What to do after a crash
Crashes can be scary and disorienting. Whether you are a bicyclist or pedestrian, here are some important actions to take if you have been in one. Call the Active Trans Hotline at 312.869.HELP if you’ve been in a crash.
1. Seek medical attention
Never refuse paramedics’ help. You might not realize how injured you are
2. Call the police and file a report
- Insist that police come to the scene of the crash and file a report
- The officer will give you a copy of the report.
- If your crash occurred in Chicago, you can get a copy of your report through the mail or by heading to Records Inquiry Division of the Chicago Police Department at 3510 S. Michigan on the first floor. 312.745.5198. For crashes in Illinois, a copy can be obtained from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
3. Get all the information
- Drivers license information
- Insurance card information
- License plate (especially in a hit-and-run crash)
- Witness name and contact information (if you can’t talk to anyone when the crash occurred, revisit the scene at the same time of the day and ask businesses owners or neighbors if they remember anything.
- Document injuries and damage with photographs.
- Keep all medical documents and receipts, even if they are for small amounts (aspirin, gauze, insurance co-pay for doctor visits, etc.)
- An insurance company may call you to ask for a recorded statement about your crash. You do not have to give a statement. It is strongly advised that you seek legal advice prior to speaking with an insurance company.
4. Legal action
Do I need a lawyer?
- If you are injured, contact a lawyer right away. Learn how they charge before you work with them.
- If you don’t know where to find a lawyer, get a reference from the Crash Support Hotline at 312.869.4357(HELP).
- If you feel you do not need a lawyer, you may consider handling the insurance claim yourself. Contact the Crash Support Hotline at 312.869.4357(HELP) to learn how to write up a claim package.
- In Illinois, you must settle damages under $5,000 in small-claims court. For more information, visit www.ija.org/smallcla.txt
- Crashes can result in a number of charges, including reckless driving, DWIs, assault, assault with a deadly weapon, battery, leaving the scene of a crash and failing to provide aid.
- You are entitled to a police report and investigation. Ask the police to investigate the crash. A lawyer can advise you on contacting the state’s attorneys office regarding charges.
Suing an offender (civil suits)
- Civil suits usually result in money awarded, while criminal prosecution may result in prison time.
- According to Illinois law, you must sue a person within two years from the date of the crash.
- Seek an attorney to sue a person
What if road conditions caused the crash?
This is a complicated question. If you are a bicyclist and your crash occurred on a state-owned road, you can collect for damages by filing a claim against the state and contacting the Illinois Court of Claims. Visit the Court of Claims website or call 312.814.5010.
If the bicycle crash occurred on a non-state-owned road, it gets a little tricky. An Illinois Supreme Court case (Boub vs. Wayne) in 1998 stripped bicyclists of their rights as “intended users” of the road. As a result, towns and municipalities are immune to the consequences of not maintaining roadways and paths. Contact a lawyer to learn about your options.
Note: None of this information is intended as legal advice. Neither the Active Transportation Alliance, nor its employees, is responsible for any loss incurred as the result of this information.