Chicago and the surrounding suburbs are a pedestrian paradise. In recent years, Chicago has taken great pains to make itself a more walkable city. It has repainted crosswalks, improved lighting in high-traffic areas, and tried to educate drivers about the importance of sharing the road. Chicago’s collar counties all include charming downtowns that are pedestrian-friendly, and a number of hiking and nature trails that crisscross the landscape.
Despite this idyllic set-up, pedestrian accidents remain a serious problem in our area. Each year, scores of area residents are killed in pedestrian-car accidents, and many more are seriously injured.
The Stein & Shulman team is committed to getting Chicago area pedestrians who are injured in an accident the compensation they deserve. Over the years, our firm has helped accident victims recover millions of dollars, money that is critical to help victims heal and move on with their lives.
The Risk Of Injury
Pedestrians are the least protected of all road users, lacking any sort of barrier between themselves and the vehicle that hit them. Any crash involving a car and a pedestrian can have catastrophic consequences for the pedestrian.
Injuries may also be more serious in certain age groups. Due to their size, children are more likely than adults to go unseen by passing drivers. In addition, because of their height, children often suffer more severe head injuries. Older adults may not be able to react quickly enough to jump out of the way if a vehicle is headed towards them, and are less likely to be able to fully recover from even minor injuries.
No matter their lack of protective gear or susceptibility to injury, every pedestrian deserves to be able to walk around their neighborhood without risking their life. They should also be confident that if they are injured by a passing driver, justice will be served.
Investigating The Cause Of Pedestrian Accidents
While some have blamed the Chicago area’s plethora of pedestrian injuries on the increase in the number of people choosing to walk instead of drive for the health benefits or out of concern for the environment, we know there are other factors at play:
- Aggressive driving: Chicago drivers have a reputation for being overly aggressive on the roadways. Whether this is true, or just a jab at us made by those jealous they don’t live in the greatest city in the world, aggressive drivers may fail to notice pedestrians crossing the street, and could even lose control of their vehicles and ram into pedestrians.
- More cars on the road: The Chicago region is consistently ranked as one of the most congested regions in the United States. We are also home to the fastest-growing counties in Illinois. More people come with more cars, and with more cars on the roads, pedestrians are at an increased risk of injury.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving is on the rise nationally and, despite aggressive sanctions and public service messages, drivers in Chicago continue to look at their phones while driving. Texting, emailing, surfing the web, and engaging on social media can all tear a driver’s eyes from the road for the amount of time necessary to cause a serious pedestrian accident.
- Impaired driving: According to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), alcohol plays a major role in many pedestrian accidents. Nationwide, almost half of all crashes that resulted in a pedestrian death involved alcohol consumption by the driver and/or the pedestrian.
When an injured pedestrian hires our firm to take their case, we look into all of these potentially contributing factors.
Holding Drivers Responsible For The Injuries They Cause
Determining the cause of an accident is important. Illinois is a comparative negligence state, which means the amount of compensation an accident victim is eligible for depends not only on the severity of their injuries, but also on who is to blame for the accident.
Based on the evidence in a particular case, the court, or if we are negotiating a settlement on behalf of an injured pedestrian, their insurance company and/or the defendant’s insurance company, will assign a percentage of blame to each party involved in the accident. The percentage of fault assigned to the victim will reduce the amount of money they are able to recover by the same percentage.
If, for example, an accident victim’s medical bills, lost wages, decreased future earnings, pain and suffering, and other damages adds up to $100,000, but the evidence suggests he or she was 20% to blame for the accident because he or she was jaywalking, the damages the pedestrian is eligible for will be reduced by 20%. In this example, that would reduce the accident victim’s compensation by $20,000, leaving them with $80,000.
If a pedestrian is found to be more than 51% to blame for the accident, he or she will receive no compensation at all. This is what the “modified” part of modified comparative negligence means.
As attorneys, it is our job to get as much of the blame as possible assigned to the defendant so our client can get the money he or she needs to heal.
What Happens If The Accident Was A Hit-And-Run?
Sadly, many pedestrian accidents are hit-and-runs. Some drivers are so oblivious they don’t realize they have injured a pedestrian. Other drivers are simply cruel.
In the event that a hit-and-run driver cannot be located, pedestrians are not out of luck. It is often possible to file a hit-and-run claim on the pedestrian’s behalf against his or her own auto insurance policy.
Getting You The Compensation You Deserve
Under Illinois law, pedestrians who are injured in an accident can seek compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages. In order to maximize the amount of money you can collect, we will gather evidence of your:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost income;
- Decreased future earnings; and
- Property damage.
We also talk to experts who can estimate a fair compensation for non-economic losses like:
- Physical pain;
- Emotional anguish;
- Permanent disfigurement or disability;
- Loss of consortium; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
If the defendant was driving recklessly, it may also be possible to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and to discourage others from engaging in similarly egregious behavior.
We Do Not Get Paid Unless You Do
Gathering evidence of fault, and calculating all of an injured pedestrian’s damages takes a lot of work, but that does not mean that hiring an attorney from the Stein & Shulman team is going to be prohibitively expensive. We take all of our personal injury cases, including pedestrian accidents, on a contingency fee basis. This means we do not charge by the hour or expect payment up front. Instead, our fee is just a portion of the money we are able to recover on our client’s behalf.
Contact Our Chicago Area Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Today
If you have suffered a serious injury while out walking in the Chicago area, we are here to help. Whether you are ready to take legal action and seek compensation for your injuries, or are just curious about what options are available to you, we are ready to take your call. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.