There’s good and bad news for Chicago drivers: fatalities rates are down, but the number of accidents involving multi cars is up—but this doesn’t mean you should avoid Chicago’s many roads. Sorry, you may still need to brave the traffic on the Loop, but your chances of being involved in a multi-car accident fatality are decreasing. 

With the number of car collisions rising, it’s a good idea to be aware of the critical timeline after a multi-vehicle accident. What is the timeline? This refers to how much time you have to file a personal injury or property damage claim after being involved in a multi-car collision.

Common Causes of Accidents in Chicago

According to the City of Chicago government website, the most common cause of traffic accidents involving one or more vehicles involves reckless driving. This is also the leading cause of traffic accident-related fatalities in The Windy City. Reckless driving can include distractions like using a phone while behind the wheel—which is also illegal in Illinois. 

While you can use a Bluetooth-enabled device, it’s illegal to use any handheld devices, and you must also be at least 19 years of age to drive and use Bluetooth technology. Reckless driving also includes speeding and failing to yield. Aggressive driving is also defined as reckless. For example, cutting off another driver, tailgating, or forcing someone out of their lane.

Driving while impaired, either from alcohol or drugs, is another leading cause of multi-car accidents. If you’re caught driving while intoxicated, the penalties can be stiff. You may be facing fines, jail time, and the loss of your driving privileges.

Another thing that’s not discussed as often is the city’s many road conditions. Whether you’re on the Loop or driving through downtown, Chicago’s roads aren’t always in the best shape they could be. Potholes, soft shoulders, and fading lane markers are only a few conditions that are contributing factors to multi-vehicle accidents.

Timing is Everything

The law understands that sometimes you cannot file a claim immediately after being involved in a multi-vehicle incident. Your injuries may be too severe to consult with an attorney. All you can manage is simply healing from your injuries.

While you do have some leeway, you don’t want to wait too long to file for damages, which includes compensation for your injuries and property damage. You may also be able to seek compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. However, Illinois law only gives you two years from the accident date to file a claim.

This means you need to consult with an attorney, compile a list of damages, and contact the at-fault party’s insurance before the two-year deadline. The same deadline applies if you plan on filing a claim in court.

What to Do After a Multi-Car Collision

Being involved in a multi-vehicle accident can be disorienting and frightening since serious injuries are common, along with significant vehicle damage. Your injuries may be too severe to do anything except wait for medical attention. However, if you’re able, there are some steps you can take to help support your personal injury case.

Get Medical Attention

The most important thing is seeing your injuries; even if you feel okay, it’s still a good idea to make an appointment with a physician. Some injuries can take a day or so to manifest, and it’s always best to catch any medical issues before they become serious problems.

You may need to go through some diagnostic tests, but it’s worth it when it comes to your health. Make sure that you save all documents relating to your injuries, treatments, and tests. Your attorney will need this information to prove your injury claims. You also want to keep copies of any medical bills and payments you may make leading up to your court date.

Contact Law Enforcement

Anytime you’re involved in a multi-car pileup, you need to alert the authorities, and this isn’t a suggestion; it’s the law. You can get away without filing a police report for a minor fender bender when both parties agree, but this situation is different.

Wait with your vehicle for the authorities to arrive, and have your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration ready to hand over. The police will need this information to include in the accident report.

You will need a copy of the accident report for insurance purposes. The report will also be necessary if you plan to seek compensation for any injuries or property damage. You can get a copy of the report, which is usually seven days or so after the accident. You should also expect to pay a small fee for a copy of the report.

Collect Evidence

Don’t worry about this step if you’re severely injured; let the police and your attorney handle gathering any evidence. If you’re able to, you can also go ahead and do a little sleuthing. 

However, don’t become a full-fledged detective; you’re not Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys; instead, try to keep it simple. Take the time to take some pictures of the accident scene with your smartphone. If your vehicle has a dash cam, save the footage. Everyone from the authorities to your attorney and the various involved insurance adjusters will want to see the recording.

Also, make sure that you take a few pictures of your injuries. If there are injured passengers in your vehicle, go ahead and document their injuries. If possible, exchange contact and insurance information with the other drivers. Don’t panic if you can’t get this information. You’ll find it in the police report.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Provider

Go ahead and report the accident, but don’t accept any settlement offers. In fact, it’s a good idea to refrain from discussing financial damages with the insurance adjuster/s before talking to an attorney.

Just report the accident and let the insurance company know you’re planning on submitting a claim. This gets the ball rolling without locking you into any settlement offer.

Make Sure You Contact an Accident Attorney

Cases involving multiple vehicle accidents are inherently complex due to the intricacies involved in identifying and assigning blame. Navigating such a scenario without legal representation can be daunting and potentially disadvantageous. 

Regardless of your perceived fault in the incident, it is advisable to engage with an experienced accident attorney. They possess the expertise to dissect the complexities of the case, ensuring that all factors are considered, from the sequence of events to the roles of each involved party.