Can I Sue an Uninsured Driver?

Can I sue an uninsured driver?

Unfortunately, there are millions of uninsured drivers on the road. If you get hit by an uninsured driver, you might be wondering, can I sue an uninsured driver? In a word: Yes. You can sue an uninsured driver. But the bigger question is – is it worth it?

If you were hit by an uninsured driver, contact our office to discuss your options at 847-305-4105.

The truth – 1.1 million uninsured drivers in Illinois

According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 13% of all drivers driving on the road are uninsured. In the state of Illinois, there are approximately 8,500,000 licensed drivers. That means, there are over 1.1 million uninsured drivers in Illinois. As such, you are at risk every time you get in your vehicle.

The state with the highest levels of uninsured drivers? It’s Florida where it is estimated that 27% of all drivers are uninsured according to this story by CBS News.

Can I sue an uninsured driver?

Yes, you can sue an uninsured driver. You can file a lawsuit and seek reimbursement for your damages. The problem is, if the uninsured driver doesn’t have the resources to buy auto insurance, they probably don’t have enough money or financial assets to compensate you for your damages.

So, what do you do?

First, you do not just take the driver’s word at the scene of the accident that he or she is uninsured. Take down his/her driver’s license number, license plate number and contact information. Provide that to your auto insurance company which has access to resources to determine if the driver was actually uninsured.

Second, it may be that the driver had insurance but it lapsed prior to the accident. This is a very common scenario. In that case, still file a claim with the defendant’s auto insurance company. Do not just take his/her insurance company’s word that the driver is uninsured. Make them provide you a letter documenting the fact that the driver is uninsured. Your insurance company will likely require that before they compensate you anyways.

File a claim with your auto insurance company

If you have auto insurance in the state of Illinois, then you also have the mandatory uninsured motorist insurance limits of $25,000. If the driver who hit you is uninsured, you can seek reimbursement for your medical bills and your pain and suffering from your own insurance. You may be able to seek reimbursement for your property damage as well if you have collision coverage.

Beware – when you seek compensation from your own insurance company, you become adverse – meaning, your insurance carrier will try and pay you as little as they can just as if you were the opposing party.

Is $25,000 enough uninsured motorist coverage?

Not even close. If you are able, I also recommend that drivers have at least $100,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you get in a serious accident, $25,000 might not even cover your medical expenses let alone compensate you for your pain and suffering.

When can I sue an uninsured driver? And when should you sue the driver?

If you are involved in an auto accident and you learn that the defendant is uninsured, when should you file a lawsuit against him or her?

I have recommended that people file a lawsuit against the defendant driver in several situations. The most common are:

  • When both parties are uninsured: If you suffered damages and you as the victim also do not have insurance, then file suit. You can file in small claims court if your damages are below $10,000. This is the very situation that small claims court is there for. It will cost you a few hundred dollars to file suit and serve the defendant but at least you have a chance of recovering
  • If you have liability/uninsured motorist coverage but do not have collision coverage: It may be that you got in an accident and you have insurance but do not have coverage to repair your car. If you didn’t suffer any injuries, you might as well file in small claims court.

Prior to going to court, you need to have estimates or receipts for repairs to your vehicle. It is also a good idea to have completed your medical treatment and obtained your medical records and bills.

If you do decide to file suit, do your homework. The rules regarding introducing evidence (like your property damage estimate and medical bills) are very laxed in small claims court. However, you still should do a little research on how small claims court works to ensure success.

If you have any further questions regarding how to sue an uninsured driver, feel free to contact my office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation. I am happy to consult with you on this or any other personal injury related topic.

Do I have to report my Illinois auto accident to the DMV?

Do I have to report my Illinois auto accident to the DMV?

Am I required by Illinois law to report my Illinois auto accident to the department of motor vehicles? That is a question I often receive from auto accident victims. For a quick answer to this question read below or contact me at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

The Law

Every driver involved in an Illinois auto accident is required to file a traffic crash report if the accident resulted in: bodily injury, a fatality, or, more than $1,500 of property damage (if both drivers are insured – $500 if either of the drivers is uninsured).

Both drivers involved in the accident have 10 days after the accident to file the report or they could be fined. This pdf from the Illinois Department of Transportation provides instructions on how to file a motorist report.

Ramifications?

This law can be hard on people involved in a minor accident. $1,500 in property damage is not very much. Your vehicle could have suffered simple bumper damage. If you have to replace the bumper, this alone could put you across this threshold.

