Taking the Confusion Out of Common Injury and Estate Planning Worries: Answers to Your Frequent Questions

The most important job for any attorney is making sure that his client understands every aspect of her case. Although some lawyers are comfortable keeping their clients in the dark, we feel that you deserve more. You deserve to have all of your questions and concerns addressed in order to pursue your own case confidently and successfully. This is why we take the initiative to answer common questions that you may have even before you even step into our office. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact our office at 855-522-5291.

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  • How is lost income calculated?

    Car Crash Attorney Calculating Lost IncomeIf you are injured in a crash and are unable to work for several weeks, you can get compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your lost wages. Your lost wages can include your regular weekly salary, but also any overtime, commissions, bonuses, promotions, and paid time off you would have accrued if you hadn’t been injured. In addition, you may be able to recover an amount for future lost income if your injury has forced you to change jobs or leave the workforce altogether.

    How to Estimate the Amount of Future Income Losses in a Car Accident Case

    If your injury has resulted in permanent limitations that affect your ability to earn a living, you should not be forced to live on a restricted income because of someone else’s negligence. When you file your injury claim, you can include the amount you will lose each year as a result of your work restrictions, your ability to find a suitable job, and other work-related costs of your disability.

    Some factors that will be considered when determining your lost earning power include:

    • The number of years left before your retirement age
    • Any injuries or impairments you had before the accident
    • How long you have held your current job
    • How much you made while working for past employers
    • The nature of your work and the job skills needed to perform that work
    • Your age and educational background
    • Your role as a breadwinner in your home
    • Your economic lifestyle

    Lost income can make up a significant portion of an injury victim’s damages, so it is vital that these calculations be done correctly. The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm can gather all of the necessary medical and financial evidence you need to support your injury claim, and can ensure that your demand for employment losses is thorough and well-documented. To learn more about your legal rights after an accident in Illinois, contact us via our quick online form to schedule an appointment, or download your FREE copy of our book, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases.

     

  • What if the other driver didn't have insurance?

    Driver Talking to the Insurance Agent After a Crash on an Illinois RoadIn 1989, the state of Illinois passed a law making it mandatory for all drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 of bodily injury insurance. Although it has been illegal to drive without insurance for decades, some drivers continue to break the law—leaving many injury victims out-of-pocket after an accident.

    What to Do If You Are in a Collision With an Uninsured Driver

    Even if you have enough coverage under your own car insurance policy to cover your vehicle damage and injuries, you may see increased premiums and fight with the insurer to get the coverage you are owed. If you are rear-ended or struck by a driver who is clearly at fault, you should:

    • Never take cash. If another driver offers you an immediate cash payment instead of calling the police or involving insurance companies, there is a good chance the driver is uninsured. The reason it is a bad idea to accept cash in lieu of contact information is because it can be difficult to estimate damage in the moments after a crash—both to you and to your vehicle. If you accept $300 in cash from a driver and your car repairs are over $1,500, you have no way of tracking the driver down to collect the rest.
    • File an uninsured motorist claim. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage provides payment for any injuries sustained in an accident with an uninsured at-fault driver. It also allows victims to collect an additional sum under their own policies if the at-fault driver had only a small amount of insurance.
    • Report the driver. If you suspect that the other driver does not have insurance, you can report him or her to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. If the police are called, the police officer will establish insurance compliance at the scene. Officers may write the driver a citation for uninsured driving, which can result in a $500 fine and a 30-day driver’s license suspension.

    Want to know more about your legal rights after an accident in Illinois? Download your FREE copy of our book, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases, or contact The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm via our online contact form to schedule an appointment.

     

  • Can I recover damages if I was partially at fault for a car accident in Illinois?

    Car Accident in Illinois Where Both Drivers Share FaultEven if they were partially responsible for a crash, victims can still suffer weeks of medical appointments, lost income, and increased financial stress. While Illinois law allows at-fault drivers to recover payment for their losses, there are limits on the maximum amount of damages they can be awarded.

    How Fault Affects the Amount of an Illinois Car Accident Claim

    The state of Illinois follows a modified comparative fault law, meaning the driver who caused the accident is liable for any damages. However, if both drivers are considered to be at fault, each one will receive damages based on his or her degree of fault.

    If your actions played a role in causing your accident, you may still collect compensation under the following conditions:

    • You are less than 50 percent at fault for crash. You must be able to prove that you were less than 50 percent liable for the accident. Otherwise, you will be barred from compensation altogether.
    • Your settlement is reduced by your amount of fault. Once the percentage of fault has been established by the judge in your case, your damages will be reduced by that percentage. For example, if your settlement is $100,000, but a judge determines that you are 30 percent at fault, you are only entitled to $70,000.
    • The other driver was uninsured. If you were partly to blame for a car accident in which the other driver was uninsured (or the other driver fled the scene), you may be able to collect payment under your own uninsured motorist policy.

    As you can see, the amount you may recover in these types of cases relies heavily on the specific factors in the case. Our Illinois car accident lawyers can help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim, allowing you to maximize the amount of available compensation. We can also examine your own insurance coverage to see if there are other potential sources of payment, such as MedPay, comprehensive coverage for vehicle repair, or uninsured motorist coverage. Contact The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm via our online contact form to schedule an appointment, or learn more in our FREE book, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases.

     

  • What is uninsured motorist coverage?

    Illinois Drivers Talking About Insurance After a WreckIn Illinois, the driver who is at fault for a car accident is responsible for paying for any injury and property damage costs that stem from the crash. Since it is up to each driver to choose the amount of his or her own liability insurance, crash victims may not be fairly compensated if they are struck by a driver carrying the minimum amount of coverage. This is where uninsured motorist coverage can be extremely beneficial.

