Glenview Auto Accident – What do you do if you get sued?

Glenview Auto AccidentIf you are involved in a Glenview auto accident, you may have been the driver who caused the accident rather than the victim. What do you do if you get sued? Check out this blog article on what to do if you cause an auto accident. And call for a free consultation if you have any questions at 847-305-4105.

There have been a couple really bad Glenview auto accident cases in the past 60 days. In one accident, a Glenview teenager named Jun Yang was involved in a solo vehicle accident. He had a passenger in the car who was also injured. Yang was 16 years old. I am the father of three teenage daughters, one of whom drives and a second who is about to start driver’s ed. So, this story really impacted me.

Then at the end of June 2018, a construction worker was hit by a truck that was backing up near Chicago Tribune, the worker suffered serious injuries and was taken to the emergency room at Lutheran General Hospital.

If you are injured in a Glenview auto accident through no fault of your own, there are numerous resources on this website where you can find information on how to proceed. I will shamelessly suggest you should talk to a Glenview lawyer about your case.

But what do you do if you caused the auto accident? In that case, you are the “defendant.” This is the situation we all dread because if you did, in fact, cause the accident:

  • Your car was likely also damaged
  • You have to pay your deductible to get your car fixed
  • You will have to spend a lot of time dealing with the aftermath of the accident, and of course
  • You cannot recover for your “pain and suffering”
  • Your auto insurance rates will likely go up

What are your defenses to have caused the accident?

Your primary defense to having caused a Glenview auto accident (aside from pleading innocence) is to argue that the other driver was comparatively negligent. In the state of Illinois, a driver can recover for their damages if they are not more than 50% responsible for the accident.

If you can prove that the other driver was even slightly drunk, or texting while driving, or otherwise distracted and that they, therefore, were partially at fault for the accident, you can diminish the amount of your responsibility for the accident.

What should you do?

Bottom line is, if you hit someone, call your insurance company immediately. That is why you have auto insurance. You’ve paid premiums for years just in case this situation arises. Let your insurance company and the insurance adjuster do their job. Believe me, they will look for every mechanism possible to deny or reduce your liability.

What if you don’t have auto insurance?

First, if you don’t have auto insurance, you can and likely will be cited by the police officer and will be required to appear in court.

You will be personally “liable” or responsible for the damages you caused. And you may very well get sued. Chances are if you cannot afford auto insurance you can’t afford to hire an attorney to defend you. In this case, you have to hope that the person you hit has adequate limits of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage and collision coverage to get their vehicle fixed.

Regardless, you will likely get a letter from the insurance company which will seek to “subrogate” or obtains reimbursement for the money they paid to their insured.

The bottom line is that before you get in a Glenview auto accident, make sure you have adequate limits of auto insurance. If you want a free consultation on how to best protect yourself, feel free to contact me at 847-305-4105.

Glenview Attorney – highlights of Glenview Summerfest

My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am a Glenview attorney. On June 30, 2018, I participated as a “vendor” at the Glenview Summerfest which took place Glenview Lawyerin downtown Glenview, Illinois. I wanted to reflect on the experience and say thank you to a few people.

Briefly, I have lived in Glenview since 2001 just before my first daughter was born. My other 2 daughters were born and raised here as well. We have loved our schools, the Park District, the Glenview Dance and Music Academy and a wide variety of other Glenview institutions for the past 17 years. My office is in Glenview and I’m a member of the Glenview Chamber of Commerce.

Glenview is a sleepy kind of community with just over 40,000 residents. We Glenview Lawyerhave some nice restaurants but night life is not booming so to speak.  But we have a good mix of old and young, enough Starbucks for me never to go without and a growing and vibrant business community.

My favorite places to go in Glenview include The Glen (where former President George H.W. Bush trained), Abt Electronics and the Grove. We also have Kohl’s Children’s museum which my kids loved when they were young and we’ve been to countless times.

Glenview has 2 Metra train stations with easy access to downtown Chicago in 35 minutes. It also has good bus service. My administrative assistant takes a bus from Evanston and gets dropped off right in front of my office.

Glenview Attorney

My goal as a Glenview attorney is to serve the village of Glenview andGlenview Attorney surrounding areas. If you look at my website, you’ll find articles and references to several cities including Northbrook, Niles and Mount Prospect among others.

There are not a lot of lawyers in the village of Glenview. On the Glenview Chamber website, there are only 8 firms/members who are lawyers actually based in Glenview. As such, I’m interested in being a resource for Glenview residents on a variety of legal topics.

My primary practice is in personal injury but as a Glenview attorney I have found that the vast majority of calls to my office are for other practice areas including estate planning, criminal law/traffic tickets and employment law. Fortunately, I have a network of attorneys I work with daily who practice in a wide variety of practice areas and as such, I am a good referral source for Glenview residents who need a referral to another attorney.

Glenview Summerfest

Last weekend with the Glenview Summerfest which was organized by the Glenview Chamber. I purchased a booth at the event and set up shop. You can see from the photos that it was a great event despite the heat which was almost unbearable. I heard it got to 103 on the heat index and it felt like it.

As part of my efforts to encourage pride in our village, I gave

Glenview Summerfestout stickers that say “GLV” on them – for Glenview of course. There’s not much else a Glenview attorney can hand out that wouldn’t bore people.

A special thank you to our Glenview Police Department and Glenview Fire and EMS as well. When I say I overheated I’m not kidding. I needed some help and the GPD and GFD provided great assistance.

I enjoy being a Glenview attorney and want to offer the best service I can to our residents. If you have any legal issues, please feel free to use me as a resource. Call me today at 847-305-4105.

5 Reasons Why You Should Report Your Accident to Your own Insurance Company

Skokie Auto AccidentIf retained to represent you in a Skokie auto accident case, I will give you 5 reasons why you should report your accident to your own insurance company. Call today at 847-305-4105 for more information on this topic or continue reading.

Many Skokie auto accident victims have told me that they do not want to file a claim with their own auto insurance company after an accident as they are afraid their own rates are going to go up.

A rate increase is a possibility regardless of fault. However, I have found that the vast majority of clients involved in accidents where they were not at fault did not have their rates increased. In fact, I can’t think of a single one who reported an increase to me. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, I’m just not aware of it.

Am I Required to Report the Accident by Law?

In the state of Illinois there is no law that requires that you report a Skokie auto accident to your auto insurance company. However, you are required to report the accident to the Illinois Department of Transportation within ten days if your accident meets certain requirements (link).

Then why report your accident?

5 Reasons Why You Should Report Your Accident to Your own Insurance Company 

  1. Contract Law

When you signed up for auto insurance you signed a contract with Allstate or State Farm or whoever you signed up with. Your auto insurance contract may require you to report any accident you are involved in to your insurance company. If you do not and your insurance company finds out about your Skokie auto accident, they could cancel your insurance policy.

  1. Medpay Insurance

Many auto insurance policies contain “medpay” or medical payments coverage. Medpay is something you can add to an auto policy and it will pay for the first $2,500 or $5,000 (or whatever you purchased) in medical expenses. Medpay has many advantages as there are no co-pays, no deductibles and you can get it regardless of fault.

You don’t necessarily have to file a claim with your auto insurance company to find out if you have medpay. Just call them up and ask whether you have it or not. If you do and you’ve got medical bills to pay, it may be a good idea to file a claim with your own insurance company, even if you were not at fault for the accident.

  1. Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM)

I have talked at length on this website about how many Illinois drivers do not have any auto insurance. In addition, a huge number of people who do have insurance only have the minimum insurance required by the state of Illinois.

If you are involved in a serious Skokie auto accident, the minimum limits of $25,000 are not going to cover your medical bills let alone compensate you for your pain and suffering.