As a result of reporting the Illinois auto accident to the Illinois Department of Transportation, your insurance rates could go up. If you are not at fault for the accident, they shouldn’t. However, no one can promise you that. As such, the mandatory filing requirement could be costly.

In addition, if you do not file a report with the state of Illinois after your accident, you could be fined. However, I personally have never heard of this occurring.

Why you should report the accident

I always advise our clients to file a report the accident to IDOT but also to their own auto insurance company. Why? Your insurance company is likely going to find out anyways.

Also, I have seen many situations where the victim of an auto accident did not report the accident to IDOT (or to their own insurance company) because the other driver assured them that they would pay for the damage. They often will call me thirty or sixty days later complaining that the driver still hasn’t paid to repair their vehicle and want to know their rights.

Unfortunately, there is no official record of the accident which combined with the lag in time will raise a red flag which might prevent you from recovering at all.

If you are able to file a claim after such a gap in time, peoples’ stories regarding how an accident occurred often change. Suddenly, the victim is alleged to have caused the collision.

Example scenario

I had a case I worked on where a man was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a friend of his. They were driving home after a night out drinking. The driver of the vehicle drove off of a backroad which resulted in a fracture to his passenger’s rib. The passenger sought medical treatment the following day. The passenger did not report the accident to IDOT or to the driver’s auto insurance company.

During the weeks and months that followed, the passenger received medical bills from the emergency room. He was unable to pay the bills and as such, contacted an attorney to file a claim against the driver of the vehicle’s insurance.

The claim was filed and ultimately denied. The driver of the vehicle denied that the passenger was even in his vehicle at the time of the accident. No report was filed so it was word against word. As such, the passenger got stuck with the bills.

Another example

Another situation of an Illinois auto accident gone bad often occurs where the parties agree to resolve the damage privately. However, it turns out that the auto insurance policy for the driver who caused the accident lapsed.

In this case, the threshold for reporting the collision to IDOT is much lower – $500. It often takes a few weeks for you to figure out that the defendant is uninsured. By then you have blown the timeline to file with IDOT.

You may have also jeopardized your ability to recover from your own auto insurance company for the damages through your uninsured motorist coverage.

Bottom line

If you are involved in an Illinois auto accident, file a motorist collision report with the IDOT or contact our office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

What Is Full Coverage Car Insurance In Illinois?

Car Insurance Coverage IL
What is full coverage car insurance in Illinois?

Think you have full coverage car insurance in Illinois? My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am a Glenview personal injury attorney. If you were involved in an auto accident and thought you had “full coverage,” only to find out you did not, call us for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

“I’ve got full coverage”

I repeatedly hear the same thing from auto accident victims when they call my office after being involved in an accident. I ask them who they have car insurance with and what the policy limits of their auto insurance policy are. They often answer the same thing – “I have full coverage.”

It’s unclear what exactly people are referring to when they say this. The meaning varies depending on the situation. But universally, people do not know how much insurance and what type of insurance they have. And they definitely don’t know how much insurance they need.

Illinois mandated insurance limits

In the state of Illinois, all drivers are required to have the state minimum in liability insurance. On your insurance policy, the minimum limits will look like this:

25/50/20

This means that if you are involved in an accident, you have $25,000 in insurance to compensate the injured party; you have $50,000 for the entire accident – in the event that more than one person was hurt; and, you have $20,000 in property damage insurance.

In addition, in Illinois, you also automatically have $25,000 in uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in case you were involved in an accident and the other driver was uninsured.

Minimum limits do NOT equal “Full Coverage”

These are the minimum limits you need to be able to drive in Illinois. To a Glenview personal injury attorney, this does not equal full coverage. To the contrary, you are seriously underinsured.

I would highly recommend that you consider adding the following:

  • Increase your liability AND uninsured/underinsured limits to a minimum of $100,000 per accident (100/300). Though frankly, it’s not enough. If you can afford it, increase the limits to 250/500
  • Collision coverage: if you get involved in an accident, it will be much quicker to use your own insurance to get your property damage repaired
  • Comprehensive coverage: if your car gets hit by a lightning bolt or other non-vehicle related accident, comprehensive coverage will pay for the repairs to your vehicle
  • Medpay insurance: medpay or medical payments coverage is a small add-on to an auto insurance policy that covers the first $2,500 or $5,000 or even more, of your medical bills. This is a great way to pay for your co-pays or deductibles
  • Rental car coverage: does your policy cover the cost of a rental car in the event you are involved in an accident?
  • Gap insurance: if you purchase a new car, you have the option of buying gap insurance. If you get in an accident and the car is totaled, the insurance company will only compensate you for the actual value of your vehicle. This value could be much lower than what you owe on the vehicle. Gap insurance will cover the balance

Why do you need so much insurance?

