Skip to main content
Estate Planningfeatured guest

Crashes, Collapses & Conflagrations, Oh My!

By August 8, 2012No Comments

Living in Chicago, the second largest legal community in the U.S., has its benefits: I meet great colleagues who have a wealth of information valuable not only to their clients but also to the general public. So occasionally, The Shark Free Zone will feature a colleague who is willing to share his or her insights. This week, I welcome friend and colleague, Stephen L. Hoffman, discussing injuries, accidents, and insurance to help us protect our loved ones and property…

Many of us try to avoid planning for our future. Much as we defer creation of estate planning documents, we are also unprepared when it comes to some basic, everyday requirements such as what to do in the event of an accident.

Each year in Illinois, nearly 500,000 auto collisions occur and over 100,000 work injuries or illnesses are sustained.

Smashed Up Car

Photo: C. Paes, Lisbon, Portugal

Auto collisions, work accidents, and home fires occur. Odds are that you, a family member, or contact will be involved in one of those events at some point. Personally, I have experienced a fire in my condominium building and an automobile collision, all within the last 5 years. And I’m careful, cautious, and none were my fault.

If you fail to verify that you have adequate insurance coverage, your life could be altered permanently, with no opportunity to undo the damage.

If you ARE involved in an accident, then you should be prepared to do or have available a few basic things:

  • Have your automobile insurance information with you and exchange it with the other driver and police.
  • Take photographs of the scene, while you are still there, if possible. Get photos of all vehicles and persons involved, the cause of your fall, any visible injuries, or debris. This preserves evidence.
  • Get medical treatment immediately. Insurance companies WILL use any delay in treatment against you!
  • Contact the police, fill out an incident report, or write about the accident in some way.
  • DO NOT SPEAK to anyone about this. DO NOT give a statement to an insurance adjuster!
  • Contact an attorney immediately. More cases go south early on than at any other point.

With respect to insurance, consider the following:

  • Whether you are a driver, owner of a home, or the owner of a business, make sure you understand what your insurance covers and that your coverage is adequate.
  • Get the most coverage from the best-rated company you can afford.
  • Check your liability limits on your car policy.  If you have any assets and your limits are below $500,000.00, you probably need to reexamine them. All it takes is a moment of inattention by a driver, including you, who may be uninsured or grievously underinsured, to lose your house, savings, and well-being. If you have substantial assets, a personal liability umbrella policy is likely well within your reach financially, and definitely worthwhile.
  • Know what your homeowner’s policy provides for in certain events, e.g., a fire in an adjoining condo unit. Can you move into a temporary residence if yours is uninhabitable and for how long? What is the damages limit?


Auto Insurance
Illinois is a mandatory auto insurance state. However, this means that many people only have the BARE MINIMUM in coverage. If YOUR coverage (Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist) is not robust, you could conceivably be involved in a collision that is not your fault, with virtually no coverage available.

Condominium/Homeowner’s Insurance
If you live in a condo, make sure your governing documents require other unit owners to maintain insurance on their units. All it takes is one accidental fire in one unit or a leak that causes a ceiling collapse to leave you and the rest of the association liable.

Workers’ Compensation
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides for payment of medical benefits, lost wages, and permanency for those injured while performing their job functions. This includes injuries occurring outside of an office and while in transit to or from a job usually.

Plan ahead and be ready for the inevitable!


Stephen L. Hoffman is the founder of Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC, a Boutique Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firm located in Chicago.  Stephen is now in his 23rd year of practice representing injured people and fighting for their rights with dignity. Contact Stephen by phone (773-944-9737) or email Information about Stephen and ways to further access him are through his blog and website, LinkedInTwitter (@hofflaw), and AVVO.

Leave a Reply