As the largest law firm in McHenry County, and serving most of Northern Illinois, clients know and trust Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle attorneys because we are committed to excellence in every case we take. In 2013, Illinois experienced 1,001 roadway fatalities, and that does not account for the countless number of people who have been injured in car accidents. This page provides you with practical tips you will need in case you, or a loved one, is ever involved in a car accident.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately after Car Crash
If there is a chance that you have suffered an injury in a car accident, seek medical attention immediately. This may sound obvious, but there are several reasons why someone who needs immediate medical treatment does not actually seek treatment. For example, in many instances after a traumatic event, especially after a car accident, the victim is in a state of shock and does not realize the true extent of his or her injuries. Thus, it is common for someone to believe they are “OK” or “just shaken up” when they are in fact injured. Others simply prefer to forego a visit to an emergency room or urgent care facility because they do not want to wait, or prefer to be treated by their own doctor. Whatever the case, if there is any doubt as to whether you are injured or a loved one is injured, seek medical attention.
Seeking immediate medical attention is not only important for your own well-being, but it is also an important component to your potential claim. Many insurance companies will try to reduce, or even deny compensation for your claim when serious injuries resulted from the accident but you did not seek immediate medical attention. Moreover, it is vital to your potential recovery that a doctor links your injuries to the accident with the proper documentation.
Lastly, do not tell others (including the other driver, witnesses, or police officers) at the scene of the accident that you are “OK.” If you are not suffering from any symptoms of an injury, then say “I don’t know if I am OK,” or simply do not say anything at all. Keep in mind that it can sometimes take between 24 and 72 hours for injuries related to car accidents to manifest.
Crash/Accident Reports and Calling the Police
When involved in any car accident, the best practice is to call the police as soon as you are out of harm’s way. Police officers are trained to handle most issues involving car accidents, and their reports satisfy Illinois accident reporting requirements. Illinois law requires that every driver involved in an Illinois traffic accident file a crash report no later than 10 days after the date of the accident if that accident caused a death, bodily injury, or more than $1,500 of property damage. If a police officer appears at the scene of the accident, he or she may draft the required accident report. Insurance companies will also review these accident reports as evidence of liability and damages when assessing your claim.
Notably, the penalty for a failure to file a crash report is either a maximum fine of $2,500 or up to a year in jail. Keep in mind that if you’re involved in an accident and you leave the scene (as opposed to failing to file a report), then the law may consider you a hit-and-run driver―and the penalties become much more severe.
Acquire Information from the Other Driver
It is imperative to acquire the necessary information that you need from the other driver. It is also important to avoid engaging in a conversation regarding the cause of the accident and to never admit fault. You may be unaware of the actual reasons that caused the accident, and determining fault is the job of the police officers, insurance company, and in some cases, the courts.
Here is a list of the essential information that you need to acquire from the other driver(s):
- Driver’s name and contact information
- Vehicle information (make, model, color, year, and VIN) of the other cars involved in the accident
- Names of passengers (also a good idea to make note of where these passengers were seated at the time of the crash)
- Name of driver’s insurance company and policy number (If the person driving the vehicle is not the owner, attempt to get the owner’s information, as well.)
Also, do not forget to record the name and contact information of any potential witnesses. Most of this information should appear on the police report, but sometimes insurance and certain numbers do not, so be sure to get this information from all other drivers involved in the accident.
Take Photos of the Accident Scene
In today’s digital age, it seems that cameras are everywhere. Don’t forget this if you are involved in a car accident, as taking pictures is an important part of the process. Obviously, take photos of the damage to your vehicle as well as any injuries you suffered. Yet, be sure to take photos of the not-so-obvious things as well. For example:
- Photos of all vehicles involved in the accident (including damage to the other vehicles and their license plates)
- Photos of the accident scene (including skid marks, traffic control devices, views of any intersection, lane markers, weather conditions)
- Photos of any damage to surrounding property
Significant Illinois Laws about Auto Accidents
Always keep in mind the following Illinois laws that are important to consider when you or a loved one are involved in a automotive accident.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit after the Accident (Statute of Limitations)?
In Illinois, lawsuits for personal injury claims generally have a two-year statute of limitations. A “statute of limitations” dictates the maximum time after an event occurs that legal proceedings based on that event may be filed. For cases involving property damage claims, the statute of limitations is five years. Be mindful that when the defendant in personal injury and property damage claims is not a private person but is a local public entity or any of its employees, the statute of limitations is generally one year.
What If the Accident Is Partly My Fault (Comparative Negligence)?
Illinois is a “comparative negligence” state, which means that in accident cases if the plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent at fault, the plaintiff is completely barred from any recovery. If the plaintiff is found to be 50 percent or less at fault, then any recovery is reduced by the amount of the plaintiff’s proportionate responsibility. For example, if a jury finds that a plaintiff has suffered $1 million in damages but was 25 percent at fault, the plaintiff’s award will be $750,000. Comparative negligence is one of many defenses that are available to the defendant.
