How to Read an Accident Report

The Illinois Department of Transportation reports nearly 73,000 people statewide were injured in car accidents in one recent year, with more than 8,500 people suffering incapacitating injuries. If you were involved in an accident in Illinois that wasn’t your fault and are seeking compensation for your injuries, one of the most important pieces of evidence you will need is the police accident report. This report can help establish a baseline set of facts regarding how the accident occurred and who was at fault, which can help you in a personal injury lawsuit.

If you do not know what to look for in an Illinois police accident report, you do not need to worry. The Chicago car accident lawyers of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC have been helping people pursue fair compensation for their injuries since 1970. In our more than 50 years of business, we have recovered more than $400 million for our clients. Our highly trained attorneys and staff can help you obtain your police report, show you what to look for, and assist with all other aspects of your personal injury case.

writing an accident report

What to Look for in an Accident Report

An accident report in Illinois will generally contain the following information:

  • The time, date, and location of the accident
  • The vehicles involved, along with the drivers, owners, and any passengers involved in the accident
  • Whether anyone involved in the accident was taken to a hospital
  • Contact information for all the drivers involved in the accident
  • The names of any witnesses to the accident
  • The road conditions at the time of the accident
  • The weather conditions at the time of the accident
  • The speed limit in the area where the accident happened
  • Any traffic control devices located near the scene of the crash (stop signs, yield signs, traffic lights, etc.)
  • Any factors that may have contributed to the accident (for example, if a driver was distracted or impaired)
  • Pictures of the accident scene
  • A diagram or narrative of how the accident happened

As you are looking through the accident report, here are a few things to watch for:

  • The time, date, and location of the crash — Be sure this information is accurate, as the accident report is often one of the first things insurance companies look at when trying to determine fault for a crash.
  • Determine whether you are “Unit 1” or “Unit 2” — In general, the vehicle listed as “Unit 1” in a crash report is the one police believe is at fault for the crash. If your vehicle is listed as Unit 1, try to figure out why the police believe you may be at fault for the accident. A lawyer can help you file a request to have the report amended if you believe there are any inaccuracies.
  • Look at the diagram of the crash — If the diagram of the crash does not match up with your memory of the accident, you need to have the report amended, if possible.
  • Read the narrative of the crash — Once an officer has finished investigating an accident, they will provide a narrative account of what they believe happened. If you wish to dispute any of the facts contained in this narrative, talk to an attorney right away.

taking evidence of an accident

How to Obtain an Illinois Police Accident Report

Before you can obtain an accident report in Illinois, you need to figure out which agency investigated the crash and filed the report. If you were involved in an accident on a highway, your report was likely filed by the Illinois State Police (ISP). You can purchase a crash report from the ISP online or request one by mail. If you want to request the report by mail, send your request to:

Illinois State Police

Patrol Records Unit

801 South 7th Street, Suite 600-M

Springfield, Illinois 62703

When you send your request, be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a $5 check or money order made out to the Illinois State Police. You also want to include as much information on the crash as possible (date, time, location, etc.).

If you were involved in an accident on a Chicago city street, you will likely have to go to the Chicago Police Department (CPD) for a copy of your accident report. CPD allows drivers to request their reports online for a $6 fee.

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Today

The Chicago car accident attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC can help you request your police accident report so you can seek fair compensation for your injuries. To learn more about how we can help you with your case, call (312) 346-8620 or visit our contact page today for a confidential consultation.

What Not to Say to an Insurance Adjuster

A car accident can be overwhelming and physically disabling. Within days of reporting the accident to the at-fault party’s insurance company, you will likely be approached by an insurance adjuster.

It’s important to understand that the insurance adjuster is focused on limiting their client’s financial liability. Their goal is to find something that could potentially damage your claim for compensation.

Insurance adjusters may try to get you to admit to being at fault in the accident, and they may minimize the extent of your injuries. Their goal is to get you to discuss your diagnosis and injuries in detail so they can turn the information against you.

