With nearly 12.5 million people, Illinois is the sixth–largest state by population and a major center of commerce, culture, and agriculture. The Prairie State’s largest metro area, Chicago, is home to nearly 9.5 million people. Unfortunately, there are also thousands of car accidents each year in Illinois. In 2020, the state saw 1,194 auto accident deaths. Overall, people reported 246,752 car crashes here in 2020. If you’re hurt in an Illinois car accident, the state’s laws and policies regarding vehicles and collisions apply to you. We’ve rounded up everything you need to know regarding Illinois car accident laws and how they may affect you below.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Illinois
First, Illinois car accident laws recommend you stop your vehicle and stay at the scene. Anyone conscious after an accident should check for injuries and give reasonable assistance to those victims. Immediately contact emergency medical help if anyone could possibly be hurt. Next, call the police and be sure to exchange your contact information with the other driver(s). Finally, notify your insurance company even if the accident isn’t your fault.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to get the other driver’s name, current address, vehicle registration number, driver’s license, and insurance.
How to Report an Illinois Car Accident
In most cases, you must report a car accident in Illinois unless it is extremely minor. To report an accident, call 911 or the non-emergency police number in your city.
When everyone in a crash has insurance, you must report any damage to any person’s property worth at least $1,500. If any driver is uninsured, you must report any property damage of $500 or more. In addition, someone at the crash scene must report any accident that involves a bodily injury or a death.
In general, any responding officer can provide a traffic collision report form at the scene. You can also request a copy of this form at any police station. Next, file the form online or by mail within 10 days of your accident. According to Illinois car accident laws, failing to do so can result in a driver’s license suspension.
Is Illinois a No-Fault State?
Illinois is an at fault state. The person who caused the car accident is liable for all resulting injuries, vehicle damage, and other financial losses. So, this means car accident victims who seek compensation must prove the other party is at fault for the crash. Always take pictures and write down what you remember at the scene of your accident.
IMPORTANT: In Illinois, it is illegal to text and drive. New drivers are also forbidden by law to talk on their phones while behind the wheel.
What Illinois Car Accident Laws Say About Comparative Negligence
Illinois is a “modified comparative negligence” state. Modified comparative fault can limit an accident victim’s ability to recover damages (meaning, a settlement payment). In some cases, it could stop you from getting any money at all for your injuries. It all depends on what percentage of fault for your accident you’re responsible for under the law. To recover compensation for car accident injuries or property damage, you must not be more at fault than another driver.
If you cannot first reach a settlement, then a judge or jury must calculate fault measured in percentages. And if they find you at least 50% at fault for your accident, then you cannot receive a cash settlement. This policy also reduces the size of cash awards, in some cases.
IMPORTANT: Do not to wait to file your car crash claim. It’s easy to lose evidence and people’s memories can fade. Your final medical bills may add up to more than you expected after an accident.
Illinois Minimum Car Insurance Requirements
All drivers must have car insurance in Illinois. Below is the minimum liability policy you must carry under Illinois insurance law:
- Bodily injury liability: $25,000 for one person; $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: $20,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist coverage: $25,000 per person, or $50,000 per accident
Illinois car accident laws state all drivers must always have proof of insurance in their vehicles.
Additional Insurance Policy Coverage Available in Illinois
Liability insurance covers the damage you may cause to someone else. So, you might want to consider these extra types of car insurance coverage:
- Collision coverage that pays for your own vehicle’s damage.
- Personal injury protection, which covers your own medical bills after an injury.
- Comprehensive coverage pays for damage resulting from acts of theft or vandalism.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage pays for property damage and medical expenses when an at-fault party has no insurance.
In addition to the at-fault driver in an Illinois car accident case, there are other possible defendants. For example: If the driver was running an errand for someone else, then that person may be liable. If the driver was working when the accident occurred, that driver’s employer may also be liable. Finally, if someone loans their car to the at-fault driver, the lender might share liability for the accident. That only applies if the lender knew the at-fault driver might use the borrowed vehicle in a risky manner.
FACT: In 2020, the 21-34 age group had the highest number of people involved in motor vehicle crashes in Illinois. That age group also reported the highest number of fatalities and total injuries.
Illinois Car Accident Statute of Limitations
From the date of the accident, you have two years to bring an auto accident lawsuit forward. However, you can still file a claim for property damage up to five years after the accident date. For wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations is two years from the date listed on the victim’s death certificate.
Damages Available for Illinois Car Crash Victims
Economic damages: There is no cap on compensatory damages in Illinois. This is because a court ruled the state’s previous caps were unconstitutional. Examples of economic damages available under Illinois car accident laws include:
- Medical bills and related costs
- Car repair or replacement expenses
- Rental cars
- Lost wages
Non-economic damages include payments for things like loss of affection or companionship and wrongful death. They are non-measurable losses you may suffer from a car accident. Auto accident victims may not realize they qualify for a higher payout until after a lawyer explains these types of non-economic damages.
Additional examples of non-economic damages you can receive money for are as follows:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of reputation
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
Punitive damages (damages awarded to punish a defendant) may be available if the actions that caused the accident were intentional or grossly negligent.
Let Us Connect You with an Illinois Auto Accident Lawyer
Illinois car accident laws are hard to understand and navigate without a legal expert to guide you. An auto accident lawyer will handle the complex legal process for you. You usually receive a much higher payout with representation than if you accept the insurance company’s offer.
LegalASAP can connect you with a nearby lawyer who understands Illinois car accident laws to review your case for free. The whole process is free of charge until you win your settlement, so click the button below to begin:
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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.