Insurance Issues in an Automobile Accident
Motor vehicle insurance is mandatory in Illinois. Minimum insurance requirements are as follows:
- $20,000 for injury or death to one person in an accident;
- $40,000 for injury or death to more than one person in an accident; and
- $15,000 for damage to property of another.
Keep in mind some other helpful information regarding motor vehicle insurance when you or a loved one is involved in a car accident:
When a Car Damages Your Personal Property
Damages to personal property in your vehicle should be covered by the other driver’s policy. Please notice what the section below titled “Replacing Child Safety Seats after Accidents” mentions about damage to child safety seats.
Communicating with a Car Insurance Company after the Accident
Illinois law requires an insurance company to “communicate with you” within 21 working days after they are notified of the loss. If you intend to retain a lawyer to help with your injury claim, you should not sign any documents without first discussing them with your lawyer. For example, most insurance companies will seek authorization to obtain your medical records via a HIPAA authorization. Your lawyer will want to limit the scope of the records that the insurance company may obtain to those that are only relevant to the accident. In addition, many lawyers prefer to obtain the records on their own and then provide them to the insurance company.
What If My Car Was Already Damaged?
The insurance company may deduct any amount from the value of your vehicle if it has old, unrepaired body damage. The company may also deduct an additional amount up to $500.00 for “wear and tear,” missing parts, and rust.
Rental Vehicle Reimbursement by Driver’s Insurer
Illinois insurance regulations require an at-fault driver’s insurance company to reimburse you for the cost of a rental vehicle in proportion to the at-fault driver’s liability. The most the company must reimburse you for is the period of time it would normally take to repair your vehicle, or until the company make you a settlement offer for your vehicle’s damage. If the company offers to pay a flat amount (for example, $20 per day), the company must tell you where you can rent a vehicle for that amount.
Receiving Medical Payment Coverage Regardless of Fault
Medical payments coverage, also known as “med pay,” pays up to a certain amount for your medical bills and those of your passengers. Med pay coverage covers these medical bills regardless of whose fault the accident was. Often, people are unaware that they actually have med pay benefits under their policy, but it is important to find out if you do. As previously discussed, Illinois is a comparative negligence state, and the amount covered for your medical bills by the other driver’s insurance may be reduced if you are at fault.
Replacing Child Safety Seats after Accidents
Illinois law requires that insurance for private passenger automobiles must include coverage for the replacement of child safety seats if those seats were in use at the time of the accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) recommends the following when a child safety seat has been involved in an accident:
- Child safety seats should be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers.
- Child safety seats do not necessarily need to be replaced following a minor crash. Minor crashes are those that meet ALL of the following criteria: (1) The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site, (2) The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged, (3) There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants, (4) The air bags (if present) did not deploy, and (5) There is no visible damage to the safety seat.
If you are uncertain as to whether your car seat needs to be replaced, take it to an authorized inspection station for a free inspection. Find the closest location to you at nhtsa.gov.
Special and Non-Economic Damages after a Car Crash
Typically, motor vehicle claims seek recovery for “Special Damages.” Special damages include medical expenses and loss of present and future income from work. “Non-economic damages” may also be pursued. Non-economic damages include—but are not limited to—pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life activity (which may include a loss of intimate time with a spouse or close family member).
Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle are personal injury attorneys who serve most of northern Illinois from Chicago to DeKalb and Rockford. The firm’s primary offices are located in Crystal Lake, Illinois. For a free consultation, contact David J. Loughnane at (815) 459-2050.
The Crystal Lake-based law firm of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle — the largest law firm in McHenry County — recently received an award from the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce recognizing its 40 years as a member of the organization.
Located at 50 N. Virginia Street in Crystal Lake, Illinois, Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle was founded in 1957.
The law firm’s 20 attorneys practice in a variety of fields of law that include local government law; business law and transactions; financial institutions; estate, trust and tax; real estate and land use; personal injury law; civil litigation and appellate law; construction law; divorce and family law; and employment law; and healthcare law.
To learn more about the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, please view the Chamber’s website.
Effective Jan. 1, 2016, ZRFM Attorney Melissa J. Cooney has been appointed to a three-year term on the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Character and Fitness.
Cooney is one of six appointees representing the Second District of Illinois, which encompasses most of the state’s far northern counties with the exception of Cook County to the east and Whiteside County to the west.
Under Article VI of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, the Committee on Character and Fitness is one of five bodies through which the Illinois Supreme Court exercises the authority to govern the practice of law in the state. The committee determines whether or not prospective attorneys are suitable to practice law in Illinois and whether their applications for legal certification include relevant issues bearing on their moral character.
