Fewer car accidents, along with more free time, were supposed to be a “silver lining” of the pandemic lockdown cloud. Vehicle miles traveled indeed dropped. But since drivers developed some bad habits, like drinking and driving and speeding excessively, the number of fatal accidents increased. Two years after COVID restrictions began easing, the number of deadly wrecks has dropped in some areas. But not in Illinois. In the first part of 2022, fatal car accidents are up 35% in the Prairie State.
Usually, these incidents aren’t just “accidents” that occur randomly and can’t be avoided. Acts of nature, like heavy rain, often contribute to these wrecks, but these things don’t cause wrecks, at least in the legal sense of the word. In Illinois, even if a crash was partially the victim’s fault, a Rockford car accident lawyer can obtain substantial compensation for these victims in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Operator error causes over 98% of the car wrecks in Illinois. Occasionally, this error is a wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time accident. For example, Alex might be driving in an unfamiliar area and turn his head to speak to a passenger right before he comes across a large pothole. Although he probably should have been more careful, Alex probably isn’t liable for damages.
Much more often, operator error is legal negligence, which is a lack of ordinary care. This negligence usually comes in one of three forms:
- Behavioral: We mentioned drunk driving above. This act is one of the most common forms of behavioral negligence. Others include driving while fatigued, distracted driving, and driving with a medical condition. Generally, these tortfeasors (negligent drivers) know they aren’t fit to operate a vehicle. Yet they do so anyway, thereby intentionally putting other people at risk.
- Operational: We mentioned speeding above as well. Excessive velocity is the most common form of operational negligence, followed closely by ignoring a traffic control device and turning unsafely. The degree of operational negligence is usually important. There’s a big difference between speeding 5mph over the limit and speeding 25mph over the limit.
- Environmental: We also mentioned heavy rain above. The duty of care requires drivers, especially commercial drivers, to slow down and make other safety adjustments when the road is wet, the sky is dark, or conditions are otherwise less than ideal. But many drivers ignore this responsibility like they ignore the responsibility to be fit before they get behind the wheel and drive defensively when they’re on the road.
A Rockford car accident lawyer must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not, to obtain compensation in these cases.
What causes the other 2% of car accidents? We’re glad you asked. Mechanical issues, mostly defective tires, cause most non-driver error collisions. If a manufacturing or design defect caused a wreck, the tire manufacturer is usually strictly liable for damages.
Sometimes, a defective road causes a car accident. These claims are a little like defective product claims, but there are some additional complexities.
Because of the sovereign immunity doctrine, a rule similar to the controversial official immunity doctrine for police officers, a Rockford car accident lawyer can usually only file legal actions based on ministerial functions, like the failure to fill a dangerous pothole or trim a tree that obscures a stop sign.
Rely on a Diligent Winnebago County Car Accident Attorney
Accident victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. by calling 815-315-0574. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.