The Perils of Winter Driving, Especially in the Chicagoland Area

As if the potholes on every highway, side street, and alley were not bad enough! Now that winter is here, everyone has to deal with ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain, and (thundersnow!). What it all adds up to is near impossible driving conditions. Those conditions coupled with Chicago’s notoriously aggressive drivers means we are all at risk for a car accident, or may have already been a victim of a car accident.

Foremost, we should all try our best to prevent these accidents in the winter. Slow down, keep a good distance from the car in front of you, use your turn signals, and brake as slowly and evenly as possible when you approach a stop sign, stop light, or intersection. Most importantly, even though it may sometimes be the most difficult, put the cell phone out of reach and wait until you have reached your destination to use it again.

Realistically, we know that some drivers on the road will not abide by these common self-help strategies. Other times, the weather is just so bad there is nothing anyone can do to avoid an accident. When that happens, you need to ensure you protect yourself, your health, and preserve your rights under the law.

If you are in an accident, and if you are able, check your surroundings for safety. Do not try and get out of your car if you are in the middle lane of the Dan Ryan. If you do exit your car, make sure you check your car and the area for smoke, fire, or gasoline to try and ensure your ongoing safety. Afterwards, check your body for any obvious signs of injury, and if you have passengers, especially children, check on their safety or for injuries. Once you’ve checked for safety and injuries, you need to decide whether you need to call 911.

Similar to how you need to check your surroundings for safety and self for injuries, you should take notice as to whether you need to contact the authorities. If your vehicle is severely damaged, cannot be moved, or if you are injured, you should call 911. If neither car is damaged, and can drive away from the scene, it may be best to exchange insurance information and make a desk report at the nearest police department immediately afterward. Of utmost importance when you are in an accident is your health, the health of the other driver (even if they were at fault; remember, it was an accident), and the health of the passengers in either vehicle. If you or anyone at the scene believes they are hurt, it is best to call 911 to be safe.

If you or someone in your vehicle is hurt, feels pain, or has a visible injury after an accident, and the authorities have arrived on the scene, you will most likely be asked if you want to be taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency room. This can be a tough decision given costs of transportation, insurance concerns, and possibility your car will be towed from the scene. The choice is always yours, but if you feel you were injured particularly if you have a head injury, nausea, chest pains, dizziness, or other signs of a potentially serious condition, it is best to go with the paramedics. If you choose not to go by ambulance, evaluate your health after the adrenaline of the accident has worn off. If you have any pain or symptoms, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

Finally, after you’ve ensured both the health and safety of yourself and those involved in an accident, you should seek legal representation as soon as possible to ensure all of your legal rights are protected. There is a high likelihood you will be contacted by the insurance company for the other driver. You should not have to deal with that adjustor alone. Before speaking with the other drivers insurance company it is important you speak with an attorney representing your interests first.

If you have been involved in a car accident, please contact the injury attorneys at Urban & Burt, Ltd. at (708) 687-5200.