Cooney, who entered the practice of law in 1991, focuses primarily on estate planning, land use and family law. She was the subject of a March 2015 article in Leading Lawyers Magazine titled “Delivering the Law From the Bottom of Her Heart.” In May 2015, Prairie State Legal Services honored Cooney and three other local attorneys at the McHenry County Legal Aid Awards for their commendable work in rendering outstanding pro bono service.
To learn more about her practice and the many achievements of her career, please view Melissa Cooney’s professional credentials.
Crystal Lake-based Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois, serves families, individuals, units of local government and businesses throughout the near and far suburbs of northern Illinois.
Jacob D. Caudill has entered practice at Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle after receiving his juris doctor in 2015 magna cum laude from Northern Illinois University College of Law. Before coming to ZRFM he clerked both for ZRFM and for another law firm in Peru, Illinois. He currently works in a variety of disciplines at ZRFM including local government law. Caudill’s responsibilities include editing and publishing the firm’s bi-weekly Local Government Law Bulletin.
In 2013 Caudill was a judicial intern for Justice Susan F. Hutchinson of the Illinois Appellate Court — Second District in Woodstock, Illinois. His work involved drafting oral argument memorandums and Rule 23 orders, assisting in editing and developing orders and memorandums, and performing legal research.
Caudill was an associate editor of the Northern Illinois University Law Review and served as a tutor in the school’s Academic Success Program where he taught and assisted first year law students in a classroom setting. Caudill, a Peoria native, holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Melissa A. Cooney of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, and three other McHenry County attorneys have been honored for their commendable and professional work.
The four were praised for their efforts at the McHenry County Legal Aid Awards on May 26, 2015. All of the honorees rendered outstanding pro bono service to clients of Prairie State Legal Services.
At the luncheon event, the Illinois Commission of Professionalism Executive Director Jayne Reardon gave the keynote address titled “Service: The Cornerstone of the Profession.” McHenry County Bar Association President Carlos Arévalo offered welcoming remarks and Associate Judge Robert A. Wilbrandt, Jr. of the 22nd Judicial Circuit presented the awards with Reardon and offered remarks.
Melissa Cooney was recognized for her admirable work in taking a pro bono divorce case that already was in progress.
The program for the event included comments by Cooney about why she devotes time to pro bono service, despite her busy practice.
“Making time for volunteering is not that difficult. I handle a pro bono case just like any other. When something needs to be filed or responded to, you do it in a timely fashion. You can’t put the pro bono case off to the side and get to it when you have extra time.
“I think it is everyone’s responsibility to take a legal aid client or other pro bono client and to have one such client at least once a year,” she says. “It takes time, but it reflects well on us all. We are helping someone out, and there is always enough time to take one on.”
Also acknowledged were Steve Greeley for outstanding support of Prairie State Legal Services, Peter Carroll for longtime volunteer service as a solo practitioner and Michelle Gehris for handing multiple cases in a year as a solo practitioner.
Michael J. Smoron and Jennifer J. Gibson have been honored by Law Bulletin Publishing Company and its Leading Lawyers division for being among the most accomplished attorneys in private practice in Illinois. The designation is reserved for less than 5 percent of registered Illinois lawyers.
Smoron was named a Leading Lawyer in two broad areas of law: Governmental, Municipal, Lobbying & Administrative Law; and Land Use, Zoning & Condemnation Law. Leading Lawyers recognized Gibson, who boasts a long list of appellate litigation experience, in the field of Civil Appellate Law.
Also, Leading Lawyers named Ryan P. Farrell to its inaugural class of Emerging Lawyers. In creating the list, Law Bulletin Publishing Company asked the top attorneys in the state to name the talented up-and-coming lawyers who will lead the profession in the coming years. The designation is reserved for lawyers who have not surpassed age 40 or who have practiced law for no more than 10 years. They account for less than 2 percent of registered attorneys in Illinois.
In building its Leading Lawyers list, the company conducted extensive statewide surveys asking: “If you couldn’t take a case in your area of law, to whom would you refer a family member or friend?” Lawyers could not nominate themselves or any lawyers at their own firm. All recommendations were approved by the Leading Lawyers Advisory Board, eliminating the possibility of lawyers being selected through a popularity contest.
Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois, now has six Leading Lawyers among its ranks. In addition to Smoron and Gibson, Richard G. Flood, David W. McArdle, David J. Loughnane and Melissa J. Cooney received the recognition previously. Additionally, both Flood and McArdle have been included on Leading Lawyers’ lists of the Top 10 Suburban Chicago Real Estate-Related Lawyers.
In early April, Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle attorney Ruth Alderman Schlossberg was appointed to a prominent post in the Illinois State Bar Association, an organization of about 30,000 Illinois attorneys.
