At Passen & Powell, our experienced Chicago personal injury lawyers handle a small number of catastrophic injury cases — involving permanent injury (such as traumatic brain injury, paralysis or disfigurement) or wrongful death. Our top Chicago car accident and truck accident lawyers also handle cases where the injuries are less severe (e.g., fractures, herniated discs or soft tissue injuries) where “liability” is strong — meaning that the negligence or recklessness of the defendant is clear.
Such cases frequently arise in Chicago car accident litigation. Some of the classic examples of a strong liability case involve the following: A plaintiff is stopped at a stop sign when her car is rear-ended by defendant’s car or truck. A plaintiff is driving her car through a green light at an intersection and the defendant’s vehicle drives through a red light and crashes into plaintiff’s vehicle. A plaintiff is driving her car down the highway when defendant’s car or truck crosses the center line into oncoming traffic and crashes into plaintiff’s vehicle.
Chicago car accident lawyers representing individuals in strong liability motor vehicle cases must still engage in the proper investigation to firm up liability. For example, the lawyer must ensure that the client’s version of what occurred is consistent with what appears on the police report or Major Accident Investigation Unit documentation. The attorney should determine whether there are any witnesses to the accident, other than the plaintiff(s) or defendant(s) and, if so, hire an investigator to secure any favorable written statements from the witnesses. The lawyer should secure any photographs of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved, which would be included in the Major Accident Investigation Unit report (if one was done) — unless the accident is “major”, a MAIU investigation is unlikely. Photographs of the parties’ vehicles should be taken to show the nature and extent of the damage — and where the impact occurred on each vehicle.
In larger cases involving Chicago truck accidents, the lawyers should immediately file suit and seek a protective order to preserve important evidence contained in the truck — including the truck’s “black box” (to determine the speed of the truck within hundredths of a second before impact) and any Qualcom communications between the truck driver and anyone else, including the dispatcher.
As mentioned in previous blog entries, Chicago truck accidents present unique challenges because of requirements prescribed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. For example, truck drivers may only work a certain amount of hours per day, and must maintain a Log Book to show their hours of service — to prove that they are not driving while fatigued.
To assist lawyers with analyzing liability in motor vehicle accident cases, lawyers are guided by the rules proscribe in the Illinois Vehicle Code, 625 ILCS 5/1 et seq., and Motor Vehicle sections of the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions.
Regardless of whether we represent the Estate of a father killed and a fourteen-year-old child paralyzed in a car accident with a semi tractor-trailer or an elderly couple who suffered soft tissue injuries when their car was rear-ended by a truck, our Chicago car accident lawyers address the case the same way: we conduct an extensive factual investigation to conform the evidence to law in Illinois on liability, often through the use of liability experts; and then we bolster our damages case.