Being struck by a negligent motorist on the roads of Chicago is a terrifying experience. In an at-fault insurance state like Illinois, the good news is that you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to recover the losses you suffered in the collision.
But what can you do when the motorist responsible for your injuries wasn’t covered under an auto insurance policy?
Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys represents victims of motor vehicle collisions in Chicago. The attorneys at our firm have experience handling the complexities of car accident claims—including situations involving uninsured motorists. After learning more about what happens if you’re hit by an uninsured driver, reach out to our office for a free consultation to discuss your case.
Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in Illinois?
Uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage can greatly help when you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver. In the state of Illinois, all motorists must carry at least the minimum amount of Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage. This protection is added to your liability insurance policy, which covers the cost of injuries and property damage you might cause to another party in an accident.
These are the minimum limits for liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage in Illinois:
- $25,000 for injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people
- $20,000 for property damage
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
- $25,000 per person
- $50,000 per accident
It is illegal to operate a vehicle in Illinois without proof of insurance. There is a minimum $500 fine for operating an uninsured vehicle and a minimum $1,000 fine for driving a vehicle after the registration has been suspended for not carrying insurance.
If you are caught driving without insurance for the first time, your vehicle registration will be suspended until a $100 reinstatement fee and proof of insurance have been submitted. If you repeatedly violate Illinois auto insurance laws, you will be required to undergo a four-month suspension, in addition to paying the $100 reinstatement fee and providing proof of insurance.
Why the Minimum Limits for Illinois UM Coverage Aren’t High Enough
A serious car accident can result in costly injuries that require months of rehabilitative care, missed work, and emotional recovery. This takes a severe financial toll on injured victims. The minimum requirements for uninsured motorist coverage in Illinois simply aren’t high enough to fully cover these enormous costs.
Through our experience advocating for survivors and family members of motor vehicle collisions in Chicago, we have repeatedly observed the inadequacy of minimum uninsured motorist insurance coverage. It’s our strong recommendation that every motorist considers adding higher amounts of UM/UIM coverage to their existing policies. Upping your policy limits is a relatively low expense compared to the financial assistance it can provide when an irresponsible driver has little or no liability insurance coverage.
The cost of treating car accident injuries isn’t sufficiently weighed in minimum coverage limits. The following statistics from the National Safety Council can help put this into perspective.
- The average economic cost of a car accident resulting in a fatality is $1,750,000.
- When noneconomic factors (like diminished quality of life) are considered, the cost of a fatal accident is $11,449,000 per injured person.
- The total economic and noneconomic losses associated with an accident that causes permanent disability is $1,252,000 per injured person.
- An accident that causes non-debilitating injuries costs, on average, $345,000 per injured person.
As you can see, the $25,000 or $50,000 provided by an uninsured motorist protection plan isn’t nearly enough to cover the cost of serious injuries in a car accident. Even collisions that result in no injuries have an average cost of $52,700.
These numbers include losses such as lost income, medical expenses, administrative costs, property damage, and reduced health and safety risks. The totality of these damages is what your attorney will help you calculate when filing your claim against the at-fault motorist.
Illinois Comparative Negligence Laws
If you were involved in an accident with another driver, you’ll also need to be aware of the comparative negligence laws that apply in Chicago and throughout the state. Illinois adheres to a modified comparative negligence system. This means that more than one party can be partially responsible for an accident. You are eligible to be compensated for injuries sustained in a collision as long as you are less than half at fault.
Motorists up to 50% at fault for causing an accident can still recover damages, but their percentage of compensation will be reduced by the percentage they are determined to be at fault. For example, if one driver is 30% responsible for a motor vehicle crash, they can recover 70% of the financial compensation they are eligible to receive based on their losses.
What Kind of Lawyer Can Help if I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver?
If the negligent actions of an insured driver caused you to suffer losses, you can take legal action to seek damages. However, while this process is entirely feasible with the help of a qualified lawyer, it is extremely difficult to accomplish on your own. You will need to have a full understanding of state laws that apply to your case, the documents you need to file, where to obtain evidence to support your claim, the statutes of limitations within which you must take action, how to negotiate with insurance companies, and how to represent yourself in court before a judge and jury. This is a monumental undertaking, especially when you’re recovering from car accident injuries.
That’s why a car accident lawyer is the best person to help you recover from the financial injuries you sustained at the hands of an uninsured driver. An attorney can help you prove fault and calculate the compensation you deserve to receive—and then work to see that you get justice.
If you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver, your case will be more complicated than many other accident victims’ cases. But with the right legal representation, you can successfully win back the financial assistance to which you are legally entitled.
Call or fill out our online contact form today to learn more. We can begin with a free case evaluation to determine if you have grounds for a legal claim.