Chicago Car Accident Lawyers

Car crashes are a perennially leading cause of injury across Chicago and the State of Illinois. Unfortunately, it only takes a few seconds of negligent behavior behind the wheel to cause an accident. In these cases, injury victims have the right to pursue monetary compensation based on their harm.

Your journey toward recovery starts at the scene of the accident. Once you have made sure that everyone is safe, call 911 and speak to the other parties involved, as well as potential eyewitnesses. Once you leave the scene, you should seek immediate medical assessment and treatment before contacting your attorney.

With over 25 years of experience pursuing compensation for our injury victim clients, the Chicago car accident lawyers at Rhatigan Law Offices have the knowledge and resources to put you on the path to recovery. Begin this process today by calling our offices at (312) 584-5378 to obtain your free initial case assessment.

Common Causes of Car Accidents in Chicago

Almost all vehicular collisions in the State of Illinois are caused by driver error. When a driver fails to obey traffic laws or behaves irresponsibly behind the wheel, they may be viewed as negligent for the purposes of a lawsuit. Below are some of the most common instances of driver negligence that can lead to an accident.


Illinois traffic regulations require that drivers retain a reasonable distance between their vehicle and the one immediately in front of them. The reasoning for this is to allow the driver of the rear vehicle enough time to slow down or stop if the traffic pattern changes up ahead. In almost every rear-end collision case, the driver of the rear vehicle is determined to be at fault for exactly this reason.


Sudden lane changes are a substantial danger to others in the vehicle’s vicinity. This type of behavior is most common in urban areas like Chicago during high traffic like rush hour, where drivers are more likely to get frustrated with the pace of traffic. Even if the lane change is not erratic, drivers are responsible for accounting for blind spots, or they may be liable for the resulting collision.

Distracted Driving

While some may use their phone for navigation purposes, incoming texts and calls can take the driver’s eyes off the road. If this happens, the distracted driver could lose track of their primary responsibility. Illinois law prohibits drivers from texting or making calls without a hands-free device.

Drunk Driving

Drunk driving accidents claim the lives of roughly 28 people a day in the United States. Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not only a crime, but it may also be grounds for a court to enforce punitive damages in a civil lawsuit. If you were injured in a car accident by a drunk driver, consult with your Chicago car accident attorney about whether you might be able to recover punitive damages.

What to Do After a Car Accident in Chicago

It can be difficult to concentrate on securing your future financial recovery after being involved in a collision. That is why it can help to be familiar with this key checklist from our Chicago car accident lawyers about what steps you can take both at the scene of the accident and immediately after you leave.

Make Sure Everyone Is Safe

The priority immediately after an accident is to make sure that it doesn’t compound itself. If you can operate your vehicle, slowly pull off to a shoulder or other side street that is out of the way. If you cannot move the car or the accident occurs in low visibility conditions, turn on your hazards and deploy flares if you have them before getting yourself and your passengers to the side of the road.

Call 911

You should always call for emergency services after any car accident, no matter how serious you believe it is at first. The dispatcher will send law enforcement officers to the scene to take down critical information, which they will include in their official accident report. You can also request an ambulance if anyone at the scene has injuries that require immediate attention.

Talk to Other Parties

After an accident, exchanging contact and insurance information with the other driver or drivers involved is standard practice. The other driver is legally required to provide you with this information before leaving the scene. You should also do your best to get contact information from any potential eyewitnesses to the accident who could help sustain your claim later on, as these individuals are substantially more difficult to track down after they leave the scene.

Take Photos and Video

While you might ultimately not need it, visual evidence of the accident may prove vital in your later pursuit of compensation. You should attempt to document the damage to the vehicles, road and weather conditions, and tire tracks left on the road at the scene.

Get Medical Attention

Once you leave the scene, the first place you should go is your nearest emergency room or urgent care facility. While you may want to wait for an appointment with your primary care doctor, you should know that this may take some time. Additionally, many primary care physician’s offices will not treat car accident injuries, as they may be unable to accept car insurance coverage for payment.

Call a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer

You should not waste any time in reaching out to an experienced Chicago car accident attorney. The earlier you start working on your legal claim, the more likely you are to succeed and the sooner you will receive your compensation. You should get medical care for your injuries first, however, as your lawyer can use your medical record to estimate potential damages.

How a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You

When you are injured in an accident, there are many ways that your lawyer can help. Our Chicago car accident lawyers can build your case, insulate you from insurance companies and their legal teams, and fight to get you the compensation you need.

