When you get injured in a car accident, recovering your losses involves asserting your rights under Illinois’s car accident laws. But, these laws establish certain obligations as well; and, in addition to asserting your rights, you also need to be careful to protect yourself from costly mistakes.
So, what are the laws you need to know? Here are some of the most important Illinois car accident laws for victims and their families:
In Illinois, all drivers are required to have liability insurance. This is the insurance that protects other drivers and passengers when an insured driver causes a collision. So, if you were injured in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, you should be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Under Illinois law, the minimum auto insurance requirements for car accidents are:
Unlike some other states, Illinois does not require drivers to carry insurance that protects themselves (i.e., uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage). But, if you have this coverage, it could significantly increase the amount you are able to recover. If any driver doesn’t have the mandatory liability insurance listed above, he or she can face fines and a possible driver’s license suspension.
The vast majority of car accident cases in Illinois are governed by the law of negligence. When one driver’s negligence leads to an accident, that driver (or that driver’s insurance company) can be held liable for all victims’ financial and non-financial losses. This includes losses such as medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life—among others.
Negligence leading to a car accident can take many different forms. For example, some of the most common forms of negligence leading to car accidents include:
Negligent vehicle maintenance, negligent road repairs, and various other forms of negligence can lead to car accidents as well. If your accident was the result of any form of negligence, a lawyer may be able to help you recover just compensation.
In cases involving multiple at-fault drivers, Illinois’s comparative negligence law applies. Under this law, “an injured party may recover damages only if he/she is less than 50% at fault for the injury or damages.” If you are between 1% and 49% at fault in a car accident, the amount you are entitled to recover is reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault. For example, if you were deemed 25% at fault in an accident, you would be entitled to recover 75% of your accident-related losses.
Illinois has a two-year statute of limitations for car accidents. The statute of limitations establishes a hard and fast deadline for asserting your legal rights after a collision. If you are late asserting your legal rights by even a day, you can lose your ability to recover the financial compensation you deserve.
Importantly, the statute of limitations establishes the deadline for filing a lawsuit in court—not filing a claim with the insurance companies. So, even if you start dealing with the insurance companies promptly after your car accident, the statute of limitations could still expire if you don’t file a lawsuit within two years. This is critical to keep in mind, and it is best to work with an experienced lawyer who can keep track of your deadlines and file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary.
Under Illinois law, you are required to report any car accident that results in bodily injury or $1,500 or more in property damage. This drops to just $500 if any driver involved in the accident is uninsured. Calling 911 from the scene of a car accident generally satisfies the reporting requirement; but, if an officer does not respond to the scene, you must report your accident to the Illinois State Police within 10 days.
If you need to know more about your legal rights or obligations after a car accident in Illinois, we encourage you to get in touch. Our Chicago car accident lawyers have a proven record of achieving justice for the wrongfully injured. We work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t owe us anything unless we reach a favorable outcome in your case.
Contact Coplan + Crane today online or at (708) 358-8080 for a FREE case evaluation. We serve clients throughout Illinois, including Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas.