Car Crash? The Two Legal Battles Ahead

Car Crash? The Two Legal Battles Ahead
By Robert Monahan

The law is rarely straightforward.

Even something as simple as a car crash can have unexpected twists and turns. For example, did you know that if you are a victim in a car accident, you will probably be dealing with not one, but two legal battles. You will participate in:

  • a traffic ticket prosecution; and
  • a car crash claim.

These two legal cases are connected, but they are different in big ways.

Traffic Ticket Criminal Prosecution

In this case, you will be the witness for the State.

In theory, the State itself is the person who was wronged and you are just a witness, helping the prosecutor win his traffic case against the other driver.

The prosecutor’s goal is to punish the other driver and to stop or discourage others from breaking the law. Compensating you is not his concern.

If the other driver is convicted, he may face fines, jail time, and probation. The severity of these penalties will depend on the specific crime the driver is convicted of and the other circumstances of the accident.

Car Crashes and Injuries: Civil Lawsuit  

In this case, you will be bringing the claim. You were injured by the at-fault driver. Here, you are a plaintiff, not just a witness. But here, you will have to hire your lawyer yourself. He will be on your side – not the side of the State.

Your goal is to get compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.


Let’s say that Benito rear-ended Antonio at a red light. Antonio is injured and goes to the hospital. Benito gets a ticket for reckless driving.

Benito’s reckless driving ticket is a criminal matter. The prosecutor will bring a case against Benito in branch court (in Park City, Round Lake, Mundelein, etc.). Antonio will be a witness in the ticket case. If Benito is convicted, he may face fines, jail time, and probation.

Antonio will also want to file a car crash claim against Benito. In the car crash claim, Antonio will seek to recover for his medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If Antonio wins, the court will award him damages to compensate him for his losses.

For Antonio, there are two courts – traffic court for Benito’s ticket; and civil court for Antonio’s compensation. Traffic court is about punishing Benito and not compensating Antonio. For compensation, Antonio must find a plaintiff’s lawyer to pursue the claim for injuries in civil court.


If you are in a car accident, it is important to know the difference between the traffic ticket and the car crash claim, so that you can protect your rights and avoid any unexpected “bumps in the road.”

Robert Monahan has been helping people for 25 years. His law office in Gurnee at 4229 Grove Avenue. His telephone number is (847) 848-6165. His website is If you have any questions, please contact Attorney Bob Monahan.

Navigating the IEP Process for Struggling Students

Navigating the IEP Process for Struggling Students

The law surrounds us. Even though my job involves injury claims and estate planning, knowing about other areas of the law helped my family protect my son.

Navigating IEPs: Our Story

My second son was diagnosed with autism when he was a toddler. We had suspected something was wrong from the beginning. When his mom entered the room, he would never track her with his eyes. This was so different from my first son, that we were scared that He might be blind. As he grew older, he fell far behind on typical developmental milestones like talking and interacting with others. That led to his diagnosis at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital.

Because of his autism, we had to learn to advocate in the public school system.

He began school in a special “early childhood” program. When it was time to enter kindergarten, we were worried. The school wanted to “mainstream” him in a regular kindergarten classroom. We were not sure because we did not know what he could handle. We got help from a friend, who suggested we have him evaluated at a nearby autism center.

At his IEP meeting, we brought the expert who evaluated my son. In the end, we compromised and agreed to have him enter a regular kindergarten class, but with a lot of extra support. The expert was there to help specify what supports he would need.

If you have a child with special need

s, ask about an IEP. It can help your family protect your child.

Before you can qualify, your child must be diagnosed with a disability — including autism, or other intellectual, learning, speech, emotional or behavior disabilities or developmental delays.

An IEP is a contract between the school and your family. It says what the school must do to help your child succeed. If the school doesn’t follow the IEP, you can take legal action.

What Circumstances Would Lead a Parent to Seek an IEP?

There are many circumstances that might lead you to seek an IEP for their child. Some common reasons include:

Your child struggles academically, even with extra help from their teacher.

He has difficulty paying attention or following instructions in class.

He has behavior problems that interfere with his own learning or the learning of others.

He has a diagnosed disability (like autism) that affects his ability to learn.

You or your child’s teachers are concerned about his development.