They may suggest that they’re calling to get your version of the accident and answers to some of their questions. However, this is done in an effort to disprove your claim. The attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC have years of experience working with insurance companies and adjusters to represent and protect their client’s rights. Before talking with an insurance adjuster, consider getting your own representation from lawyers who have a successful track record of protecting their clients.

insurance adjuster

Don’t Say These Things to an Adjuster

You have a choice to speak with the insurance adjuster on your own or with legal representation. Your personal injury lawyer can help prevent you from inadvertently sharing information that can damage your claim. Here are some things that you should never say to an insurance adjuster.

Admitting fault: Using apologetic language is enough for the insurance adjuster to assume you’re admitting fault and use that against you. Even if you feel you’re at fault, wait for the official investigation to prove what actually happened. Don’t say things like “I’m sorry” or “it was my fault.”

Your injuries: Insurance adjusters may reach out to you in the hours after an accident and well before an accident investigation has made clear who was at fault. Do not tell the insurance adjuster anything about your medical condition. Saying things like “it’s okay” or “I’m fine” can downplay your injuries and cause your adjuster to reduce the settlement offer.

Although the adjuster asking about your injuries may seem routine, you do not have to answer their questions. Explain to the adjuster that you will give them information when you and your attorney can send a demand letter to the insurance company. It may be tempting to go into detail, but you may not even know the full extent of your injuries at this point.

Recorded statement: You are not under any legal obligation to give a recorded statement or sign a statement after a car accident. Of course, the insurance company will need documentation of your injuries and property damage in order to settle a claim. But you can politely refuse to give a recorded statement or sign an initial statement until you have spoken with your attorney. This protects you from the adjuster finding ways to use the statement against you in the future.

Speculation: If you are involved in a crash, do not speculate about what happened with the insurance adjuster. For example, don’t say things like “I think he was speeding,” “I may have been changing the radio,” or “He was trying to avoid a pothole.” You must cooperate with the insurance adjuster during their investigation, but you do not have to offer information or speculate about information that you do not have or don’t remember.

First offer: Don’t say yes to the first settlement offer. The insurance adjuster may say it’s the last or final offer. However, until you have spoken with a personal injury attorney about your case, you can assume that the first offer is usually much lower than the true value of the claim. Most insurance companies and adjusters hope that you do not have enough information about insurance claims or the law to realize that the first offer will not be the best offer.

If you have pressing questions about your case, don’t hesitate to contact us immediately.

worried phone call

Tips for Your First Call with an Adjuster

Insurance adjusters may call in the hours after the accident with the hope of getting information from you that can be used against you. There are several things you can do to help protect your rights.

Remain calm and be polite. You might be angry about the accident, property damage, and your injuries, but taking your anger out on the insurance adjuster will not help get you a fair personal injury settlement. You may also inadvertently say something they can use against you. Remember to keep your cool and stay professional.

Before you start the discussion, get the name, address, company, and telephone number of the person you’re speaking with. Next, only give out limited information initially. This can include information that does not implicate you in any way, such as your name, address, and telephone number.

You can also tell them about the work that you do and where you are employed. However, during this initial contact, you do not need to explain anything else about where you work, what schedule you keep, your income, or any other personal information.

The adjuster may try to get you to give a statement about how the accident happened. Even during a simple conversation, they may suddenly try to get you to tell them about the accident. Stay focused on what they’re asking and what they’re talking about so you can politely refuse to discuss these facts.

One of the tricks an adjuster uses is to come across as your friend. Remember, they may be friendly, but they are not on your side, and their goal is to get you to let your guard down, so you’ll say something you’ll regret later. Be concise with your responses and do not speculate. Stick to the facts and respond directly to each question.

Contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC for Experienced Representation

If you were injured in a car accident that was not your fault, contact the Chicago car accident attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC today. During your confidential consultation, we’ll review the facts of your case and offer you advice on the next best steps you can take.

