Illinois Injury Lawyer

My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am a Personal Injury Attorney In Chicago. I often get asked by clients “can I sue the insurance company?” In this article, I Illinois Injury Lawyerwill address this common question and also briefly discuss when you can in fact sue an insurance company. If you are involved in a dispute with an insurance company, call me today at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Who do you sue?

Auto insurance companies can be very difficult to deal with. The insurance company has one goal – to make money. They do this by taking in as much in premium payments as they can while at the same time paying as little as they can for insurance claims.

As such, it should be no surprise that the insurance company will nickel and dime you to every extent possible to save money. They know that the likelihood of someone filing a lawsuit against them is small – the vast majority of cases settle. Few people will file a lawsuit over a couple hundred dollars in property damage.

This often leads to serious frustration when dealing with an insurance company after an auto accident or other personal injury accident in Chicago. I have received many calls from people who ask: “can I sue the insurance company?”

The answer is….

As an Illinois injury lawyer, I’m very familiar with insurance company tactics. But generally speaking, no matter what the insurance company does, you do not sue the insurance company directly for injuries and damages suffered in an auto accident. Rather, you sue the person who hit you.

Example

Let’s say you are involved in an auto accident with a “John Smith.” Mr. Smith rear-ended you while driving on the Kennedy Expressway. Mr. Smith is insured by Geico Insurance. After the accident, you obtain Mr. Smith’s auto insurance information. You file a claim with Geico and after you finish treating you demand $25,000 to settle your case. Geico offers you only $10,000. You are not happy with the offer. What do you do?

In short, your Illinois personal injury lawyer will file a lawsuit against John Smith, not Geico Insurance. Geico has a duty to defend Mr. Smith. Therefore, once Mr. Smith is served with your lawsuit, he will call Geico and Geico will pay for a law firm to represent Mr. Smith.

When do you sue the insurance company?

The only time you will hear your Illinois injury lawyer talk about suing the insurance company is when he or she alleges that the insurance company is acting in “bad faith.” It’s a term that’s thrown around a lot by people but as applied to auto insurance claims, it is not used that often.

In short, a bad faith claim in this context usually arises when an auto accident victim files a claim against the defendant driver and there is a reasonable probability that the recovery will be in excess of the insurance policy. Despite this, the insurance company refuses to “tender” or offer the entire insurance policy to settle the case.

If your Illinois injury lawyer files a lawsuit on your behalf and you win an amount in excess of the policy amount, you may be able to file suit against the defendant’s insurance company and recover the entire amount of the verdict plus attorney’s fees and more.

If you want to read more about this topic and the standard for a bad faith claim, check out the Illinois Insurance code 215 ILCS 5/155.

Practical use of bad faith

Most of the time I have used this allegation is when an insurance company engages in significant delays in responding to a demand letter or other request for compensation. In that case, I will send a letter to the insurance company subtly suggesting they are acting inappropriately. An insurance company is usually fairly quick to respond to such a letter. However, this is normally a last resort.

Conclusion

Have a question for a Chicago area personal injury lawyer including can I sue the insurance company? Feel free to contact us today for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Uber & Lyft Accident Lawyer in Chicago

If you were involved in an accident involving Uber or Lyft, you should call a Chicago rideshare accident attorney.

chicago uber accident lawyer
Uber and Rideshare Accident Lawyer

Dealing with Uber or Lyft can be challenging – even for a lawyer let alone an accident victim representing him or herself.

In general, rideshare is a great idea. It has provided a reasonably priced means for people to get around Chicago and other cities. Statistics also tend to support the idea that rideshare reduces the number of DUI accidents as inebriated drivers have an efficient alternative to driving home from a bar or restaurant. Some studies have shown that Uber has caused a dramatic reduction in the number of DUI related deaths.

However, Uber comes with risks as well. Often, Uber and Lyft drivers do not have a lot of driving experience. I speak from personal experience when I say that I’ve had more than one Uber driver who didn’t have a clue what he was doing or where he was going. I’ve seen others talking on their phones while driving or playing with the Uber app when they should be watching the road. Many cities like Chicago have enacted rideshare ordinances to assert some minimum requirements on the rideshare industry. Chicago exerts significant control over the taxi industry as well.

Our office has represented victims in several different Uber & rideshare accidents, including:

  • Our client was driving for Uber when she was hit behind in Park Ridge, Illinois thereby causing her to slam into the car in front of her. She suffered a concussion and whiplash injuries. She also developed fibromyalgia immediately after the collision and also suffered from significant PTSD that required psychological counseling.
  • Another client was a passenger in the back of an Uber. The Uber driver ran a red light and smashed into a car in an intersection. The collision left our client with significant back injuries. Our client’s statement about fault resulted in Uber’s insurance company accepting 100% responsibility for the accident.

We’ve received countless other calls from victims of rideshare accidents, many with minor injuries who proceeded to represent themselves in filing a claim with James River Insurance – the insurance company Uber uses (for the collisions I’ve handled at least).

It is unknown how many Uber & rideshare accidents there are in Illinois. This is mainly because, in Chicago at least, police reports do not have a place to notate whether the accident involved a rideshare service or not.

Who do you pursue if you are involved in an Uber & rideshare accident?

Uber and Lyft both provide coverage for accidents involving its drivers. When a rideshare driver turns on the app coverage begins. Uber/Lyft provide $50,000 in liability insurance if an Uber driver causes an accident while the app is on, but before he/she accepts a ride request. Once a ride request is accepted the insurance increases to $1,000,000 per incident AND the rideshare driver is protected if he/she is hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. The insurance coverage returns to $50,000 once the passenger exits the vehicle.

The state of Illinois mandates that rideshare drivers carry insurance. Often, your typical personal insurance policy will not provide coverage as it was not anticipated in your insurance contract that you would utilize your vehicle for commercial activities. As such, many Uber and Lyft drivers purchase additional or commercial insurance. The cost of adding these policies to an existing personal insurance policy is often minimal and can be as low as an additional $15.00 per month.

One insurance is established, your case will face the same challenges that all auto accident cases face:

  • Establishing liability
  • Obtaining sufficient value for the property damage
  • Getting the appropriate medical treatment
  • Avoiding gaps in medical treatment
  • Negotiating with a stingy insurance company
  • Negotiating medical bills and liens upon settlement

You can also recover for your lost wages if you are injured in an Uber & rideshare accident. For passengers, the same process is used including verifying your wages through the use of a lost wages verification form. For rideshare drivers, establishing lost wages is often simple. The Uber app documents how much a driver makes on a weekly basis. To establish the lost wages claim, we can download the data and present it to an insurance company to document how much money you made on a weekly basis in the months prior to the accident.

If you would like to speak with an Uber & Rideshare Accident Lawyer, feel free to contact my office at 312-848-9783 My consultations are always free and I am more than happy to discuss your options with you.