Illinois is not a no-fault state, rather it follows a “tort” system that employs comparative negligence.
A surprising number of people are unaware to the insurance laws that govern their home states. When an accident does happen, these laws suddenly become very important.
To avoid confusion and be prepared for the worst case scenario taking a few minutes to understand the basic function of these laws — it’s well worth it. In the following, we’ll specifically discuss…
What Are Illinois Fault Laws?
Illinois follows a fault or tort system when it comes to determining who pays after a car accident. What this means is that whoever is found legally responsible for causing the accident must pay damages of the other parties involved.
In practice this typically means the at-fault party’s insurance company will pay, but people can also bring direct car accident lawsuits as they’re not restricted (as in no-fault states).
Comparative negligence is also part of the package when it comes to Illinois insurance law. What this means is that you can generally be entitled to financial damages up to the percentage of fault pinned on the other driver.
If you’re in a wreck and the other party is deemed 80% at-fault you are entitled to seek compensation for 80% of of the cost of your damages (including pain and suffering, and lost wages). This can be done from the other party directly or their insurance carrier.
To get really technical, this means that Illinois is a “modified comparative negligence” state (as opposed to pure comparative negligence).
People commonly take one of three actions after sustaining damages in an accident:
- File a claim with their own insurance carrier (some people don’t want to be bothered and do it because it can be faster). This approach also rests on the assumption that their insurance company will pay them and then be reimbursed by the responsible party.
- Filing a claim through the insurance company of the responsible party. Another common occurrence, but this is generally more disputed and can take longer to resolve.
- File a lawsuit against the at-fault party and/or their carrier. This typically happens only in severe cases, if someone perceives they’re being treated unfairly or if someone is hoping to inflate the value of their claim.
What Are Car Insurance Requirements In Illinois?
Every state has their own unique set of standards that drivers must meet. Illinois law says that every driver must have liability insurance that meets the following thresholds:
- $15,000 coverage for property damage
- $40,000 for injuries or fatalities of more than one person
- $20,000 for injury or fatality of a single person (could be a passenger or pedestrian as well)
It’s worth mentioning that these are considered minimum requirements. If you’re involved in a serious wreck that you caused, chances are pretty good that damages can exceed these coverage amounts. If this turns out to be the case you may be held personally (financially) responsible for the damages.
Who Is Covered Under Illinois Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) is protection related to injuries received as a result of an uninsured, negligent driver. The fact is some people will ignore laws and drive without coverage, or perhaps without sufficient coverage.
In these cases you can turn to you UIM coverage to take care of medical costs. There are a few different scenarios where UIM kicks in:
- You’re involved in a “hit and run” accident
- Anyone riding in a vehicle you’re driving but do not own
- A relative is riding or driving in a vehicle named in your policy
- You are riding or driving in a vehicle named in your policy
- While being a pedestrian
- anyone else riding in or driving your insured vehicle with your permission
In terms of the numbers, UIM coverage must hit the $25,000 (per person) and $50,000 (per accident) threshold to meet state requirements. Be aware that UIM does not cover property damages.
There are a number of optional insurance policies that may be smart depending on your circumstances. These are: collision, comprehensive, medical payments (medpay) and uninsured property damage.
Insurance laws in Illinois are complicated and dealing with an insurance company can be a headache. If you’re feeling in over your head, consulting with an attorney never hurts. Most will offer a free consultation.
But regardless of whether you decide to retain counsel you’ll want to understand basic insurance requirements and how fault factors into auto crash claims. Remember:
- Illinois is not a no-fault state, but runs under a tort system with modified comparative negligence. This means that the driver who caused the accident pays up to the percentage which they are deemed liable.
- Liability insurance is a requirement for all drivers in Illinois. They must have $15,000 for property damage, $20,000 for individual injury/death and $40,000 for multiple person injury/death.
- UIM coverage is also mandated for all drivers. It covers a variety of situations but is mostly there to protect against other drivers lacking proper insurance. Amounts must equal $25,000/$50,000.
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