As such, many people purchase UM/UIM of at least $100,000. That way, if you get hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can go after your own auto insurance policy for compensation.

Again, you don’t have to file necessarily to find out how much insurance you have. If the driver who hit you has a minimum policy and you do too, there may be no reason to file. Call us at 847-305-4105 to discuss what you should do if you are faced with this situation.

  1. Collision coverage

After your accident, the auto insurance for the driver who hit you may need to investigate the accident before paying for your property damage. To “accept liability” or responsibility for the accident they may have to wait to see the police report. That can cause serious delays and most people need to get the car back quickly.

As such, if you have collision coverage on your vehicle, your own auto insurance company can inspect your vehicle and pay for the repairs. This will occur much quicker than using the third party’s insurance.

The downside is that you will have to pay your deductible. However, you should get it back. If you are not at fault for the accident, your own insurance company will “subrogate” against the defendant’s insurance company to get reimbursed for the money it cost to get your car fixed. You should get your deductible back when subrogation is completed.

  1. Time limit

Within your own auto insurance policy, there may be a time limit within which you have to report an accident. If you do not file within the specified time limit, your insurance company could deny your claim.

It’s not that far fetched. I have seen a couple cases usually involving sub-standard auto insurance carriers where an accident victim missed a timeline and consequently their claim was denied.

So these were the top 5 Reasons Why You Should Report Your Accident to Your own Insurance Company. But there are other reasons as well. If you would like a free consultation on this or any other legal topic, please feel free to reach out to me at 847-305-4105. If I can’t help you, I’ll find someone who can.

Small Claims Court – Small Claim Lawyers | Chicago, Illinois

Small Claims CourtIf you suffered minor injuries in a Chicago, Illinois, auto accident, you might want to consider filing a lawsuit in small claims court. If you want to speak to a small claims lawyer, feel free to contact us at 847-305-4105.

This is for information purposes only. Our firm represents people who suffer significant injuries in car crashes and other personal injury accidents. We do not handle property damage or other small claims cases. Still, I hope you find the information below valuable and that it helps you pursue your action against the insurance company or other party.

What is Small Claims Court?

According to the Illinois Attorney General website, small claims court is the ideal court to file a lawsuit in if you have suffered damages of $10,000.00 or less (plus costs). As such, if you suffered any of the following and your damages were less than $10,000.00, you might want to consider filing in small claims court:

  • Property damage
  • Personal injury
  • Breach of contract
  • Eviction
  • Repossessions
  • Garnishments

I am a Chicago Illinois auto accident lawyer. I also represent victims of dog bites, slip/trip and falls and other personal injury matters. If you suffered damages of $10,000.00 or less in a personal injury related matter, I may be able to help you.

Why choose Small Claims Court

It’s faster, cheaper, less formal, and intended to resolve smaller disputed claims. In addition, if you were involved in an auto accident and the insurance company is being non-responsive, filing suit against their insured driver will force them to act.

Do you need an attorney in Small Claims Court

No, technically you do not need an attorney. However, the insurance company will have an attorney there representing their insured and as such, it may be a good idea for you to be represented as well.

If you are involved in an eviction or other non-injury related matter, you can probably represent yourself. However, do your research first. There is a lot of information on the Cook County website about small claims court. In addition, there is a free website offered by Illinois Legal Aid that has a lot of valuable information. I did a YouTube video on “Pro se” representation that you could view as well. Pro se basically means representing oneself.

Small Claims Court cases I can help with

I receive a lot of calls from people injured in auto accidents who suffered “minor” to moderate injuries. I’m referring primarily to soft tissue back and neck strains and sprains. Don’t get me wrong, these are real injuries. However, insurance companies simply aren’t paying for them anymore.

If you attempt to negotiate a settlement on your own, Allstate or Farmers will likely offer you your medical expenses plus a very small sum on top to compensate you for your pain and suffering. When I small I mean $250-$1,000.

That is not enough money to adequately compensate you for what you’ve been through. However, most attorneys cannot take on a case like that because there is so little of a payoff down the road.

