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McHenry County car accident attorneyHave you or a loved one been hurt in a situation where another car or truck collided with your vehicle? If so, would you really call the situation an “accident?” It is highly unlikely that the driver hit your car on purpose, so it might be an accident in that sense, but when a wreck occurs, intent and fault are two vastly different ideas. In fact, many people believe that using the word “accident” actually benefits insurance companies and lawyers who defend at-fault drivers. With this in mind, there are national efforts in motion to reduce the use of the word “accident” and to raise awareness regarding how the term can be misleading.

Making Assumptions Subconsciously

In recent years, several advocacy groups have come together to create a national campaign that discourages the word “accident” in car crash cases. Starting in 2015, Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets launched an online educational program and pledge drive intended to eliminate assumptions caused by using “accident.” According to Amy Cohen, who founded Families for Safe Streets after her son was hit by a car and killed in 2013, her son and others like him did not die in accidents. “An ‘accident,’” she maintains, “implies that nothing could have been done to prevent their deaths.”

Proponents of the terminology shift believe that calling a crash an accident gives the subconscious impression that nobody bears specific responsibility for the situation. In reality, most crashes are caused by someone’s actions, inaction, or negligence, which means that someone can and generally should be held responsible.

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Can I Collect Compensation for a Car Accident If I Was Partly at Fault?One major misunderstanding about personal injury lawsuits is believing that the issue of fault is usually cut and dry. In reality, determining who is to blame for an injury-causing or fatal accident is often the hardest and most time-consuming part of an injury suit. Sometimes, the person at fault for an accident is obvious. However, many personal injury suits involve situations in which several parties share fault for the injury-causing accident. Fortunately, you can still receive compensation for your damages even if you were partially at fault for them. Doing so, however, requires an understanding of Illinois’ “comparative negligence” laws.

Modified Comparative Negligence Basics

Illinois courts rely on a doctrine known as “modified comparative negligence.” This means that you may be able to recover compensation for your losses even if you are partially to blame for the situation in which your losses occurred. As long as you were not more than half at fault for the accident or incident that caused your injuries, you can still pursue compensation.

For example, if you were hit by a drunk driver, it may seem obvious that the driver of the other vehicle is to blame. However, what if you were speeding when the accident occurred? In situations like these, the courts will assign a percentage of blame to each party involved in the incident. The amount of compensation you can receive will be reduced according to your percentage of fault. However, if you are found to be 51 percent or more to blame for the accident, you cannot recover anything.

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What You Should Know About Defective Tires and Auto AccidentsIf you are like many adults who take pride in their car, truck, or SUV, you probably make vehicle maintenance a top priority. Checking the oil and other fluid levels, ensuring that your tires are aired up and the tread is not too worn, and taking your vehicle in for regular tune-ups may be a standard part of your routine. However, when defective design or manufacture of an auto part is to blame for a malfunctioning vehicle, there may be nothing the driver could have done to prevent it. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, and you believe that defective tires were to blame, you may have a valid product liability case.  

History of Faulty Car and Truck Tires

Many people still remember when the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company was forced to conduct one of the largest recalls in U.S. history. Defective tires installed on Ford pickup trucks and SUVs were associated with accidents causing over 800 injuries and 270 deaths. Firestone eventually recalled a staggering 6.5 million tires, and the Ford Motor Company recalled and replaced approximately 13 million of the defective tires. Ford faced over $600 million in lawsuits as a result.

Unfortunately, tire recalls are not limited to just these companies. Just recently, Alliance Tire Americas issued a tire recall after it was discovered that the tread might separate from the casing during use. Flaws in the design and manufacture of tires can cause the tires to malfunction and put the lives of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians at risk.  

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Car Accident Injuries Are Not Always Immediately ObviousA major car accident can be one of the scariest moments of a person’s life. Car crashes can happen in the blink of any eye and may leave a person unsure of what has even happened. In the chaotic moments after a traumatic event such as a traffic accident, a person may be in shock. “Fight or flight” hormones are coursing through his or her bloodstream increasing heart rate and masking the feeling of pain. Many people do not realize the extent of the injuries they sustained in a car accident until days or weeks later. This is one reason that it is so important to get medical care immediately following a major accident.

Whiplash Symptoms Might Not Appear for Days After an Accident

One of the most common injuries people suffer in a car accident is whiplash, which occurs when a sudden, forceful movement causes the muscles, ligaments, or bones of the neck to be damaged. Violent acceleration or deceleration from a car crash is a common cause of whiplash. The symptoms of whiplash often include neck pain, stiffness, numbness or tingling, weakness, reduced mobility, headache, and shoulder and back pain. In some cases, a person suffering from whiplash can also experience vision problems, dizziness, tinnitus, emotional changes, memory and concentration problems, and fatigue. These symptoms may be unnoticeable or very minor immediately following an accident and then get worse and worse over time.

Traumatic Brain Injuries May Take Time to Notice

More than half of all traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are sustained during traffic accidents. TBI can be caused by an object such as a shard of skull piercing the brain as well as non-penetrative damage. Many TBI occur when a powerful blow to the head causes the brain to strike the inside of the skull. If a person hits their head on the windshield of their car during an accident, for example, they may suffer a TBI. The only outer indication that a head injury even occurred may be a small cut or bruise. The injured person may not realize how serious the inner damage to the brain is unless they get checked out by a doctor. TBI can cause long-term problems with memory, balance, sight, communication, and mental wellbeing.

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How Can I Protect Myself From Uninsured Drivers?Any driver knows that he or she assumes certain risks by getting behind the wheel. A driver with a history of safe driving often believes those risks to be fairly well minimized. After an accident, however, even the best drivers may find themselves financially impacted by the actions of others, especially if those others are underinsured or uninsured drivers.

Uninsured Drivers

There are an estimated 32 million vehicle owners in the U.S. currently without auto insurance. This means that nearly 13 percent of drivers on the road have no protection in the event of an accident, and in some states, the number is closer to 25 percent. Industry estimates suggest that more than $2 billion is paid annually on uninsured driver claims, not including fatalities or claims of permanent disability.

Insurance industry experts recognize that uninsured drivers usually struggle to afford the cost of insurance premiums. Many drivers who are able to maintain coverage often buy only the minimum coverage required in their states, which, in many cases, is insufficient for serious accidents. Consumer Reports found that the average cost of medical care for a “non-incapacitating injury” after an auto accident was $23,400, higher than the minimum bodily injury requirement in 14 states.

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