    Car Accidents That May Be Covered by Uninsured Motorist Insurance

    Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is a form of insurance that gives drivers more control over the amount they can collect after an accident. UM coverage is purchased under your own policy, allowing you to easily make a claim after an accident by dealing with your own insurance provider.

    Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you if you are struck:

    • By an uninsured driver. Although all drivers are required to carry car insurance in Illinois, many people drive without coverage, leaving victims with no way to pay for their injuries. UM insurance allows you to collect coverage for your medical bills and income losses up to the amount of your policy.
    • By an underinsured driver. If the driver who struck you was only carrying the minimum required insurance and your injuries exceed those limits, your UM coverage may be used to make up the difference.
    • By a rental vehicle. UM coverage can be used if an at-fault driver was driving a rental car or moving van, but declined to purchase additional rental coverage.
    • While walking or bicycling. Many UM policies can be used to collect payment for injuries sustained by victims who were not inside their vehicles during the accident. If a victim is struck while biking or walking, UM coverage can be applied to cover the cost of their considerable injuries.
    • In a hit-and-run. It may be impossible to determine the insurance limits of another driver if the at-fault party fled the scene. In these cases, UM coverage victims who have been struck by a passing vehicle.

    Want to know more about your legal rights after an accident in Illinois? Download your FREE copy of our book, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases, or contact The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm via our online contact form to schedule an appointment.

     

  • I was in a wreck. Will the other driver lose their home?

    If you have been injured in a car crash, you likely have a claim against the driver of the car that caused your injuries. 

    Sometimes, this “at-fault” driver is an individual you don’t know and sometimes it is someone you do know (if you were the passenger in the car).  Either way, my clients oftentimes ask me if filing a claim for injuries is going to “harm” this other person.

    When you make a claim against the negligent driver, that person’s insurance company is responsible for providing them with a defense of claim and also paying for what they are liable for. 

    If you are unable to reach a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you will have to file a lawsuit and the defendant will be the at-fault driver.  However, the same holds true – the insurance company will be paying for the defense and for any jury verdict.  So typically, when you make a claim against the other driver, it is the insurance company that pays, not the driver himself.

    There are times, of course, when this isn’t true.  If the at-fault driver didn’t have insurance at all (in violation of the law) or didn’t have enough insurance at the time of the crash, you do have every right to try to get a verdict against that person and then try to collect the money awarded from the verdict.  Also, sometimes, the at-fault driver’s insurance company doesn’t properly protect his interests.  In these circumstances, the individual’s personal assets may indeed be at risk.

    If you are injured in a car crash, you should definitely consult with an attorney who can fully explain what would happen if you file a claim.

  • Do I have to use the proceeds from my settlement to pay my medical bills?

    When it is time for you to settle your case or take it to trial, you and your attorney will revisit your incurred medical bills issue. If your medical bills remain unpaid at the time your case is resolved, the proceeds of the case will likely be used to pay your bills. 

    While you might be able to choose to not pay your medical bills with the case proceeds, you are ultimately responsible for the payment of the medical bills. 

    As such, your attorney will likely suggest that you pay them with the funds.  Often times, your attorney can work with your medical providers and have your outstanding bills reduced so that you can pocket more money.

    If your medical bills were paid by MedPay, typically in Illinois, the insurance company who paid those bills on your behalf is entitled to their money back.  While it may sound like it doesn’t make sense then to use MedPay at all, it is still wise to do so for a couple of reasons.  First, using your MedPay funds will allow you to pay off your unpaid medical bills and avoid collections.  Second, your attorney can likely get a reduction on what needs to be paid back to the MedPay carrier.  In Missouri, the news is even better because state law prohibits the MedPay carrier from seeking reimbursement. 

    In other words, in Missouri, you don't have to pay MedPay money back.

    If your bills were paid by health insurance, your attorney will have to review your contract with your health insurance carrier.  Typically, when you sign up for your health insurance, whether you know it or not, you agree to pay back your carrier if they pay your bills and then you collect from the at-fault driver. 

    How much you have to pay back depends on how your contract reads.

    As with the unpaid medical bills and MedPay, sometimes, your attorney can get that amount reduced.  The medical bills issue can be difficult to navigate - it helps to have an attorney guide you.

  • Recently I was in a crash. The other driver ran a stop sign and the impact broke my arm. The other driver’s insurance company called me and said they want to send an adjuster out to my house to interview me. Is this normal? Do I have to meet with them?

    We are so sorry to hear about your crash, and we hope your arm is healing up quickly! Insurance adjusters are trained to call you immediately after a wreck.

    To be honest, they know that if they can get to you before you hire an attorney, it could save their company money.

    They literally put this in their training manuals.

    Under your insurance policy, you have an obligation to cooperate with YOUR company, but that doesn’t mean you have to talk to them while you’re still injured or in the hospital. If you get a call from your adjuster, tell them you want an opportunity to consider hiring counsel and that you will cooperate with them after consulting with an attorney.

    If the other driver’s adjuster calls, you have NO obligation to provide them with information, and you should not talk to them until you consult with an attorney.

    If you would like to set up a free consultation with us, we would be happy to look at your crash report and medical records in order to determine if you need an attorney. If you do, you will not pay anything unless we secure a settlement or verdict for you.

    For more information on what to do after a crash, please order your copy of our free book ‘When the Rules of the Road Get Broken,’ or download your copy HERE.