I may be able to help you. If you:

  • Went to the emergency room or sought medical treatment the day of the accident
  • Have $3,000 to $6,000 in medical bills
  • Suffered a significant sprain/strain that required you to obtain a MRI or physical therapy

If your injuries were worse than that or your medical bills are in excess of that, then you may have an even larger case.

What is required of you?

If you do retain my office to represent you for your injuries, I will obtain your medical bills and records at my own cost and will only be reimbursed for those costs if we recover for your damages.

However, I expect clients that retain me to represent them as their small claims lawyer to pay for the fee for filing their complaint. If we prevail, you may be reimbursed for this and other costs.

If you would like to discuss your small claims court case with a small claims lawyer, contact me at 847-305-4105.

Mount Prospect Attorney – Co-pays after an auto accident

Co-pays after an auto accident
If you were injured in the village of Mount Prospect or anywhere in the state of Illinois, you may wonder whether you can recover for your co-pays after an auto accident. You can. But not how you might think. For a free consultation on this or any other topic, call Mount Prospect attorney Barry Zlotowicz for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Co-pays after an auto accident

If you were injured in an auto accident or any other type of personal injury accident, you probably sought medical care shortly thereafter. Perhaps you went to the emergency room or a local urgent care. After your medical care is completed, you will begin to receive medical bills for the treatment.

The auto insurance company for the driver who hit you will NOT pay your medical bills until your case is resolved. However, your health insurance may pay for the bills. You may have to pay your health insurance back out of the proceeds of your settlement.

If you do use your health insurance to pay your medical bills, you will likely have co-pays, co-insurance and/or a deductible that must be paid before your health insurance kicks in. That does not change after an auto accident.

If you receive a bill for a co-pay you must pay it. Otherwise, the bill could go to collections. If you are attempting to obtain follow-up care, for example, with your primary care physician, or more significantly, if you are attending physical therapy, you will have to pay your co-pay on every visit.

That can be costly. I’ve had more than one client who did not pursue additional medical care because she/he could not afford the co-pays.

The same applies for your deductible. Let’s say hypothetically that you have a deductible of $2,500. If you go to the emergency room and your bill is $5,000, you will get a bill for $2,500. If you don’t pay that bill, it may very well go to collections.

People often ask if they will recover for the co-pays after an auto accident. Yes, you will, but not how you think. After you are done treating, your Mount Prospect attorney will demand that the defendant driver’s auto insurance company reimburse your for ALL of your medical bills – not just your deductible.

Your co-pay is just a fixed part/portion of an entire medical bill. As such, you will not receive reimbursement specifically for the co-pay. Rather, you will seek reimbursement for your entire bill.

Auto accident settlement example

This is frustrating to some people because the settlement offer the auto insurance company makes you is intended to compensate you for your pain and suffering as well as pay for your medical bills.

For example, if you have medical bills of $3,000 and the insurance company offers you $10,000 to settle your case, the $3k in medical bills are included in the $10,000 offer. Often accident victims think that the $10,000 all goes to them. It does not. By the way, if you have attorneys’ fees, those come out of the settlement amount as well.

So, Yes, you will recover for your co-pays

Regardless how you get compensated, you will receive reimbursement for your medical bill co-pays and your deductible. It may just not be when you want it or you need it.

There are other options to pay your medical bills. Those can be found in my blog article on this topic. But in some they include obtaining medical service on lien or using your medpay insurance in your auto insurance policy.

If you have any additional questions about obtaining reimbursement for your co-pays after an auto accident, feel free to reach out to Mount Prospect attorney Barry Zlotowicz at 847-305-4105.

Niles Personal Injury Attorney – Why chiropractors are important to personal injury cases

Niles personal injury attorney – Why chiropractors are important to personal injury cases

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you why chiropractors are important to personal injury cases. A lot of lawyers might disagree with me. Niles Personal Injury AttorneySome orthopedists might as well. However, in my experience as a Niles personal injury attorney, chiropractors have played an important role in the recovery of many of my clients. Call today at 847-305-4105 to learn why or continue reading.

