What Happens When I Am Involved in an Accident with an Uninsured Driver?
Regardless of whether at the time of the accident you are in another vehicle, on a motorcycle or bicycle, or even if you are walking on foot, if an uninsured driver hits you and the uninsured driver is predominately at fault, you likely still have rights.
If you have ever been involved in a vehicle collision, a mere heartbeat after you assess that you are not severely hurt, there is an overwhelming spell of intense anxiety that creeps into your body as a deluge of thoughts flood your head. You might worry about the extent of the damage to your vehicle, and who is going to pay for it. You might be replaying the accident over in your head trying to figure out who is at fault. Did you signal that turn? Was your light green? You might be chanting to yourself, “don’t admit fault,” like your insurance company always tells you to do, even though you feel guilty about being in the accident at all and you just want to make sure the people in the other vehicle are alright. And then it hits you: “What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?”
Carrying valid vehicle insurance is very important for protecting yourself and others in the event of an accident. However, some people and certain situations can lead to drivers being on the road with inadequate insurance, or no insurance at all. Regardless of whether at the time of the accident you are in another vehicle, on a motorcycle or bicycle, or even if you are walking on foot, if an uninsured driver hits you and the uninsured driver is predominately at fault, you likely still have rights.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage
Uninsured motorist insurance coverage is usually included in your own insurance, and provides an insured individual with damages for any injuries caused by an uninsured, negligent driver. Illinois law requires vehicle insurers to provide uninsured motorist coverage, as well as underinsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage applies when the negligent driver has an insufficient amount of insurance to cover the damage he caused in the accident. In order to be compensated for your damages, you must submit an uninsured motorist claim to your insurance provider. The process for submitting a claim is considerably more involved than simply filing the claim, and requires adhering to certain time frames, submitting written notices and various other specialized procedures. An experienced attorney can help you navigate through the maze of red tape your insurance company puts between you and the compensation you deserve.
You Will Be Suing Your Own Insurance Company
When you file a claim against your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist insurance coverage, you are seeking damages from your insurer. Even though they are your insurance provider, it is unlikely that they will pay out the damages you have requested without a fight. It is most likely to your benefit to seek legal counsel to step in and deal with your insurance company on your behalf.
How Your Insurance Covers You
There are two types of insurance policy that can cover you in a car accident with an uninsured motorist:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is optional coverage that will cover the cost of your injuries up to the stated limit no matter who is at fault for a car accident.
- Uninsured Motorist (UM) is required coverage that will cover you if your accident is with a hit-and-run driver or with an uninsured motorist who is at fault for the car accident.
How Negligence Can Affect Compensation
Illinois utilizes a system of negligence known as comparative negligence, which means that each person is entitled to compensation for the amount the court decides the other driver or drivers are at fault.
PIP coverage is not affected by negligence, but UM insurance will only cover you for the extent the other driver is found to be at fault for your car accident. An experience car accident attorney can help you demonstrate the other driver’s fault so you can get maximum coverage for your injuries.
What To Do If You Are Injured by an Uninsured Driver
Even though we trust other drivers to follow the rules of the road and drive safely, there are numerous cases when this trust is broken and accidents are caused because of negligence, speeding, and aggressive driving. Every year, a large number of car accidents are caused by uninsured/underinsured drivers. Some estimate that in the United States, around 1 out of 6 drivers are uninsured. Furthermore, about 14 percent of car accidents are caused by uninsured drivers. In Illinois, close to 13 percent of drivers are uninsured and an even greater number are underinsured. In addition, a large number of accidents also involve hit and run drivers, who are generally treated as uninsured drivers by the law.
If you are injured in an accident caused by an underinsured, uninsured, or hit and run driver, you should understand your rights. Speak to an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer before proceeding with the claim process.
The accident may have caused serious injuries and extensive damage to your vehicle and you may be faced with a pile of bills to pay. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, the difference between your medical expenses and the limit of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy may be covered. Consult a Chicago car accident lawyer to find out if you have an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim.
Insurance Requirement in Illinois
In Illinois it is mandatory for drivers to have insurance that pays at least:
- Bodily injury or death claim of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in case the accident is your fault.
- $15,000 in case of damage to someone else’s property.
When you buy full coverage insurance in Illinois, you are required to have coverage of up to $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident when the accident is caused by the fault of another person who is underinsured/uninsured.
Have Enough Coverage
It is always better to have as much cover as you can afford as the state minimums would barely cover expenses if the injuries suffered are serious. As a rule of thumb, your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage will have the same limit as your injury cover. For example, if you have bodily injury cover of $40, 000 you should have underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage of $40,000 as well.
Uninsured Driver Statistics in Chicago
According to estimates by the Insurance Research Center (IRC), the most reliable source on the subject of uninsured motorists, about 15% of drivers in Illinois had no auto insurance, compared to the nationwide rate of 13.8%.