Illinois Car Accident Laws

Injured in a car accident in Illinois? If so, you may be wondering what you must do to obtain financial compensation to pay for your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. The following is an overview of car accident laws in Illinois. 

Reporting a Car Accident 

According to state law, you must report a car accident to the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT) if the crash involved an injury, death, or more than $1,500 in property damage within 10 days after the collision. Failure to file a report can result in driver’s license suspension, fines, and even jail time. 

The best option is to call the police to the scene of the accident. An officer can investigate the crash, obtain contact and insurance information from all parties involved, and create a detailed police report, which can be used as evidence in a car accident claim or lawsuit. 

While you are not legally required to report a car accident to your insurance company, you must do so in order to start the claims process. Failure to report a car accident to your insurer within a reasonable time may likely result in the denial of your coverage for the crash. 

How to File a Car Accident Claim 

Illinois is a “fault” car accident state, which means the person who caused the crash is liable for compensating anyone who was injured in the collision. When it comes to “no-fault” car insurance states, on the other hand, the injured party must file a claim with their own insurance company to receive compensation for out-of-pocket losses – regardless of who is at fault for causing the accident. 

The following are the three ways a car accident victim can recover damages stemming from the crash: 

  1. If the losses you sustained are covered by your insurance policy, file a claim with your own insurer, which will then file a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier 

  1. File a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer 

  1. File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in civil court 

If you wish to file a car accident lawsuit—rather than a car insurance claim—in Illinois, the statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit in civil court is within two years of the accident. For lawsuits over vehicle damage only, the time limit is five years. 

What Happens If the At-Fault Driver Blames Me? 

If the other driver claims you were either partially or entirely responsible for causing the car accident, Illinois has a “comparative fault” law to determine each party’s share of fault. Therefore, the total award you can recover will be reduced by your percentage of the blame. 

For example, let’s say the jury awards you $100,000, but the jurors also determine you are 25 percent liable for the crash. According to the state’s comparative fault rule, you can only recover 75 percent or $75,000 of the $100,000 total. 

Keep in mind, if you are more than 50 percent at fault for the collision, you cannot recover any damages. 

Dram Shop Laws 

If you were involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, not only can you file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, but you may also be able to file a civil claim against a vendor who supplied the driver alcohol. This is known as a “dram shop” claim. 

In Illinois, an alcohol vendor (e.g., bartender, waiter, liquor store clerk, etc.) can be held liable for a drunk driving accident – no matter if the vendor did any wrongdoing. In comparison to other states with dram shop laws, the vendor can only be responsible if they provided alcohol to a visibly intoxicated or underage person. 

Let Our Firm Help You 

In order to maximize your entitled compensation and protect your rights and best interests throughout the legal process, it is imperative to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. At MR Civil Justice, we can ensure all the proper steps are taken and help you obtain the most favorable outcome in your case. 

If you have been injured in a car accident in Chicago, call MR Civil Justice at (214) 307-8387 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free initial consultation. 

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