Our office is located in Glenview, Illinois, right next door to the village of Niles, Illinois. While a quiet community, Niles is multi-ethnic, has a public library with great content and is home to the Golf-Mil shopping center. There have also been significant auto accidents in Niles including a recent pedestrian fatality. Niles is also home to at least one excellent chiropractor that I have worked with.

Why chiropractors are important to personal injury cases

By far the majority of auto accident victims suffer “soft tissue” injuries such as back or neck sprains or strains. In fact, the ratio is probably 20 to 1 of calls I receive from people who suffered sprains/strains in an accident compared to those who suffered a fracture or other injury.

By the way, I use the phrase “soft-tissue” loosely. This phrase is used by insurance companies to diminish the significance of your injuries. I don’t agree with that as soft tissue injuries could include torn ligaments and even a heart attack. And soft tissue injuries can be very painful and persist for an extended period. Still, that’s the language the insurance industry uses and as such, so will we.

The challenge with soft tissue injuries is that it’s very difficult to get an auto insurance company to compensate victims with soft tissue injuries. If you’ve represented yourself against an insurance company, you learned the hard way that they will offer to pay for your medical bills and offer you an extra $500 or $1,000 to compensate you for your pain and suffering. As a Niles personal injury attorney, I’ve seen it countless times.

Most important recommendation

The traditional treatment utilized by most victims of soft tissue injuries is to see a chiropractor or to obtain physical therapy.

If you do see a chiropractor, the most important thing you can do from a personal injury case perspective is seeing your primary care physician or orthopedist BEFORE or shortly after you see the chiropractor.

Why? The insurance company wants it that way. The reality is that the insurance company sets the rules and we have to play the game. And they want to see that you obtained traditional medical care and were referred to a chiropractor before you went.

This raises another issue. It’s getting harder and harder to get medical care and it’s extremely expensive. Depending on your health insurance and/or the schedule of your primary care physician, it may take a while to get into to see your doctor. This is particularly true for people who have Illinois Medicaid.

This risk of delay is that it may result in a “gap in treatment.” Gaps are something that are capitalized on by auto insurance companies to diminish an accident victim’s recovery.

So, what do you do? I always tell my clients, “focus on your health, not your case.” As such, if you can quickly get into a chiropractor then do it. Just make sure you document your efforts to get into your PCP and get that appointment scheduled.

Ways to pay for chiropractic treatment

From a Niles personal injury attorney perspective, one of the main advantages of using a chiropractor is the many ways you can pay for chiropractic treatment.

First and foremost, there is a common misperception that the insurance company for the driver that injured you will pay for your medical treatment as you obtain it. That is not how it works. You are responsible to get those medical bills paid. It’s an unfair system. You were the innocent victim. But if you submit your bills to the defendant’s auto insurance, those bills will just sit in a folder and risk being sent to collections. You will not be reimbursed for your medical bills until your case is resolved.

There are several ways to pay for a chiropractor after an auto accident. You can pay cash, or you can try to submit the bills to your health insurance company for payment.

However, the two best ways to pay for your chiropractor are to use your medpay (medical payments) insurance or obtain treatment on “lien”.

Medpay

I have spoken about medpay many times on this site. In short, medpay is found in your own auto insurance policy. People often have $2,500 or $5,000 in medpay. It’s not automatically included in a policy. You have to ask for it.

If you do have it, then your chiropractor can send your chiropractic bills directly to your insurance company for payment. There’s no deductible and no co-pays associated with medpay.

Lien

The most common scenario I see as a Niles personal injury attorney is that chiropractors provide their services on lien. Meaning, the chiropractor agrees to treat the patient and the patient signs a lien that promises that they will pay the chiropractor back for his/her treatment when their case is resolved.

