According to figures published by the Insurance Information Institute, almost 200 million automobiles and other vehicles are insured in the United States. More than ten million of those vehicles are registered in the state of Illinois alone. If you are injured in a collision with one of those ten million-plus vehicles, seek medical attention immediately, and then discuss your rights and options with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney – Joseph M. Dooley. Even if you don’t file a formal lawsuit and go to trial, if you’ve been injured by a negligent driver in Illinois, you must have reliable guidance and sound legal advice.

When you file an injury claim with an auto insurance company after a traffic collision – whether it’s with your own insurance company or with the other driver’s insurance carrier – it’s possible that a claims adjuster will inform you that your accident is not covered by the policy in question. You might be told, for example, that the other driver has no insurance coverage or that the insurance policy has lapsed.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER LEGAL ACTION?

Alternatively, you might be told that the policy in question does not cover that “type” of accident or accidents in that location. In some states, you may also be told that you cannot make a third-party claim under your state’s no-fault insurance system. In the state of Illinois, if a negligent driver’s auto insurer will not compensate you after you’ve been injured, refuses to negotiate, or claims that your check is in the mail but it never arrives, at that point you may have to take legal action.

If an insurance adjuster tells you that your accident is not covered by the policy in question, that is not the end of the story, and it’s not even necessarily the truth. Telling you there is no coverage should merely be considered as an insurance company’s first negotiating ploy. Your counter-ploy is to ask the claims adjuster for a written explanation of the company’s decision – a letter that points to and explains the exact provisions in the insurance policy that prevent it from covering the accident.

If the claims adjuster will not provide an explanation in writing, your next step is to write your own letter to the insurance company and recount your conversation with the claims adjuster, the denial of your coverage, and the claims adjuster’s unwillingness to be more cooperative. Of course, make several copies before you send it. Your letter may put some pressure on the company to take some action, and even if it doesn’t, it is precisely the kind of document that will be helpful if you eventually choose to file a lawsuit to pursue your claim.

When it is the other driver’s insurance company that is denying the coverage, ask the claims adjuster for a copy of that driver’s auto insurance policy – or at least the text of the relevant provisions – so that you can have your own hard copy in black-and-white. If the claims adjuster refuses, your next move is to write that company a letter recounting the situation and expressing your disappointment with the lack of cooperation. If your letter does not generate some type of positive response from the insurance company, it may be time to move forward with legal action.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER OTHER COMPENSATION OPTIONS?

On the other hand, even if the insurance company claims at first that there is no coverage, once the company realizes that you are not going away, the claims adjuster may begin to negotiate a settlement, and those negotiations may or may not eventually be fruitful. But if you are finally persuaded that the claims adjuster is actually right – and that your accident in fact is not covered by the policy in question – that’s not necessarily the end of the story either. An accident victim will usually have other compensation options.

For example, if another party has a share of the responsibility for the accident, that party may have applicable insurance coverage. If a large truck or some other commercial vehicle is involved in the accident, multiple parties might share liability. If any vehicle involved in the accident had faulty brakes or tires – or any other defect that contributed to the collision – there may be grounds for a product liability claim.

While everyone in business has to make profits to stay in business, if you’ve been injured by negligence in the state of Illinois, and if you can prove it, the negligent party’s insurance company is legally obligated to compensate you for all past, present, and future medical treatment and rehabilitation, all lost wages including the loss of future earning capacity, as well as disfigurement, past and future pain and suffering, and the loss of the enjoyment of life.

WHAT IF YOU GET A LETTER FROM A LAWYER?

Do not be intimidated by the tactics of insurance companies. When an adjuster tells you that there is no coverage for your accident, he or she might also tell you, “That’s what the lawyers say.” You may even receive a letter signed by a lawyer for the insurance company. If that happens, don’t be bullied. That letter is one lawyer’s opinion and it is not binding. An insurance policy can usually be read in several different ways, and if the text is genuinely ambiguous, the courts may resolve these cases in favor of the plaintiff seeking coverage.

After obtaining medical attention, the wisest move that any accident victim can make after being injured is to obtain sound, reliable legal advice as quickly as possible. Chicago personal injury attorney Joseph M. Dooley has more than 25 years of experience advising and representing accident victims. He will explain your legal rights and options after an accident, and if you have grounds to file a personal injury claim, he can advocate aggressively for the compensation and justice you need and deserve.

Swift action is imperative whenever someone is injured by someone else’s negligence. If you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence in a Chicago-area traffic accident, or if an insurance company isn’t treating you right after you’ve been injured, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Joseph M. Dooley at once by email at jmd@josephdooleylaw.com or call his law offices at 312-236-7282.