Our Chicago car accident lawyers can help collect evidence and build a strong case. There are areas of evidence that car accident victims might not think to collect, such as nearby security camera footage or testimony from expert witnesses about car accident reconstruction. Our attorneys can also take depositions and build a strong record before going to trial.

Our lawyers can also handle negotiations and conversations with insurance companies and their legal teams so you do not have to. Insurance companies and their lawyers often have the goal of settling low and ending the case early. This can lead to aggressive tactics and potentially even misinformation about what your case is worth. Our lawyers can step in and handle these talks for you, potentially negotiating better damages.

In these conversations, we can stand up for you and use our legal skills and knowledge to fight for full compensation. We can also take your case to trial, if needed, and fight your case before a judge and jury.

Who is Liable in a Chicago Car Accident?

In most car accident cases, you can only get damages if you seek them from the right parties. A party is found “liable” in a court of law when the judge and jury rule that they contributed to the accident. If any driver or other party is held liable, you can get compensation from them and/or their insurance companies for your injuries.

When determining liability, the list of suspects usually begins with the other drivers involved in your crash. If your accident only involved your car and another driver, our Chicago car accident lawyers will typically seek to hold that driver 100% accountable. However, crashes can involve multiple drivers, each held liable for their fair share of the crash.

If you are found to be partially liable, you could be assigned a percentage of the blame, too. Your overall damages will be reduced by this percentage, and the other drivers will only pay for their share of the fault. If you are more than 50% at fault, you are unfortunately blocked from recovering damages.

Sometimes, other parties can also be found liable or partly liable for a crash. This can include the employer of a commercial driver (such as a trucking company or bus company). Lawsuits can also potentially include negligent mechanics, negligent owners (if that is someone other than the driver), or negligent auto parts manufacturers. Rarely, local governments can be held liable for dangerous road conditions or dangerous road construction.

What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover After a Chicago Car Accident?

Car accident damages usually include compensation for three main areas of damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

Many people seek these damages through insurance claims because that seems easiest. However, insurance companies often seek to reduce damages by using their own valuation of your case instead of accepting your attorney’s valuation. Our Chicago car accident lawyers can take your case to court to present evidence of how much these damages are worth, potentially achieving higher compensation.

In some cases, other damages might be issued to cover other harms as well, both economic and non-economic. In rare cases, you can also get additional compensation called “punitive damages” to punish the defendant for what they did to cause the crash.

What is the Deadline to File a Personal Injury Claim for a Car Accident in Chicago?

Victims of car accident claims in Chicago have 2 years to file their claims. Under 735 ILCS 5/13-202, any injured party has 2 years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit. Insurance companies typically use this deadline as their outside limit, but some insurance policies might require earlier filing.

Although 2 years might seem like a long time, you should take into account a few built-in delays that will cut into your filing time:

  • Your physical and mental recovery
  • The time to research a lawyer
  • The time for your lawyer to build your case and prepare filings

Ultimately, you should contact our Chicago car accident lawyers well before this 2-year filing deadline expires.

How to Prove Fault in a Chicago Car Accident

For a driver to be held at fault for causing a car accident, the law requires that they be found to have committed four major elements of “negligence”:

  1. The defendant owed the victim a duty – typically determined by reasonable safe-driving standards or traffic laws.
  2. The defendant breached that duty – typically by failing to meet the required skill or attention demands of that duty.
  3. The breach of duty caused the crash.
  4. The victim suffered injuries and damages in the crash that the court can order compensation for.

As mentioned, the “duty” element is usually tied to traffic laws and the “breach” element is tied to a violation of those laws. This means that if a driver caused your crash because they were speeding, driving under the influence, texting and driving, or otherwise violating traffic statutes, our Chicago car accident lawyers can fight to hold them responsible.

In court, there needs to be sufficient evidence of this breach, duty, causation, and damages to successfully prove fault and win your case. You must have enough evidence to convince the jury “by a preponderance of the evidence” that your claim is true. This essentially equates to proving your story is “more likely than not.”

Evidence in your claim is typically going to involve your testimony and the testimony of any witnesses. Medical records proving your injuries, photos of vehicle damage, and other documentary evidence of your damages will also be vital. Talk to our Chicago car accident lawyers about building a sufficient case to prove your car accident claim in court.

Rhatigan Law Offices Can Help You Recover Damages for Your Chicago Car Accident Injuries

The experienced Chicago car accident attorneys at Rhatigan Law Offices are ready to assist you in your recovery, starting with a free initial case assessment when you call our offices at (312) 584-5378.