (location, people involved, damaged vehicles)

  1. Notify Your Insurance Carrier
    1. In order to begin a proper claim filing, you must notify your insurance carrier
  2. Get Your Vehicle Repaired
    1. You can visit http://www.southernnewengland.aaa.com/automotive/approved-repair-shops?zip=02601&stateprov=ma&city=hyannis&devicecd=PC&referer=exchange.aaa.com  for a AAA approved auto body shop
  3. Unattended Vehicle or Property
    1. If you are involved in a crash with an unattended vehicle, take steps to inform the owner.  Attach a written notice of the collision to the vehicle, and include your contact information on a written notice

Other Important Tips

 

If you have been involved in a car accident, call the sharks and we can help explain your legal options. 312.878.2357

Bike and Pedestrian Safety in Chicago

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Chicago is a large metropolitan city with high motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic.  In fact, walking and biking are the preferred modes of transportation for Chicagoans.  There are many advantages to bicycling such as improving your health, saving time and money, and helping the environment.  Most of all, biking is fun as many destinations are accessible through Chicago’s bikeway network.

However, bicyclists are highly susceptible to accidents since they share the road with motorists.  Over 500,000 Americans are treated in emergency departments and more than 700 Americans die each year due to bicycle accident injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Pedestrians are also at risk.  The CDC reports that on average, 324 people are injured each day in pedestrian accidents that require medical treatment.  According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, more than 5,200 pedestrians were injured and more than 100 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles in 2009.  Therefore, it is vital for bicyclists and pedestrians to understand these following safety tips.

Safety Tips for Bicyclists

For more tips about biking safety, follow this link http://chicagocompletestreets.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Safe-Cycling-2011_Full-Booklet.pdf 

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

  • Walk on the sidewalk
  • If you have to walk in the street, walk facing traffic
  • Cross the street in a designated cross walk
  • Use caution at intersections: drivers may fail to yield to pedestrians when turning
  • Obey the rules of the road and traffic signs
  • Wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight at night to increase visibility

For more tips about pedestrian safety, follow this link http://www.cdc.gov/features/PedestrianSafety/index.html

If you have been involved in an accident, call the sharks and we can help explain your legal options. 312.878.2357

 

Social Media and Personal Injury Claims

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Social media has changed the way that we interact and communicate with each other, as well as impacted the kind of personal information that is available to the public.  Seventy-two percent of internet users are active on social media, Facebook has more than 1.15 billion users, Twitter has more than 550 million users, and about two billion videos are viewed daily on YouTube.  As our reliance on social media increases, lawyers and investigators continue to use social media networks to inform their personal injury cases.

In personal injury cases, various factors impact liability and damages including the causes of the accident, severity of the injuries, and how the injuries impact the plaintiff’s life.  During discovery, lawyers gather information from a number of sources such as depositions, interrogatories, police reports, medical records, and more.  Since social media sources provide a treasure trove of information, lawyers and investigators will also search social media platforms for evidence that suggests conflicting statements, exaggeration of injuries, negligence, liability, and other pertinent information.

Finding the smoking gun on a social media site is relatively rare, but social media posts can cause cracks in the armor of a case.  For example, if a plaintiff claims they sustained significant injuries after a car accident, but then post pictures playing sports or engaging in ordinary physical activities, the defense can use this to discredit the plaintiff’s injury claims.

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If you have suffered a personal injury and are contemplating making a claim, you must strongly consider the consequences social media posts can have.  A single picture, comment, “like” or “dislike” click can be taken out of context to negatively impact your case.  It is greatly advisable to discontinue all social media use as soon as possible.  Protecting some social media accounts with privacy settings does not fully prevent an adversary from getting access to the information.  You should also be cautious of the social media information that is linked to you via other people’s profiles.

The Bottom Line

What should you do if you are involved in a personal injury case?  Do not use social media.  This media can cause a great deal of harm to your case.  However, most people will ignore this advice because social media has become integrated into their daily routine.  So, if you will continue to use social media during a case, please adhere to the following four recommendations

  1. Post as little as possible
  2. Be accurate and complete
  3. Check privacy settings
  4. Do not talk to strangers

Call the sharks if you have been involved in personal injury accident, and we can help explain your legal options. 312.878.2357

Illinois Rules of the Road 2014: Eight New Laws

Traffic laws must be obeyed to protect everyone using sidewalks, streets, and highways. It is necessary to follow the orders of a police officer, firefighter, highway authority official or uniformed adult school crossing guard performing his or her official duties. The driving public needs to be aware of and avoid hazardous driving behaviors in order to decrease traffic injuries and fatalities. New traffic laws in Illinois became effective on January 1, 2014—it is important to be aware of these changes.

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  1. Cellphone Use
    1. Unless using a hands-free device or Blue Tooth technology, using a cellphone while driving is prohibited. However, drivers under the age of 19 are prohibited from any cellphone usage, including hands-free devices.
  2. Medically Prescribed Cannabis (Marijuana)
    1. While operating a motor vehicle, using or being impaired by medically prescribed cannabis (marijuana) is prohibited.
  3. Transportation of Medically Prescribed Cannabis (Marijuana)
    1. Transporting medically prescribed cannabis in a vehicle is prohibited, UNLESS the marijuana is stored in a tamper-evident container that is inaccessible while the vehicle is moving.
  4. First-Time Driver’s License Applicants (Aged 18-20)
    1. Effective July 1, 2014: in order to obtain a license, first-time driver’s license applicants aged 18-20 that have not completed driver education must complete an adult driver education course. The six-hour course must be through a licensed Illinois commercial driving school or online driver education program.
  5. Vehicle Insurance
    1. When required, drivers can show proof of vehicle insurance electronically (with a cellphone or another electronic device).
  6. Aggravated DUI
    1. If operating a school bus or vehicle for-hire while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, aggravated DUI can be charged.
  7. Vehicle Registration
    1. When renewing vehicle registration, proof of insurance must be provided to the Secretary of State’s office.
  8. Speed Limit
    1. On four-lane highways in Illinois, the speed limit increased to 70 mph.

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For more information, visit http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a112.pdf  to view Illinois 2014 Rules of the Road.