Winnebago County Drunk Driving Car Accident Lawyers

Drunk Driving Car Accidents LawyersCar accidents are always stressful, especially when these collisions cause injuries or damage to your vehicle. Between doctor’s visits, working with multiple insurance carriers, and securing a car to use while yours is getting repaired can make the process exceedingly difficult. For accidents caused by drunk driving, the added level of resentment from facing a seemingly avoidable accident creates an even longer mental healing process. In Winnebago County, the legal team at Franks Gerkin Ponitz Greeley can help you receive the damages necessary to fully recover from any car accident.

What Counts as a Car Accident?

Although seemingly self-explanatory, car accidents can come in various forms, resulting in dramatically different outcomes. From small scratches to larger, life-altering accidents, any vehicle-related accidents can be hard to handle and stressful. An accident occurs any time in which a vehicle collides with another vehicle, person, or object, like a telephone pole or wall. Some of the most common forms of car accidents include:

  • Hitting a parked car: Hitting a parked car on the street or in a parking lot, either with or without a driver in the car, is still considered a car accident. The damages from these accidents can include general automotive accident damages, like body repairs or new paint jobs, and even injuries if people are present in the car at the time it was hit.
  • Traffic accidents: Traffic accidents are some of the most common forms of car accidents faced by drivers nationwide. Rear-end collisions, wrong turns, and running red lights can all cause car accidents, ranging from small-scale run-ins to totaled cars and long-term injuries.
  • Pedestrian accidents: Drivers must watch out for their surroundings, especially when it comes to pedestrian-heavy areas like crosswalks and parking lots. Getting hit by another driver, especially in an area meant to be safe for pedestrian traffic, is one of the most common types of car accidents across the country.
  • Hit and run: Unfortunately, in some car accidents, the person at fault will flee the scene to avoid any possible charges and repercussions. Classified as a hit and run, these accidents can be exceedingly stressful to deal with due to the need to track down those at fault.
  • Wrongful Death: In any situation involving wrongful death, receiving the compensation needed to rectify the situation can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Fatal car accidents are possible, considered vehicular manslaughter, and are some of the worst kinds of car accidents faced by drivers in any state.

No two car accidents are the same, and understanding the differences between them is crucial for finding the right course of action to take after getting into an accident. For smaller accidents, a simple police report and insurance contact may be enough to rectify the situation.However, for larger, more serious accidents, taking the necessary legal steps to ensure your comfort and security during an accident investigation may be necessary for a complete recouping of damages. Regardless of whether you are at fault and the number of damages involved, securing legal representation is the most important step to take after an accident, especially if involved with a drunk driver.

What to Do After a Car Accident

The last thing on your mind after an accident is the legal repercussions of your collision, especially when you are facing an accident that is not your fault. After making sure that you and any passengers are all right after the collision, making sure to note any immediate injuries or damage to your car is crucial for creating a strong case. From there, take the time to collect yourself so you can properly proceed with the necessary next steps, especially if dealing with another driver. The most important actions to take after an accident include:

  • Calling the police: In Illinois, calling the police after an accident is legally required under most circumstances. For accidents with no injuries or damages under $1,500, you are not required to call the police; however, failing to report an auto accident or crash report to the police can complicate future legal proceedings concerning your accident, so starting that report as it happens is always a good move.
  • Collect all insurance information: For all accidents, collecting the insurance information for all parties involved is crucial for creating a solid foundation for any case. In some cases, one party may not have insurance, so collecting any contact information from the other driver or drivers involved is essential for a smooth case.
  • Receive a medical exam: Getting into a car accident, no matter how small, is likely to result in injuries. For large-scale injuries that require hospital care, make sure to follow up on any major appointments and document the outcomes of these evaluations for any personal injury-related evidence.
  • Contact a lawyer: Retaining legal counsel is immensely helpful in situations regarding personal injury, especially those related to car accidents. After compiling as much evidence as you can on top of your insurance paperwork, contact a lawyer to start assembling your injury case.

Dealing with the aftermath of any car accident is beyond stressful, especially accidents including multiple parties or drunk drivers. Making the police aware of the situation is a crucial first step for any accident, followed by collecting insurance information and contacting a lawyer about any damages or injuries sustained in the accident. In some situations, injuries may not manifest until after the initial accident, as they are momentarily masked by adrenaline or shock sustained by the collision. For this reason, contact a medical professional about your injuries to receive a proper diagnosis and help solidify any claims made in your injury case.

Common Causes for Car Accident Personal Injuries in Illinois

Car accidents can happen for several reasons, but they all come down to the negligence of one partyin some shape or form. Distracted drivers, or those not paying attention to the road, are one of the leading causes of all vehicle accidents nationwide. The biggest part of driving, especially when trying to drive safely, is maintaining your focus on the street and being aware of any hazards or distractions that could pull your focus from the road ahead of you. Most distractions come up suddenly or can be the result of small incidents, such as turning the radio up too loud or dropping something on the floor while driving. However, regardless of the reasoning, these distractions can still cause car accidents.