Highly regarded in the field of municipal and local government law, Ruth Alderman Schlossberg received an ISBA appointment for the 2015-2016 year to serve as secretary to the ISBA Local Government Law Section Council. She has been a member of the section since 2012.
The mission of the Local Government Law Section is:
- to enhance the knowledge and professional capabilities of lawyers who devote time to the practice of the law relating to units of local government;
- to disseminate information and comment on legislative and judicial developments and their impact on units of local government; to make recommendations on legislation; and
- to develop and communicate ideas to improve the functioning of units of local government.
Schlossberg is widely known for co-authoring with Richard G. Flood the book You’ve Been Elected: Now What Do You Do? A Practical Guide to Local Government, now in its 3rd edition. The guide, published by the Illinois Municipal League, offers local public officials advice to help them “hit the ground running” and succeed in new leadership positions.
For Schlossberg’s professional credentials, please view Ruth Alderman Schlossberg’s biography. You may also wish to view her Illinois Municipal League conference video presentation, delivered with ZRFM local government law attorneys Richard G. Flood and Kelly A. Cahill.
As the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois, many Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle attorneys have been involved with the endeavors of various ISBA sections. Earlier in his career, ZRFM’s David W. McArdle was a chair of the Local Government Law Section Council.
The article, titled “Delivering the Law from the Bottom of Her Heart,” details not only Cooney’s professional career but also the history of her parents’ ties to the practice of law. Her father was a lawyer and judge and her mother worked for 40 years in the McHenry County Circuit Clerk’s office.
In addition to Cooney, who was first named a Leading Lawyer in 2012 in the field of family law, three other Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle lawyers have earned the honor.
Richard G. Flood was first recognized in 2003 as a Leading Lawyer in family law; governmental, municipal, lobbying and administrative law; land use, zoning and condemnation law; and both commercial and residential real estate law. He is a member of Leading Lawyers’ 400-member advisory board.
David W. McArdle, the firm’s managing partner, was first recognized as a Leading Lawyer in 2008 in the fields of ADR law: commercial real estate, environmental and construction; commercial litigation; construction law; governmental, municipal, lobbying and administrative law; and land use, zoning and condemnation law.
David J. Loughnane has also been recognized by his Illinois peers for several years as a Leading Lawyer in the fields of medical malpractice, products liability, health law and general personal injury law.
The distinction of being a Leading Lawyer is earned by fewer than five percent of all lawyers registered to practice in Illinois. Law Bulletin Publishing Company, through its Leading Lawyers division, conducts extensive statewide survey of Illinois lawyers asking them: “If you couldn’t take a case in your area of law, to whom would you refer a family member or friend?”
Only those lawyers most often recommended by their peers in one of 100 areas of law and approved by Leading Lawyers’ 400-member advisory board have achieved the distinction. Lawyers cannot nominate themselves or any lawyers from their own firm. The rigorous research methodology also eliminates any possibility of lawyers being selected through a popularity contest.
To learn more about the law practice of Melissa Cooney, please view her professional credentials.
Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle – the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois — recently received an award from the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce recognizing it as the “Large Business of the Year.” The “Business of the Year 2014” event took place at the Boulder Ridge Country Club on January 31, 2015. Several other individuals and businesses also were honored.
Unlike in prior years when members of the chamber alone selected the award winners to be honored at the ceremony, this year’s award winners were voted for by the community and clients. ZRFM was one of 100 local businesses nominated; it had recently been selected as a finalist.
Other businesses recognized that evening were:
- Small Office Home Office Member: Jackie Gappa, Nationwide Insurance
- Volunteers of the Year: Karen Lavorata, Mary Kay Cosmetics; Dave Rudin, Advance Leadership/Lifeline Christian Church
- Small Business: Fox River Spa & Salon
- New Member Business: Dan Hickey, Allstate Insurance
- Restaurant: Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano
- Club/Organization: Home of the Sparrow/Sparrow’s Nest
The co-hosts for the evening were Katrina McGuire of the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber and Nicole Prihoda of Dreams Do Come True Tours.
David W. McArdle, a Crystal Lake attorney and managing partner of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, has authored another updated edition of his handbook titled Construction Law Road Map, which focuses on construction law. Partners Regan Shepley and Kelly Cahill also contributed to the new edition.
The Construction Law Road Map provides an overview of the issues contractors regularly face in the areas of contract law, employment and litigation.
The 5th edition highlights recent changes in the law regarding Mechanics Liens, the Employee Classification Act, Prevailing Wage Act, Health Insurance Offerings/Affordable Care Act (ACA), and Public Bond Claims. This edition also provides full citations of authority to assist contractors in need.
To order the handbook, call (815) 459-2050 or order here.