Effective April 16, 2018, the Rockford Police will no longer send officers to the scene of a “minor accident.”
The new restriction only applies to wrecks that occur during business hours (8-6 Monday through Friday and 9-1 on Saturday). At other times, or if the wreck involved substance use or a lack of insurance, all accident victims may still call 9-1-1. Officials estimate that the new policy will end about 3,500 responses a year.
The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department experimented with a similar policy a few years ago, but abandoned it shortly after its implementation.
What Constitutes a “Minor” Car Crash in Rockford?
There’s an old saying that only other people undergo “minor” surgery. In other words, an operation is always serious when you’re the one on the table. The same can be said for car crashes in Illinois. They’re only “minor” if you’re not involved.
Medically, that’s because so many crashes involve head injuries, like whiplash. The brain is very good at concealing its own injuries. So, many concussed athletes tell their coaches they “feel fine” so they can go back into the game. Likewise, many people with serious brain injuries “feel fine” immediately after the wreck, especially because their adrenaline is pumping.
Many states, not including Illinois, have no-fault insurance laws. The process they use to define a “serious” injury is very useful for self-diagnosis in Rockford:
- Medical Bills: If your anticipated medical expenses total more than about $4,000, and they almost always do, you probably have a serious injury.
- Daily Activity: The same thing is probably true if you are too sore to get out of bed the morning after the crash.
- Permanent Injury: If you break a bone in Illinois, the wound will eventually heal, but you may always experience some loss of mobility in a joint. Or, if you have surgery, you may always have a scar.
At Fisk & Monteleone, we offer free consultations in car crash cases. So, it’s easy to get an experienced opinion as to the extent of your injuries. We also come to you, if necessary, so the process is very convenient.
Collecting Evidence in an Illinois Car Crash Case
Very often, the police report forms the foundation of a victim/plaintiff’s case. Evidence is critical, because the victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof. Fortunately, there are a number of other sources available. Many of these kinds of evidence do not suffer from the same limitations as the police report, which is often incomplete and one-sided.
One such source are additional witness statements. At most, the Rockford police report only contains interviews with witnesses who voluntarily come forward and who saw all or most of the crash. An attorney can convince reluctant witnesses to testify or subpoena them if they adamantly refuse to cooperate. Furthermore, a witness who saw the events before the crash, such as a speeding tortfeasor (negligent driver), is often very valuable.
The Event Data Recorder is often even more important. Much like a commercial airplane’s “black box” contains important data about plane crashes, the EDR captures and records items like:
- Steering angle,
- Vehicle speed,
- Brake application, and
- Acceleration rate.
Since 2008, the government has required all new vehicles to have EDRs.
Illinois has very strict EDR privacy laws. In most cases, an attorney must have a court order to inspect and download the information on an EDR. Moreover, most insurance companies destroy totaled vehicles, and their EDRs, a few days after an accident. So, an attorney needs to send a special letter to preserve this evidence.
Once the evidence is in place, an attorney matches it with a compelling legal theory, such as speeding or fatigued driving. Then, the jury determines liability based on the evidence and the legal theory involved.
Reach Out to an Experienced Attorney
Compelling evidence is critical in car accident claims. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.