There are a lot of great chiropractors in the Chicago area. I’ve used them myself and found great relief from chiropractic treatment. If you’ve suffered whiplash or other neck/back pain as a result of a personal injury accident, consider seeing a chiropractor.

If you require a referral to a chiropractor, feel free to contact our office at 847-305-4105.

Wheeling Military Personal Injury Lawyer

This weekend is Memorial Day and I’ve been so actively involved in several Wheeling Military Personal Injury Lawyermilitary personal injury claims in the past eighteen months, I wanted to say as a Wheeling military personal injury lawyer, I am grateful for the service of our women and men in uniform.

The past couple weeks I’ve been working on a veterans’ project. I cannot disclose much but for to say that it involved representing veterans in claims for damages suffered in recent wars.

This was eye-opening for many reasons. Although I heard of the carnage that went on in Iraq, I was not as aware of the daily activities of your average soldier. Based on what I’ve seen, I can say I will never take their service for granted again.

I’ve also reflected recently on the many veterans’ personal injury cases I’ve worked on in the past few years. Just this week I met with a vet who clearly suffered from PTSD and other severe physical ailments suffered while serving.

He was just injured in an auto accident when he got rear-ended through no fault of his own. You’d think it would be an open and shut case. It’s not. Veterans with pre-existing conditions make complicated cases.

Specifically, is their injury the result of their auto accident or was it the result of an injury they suffered in the field. Yes, you can have both. Meaning, they suffered an injury in combat and that injury was exacerbated or aggravated as a result of the accident. But those types of cases are difficult to prove.

Another challenge facing these folks after an auto accident is obtaining medical treatment. As a Wheeling military personal injury lawyer, I’ve had to deal with Tricare Insurance and the Veteran’s Administration countless times. The VA in particular is extremely difficult to deal with. What you’ve heard about dealing with the VA is not fictional.

If I’m hired to represent a vet who is using the VA for his or her medical treatment, I tell them up front, get ready for a long wait to obtain medical treatment, to get the medical treatment they need such as an MRI or surgical procedure, to obtain their medical bills and records from the VA and as such, a long wait to receive compensation for their injuries.

Finally, my most recent experience with at least one liberal vis-a-vis military veterans has not been positive. He told me that he didn’t think our veterans were heroes for serving and sacrificing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not saying this is all liberals and frankly, on social issues, I’m very liberal myself. Just saying, this guy represented a lot of liberals’ thinking on the military.

I was heartened today this morning, May 26, 2018, when my daughter and I attended a town hall meeting with Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider of the 10th district here in Lake County, Illinois. The Congressman spoke quite a bit about the sacrifice of our veterans and he himself had attended several memorial events in the past few days to honor their service. Thank you, Congressman Schneider.

I’m off my soapbox and will get back to legal topics in future weeks. Just wanted to share a few of my experiences as a Wheeling military personal injury lawyer and advise vets what they can expect if they are involved in a personal injury claim. If you would like to discuss any of these issues, feel free to call me at 847-305-4105.

My car is totaled in a Chicago auto accident and I owe more than what it’s worth

Chicago auto accident


What happens if your car is totaled in a Chicago auto accident and you owe more than it’s worth? Be prepared to pay. But there is a way to protect yourself. Call my office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Intro

According to an article on insurance.com, Experian Automotive said around 86 percent of new car buyers finance their vehicle and the average new car loan is about $30,000 for roughly 68 months. So, people are financing millions of vehicles. As such, drivers in Illinois who get in a Chicago auto accident are often faced with paying money owed on newly purchased vehicles that are involved in accidents.

Example

You purchase a car for $30,000. You put $1,000 down and you finance $29,000 through a bank or the auto dealership’s finance company. A few months later you are involved in an accident and your car is totaled. You file a claim with your auto insurance company and they determine that the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle is $27,000. What happens?

Your auto insurance company will write a check to your finance company for the ACV of your vehicle and you owe the remaining balance outstanding of $2,000. It’s unfair, you did not cause the Chicago auto accident. Yet you are still on the hook for the balance outstanding.