How to Prevent Winter Car Accidents

Driving during the winter presents its own unique set of challenges. The lack of traction and lower visibility during snowstorms can increase the frequency of accidents. The Chicago car accident attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC have some tips for staying safe during winter driving conditions. Here are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of being involved in a car accident this winter:

  1. Slow Down: Everything happens a bit slower in the snow. Speeding up and slowing down takes longer because of reduced traction in the snow. If the pavement is icy in spots, this is even more important as even all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles cannot handle on ice. Keeping your speed appropriate to the wintry conditions will give you more time to react and reduce your stopping distance, critical to keeping you safe on snowy or icy pavement. If you have younger drivers, this is also the single most important piece of information you can impart to them for driving in snowy conditions.
  2. snow tires for safe drivingEnsure Your Vehicle is Ready for the Conditions: Snowy conditions reduce traction. You will need to make sure that your vehicle’s tires and brakes are ready to handle the more challenging conditions prior to the first snowfall, which in the Chicago area is on average November 17. Brake pads and rotors should be checked ideally at every service interval for your vehicle, and tires should also be checked for wear. Tires that are past their useful life will have even less traction in snowy conditions, so consider upgrading your tires if you plan to drive often in snowy weather. Also, inspect your spare tire to ensure that it’s in good working condition. If you need to change a tire out in the snow, don’t get caught with a flat spare. Lastly, it’s important to keep your wiper blades current. They will help keep snow and ice from accumulating on your windshield and will help keep visibility at the highest levels possible during a snowstorm.
  3. Pay Extra Attention: Although speeds are generally lower in snowy weather, you will need more time to react to other drivers and road conditions because you need more space to slow down. Slamming on the brakes can lead to sliding and losing control of your vehicle. Looking for potential issues, giving others plenty of space, and giving yourself plenty of time to stop or maneuver your vehicle will help to prevent an accident from happening.
  4. Get Rid of Excess Snow: While this sounds quite simple, many drivers do not clear snow off their vehicles before driving. Especially if your car does not have a rear defroster, it is important to ensure that snow is brushed off all windows on your car before driving. If you’re driving in snowy or icy conditions, be sure to have your defroster on to keep snow or ice from accumulating on your windshield.
  5. safe driving on hillsLearn the Correct Driving Techniques for Hills: If you need to go out in snowy weather, it is important to understand how your car handles in the snow, especially in situations where your car’s traction is even more compromised, such as on hills. Make sure that you have built up some speed before going to the base of a hill, and never slam on the gas (or brakes). Additionally, if you do not have to, you should not stop while going up a hill. Getting started on a hill is extremely challenging in snowy or icy conditions, even if you have AWD.
  6. Prep for Long Trips or Trips to Remote Areas: If you are driving outside of your local area or going to a rural area where services are less available, it is critical to pack supplies during snowy conditions, in case your vehicle becomes stuck. This includes non-perishable food, at least two liters of water, blankets, cellphone and a portable charger that does not have to draw electricity from the car, a first-aid kit, jumper cables, as well as any additional maintenance or personal items that would be necessary for a potential overnight stay. Especially if the road conditions are uncertain at your destination, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Contact Us

Driving during the winter can be stressful but watching your speed and ensuring your vehicle is in good working condition goes a long way toward preventing accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident due to another’s negligence, call the Chicago area car accident attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC at (312) 346-8620 today for a free consultation.

Five Tips for Safe Travel During the Holidays

The holidays are a joyous and celebratory time of the year for families and friends. They can also be a dangerous time with significant numbers of people on the road, traveling near and far for family gatherings, holiday parties, and vacations. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 1-54. To keep you and your family safe while traveling, here are some helpful tips for this holiday season:

Be Prepared

Before you hit the road, be sure you are well prepared. Start with your car. Take care of any necessary maintenance, such as an oil change or tire rotation. Check the windshield wiper blades. This is extremely important if you should encounter rain or snow. You need to be able to see clearly out your windshield, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. Stock your car with emergency equipment, such as a blanket, flashlight, jumper cables, ice scraper, cell phone charger, etc. These items will be helpful in the unfortunate event that your car breaks down or you get into an accident.

chicago winter driving conditionsCheck Driving Conditions

As you plan your route, consider the ideal driving conditions. Aim to leave at a time that avoids the heaviest traffic. This often means leaving very early in the morning. If inclement weather is in the forecast, plan ahead. If it is possible to leave before or after the brunt of the storm, do so. Plan your route so that you stick to the main highways, where convenience stores, gas stations, law enforcement, and emergency medical services are more accessible. Check to see if there is any road work along the route, and build in travel time accordingly.

