As a busy suburb of Chicago, Berkeley, Illinois has a number of dangerous intersections, including Wold and St. Charles. Use caution when you drive in Berkeley and be safe. Unfortunately, that isn’t always enough. Sometimes another driver is not so careful. People often ask their lawyer what they should do if they are involved in a car accident. The general answers are the same throughout the state of Illinois, but it can help to have information that is specific to your community. Here is some information about what to do when you are involved in a collision in Berkeley. We are also including links to local resources that may be of assistance.
Call the Police
Any time you are involved in a car accident, you need to call the police. Which police you call depends on where the accident occurs. Interstates 290 and 294 pass near Berkeley. If your accident occurs on the interstate, you should contact the Illinois State Police. If the collision happens anywhere else, you should contact the Berkeley Police Department at 708-449-8224. Of course, if there are serious injuries, you should call 911.
If You Are Injured
If you are injured, that is the first priority. Tell the police officer that you are injured and alert them if you need an ambulance. If you are unsure of the extent of the injuries, it is best to get checked out by the paramedics and, possibly the hospital. In an emergency situation, you may not have much choice about where you will be taken. After the emergency has passed, however, take time to get the best medical care possible.
Pick an Excellent Doctor or Hospital
As a part of the Chicago metropolitan area, Berkeley residents have a lot of choices for medical care. When you are injured in a collision, the most important thing is to get excellent medical care. Don’t assume that the best care is the closest to you. Be willing to travel a bit to get the best qualified doctors. The Illinois Department of Public Health also publishes a list of licensed trauma centers, many of which are near Berkeley. If you are not obtaining treatment because you can’t afford it – you should seek guidance from an attorney or another professional as soon as possible. There may be insurance coverage or public benefits that can help you.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Whether or not the accident was your fault, you should notify your insurance company of the accident. May insurance policies will exclude coverage for the collision if you do not report it within 30 days. Even though the other driver was at fault, you may need to use one or more benefits from your insurance policy – such as rental car coverage or medical payments coverage. If you are going to need a lawyer, it is best not to talk to the insurance company for the other driver until you have consulted with an attorney.
Get Your Car Fixed
Insurance companies will sometimes try to steer you toward a shop that they prefer. If you like their shop, that’s fine – but generally speaking, you have the right to go to any repair shop of your choice. Take a moment to make sure you are going to a reputable shop.
Get an Attorney If You Need One
Not all car accidents require an attorney. If your car is damaged and the company works with you to fix it, you should be able to manage this on your own. If you have a serious injury from the accident, it is likely that you will need legal help to get fair compensation. Picking a good personal injury lawyer is very important. As with doctors, keep in mind that the best lawyer may not be in your neighborhood. Be willing to travel a little to find an experienced lawyer. Some lawyers (including Stotis & Baird Attorneys) will agree to come out to Berkeley and meet with you there if you are injured and unable to come downtown.
Understand Attorney’s Fees
Most injury lawyers work on a contingency fee – meaning that you do not pay unless you make a recovery. The typical fee is 1/3 and you should not need to pay a higher fee than that. Understanding how contingency fees work is important.
If you have additional questions about what to do after a car accident – please feel free to call us: Stotis & Baird Chartered – 312-461-1000. Serving Chicago, Berkeley and the rest of the South Suburbs – 200 W. Jackson Blvd. Suite 1050, Chicago, Illinois 60606 or visit us on the web at www.stotisandbaird.com. Article by Eric Parker, injury attorney with Stotis & Baird Chartered.