Springfield Livestock Accident Lawyer
Growing up in a small Illinois town, it’s easy to see how two different cultural landscapes have ultimately merged. Though the state was once comprised of mostly farmland, different towns and suburbs have popped up in areas that were previously unimportant to individuals that didn’t own farmland. As two worlds collide, Illinois inhabitants – human and livestock alike – have begun to coexist in a way that has become familiar to many.
Though many farmers still exist in central Illinois, even amongst the growing suburbs, the balance between rural farmland and modernization has created some unique issues. One such issue arises when free-roaming livestock causes collisions or accidents on roadways. This is an especially dangerous occurrence on highways between towns, where cars drive faster than when in town. In this modern age, it isn’t surprising that legal options exist to address damages associated with free roaming livestock.
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in an accident involving free-roaming livestock animals, contact our office today to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation.
Springfield Accidents Caused by Animals in Illinois
It seems to be a truly unique phenomenon for city folk to understand when explaining how livestock could cause such catastrophic accidents. Livestock includes animals like chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, and cattle – essentially, any domesticated animal used within the farming context. Livestock is dangerous on the road because animals act as moving obstacles. Unlike city-dwelling squirrels and birds, livestock doesn’t always anticipate danger and move out of the way.
Animals that block roadways can cause several types of accidents:
- Spin outs. Drivers that swerve to avoid animals might hit other obstacles that cause spinouts. These could also be caused by hitting large animals like cattle at an angle.
- Head-on collisions. Head-on collisions with objects like telephone poles, fence stakes, fire hydrants, and trees can cause considerable damage to a driver’s car. Though the animal might not sustain a single scratch, the driver could suffer from potentially severe injuries.
- Car-car collisions. Animals that unexpectedly run into roadways while multiple people are driving can cause car-car collisions. Rear-ending occurs when a driver slams on their brakes to avoid the animal, while head-on collisions and side-swiping can occur if the driver veers into the nearby lane.
Illinois Livestock Regulations
In Illinois, farm animals are not permitted to roam freely because of the road hazards they pose. Owners could face potential civil and/or criminal charges depending on the severity of the driver’s injuries if they allow their livestock to escape.
Who is Liable for a Springfield ?
Though a collision might involve an animal, it still counts as a viable car accident. Illinois is a fault-based state, meaning that it follows a tort system when determining liability in a car accident. Tort systems require insurance companies to assign a percentage-based fault rating to each party associated with the collision. In livestock-related accidents, the other party would be the animal/s’ owner.
The fault rating each party receives is based in comparative negligence law. During an investigation into a claim, the insurance company takes their gathered evidence and determines the different factors that either party contributed to an accident. For instance, a driver might have been talking on the phone before hitting an animal. Though the animal’s owner is to blame for it being there in the first place, the driver retains some proportion of fault for also taking part in negligent driving habits.
Luckily, Illinois operates on pure comparative negligence laws. This means either party, no matter their fault rating, can file an insurance or personal injury claim in Springfield to recover for damages associated with the accident. The only caveat to this is the fact that, in court, your total compensation is reduced by your percentage of fault.
What Claims Can I Pursue?
Because Illinois is a fault-based state, an injured driver can claim either an insurance claim or a personal injury claim after a Springfield car accident.
Springfield Livestock Accident Insurance Claims
Drivers must file their insurance claim with their own carrier, who then initiates the claims process with the livestock owner’s insurance company. Their insurance company then assigns claims adjustors to investigate the case. Dealing with insurance adjustors can be stressful and tricky to handle without professional help. By contacting a lawyer, you ensure that your claims process passes smoothly and fairly.
Through an insurance claim, you can recover for:
- Immediate medical bills
- Recurring medical bills
- Property damage
Personal Injury Claim for Springfield Livestock Accidents
Personal injury claims differ from insurance claims in that they are lawsuits filed with your local small claims court. However, they still require interacting with the defendant’s insurance claims adjustors, who will still ultimately pay you out. An injury lawsuit does not immediately go to trial. Both parties have the opportunity to attend mediation, in which a driver can negotiate their settlement claim. Through such claim, you can recover for:
- Immediate medical bills
- Recurring medical bills
- Lost wages
- Diminished ability to earn
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
An additional difference between insurance claims and injury claims is that insurance claims only recover for physical damages. Meanwhile, personal injury claims help you obtain compensation for emotional trauma associated with an accident.
How Can a Springfield Attorney Help?
In almost all cases, settling outside of court is preferable to bringing your case to trial. Settlement negotiations are generally less strict in composition and don’t require additional court fees associated with trial. Mediation-like meetings also occur when pursuing insurance claims, making the process almost unavoidable in any case.
Despite its utility, the process of negotiating a settlement can be intimidating territory for claimants that are unfamiliar with how to proceed during a negotiation scenario. This is one significant way that an attorney can help your case. Lawyers are skilled in negotiation and they understand how to speak to insurance claims adjustors. Hiring a lawyer gives you access not only to their own negotiation capabilities, but also provides you with the opportunity to learn how to communicate with insurance adjustors yourself.
Additionally, a lawyer can help you calculate a settlement figure that accurately reflects your damages. This figure is used as a reference when deciding whether to accept or decline a settlement offer. This is extremely useful because claims adjustors do not typically offer the best settlements right off the bat – the first offer is usually lower than they know you qualify for. Ultimately, a lawyer increases your chances of receiving fair compensation.
The discussion that takes place in mediation is ultimately based off of the insurance company’s (and your own lawyer’s) investigation. This means it considers any and all evidence that you’ve provided to support your case. Knowing what counts as evidence and how to look for additional evidence can be daunting for those who are not familiar with the legal process. A skilled Springfield livestock accident lawyer can abate these fears by gathering evidence through their own investigation. During this process, you lawyer will communicate with you about how to organize your evidence and what each piece proves in your case. When you hire a lawyer onto your case, you have access to their wealth of knowledge and any other useful resources they may have at their disposal.
Free roaming livestock, though not extremely hazardous in itself, can cause fatal car accidents with long-lasting repercussions. If you were injured in an accident caused by free roaming livestock, contact a Springfield livestock injury lawyer that can effectively build and carry out your case.
Illinois Regulations on Free-Roaming Livestock
If a farm animal gets loose and wanders onto the road, drivers are at risk for serious injury or wrongful death. A collision with a large animal or a car accident caused by swerving to avoid an animal can be catastrophic. In Illinois, livestock owners may face civil and criminal penalties for damages caused by livestock knowingly allowed to roam freely.
The Illinois Domestic Animals Running at Large Act (510 ILCS 55) prohibits owners from letting livestock run at large. Owners are supposed to provide the necessary restraints to prevent this and may be liable for damages caused by the roaming animal. We will investigate the accident to determine liability.
Under this statute, livestock is defined as cattle, bison, swine, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys and geese.
Contact Our Springfield Office Today
Call our office at (217) 523-7742 to schedule a free consultation with our Illinois free-roaming livestock accident or injury attorneys.