Knowing how to handle an Illinois car crash can offer legal protection

With the network of interstates and Chicago suburbs that map out most of Cook County, it can be difficult for visitors and even long-time residents to get around. The amount of traffic each day can be intense and if one is not always on the lookout, it's easy to find yourself the victim of a car accident.

The Illinois Department of Transportation's crash data shows that in 2011 there were over 281,000 crashes that occurred in the state. Over 84,000 injuries were reported and 918 people died. It is important for people to realize that, regardless of what they do, they are not immune to the actions of others and knowing how to handle a car accident can offer them legal protection.

Gather documentation

Whether a person is involved in a simple fender bender or in a more serious crash, it is important to document the scene. This can be accomplished with photos or video. Some people may want to keep a disposable camera in their vehicle or they can use the camera on their smart phone. Photographs of the scene can be used as evidence to file a claim with the other driver's insurance company or if a victim has to file a civil action lawsuit against another driver.

In addition, there are other forms of documentation that should be collected in order to build as strong of a case as possible. These forms include:

  • Doctors' notes
  • Medical records
  • The police report
  • Witness names, contact information and statements
  • Details about the accident itself - this is always best to do as soon as possible in order to avoid forgetting anything.

People should keep an accident form on their phone or in the car and these can be obtained often through an insurance agent or it is relatively simple to create one.

Limiting what is said

Part of the investigation process for law enforcement officers is to interview the people who are involved in some way with the accident. However, people should remember that, while an officer may seem sympathetic, saying the wrong thing to that officer or to anyone else at the scene can cause legal issues later on.

For example, a person should never tell an officer that they were breaking a traffic law or that they think they might have caused the accident. It is important to let the officer conduct a thorough investigation because it may turn out that someone else was actually at fault. The same is true when it comes to stating whether a person is hurt or not. It is not uncommon for injuries to appear later and making a statement indicating that the person is okay at the time, may work against him if he needs to make a claim with an insurance company.

One of the first things that an individual involved in a car accident should do is seek out the legal advice of an experienced attorney who can guide that person through the process.