Accident victims sometimes feel as though things are spiraling out of control. Attorneys help victims put their lives back together after serious car crashes. But before that happens, victims must help themselves.
Most law enforcement officers say that the first few hours after a crime often dictate the course of the investigation. If mistakes are made early on, they are difficult to overcome. The same is true in Rockford car crashes. Many victims unwittingly derail their legal claims before their lawyers even get started.
The stakes are high. Law enforcement officers help crime victims get justice. But Rockford personal injury attorneys help victims get justice and compensation. This compensation normally includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Do Collect Evidence
Emergency responders typically arrive within two or three minutes. But these individuals have distinct priorities. They only investigate the crash after they secure the scene and take care of injured victims.
Even then, the investigation is limited. Emergency responders only talk to witnesses who voluntarily come forward at the scene. Furthermore, even the most experienced first responder is not a car crash attorney or an accident reconstructionist.
The bottom line is that first responders are not private investigators who collect evidence for a future lawsuit. The crash is a civil dispute between the insurance company and the victim.
So, the victim must collect evidence after a crash. At the very least, the victim must begin this process. At this stage, evidence collection includes:
- Taking pictures of property damage,
- Getting additional names and contact information of additional witnesses, and
- Taking pictures of the scene, including skidmarks.
In serious collisions, the driver is often unable to do these things. So, go over these items with spouses and frequent passengers.
It’s also important to identify the tortfeasor (negligent driver). If the tortfeasor was operating a company vehicle, that company may be legally responsible for damages. Illinois has a very broad respondeat superior doctrine. This rule holds employers responsible for the negligent acts their employees commit.
Later evidence collection procedures, which an attorney will handle, include inspecting and downloading the vehicle’s Event Data Recorder. Most EDRs record vehicle data like steering angle, vehicle speed, and engine RPM. Illinois has very strong EDR privacy laws. So, an attorney typically needs a court order to obtain this vital evidence.
Don’t Talk to the Other Insurance Company
Victims need not give statements to the other driver’s insurance company. That’s a good thing, because doing so can have serious consequences.
Insurance company telephone operators often sound friendly. However, insurance company managers carefully train these people to extract damaging information from the victims. Subtle questions like “Where were you headed?” and “Where did you leave from?” can be used against victims later.
In this particular case, it’s very hard to unring a bell. Once victims make damaging statements, whether they meant to or not, the insurance company records them and uses them later. So, let your attorney talk to the other insurance company. Insurance investigators can wait a day or two for your statement. There is no rush.
Count on Reliable Attorneys
Car crash lawyers best help victims who help themselves. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.