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Barrington Lawyer Advice For What to Do After a Car Accident

Steps to Take If You Were In a Car Accident in Northern Illinois

Police and other law enforcement personnel are trained to handle various situations that may result from an accident. You may not be thinking clearly after the accident. You may be physically injured. You may suffer from shock and adrenaline rush even if you are not physically injured, which may prevent you from thinking clearly at the time. The law enforcement person will usually take over once he or she arrives. He or she will usually handle any emergency and investigate the cause of the accident and write a report. This report may be helpful to you later in litigation, even if you are the person being sued.

If the accident occurs within the limits of a city, village or town, you should ascertain where the accident occurred and call the appropriate local authority. You should call the nearest State Police station or local county sheriff if the accident occurred on the open highway.

Exchange Information With All Other People Involved In The Accident

You are required in Illinois as the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident to give to the other party your name, address and the license number of the vehicle you are driving. If it is requested, you must exhibit your driver's license. Leaving the scene of an accident without furnishing such information may subject you to criminal prosecution.

If you collide with a vehicle that is unattended, the law requires you to locate the driver or owner of the vehicle and tell him or her your name and address. If you cannot find the other driver or owner, you should leave a written note in a conspicuous and secure place or even inside the vehicle. The note should state your name and address and the circumstances of the accident.

We do not recommend that you give any more information than the law requires. You should not comment on the cause of the accident. You should not admit fault even if you think you were in the wrong. You may learn later that the other driver was equally or even more at fault. Immediately after an accident you may be so emotionally or physically upset that you are unable to accurately appraise the situation. No one has the right to force you to give an opinion as to the cause of the accident. You have the right to consult a lawyer before making any statements.

Obtain Protective Information

You are entitled to receive certain information from other persons involved in an accident. You must remember to obtain this information. You should obtain the names and addresses of all persons involved in the accident. You should also obtain the names and addresses of all persons who witnessed the accident. Witnesses will be important later if legal action becomes necessary. You should also do the following, if reasonable:

  • Make notes of the important aspects of the collision to help you remember the scene.
  • Take photographs or video of the scene.
  • Diagram the exact position of the vehicles before and after the accident.
  • Step off skid marks and other important distances.

Such precautions may prove invaluable in the event that legal questions arise.

File Accident Reports

You must notify your automobile insurance company immediately and cooperate with your insurance representative in his or her investigation.

Illinois law requires that you file a written report of any accident in which you were involved, which resulted either in the death or injury to any person and in most accidents where property damage occurred. Failure to file such a report may cause you to lose your driver's license. A report form may be obtained at any police station, including a sheriff or state police office. Make sure to file the report at the place that appears on the form. The report should be filed within 10 days after the accident.


An arrest or ticket does not in itself indicate that there is also civil liability for the accident. However, it may be used as an admission in civil court if a party makes a statement that he or she is guilty or makes a plea of guilty to a criminal or traffic charge. Therefore, it is important to obtain legal advice if you are arrested or receive a ticket.

The Law Requires Insurance

Illinois requires that all motor vehicles used on public highways be covered by liability insurance. You should have proof of insurance on your own person and within the vehicle itself. Insurance companies issue insurance cards that comply with this requirement. The Secretary of State can request that you provide verification of insurance. Violations of the mandatory insurance law can result in significant financial penalties and loss of driving privileges.

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