Being injured in a car accident is a frightening experience. Your first concern should be getting the medical care you need and making sure your injuries are properly and fully diagnosed. If you’ve been seriously injured, and the accident was caused by someone else, you should also talk with a lawyer as soon as you are able — before you talk with the at-fault person’s insurance company. At Modestas Law, we are here to help you and your family. We will sort through the legal issues and make sure you receive the full compensation you deserve. Our goal is to allow you to concentrate on your recovery.
Illinois Accident Liability Laws
Like a majority of states, Illinois has at-fault rules for determining compensation in car accident cases. The legal term for this kind of liability is tort liability. A tort is a civil act or omission that injures or causes a loss to another person. In tort law, the basis for liability is called negligence, which is a failure to use reasonable care that causes damage or injury to another person.
In determining liability for auto accidents, Illinois uses a standard called modified comparative negligence or modified comparative fault. The term sounds complicated, but it is a common sense standard. Modified comparative negligence means that the person seeking compensation for injuries cannot be more at fault than other person in the accident. The degrees of fault or negligence of the parties are compared to each other.
In cases where a settlement is not reached, fault is measured in percentages by a judge or jury. A person who is more than 50 percent at fault cannot recover from the other person. If someone is partially to blame but less than 50 percent at fault, the award of damages is reduced by the amount of fault. For example, a person who is found 25 percent responsible (or at fault), would receive only 75 percent of the damages awarded. The modified comparative fault standard can limit or prevent recovery of damages, depending on the person’s percentage of fault.
Illinois Auto Insurance Requirements
When an accident occurs, the people involved usually have insurance to cover the injuries and damage. Based on the Illinois at-fault and comparative negligence rules, the insurance companies for the individuals involved in the accident will initially determine who is at fault, and to what extent each person is at fault. When you’re seriously injured in an accident that may have been someone else’s fault, you should not talk with the other person’s insurance company before you consult with a lawyer. Above all, do not sign any documents or give any statements before you consult with an attorney.
All Illinois drivers are required to carry liability car insurance of at least $20,000 for bodily injury and $15,000 in property damage. Many drivers have higher coverage, as well as comprehensive or collision insurance.
Compensation in an Auto Accident Case
If you’re seriously injured and entitled to recover compensation from a person who was at fault for the accident, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages. In Illinois, there is no monetary limit on the amount of damages that can be recovered from a person who is responsible for an accident.
Economic damages include:
- Medical expenses paid
- Future costs for medical treatment
- Lost income or wages
- Repair or replacement of your damaged vehicle
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic damages include items such as pain and suffering and compensation for disfigurement or disability resulting from your injuries.
Following an accident, there is a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit to recover for your injuries, called the statute of limitations. In Illinois, the time limit for a legal action for personal injuries is two years. For property damages lawsuits, the statute of limitations is five years. Because of those limitations and for even more important reasons, like availability of evidence, it is very important not to wait to consult with an attorney if you’ve been seriously injured and someone else may be at fault.
In addition to an injured victim being entitled to recover damages if an auto accident was someone else’s fault, family members who lost a loved one in a car crash may be able to file a lawsuit under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act if another person caused the accident.
Illinois Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist or UM / UMI Claims
Even though Illinois requires drivers to carry auto liability insurance, many vehicle operators drive uninsured (without any coverage) or underinsured (with inadequate coverage). If you’re injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may have a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits.
When you purchase a full coverage car insurance policy, the policy includes uninsured/underinsured coverage, called UM/UIM. The amount of coverage depends on your policy. It is usually the same as your bodily injury liability coverage.
Uninsured motorist claims occur when the at-fault driver has no insurance or cannot be identified, such as in a hit-and-run accident. Often, auto accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists can result in uninsured motorist claims as well.
Underinsured motorist claims arise when the at-fault driver has insufficient insurance to cover the injuries and damages. The situation often arises in serious accidents involving significant injuries.
UM and UIM claims are filed against your own insurance company or the insurance company of a household or family member, rather than against the insurance company of the at-fault driver. There are specific procedures that must be followed, beyond simply filing a claim. If you may have a UM or UIM claim, it is critical to have an experienced personal injury attorney represent you in pursuing it.
Contact an Illinois Auto Accident Attorney to Schedule a Consultation
At Modestas Law, we handle auto accident cases on a contingent fee basis, which means you do not pay any attorney fees unless damages are recovered. We take the time to fully understand your injuries, as well as your family and work situations, which are all important in determining the amount of compensation you deserve. We also focus intently on delivering a high level of client service in every case and strive to make all clients feel they receive the best possible representation and counsel throughout the entire process.
We serve Illinois clients in Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, and Will County. Our office is located in Burr Ridge. If necessary, we can meet with you in a medical facility or at your home.
Contact us to schedule an initial consultation. We look forward to serving your Illinois auto accident legal needs.