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Six Ways Insurance Companies Avoid Personal Injury ClaimsSeeking compensation for your personal injuries after an accident should start with exploring your insurance options. You can file a third party personal injury claim if someone else was at fault for your injuries. Illinois law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance that includes at least $40,000 for bodily harm. Unfortunately, any insurance company that you deal with is likely to resist giving you the injury compensation you need. It does not profit them to award all of the claims they receive. Claims adjusters are trained to spot weaknesses in your claim that may allow them to deny coverage. Here are six ways insurance companies will try to deny or undervalue your personal injury claim:

  1. Questioning Delayed Action: If you do not seek immediate medical attention, an insurance company may doubt the validity of your injury claim. Waiting a couple of days to get examined suggests that your injuries were not serious or urgent.
  2. Citing Lack of Evidence: With a third party claim, the insurance company will want proof that its client was at fault for the accident. If you cannot provide independent witnesses or an official police report, the company may claim that you have failed to prove fault.
  3. Shifting Blame: After investigating the accident, a third-party insurance company may accuse you of being at fault. If the company proves your fault, it would shift the liability onto your own insurance.
  4. Using Your Words Against You: The strongest evidence against your insurance claim is if you admit to fault for your accident. A representative with the insurance company will try to catch you unprepared for an interview, hoping that you will unintentionally say something that can be held against you.
  5. Doubting Your Injury: The insurance company will look for any reason why your injuries should not be covered. This may include claiming that you have exaggerated the extent of your injuries or that you had a pre-existing condition.
  6. Making a Low-Ball Offer: If the insurance company does not believe it can legally deny your claim, it may preemptively offer a settlement that is lower than what it expects it will be liable for in court. A company representative may pressure you to accept the offer by claiming an artificial deadline.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

You should consult with an attorney before discussing your personal injury claim with an insurance company. A McHenry County personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can advise you on what to say to the insurance company and what evidence you need to gather. If the insurance company denies your claim, you may need to take it to court or file a personal injury lawsuit against the party at fault. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Governments Not Liable for Injuries on Nature TrailsGovernment entities and employees in Illinois have greater than normal protection from personal injury lawsuits in cases of premises liability. In most cases, the plaintiff will need to prove willful and wanton conduct by the government entity in order to receive damages. However, local governments are immune from all liability when an injury occurs on a natural trail, even if willful and wanton conduct is involved. Thus, it is crucial to differentiate between nature trails and other recreational trails in personal injury cases.

Understanding the Law

Illinois’ Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act defines what liability local governments hold when injuries occur on public property. The law provides immunity to local governments for injuries caused by the condition of any natural hiking or riding trails used to reach areas for:

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Illinois Bikers Share Responsibility for Safety Despite No Helmet LawIllinois is one of three states in the U.S. that does not have any law requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Some states mandate that all riders wear helmets, while others make the requirement only for people of certain ages. The lack of a law is legally beneficial for riders who may otherwise be ticketed for not wearing a helmet. In some ways, Illinois' legal situation also helps riders who are seeking personal injury compensation after a motorcycle accident. However, not wearing a helmet may affect the plaintiff's ability to receive full compensation.

No Legal Fault

In states with motorcycle helmet laws, failing to wear a helmet when required is negligence by the rider because he or she violated the law. The rider shares some of the fault for the accident, which may affect how much money he or she is awarded. Because Illinois does not have a law, there is no automatic assumption of negligence if the rider was not wearing a helmet. Thus, the rider has a better chance of not sharing fault for the accident, which will prevent deductions from his or her requested compensation.

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Unnatural Accumulation Determines Liability for Snow and Ice InjuriesThe coming of winter means we are nearing slip and fall season in Illinois. Snow and ice accumulation creates treacherous surfaces, which can cause us to fall despite our best efforts to remain safe. Falls can cause severe injuries, including broken bones and head trauma, which can affect you for years. When unsafe conditions on someone else’s property cause you to fall and hurt yourself, you can try to sue the property owner for negligence. However, Illinois law protects property owners from personal injury liability in most cases involving natural accumulation of snow and ice. To win the personal injury case, you will need to prove that the property owner created the conditions that led to your injury.

Natural Accumulation

According to Illinois law, property owners are under no obligation to protect visitors by clearing snow or ice from walking surfaces. This rule holds even if a municipal ordinance requires snow to be removed from walking services after a certain amount has accumulated. Thus, property owners are not liable for injuries caused by a natural accumulation of snow or ice on their properties. The definition of a natural accumulation includes:

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Rideshare Drivers Face Inherent DistractionsDrivers working for rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft have the added responsibility for the safety of their passengers, to go along with all drivers’ responsibility to each other on the road. Because of the distractions involved with the job, safe driving advocates wonder whether rideshare drivers are more likely to be in car crashes. Unfortunately, there are no official records of the number of accidents involving rideshare drivers. Police crash reports do not categorize rideshare vehicles for statistical purposes. Unlike taxi cabs, rideshare vehicles are not obviously marked as a commercial vehicle. Analysis of how rideshare drivers operate suggests that they face increased distractions related to their work.

Focus on Phones

Whereas taxi drivers typically use radio dispatch for communications, rideshare drivers communicate using their phones. Drivers have their phones mounted to their dashboards, with their ridesharing app open. The app is used for accepting jobs, giving directions and contacting potential passengers. The rideshare companies say that they design their apps to minimize distractions. However, there are several unavoidable distractions involved with using a phone while driving:

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