Drunk driving is one of the biggest hazards for drivers and can be detrimental to pedestrians and motorists alike. Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol impairs judgment, changes reaction times, and can cause erratic, uncontrollable driving. Most individuals that choose to drive after drinking feel as if they are sober enough or in control enough to safely operate a vehicle.However, even the smallest amount of alcohol is enough to throw off your judgment and cause an accident. Regardless of how intoxicated a person feels, if they have been consuming alcohol or drugs, they should not get behind the wheel. Not only can driving while intoxicated increase your likelihood of getting into a car accident, but it can also lead to more fatal car accidents involving pedestrians and other drivers.

What Counts as Driving Under the Influence?

Driving while under the influence, referred to as a DWI or DUI, is the crime of operating a motor vehicle after the consumption of drugs or alcohol. Depending on the blood alcohol level (BAC) and age of the driver involved, these charges are brought on to prohibit and penalize driving under the influence of intoxicating substances. DUIs are some of the most common crimes committed across the country and, unfortunately, tend to result in serious car accidents. The Illinois Liquor Control Act – often referred to as the Dram Shop Act – holds any liquor-selling establishments accountable for their customers, meaning that any damages caused by a drunk person who was knowingly served alcohol at one of these establishments, despite their intoxication state, can be liable for any accidents caused by that individual.

Although the legal limit for alcohol consumption is a BAC of .08%, a BAC of as low as .02% can still cause drivers to have their ability to operate a vehicle impaired, which can be dangerous. Having any alcohol and going behind the wheel is a massive risk, especially if you’re consuming copious amounts of alcohol, so it is always a better choice to catch a cab than to put your life and the lives of others at risk by driving drunk. Although typically focused on drinking and driving, drug use and accidents are still fairly common, and the impact of narcotics on your driving can create life-threatening consequences as well. Despite your tolerance level or comfortability under the influence, choosing to drive in these conditions can put those around you at risk.

Can Driving Drunk Impact the Results of a Car Accident?

Choosing to drive drunk is not a smart decision, especially considering the way that alcohol and drug use change your perception of reality. Depressant substances, like alcohol or marijuana, can make you feel as if you are driving slower than you truly are, preventing you from having accurate reaction times at stop lights or stop signs. For pedestrians, a lack of focus brought on by these substances can make you forget to watch or avoid acknowledging someone crossing the street, which can be fatal. Substances that increase your anxiety and heart rate, like stimulant drugs, erratic driving, fast speeds, and a tendency to avoid caution signs, like red lights or stop signs, can also increase the likelihood of car accidents – both fatal and non-fatal – putting the lives of others at risk.

Illinois vehicle code section 625 ILCS 5/11-501 makes driving drunk a misdemeanor.However, depending on the prior convictions of the driver, the charges for driving under the influence can end up in a felony conviction. After four previous convictions, a fifth DUI charge is considered a class 1 felony, and any subsequent convictions are considered class x felonies. For accidents caused by drunk drivers that result in the harm, death, or permanent disfigurement of the other parties involved, these DUI charges are automatically escalated to felonies, and those convicted of driving under the influence can serve serious jail time.

Are Drunk Drivers Automatically at Fault for Car Accidents?

In Illinois, the laws regarding drunk driving are designed to penalize drunk drivers for causing motor accidents. Referred to as “negligence per se,” if a driver is found to be intoxicated during an accident, they will immediately be at fault for the crash, despite the actions of the other driver. For example, if a drunk driver runs a red light and hits your car as you make a left turn in an intersection, the drunk driver will be at fault for the hit as opposed to you. Facing a car accident is never easy, but when that accident is caused by a drunk driver, the situation can slowly get out of hand, and compounding hearings, testimonies, and court cases can ensue.

Seeking Legal Representation for Drunk Driving Car Accidents in Winnebago County, Illinois

No one expects to get into a car accident, especially facing a car accident at the hands of a drunk driver. The consequences of any accident can be life-changing, and handling these accents alone can be exceedingly stressful. Suing for personal damages, uncovered insurance costs, and pain and suffering are all viable options for recovering and putting this accident behind you for good. One of the best ways to find the support you need during any auto accident involving a drunk driver is through a competent, knowledgeable legal team able to provide the expertise needed to get you back on the road.

Franks Gerkin Ponitz Greeley has been serving the communities around Winnebago County for years, helping victims of car accidents reach the personal injury justice and settlements they deserve. Our legal team is well-versed in personal injury law and can provide the support you need throughout your case. For more information about our team, including customer testimonials and a full list of our practice areas, contact our firm today and schedule a consultation.

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