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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.