It is estimated that approximately 15% of all drivers in the state of Illinois are driving on the road without auto insurance. The next time you are driving, count 10 cars around you. Chances are that more than one of them are uninsured.

If you get in an accident with an uninsured driver, you can turn to your own auto insurance policy for protection. Also, if the person who hit you has the state minimum limits of $25,000 but your medical bills and/or your injuries are worth much more than that, you can seek compensation from your underinsured motorist coverage.

Also, as I’ve discussed in other blog articles, there is an increasing amount of accidents involving Uber and other rideshare vehicles and soon we will all be driving alongside self-driving cars. As such, it’s critical to have the right amount of insurance.

When do I have to have insurance?

Another question auto accident victims ask their Glenview personal injury attorney is whether they can cancel their auto insurance after an accident. They are concerned that if they cancel their coverage, they will lose the protection they have for the injuries they suffered in an accident that occurred prior to the cancellation.

That is not the case. The insurance policy that was in effect at the time of the accident will follow you regardless of what you do after the accident and/or after the policy expires.

To the contrary, I also receive quite a few calls from people who were involved in an accident but accidentally let their insurance policy lapse by not paying their bill. Or, they are uninsured at the time of the accident but immediately after an accident, they sign up for insurance in the hope that the accident will be covered.

Unfortunately, in both of these circumstances, you will not have auto insurance coverage. You have to have a policy in effect at the moment the accident occurs. Though, if you accidentally let your policy lapse through non-payment, your policy may have a clause providing you a certain number of days to make payment to continue the policy.

If you are unsure whether you have “full coverage” and want to speak with us about what insurance you should have, and how much insurance you need, call us at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Prospect Heights Personal Injury Attorney for Bus Accidents

Illinois is one of the most significant locations for passenger bus transportation.  Whether or not children take school bus, public bus riders or passengers taking a long distance bus trip, there are a large number of people in Prospect Heights that count on bus transportation every single day.

Bus accidents occur all too often on America’s streets and highways.  Roughly 300 fatal bus crashes take place each year, in accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Bus accidents without any fatalities, the damage to property and the price of serious injury is much higher.

As soon as stepping foot on a bus, the passenger has faith that the driver is licensed, rested and prepared to operate the bus in the safest possible way to protect the safety of all passengers.  A passenger also trusts that the bus has been properly inspected and all parts of the bus are fully functional.  Even so, bus accidents do take place, and in many cases it is the consequence of negligence on the part of the bus driver, the bus company or the bus manufacturer.  When passengers are severely injured in a bus accident, they might be able to take action and hold everyone who is responsible accountable.

Our Prospect Heights accident attorneys take care of all sorts of bus accident cases.  A number of these types of accidents include the following types of buses:

  • School buses
  • CTA buses
  • Shuttle buses
  • Chartered bus tour buses
  • Sight-seeing buses
  • Interstate passenger buses – including Greyhound

Because of the size of most buses, the injuries can be quite serious and even life-threatening for some.  Passengers located from Prospect Heights, Illinois that are involved in accidents can possibly suffer from some serious physical injuries requiring hospitalizations and continuous medical care, plus many injured victims may even lose the capability of being able to work and earn an income.  The long-term repercussions of an accident of this nature can be very devastating, so it is vital to take action very early if involved in a bus accident to guarantee your rights will be protected.

If ever in a bus accident whether or not physically injured, help dealing with stress and anxiety may very well be needed aside from any physical injuries.  With that said, you might just be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills and any lost wages resulting from the bus accident.  If death occurs, the liable driver can also face criminal charges for wrongful death.

We represent all kinds of Prospect Heights bus accidents, whether you have been injured or not, you will be pleased to know that our office is well equipped to assist you with recouping from any damages. IF you have been in a buss accident, don’t delay in getting touch with a qualified Prospect Heights personal injury attorney.  Contact us today for a free consultation with Barry Zlotowicz, a Prospect Heights personal injury attorney at 312-848-9783 or 877-LAW-4312.