Gap Insurance

The only way you can protect yourself from this situation is to purchase Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance. In the situation above, your GAP insurance would have covered the difference between what your vehicle is worth and what you owe.

You can purchase GAP insurance when you purchase your vehicle from the dealership or you can likely purchase it from your auto insurance company.

If you don’t have GAP Insurance

How do you pay the balance owed if you do not have GAP insurance? Generally speaking, my clients in this situation have been able to continue to make their monthly payments until the balance is paid off. You may also be able to contact your finance company and figure out an alternative payment arrangement.

That’s little solace to someone who just lost their investment in a vehicle including their down payment, has to pay money for a vehicle they can’t drive and may not have money for a down payment on a new vehicle.

If you want to fight it

If you are unhappy with your auto insurance company’s valuation of your vehicle, you do have the option of contesting the valuation of your vehicle. You can try to get your own appraisal from a resource like Kelley Blue Book. That probably won’t work and as such, you will likely have to hire an appraiser to provide a new appraisal to give to the insurance company.

If that doesn’t work, you will have to demand arbitration from your insurance company. If you are dealing with the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident, your only option would be to file a lawsuit.

Do I need an attorney?

Most personal injury attorneys won’t get involved in a matter that only involves property damage. It’s not that I don’t want to help. However, as a Chicago auto accident attorney, I represent people who suffer injuries in auto accidents.

Regardless, I am happy to speak with you about how to proceed with your claim against the insurance company. Call me for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Can I keep a car that is a total loss in Illinois?

Can I keep a car that is a total loss in Illinois? Yes, but only under very Car is a total loss in ILlimited circumstances – so limited that the answer really is no. If you are involved in a Chicago auto accident, contact us to discuss your options regarding keeping your vehicle at 847-305-4105.

This is for information purposes only. Our firm represents people injured in auto and other accidents. We don’t work on total-loss or property damage only cases. Nevertheless, we hope you enjoy this information and that it is useful to you.

The Process

You are involved in an auto accident and shortly thereafter, the insurance company, either yours or the other guy’s, sends out an appraiser to look at your vehicle. He or she writes up a report, takes photographs and gives the information to the insurance adjuster.

The adjuster will crunch the numbers. Generally speaking, if the cost to repair the vehicle costs more than the vehicle is worth, the vehicle will be declared a total loss in Illinois. Some insurance companies have a formula they use. But this is generally the process and there is very little you can do about it.

Next you will be contacted by the total loss department who will provide you a few documents to sign including a power of attorney so that they can file documents with the state on your behalf. In addition, you will have to provide them the title to your vehicle.

The insurance company will then take ownership of the vehicle, file a salvage certificate with the state and will then most likely sell it for scrap or parts at an auto auction.

Can you keep your vehicle?

If your vehicle is a total loss, there is almost nothing you can do about it. Due to Illinois’ proclivity toward crime, the Illinois state legislature enacted legislation to prevent “chop shops.”

To do so, there are only two situations where you can keep your vehicle if it is a total loss in Illinois:

  1. Your vehicle is 9 years old or older
  2. Your vehicle only suffered hail damage but is otherwise operable (obviously not accident-related) (625 ILCS 5/3-117.1)(b)(1)

What happens if you keep your vehicle?

If you do keep your vehicle after it is declared a total loss, it becomes a “salvage vehicle” aka “junk.” Salvage vehicles must be registered with the state of Illinois.

You CANNOT drive a salvage vehicle on the roads in Illinois.

Illinois law is very clear – per the Illinois Vehicle Code: “(625 ILCS 5/3-117.1)(e) Any vehicle which is salvage or junk may not be driven or operated on roads and highways within this State.”

Any other options?

If you really want to contest your vehicle being declared a total loss, there are a few ways around it. First, your Chicago auto accident attorney may be able to help. I have had a few limited situations where through some negotiations, we were able to convince the insurance adjuster that my client’s vehicle was not a total loss.

