Illinois is considered a tort state for car accidents. In some other states, those involved in an accident file claims on their own insurance. Those are known as no-fault states. Illinois requires that drivers file claims with one another’s insurance and a determination is made as to whom was at fault for the accident.
While this system works well enough, there is a lot to know. What happens when the other driver does not carry insurance? What happens if the other driver leaves the scene of the accident? What happens when both drivers are at fault?
In this article, we will discuss some of the basics behind the Illinois tort system for handling traffic accidents and why it is necessary to have an attorney manage your claim.
In cases in which you file a claim against another driver, a determination must be made as to whom is at fault for the accident. In some cases, both parties might be assigned a percentage of the blame. In these cases, you are entitled to recover a percentage of your total damages.
For instance, let us assume that you are 30% to blame for an accident and you prove your damages to be $10,000. You would be entitled to collect 70% of $10,000, or $7,000.
In these cases, however, you are going up against the at-fault party’s insurance company who has every incentive to blame you for the accident, exploit ambiguities in witness statements and the police report, and devalue your claim. For this reason, it helps to have a skilled traffic accident attorney manage your claim and ensure you are compensated fairly for your injuries.
Illinois requires drivers carry uninsured motorist coverage. This pays out in the event that you are struck by another driver who either flees the scene of the accident and cannot be found later or a driver who does not have car insurance as required by law. In these cases, you file a claim against your own UIM policy for your injuries and those who were in the vehicle with you at the time of the accident. You can also sue the driver directly, but those who are driving around without car insurance tend not to have major assets on which to draw.
If you are a pedestrian struck by a hit and run driver, if you own a vehicle, you are entitled to use the uninsured motorist provision of your auto insurance policy – even though you were not driving it at the time of the injury!
While the insurance company has a fiduciary responsibility to act in your best interests, it is also a for-profit company that is interested in its bottom line. In some cases, they will unfairly undervalue or outright deny otherwise valid claims. Here, an attorney can help.
Illinois requires drivers to carry underinsured motorist coverage. This comes into play in the event that the other driver has a liability policy that does not adequately cover your damages. Your underinsured motorists policy will kick in if you purchased coverage that is higher than that of the at-fault driver. For instance, if the other driver has a $25,000 liability policy, and you have a $100,000 underinsured motorists policy, you will be able to collect from your own insurance company for damages above $25,000 – and in this example, capped at $100,000. In these cases, after claiming money from the at-fault driver, we would file a claim against your UIM policy for your injuries and those who were in the vehicle with you at the time of the accident.
Saks, Robinson & Rittenberg, Ltd. works tirelessly to ensure that you are compensated fairly under Illinois’ insurance laws. If you are struggling to get a decent offer from the insurance company, give us a call or talk to us online. We can help.
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