If you were recently involved in a car accident, you will likely want to hold the liable driver responsible for your injuries, medical expenses from those injuries, or any property damage you have suffered. If you’re in this position and are asking the question, “Someone hit my car, but whose insurance do I call after a car accident?” we’re covering everything you need to know in this blog post.
What types of car insurance coverage are required in Illinois?
Before getting into the answer to the question, “Whose insurance do I call after an accident,” it’s important to understand the basics of required insurance in Illinois. Pursuant to 625 ILCS § 5/7-203, all motor vehicle owners in the state of Illinois are required to obtain (at minimum) each of the following types of coverage:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the at-fault driver
- $50,000 total for all injuries or deaths in an accident caused by the at-fault driver
- $20,000 for damage to the property of another person in an accident caused by the at-fault driver
This minimum liability coverage covers medical bills, property damage bills, and other related costs resulting from other drivers, passengers, and/or pedestrians who are injured in a car accident or have suffered damages from this accident. However, it is also recommended that Illinois drivers obtain additional collision insurance coverage just in case they are involved in more serious car accidents that result in more substantial injuries or damages. Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that once policy limits have been reached, an at-fault driver will be required to pay out-of-pocket for any expenses stemming from the injuries and/or property damages suffered in a car accident.
Is Illinois a “no-fault” car insurance state?
In “no-fault” car insurance states, a driver injured in a car accident will be required to use their own car insurance coverage in order to pay for medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses, regardless of who actually caused the accident. These states typically require drivers to obtain personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which is a minimum level of car insurance used to pay for medical bills and other related expenses after a driver gets into a car accident. In these no-fault states, a driver typically cannot make a claim against the driver who actually caused the accident unless the claim reaches certain statutory thresholds.
Illinois state law does not follow “no-fault” car insurance system; instead, the state follows a “fault” system when it comes to financial responsibility for injuries and vehicle damages resulting from car accidents. This means that the driver who caused the accident alone will be responsible for compensating anyone who suffered harm as a result of the crash (i.e. via the responsible driver’s insurance policy).
Furthermore, because Illinois adheres to a “fault” car insurance system, any person who is either injured or suffers damages as a result of a car accident can typically choose one of the following options to receive compensation from the responsible party:
- The injured driver can file a claim with his own insurance company (assuming that the particular damages are covered under that policy)
- The injured driver can file a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier
- The injured driver can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver
Whose insurance do I call after a car accident?
Because Illinois is an “at-fault” state, you should exchange information and contact the insurance provider of the driver whom you believe is liable for your injuries and/or property damage. However, it is also recommended, but not necessarily required, that you call your own auto insurance company, as well.
The law in Illinois requires that all motor vehicles registered and operated in Illinois must be covered by liability insurance. This law does not necessarily require you to tell your car insurance company about your car accident. However, nearly all car insurance contracts require you to report the accident very soon after the crash. Furthermore, if you do not report the accident, the insurer may refuse you reimbursement for the injuries or property damage that you have suffered.
As such, as a policyholder, you should make sure that you are familiar with the terms of your car insurance contract. If you do not have a copy of your car insurance contract, you should call or email your insurance company to receive a copy. Closely review the terms of the insurance contract and make sure that you can answer the following questions:
- What are your auto insurance policy’s bodily injury limits?
- Does the policy provide medical payments (MedPay) coverage? MedPay coverage (which is not required for Illinois drivers) is an extra allowance for the insured in case of injuries resulting from a car accident. MedPay coverage can typically be used to pay for unexpected medical charges, such as medical co-pays or doctor’s visits.
- Does the policy provide uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage? Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects you in situations where you get into a car accident with a person who either has no car insurance or has significantly low bodily injury coverage.
Why might the liable driver’s insurance company deny a third-party’s claim?
Beyond the issue of, “Whose insurance do I call after an accident,” it’s important to know other issues you may run into throughout the process. The liable party’s insurance company may deny a third-party’s claim for some of the following reasons:
- The insured party was not at fault for the accident.
- The third-party is seeking recovery for damages that do not appear to have been caused by the accident.
- The third-party is seeking excessive damages.
- Sometimes, pro se plaintiffs (plaintiffs who intend to represent themselves rather than being represented by an attorney) mistakenly name the insurance company as the defendant.
- The insurance company denies the claim for failure to notify it.
- The insurance company denies the claim for non-payment of the car insurance premium.
What is the settlement process?
A settlement is an agreement to resolve a legal claim for injuries or damages. In a typical car accident settlement, the injured victim agrees not to sue for damages, or to end any lawsuit that has already been filed, in exchange for a payment from the liable party. Most of these cases are resolved via settlements rather than with a trial. In most of these cases, the settlement process proceeds in the following manner:
- An attorney representing an injured victim will request a compensation amount from the liable party’s insurance company. The insurance company will then propose another, lower amount, and the parties will go back and forth trying to convince each other that their amount is the right one until they reach a fair and reasonable settlement amount. During this back and forth, the attorney will communicate with the client to determine whether or not the client is willing to accept any of the insurance company’s settlement offers.
- Once the attorney and the insurance adjuster agree to a settlement amount, the client and the liable party will sign a written settlement agreement. The terms of the settlement agreement will specifically state the amount and timing of the payment; the legal rights the victim gives up by agreeing to the payment; and any other actions the parties agree to take to resolve the legal claims process.
- After the parties have signed the settlement agreement, the case has been officially resolved. It is important to note that once the parties sign the agreement, the settlement is final and binding and as such, neither party can revise the terms of the agreement.
How can a personal injury attorney help me obtain a better car insurance settlement?
Though it is true that you could negotiate your own settlement, a personal injury attorney can likely help you obtain a better settlement than you would be able to obtain on your own. This is because of the following:
- An attorney will typically have good negotiation skills. It is important to note that if you choose to negotiate your own settlement with the other party’s insurance agent, you will be stuck with that amount once you accept it. You cannot later go back and try to renegotiate for a better amount. As such, it makes sense to use an attorney, whose job is to ensure that you receive the best possible settlement to fully compensate for any injuries and other damages you may have suffered.
- An attorney is able to conduct a more extensive investigation. Experienced car accident injury lawyers conduct thorough investigations in order to identify every party that may have a legal liability to their client. In fact, in some cases, parties may have more of a liability to the victim than the victim originally anticipated.
- An attorney can help maximize your recovery. An attorney can help you “think outside the box” when it comes to recovery. For example, they may be able to seek certain damages from the liable party of which you were completely unaware. An experienced attorney will let you know of all of the damages you are entitled to and will attempt to obtain compensation for these damages during the settlement negotiations process.
- An attorney can help draft a better legal argument. If this is your first time negotiating a settlement, you may not know where to begin. An attorney will create a legal argument that will make it clear that you are entitled to compensation.
- An attorney has experience communicating with insurance companies. If you are dealing with an insurance company, you may run into an issue where the communication is lacking or altogether nonexistent. Attorneys have experience communicating with these companies and they can reach out to check on the status of your settlement if you have been unsuccessful.
For more information regarding the settlement process, make sure to check out our article, “How to Get Better Car Accident Insurance Claim Settlements.”
Were You Recently Injured in a Car Accident? Speak to an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney
If you were recently injured in an auto accident and wondering, “Whose insurance do I call after an accident,” the Palermo Law Group can help. We will work hard to help you prepare a strong personal injury case and will ensure that you are able to hold the liable party responsible for your injuries. Call us today at (630)-684-2332 or use our online form to speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.