Another option that you could exercise on your own even would be to hire an independent appraiser to inspect your vehicle. He or she may come up with a different estimate to repair your vehicle. You can use that to dispute the insurance company’s appraisal.

If you are involved in a situation where your vehicle is declared a total loss in Illinois, feel free to reach out to me for a free consultation at 847-305-4105

Can I cancel my car insurance after a claim?

Car Insurance Claim
If you were involved in an auto, motorcycle or other motor vehicle accident, you might ask “can I cancel my car insurance after a claim?” Read on to learn more about cancelling your insurance after filing a claim. Or, call our office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105, before you take any action.

Can I cancel my car insurance after a claim?

I have received calls from many motor vehicle accident victims who ask if they can cancel their insurance after filing a claim. In a word, yes, you can cancel your insurance after you file a claim. However, there are a few things to consider before you do so.

This issue often comes up involving motorcycle accidents. At the firm I worked at previously, we did a lot of motorcycle accident cases. Motorcycles that get in accidents are often completely totaled. In that case, there is little reason to keep your motorcycle insurance active after the accident on the motorcycle that was totaled – unless you are immediately going to get another bike.

Many people after they get in a motorcycle accident decide not to ride any more. As such, people often asked if they could cancel their motorcycle insurance policy without affecting their insurance claim.

Insurance at the time of the accident

Generally speaking, your motor vehicle insurance policy is going to cover your claim if the policy was in effect at the time of the accident. As such, it is irrelevant to the viability of your claim if you cancel your policy after the accident – even the day after your accident.

However, cancelling may affect your claim in unexpected ways. Insurance companies are notoriously (and some might say intentionally) difficult to deal with.

In my experience, when you file a “first party claim,” meaning a claim with your own insurance company, the insurance company will attempt to be helpful, depending on the adjuster you are dealing with.

However, as soon as you are “adverse,” meaning, you are opposing your insurance company, you are no different to them than you are to the insurance for the person who hit you.

As such, its beneficial to stay on good terms with your insurance. If you cancel your insurance right after filing a claim, you may risk becoming less of a priority to them. You are no longer a client. You are not adverse per se, but you are no longer paying insurance premiums to State Farm or any other insurer.

Other effects

If you do cancel your auto insurance, there are ramifications just in general, not necessarily related to your claim. First, your vehicle has to be covered at all times. Do not allow a “gap in coverage” on your vehicle. That could result in fees and there could be other charges when you try to restart coverage.

Also, if anything happens to your vehicle while the coverage is not in effect, of course your insurance will not cover it.

So, for example, let’s say your car gets involved in an accident and you believe the insurance company is going to total it. The car is sitting in front of your house waiting to be inspected. If you cancel your policy before a final decision is made by your insurance company, you will be stuck with the bill if anything happens to it – like a break in, or a tree falling on it etc. What if the insurance company does not total it?

There may also be ramifications from the Department of Motor Vehicles for owning a vehicle without having insurance. As stated in other articles on this website, in Illinois, all drivers are required to have a minimum of $25,000 in liability insurance on all vehicles.

On your insurance policy, it may look like this 25/50/20. This means, that you have $25,000 insurance compensate any single individual you injure; $50,000 coverage if you injure more than one person in an accident; and $20,000 if you cause property damage to another person.

In Illinois, this also means that you have 25/50 in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Recommendation

So, while the answer to the question “can I cancel my car insurance after a claim?” is yes, you may want to stop and contemplate before canceling your policy.

Normally, I would say contact a personal injury lawyer. I think that’s a good idea. However, in this situation, I think it might be better to call your insurance agent. Find out what the ramifications of cancelling the policy are. Learn your options before you act.

If you want a referral to a great auto insurance agent, feel free to reach out to me. Or, if you have any questions on this or any other legal topic, feel free to call for a free consultation at 847-305-4105