Focus on the Road

There can be many distractions on the road. The kids are whining, Grandma is calling your cell phone to see where you are, your GPS is telling you to make a left turn, and you’re stressed out to boot. Make sure you are well-rested before you depart. If you get drowsy or sleepy while driving, stop and take a break. In absolutely no circumstances should you get behind the wheel if you have had any alcohol to drink, used drugs, or are on medication that impairs your ability to drive. You need to be 100 percent present and focused on the road while traveling during this hectic time.

Stay Vigilant

If you are driving to an unfamiliar location or along an unfamiliar route, remain vigilant during your travels. Criminals can take advantage of you if you are not attentive to your surroundings. When you stop for a break, park in a well-lit area. Do not keep valuable items within plain sight in your car. Be cognizant of your appearance. If you look like a clueless tourist, you might be a target for burglary or worse.

Drive Cautiously

buckle upThe holidays are a busy time on the road. Not only are countless people traveling to visit family and friends, but large semi-trucks are speeding down the highways to deliver just-in-time holiday presents. Wintery conditions like snow, sleet, and freezing rain only make matters worse. Drive with caution, and constantly be watching for wayward drivers. Practice defensive driving by always using your blinkers, checking your blind spots before merging or changing lanes, double-checking in both directions before entering an intersection, and maintaining a sufficient following distance from the car in front of you. Lastly, make sure that everyone in your car has their seat belt buckled, always.

If you do find yourself in an accident this holiday season, do not rush to get to your destination. Take time to document what happened, including taking pictures of your car and the other vehicle and of any injuries sustained in the accident, and getting the other driver’s contact and insurance information. Call the police to report the accident. Before departing, make sure you are unharmed and your car is safe to drive.

It may help to contact an attorney about your accident, especially if your car sustained significant damage or you experienced serious injury. An experienced lawyer can advise you about your rights, gather crucial evidence, and if necessary, pursue compensation on your behalf.

Contact Us

The Chicago car accident attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC understand that accidents often come at the worst times. Let us handle the stress of the accident so that you can focus on your family this holiday season. Contact our office today at (312) 346-8620 for a confidential consultation.

1 dead, 1 injured in Chicago accident caused by wrong-way driver

One person was killed and another was injured in a recent vehicular accident in Chicago caused by a driver who was driving on the wrong side of the road, a December 4 article of Chicago Tribune reported.

According to reports, the wrong-way accident happened on December 3 in the westbound lanes of the Chicago Skyway. Skyway police said around 9:40 at night a 70-year-old man drove in the opposite lane until he struck a vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle, a 50-year-old man, was declared dead and the wrong-way driver was transported to a medical facility for his injuries. Charges have not been filed as of reporting and the condition of the injured driver was not available. A major accident unit of the Chicago Police Department is figuring out the cause of the fatal crash.

The Chicago legal team at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC send their deepest thoughts to the family and friends who mourn the loss of their loved one.

3 hurt in Orland Park vehicular accident

At least three people in Orland Park sustained injuries in a recent accident involving two vehicles, a report of Chicago Tribune stated on September 10.

According to reports, at around 12:35 a.m., a car and a pickup truck collided in a construction area in the 10400 block of 159th Street. Orland Park Fire Protection District’s Ray Hanania told reports that a woman was trapped inside her vehicle after the collision. Though further information about the crash was not available, authorities believe that speed was a factor in the head-on collision. After rescuers extracted one woman from her vehicle, she was transported to a hospital, along with two additional people from the other vehicle. Authorities withheld the identities and conditions of the persons involved in the incident.

Many people are left permanently disabled after being involved in vehicular accidents. However, if this happened to you or a loved one in Chicago, a lawyer at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC may be able to represent you. Find out how we could help you obtain your needed remunerations today by calling (312) 346-8620.

Written by Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Last Updated : May 21, 2019