After being involved in Chicago car accident, you may be injured, stressed and not thinking clearly – in other words, it isn’t the best time for you to be making any statements about what happened. Unfortunately, there are police reports, other drivers and damage to your vehicle to deal with. Following an accident, an insurance “adjuster” might call you. The adjuster is the employee of the insurance company whose job it is to resolve any claims as quickly and at as little cost for the insurance company as possible.
Here’s what you need to know before you get that phone call:

  • You’re not obligated to give a statement to any insurance company. Insurance adjusters may use tactics to get you to talk or to pester you into saying something. But you’re not bound to give a statement right away. Tell the adjuster you need some time to recover and think it over. There is no law in Illinois or any state that requires you to give a record state to the insurance company of a driver who may be at fault for an accident. (You do, however, have to cooperate with your own insurer.) Since you’re not obligated to make a statement the first time an adjuster calls, don’t. even if you think you have nothing to hide and the accident was not your fault, the adjusters will be looking for statements that can be used against you to help them prove the accident was at least partly your fault in order to lower the amount they will have eventually have to pay for your claim. NOTE: If you hire an attorney, the Insurance Company CANNOT speak with and MUST communicate directly with your attorney. This is one of the benefits of hiring an experienced car accident attorney right away.
  • Simply say “No”. If you are contacted by an insurance adjuster soon after a car accident requesting a statement, simply tell them you are not ready to make a statement at this time. After the stress of an accident, you may say something that can be used against you or twisted to admit fault or inaccurately represent what actually happened. It’s best to speak with an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer before ever speaking with an insurance adjuster.
  • Call an experienced Chicago injury lawyer and learn your rights. If you haven’t already done so, contact a Chicago personal injury attorney for a free case evaluation and to help prepare for any statements you give regarding your accident and injuries.
  • What if I already have made a statement to my insurance company about my car accident? Since most statements are recorded, ask for a copy of the statement transcript. You have a right to a copy of any statement you give. Ask for it before you begin conversing with the insurance adjuster. He or she will likely say that it will not be transcribed. Don’t let that deter you. Ask for whatever copy they can provide, even if it’s an audio file.
  • Don’t volunteer more than you’ve been asked. Think carefully about the questions the insurance adjuster asks, and answer only those. Do not volunteer additional information.

If you have been hurt, let us help. At Fiorentino Law Offices, we can handle the burden of paperwork and guide you through the personal injury legal maze so that you can concentrate on what really matters: your recovery. Call us today at (312) 853-0050 for a free consultation with our Chicago car crash attorneys.

Chicago Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Accidents Lawyers

Getting into a car accident and being injured is stressful. Unfortunately, that situation often becomes even more stressful when injured victims learn the driver who caused the accident was an underinsured or uninsured motorist, meaning they do not have an insurance policy that will cover all of your damages. Fortunately, you may be able to look to coverage from your own auto insurance company in this situation.

You may think it would be easier dealing with your own insurance company, but that is often not the case. In these situations, your own insurance company will “step into the shoes” of the uninsured driver and provide insurance coverage. This means that your insurance company will be reviewing the claim just as if they were they insurance company for the at-fault driver. Even though you may have dutifully paid your auto insurance premiums over the years in anticipation of this kind of situation, they do not have your best interests in mind. Your insurance company is a business trying to protect their bottom line. They will do all they can to avoid paying out the full value of your underinsured/uninsured motorist claim.

Our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience handling uninsured and underinsured motorist car accident cases. We will work to prove to your insurer that another driver was responsible for the accident and that you deserve the full level of compensation provided by your policy. We know how to help you take on your own car insurance company to protect your rights. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.

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A key aspect of any injury claim or settlement is the amount of your damages — meaning compensable losses suffered because of the accident or injury. While an injured person can get compensation for medical treatment and pain and suffering stemming from the accident, another category of damages that should not be overlooked is lost income, which includes both money lost from the job you held when you were injured, and reimbursement for work opportunities you missed due to the accident and its effects.

Lost Income: What is Recoverable?

You are entitled to reimbursement from the person responsible for an accident for any income you have lost because of the accident or your resulting injuries. This includes both income lost because you were unable to work and time missed because you were undergoing treatment for your injuries. The right to be reimbursed applies whether you have a full-time or part-time job, regular or occasional employment, an hourly wage or weekly or monthly salary, or are self-employed.

What if I didn’t miss any pay because I used sick time or vacation time?

The fact that you were able to take sick leave or vacation pay for the time you missed, and therefore did not directly lose income, does not matter. You were entitled to use that sick leave or vacation time for other periods when you might have needed or wanted it. Therefore, using up sick leave or vacation pay is considered the same as losing the pay itself.

To be reimbursed for lost income, you must be able to show two things:

  • the time you missed from work because of your accident, and
  • how much money you would have made during the time you missed.
Documenting Lost Income

If you are regularly employed by someone else, collecting information about your lost income is simple. Ask your supervisor, boss, or personnel office to write a letter on company stationery. The letter should include your name, your position, your rate of pay, the number of hours you normally work, and the number of hours or days you missed following the accident. The letter need not indicate whether you took sick leave, vacation time, or a leave of absence.

If you are irregularly employed or are self-employed, proving lost income is more complicated. You have to show how much work time you lost and what you might have earned had you been able to work. You can use any evidence you have of a drop in billing or invoices, a calendar showing appointments you had to cancel, and any letters or documents showing meetings, conferences, or other appointments you were unable to attend.
After you have demonstrated how much work you missed, you have to show how much you might have earned. If you had been working a relatively steady amount immediately before the accident, you can show an average for the period by putting together copies of your billing, invoices, payments received, or other evidence of money earned. Then, depending on the amount you were working and how much you were earning, you can calculate how much income you are considered to have lost for the time you were unable to work.

If you work sporadically — some weeks or months earning most of your income and other weeks or months earning little or nothing — you can show the value of lost work time through evidence of what you make during an entire year, then dividing that into a weekly or monthly average.

The best evidence of your yearly income is your personal income tax return for the previous year. You need to show only the part of your tax return that gives your year’s gross income; the rest of the return — deductions, exemptions — is irrelevant, and an insurance company has no right to see it. If you had particularly low earnings during the previous year, include two or three years of returns to demonstrate how much you usually earn. If you also have some evidence of income for the current year showing a similar earning pattern, include that as well.

Lost Opportunities

In addition to time lost from work, you are entitled to be reimbursed for work opportunities you lost because of the accident and your injuries. Of course, it’s harder to prove you lost income by missing a job interview or a sales meeting than showing you lost income by missing actual work.
But even if you cannot point to specific dollar amounts you lost, the fact that an insurance adjuster knows that lost potential income is a valid part of your claim will move your final compensation amount upward. How much your final compensation is raised will depend on how strong your proof is of lost income opportunity, and how much that lost opportunity might have cost you.

Contact our Chicago car accident lawyers and Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys Now to learn more about recovering your lost wages and for a free Consultation — Se habla español.