Benefits of an IEP

An IEP provides benefits including:

  • A personalized education plan that is tailored to your child’s individual needs.
  • Access to specialized services and supports, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, or assistive technology.
  • A team of people who are working together to help your child succeed.
  • A legally binding document that ensures that the school is providing your child with the services they need.

If you are concerned that your child may need an IEP, the first step is to talk to their teacher. The teacher can assess your child’s needs and discuss your options with you. If you decide to pursue an IEP, the school will need to c

onduct an evaluation to determine if your child is eligible.

If your child is eligible, a team of people will be formed to develop the plan. This team will include you, your child’s teachers, and other specialists. The team will work together to identify your child’s present levels of performance, set goals for the year, and determine the services and supports that your child needs.

IEPs: It’s All About Helping Your Child

An IEP can be a valuable tool for helping children with special needs succeed in school.

If you are concerned that your child may need an IEP, talk to their teacher. They can help you get the process started.

As for my family, my second son is now sixteen years old. He is in high school. He is doing fine because of all the early intervention we received. We are forever grateful that we advocated for him when he was a toddler to set him up for the best chance possible to succeed.

Although education law is not my area of practice, if you ever need help, please do not hesitate to contact me at my office because I know very good lawyers in Lake County.

Bob Monahan has been helping people for 25 years. He can be reached at (847) 848-6165. His office is in Gurnee.


Me and my kids at Yellowstone

Portrait of the Plaintiff’s Lawyer as a Young Man

Portriat of the Plaintiff’s Lawyer as a Young Man

I grew up in Waukegan. When I was a kid, I took karate lessons at a school on Washington Avenue, near Lewis, next to Club 18 Liquors. I learned about hard work, grit and determination. I never thought I would use these skills to fight insurance companies someday.

In school, I always got good grades, so after high school, I went to college at The University of Chicago. Then, I went to law school at the University of Virginia.

After law school, I got my first job in New York City, defending insurance companies. I quickly learned that I did not like it. Insurance companies make their money by denying and disputing every claim they can get away with — even when they are responsible for the damage.

I made very good money; but it seemed wrong, very wrong.

At church, I met and fell in love with a schoolteacher named Maria. We got married and soon had our first child (a boy). Two years later, we had our second son. My circle of friends grew larger because Maria was from New York and had a lot of friends and family.

Maria and Me
Maria and Me

One day, a friend of Maria’s asked me to handle a “plaintiff’s case.” This meant representing someone who was suing an insurance company.

I won that case, but more important than winning was the fact that the client inspired me to switch sides. After that, I became a “reformed insurance defense lawyer.”

Now, I only sue insurance companies for regular people.

After making that change, I have never looked back.

First, I love helping people.

Secondly, I was good at it. I had worked with insurance companies so long that I knew all their “dirty tricks.” I knew how to protect my clients against them.

Thirdly, working as a plaintiff’s lawyer gave me the chance to be my own boss.

Fifteen years ago, my little family grew larger after my second son was born, I moved out of New York to Gurnee. Then, I opened my law practice in May 2009.

Only four months later, my only daughter, Emily, was born.

Those early years were both thrilling and stressful. As a business owner, I experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows. Everything depended on me: the successes and the failures.

Over time I developed a following of clients. I also learned you cannot win every case.

The first case I lost in Lake County taught me a valuable lesson: clients will respect you for doing your best, even if you don’t win.

When I lost my first case in Lake County, I was ashamed of the result. I thought my career was over. But my client told me he wanted to pay me even more money to appeal the decision. He thought the judge was wrong (I did too!).

I discovered that when you always do your best, a loss can still lead to other opportunities

The rewards can come in strange ways too.

The best part of winning a hard case is helping someone who really needs it. For example, I once won a lot of money for a seriously injured young woman. I can’t share the details because of a confidentiality agreement, but I can say that she and her mom baked me a huge plate of oatmeal raisin cookies.

It was the tastiest plate of cookies I have ever had!

I am glad that early in my career, I changed my path and tried to make a difference. I left the lucrative career of defending big insurance companies in New York City and returned home to help ordinary people — the people from the community where I grew up — who might otherwise be cheated by the tricks of insurance companies. 

Now, I don’t need karate to fight the insurance companies. I already have their playbook.