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.

Who pays the medical bills after an auto accident

Who pays the medical bills after an auto accident?

If you were injured in a car accident in Illinois, you may wonder who pays the medical bills after an auto accident? Continue reading to find Auto Accident ILout who will pay your medical bills or contact me for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Warning

There are several ways to pay for medical bills after an auto accident. But before we discuss that, I want to advise you of a common misperception people have. The auto insurance for the driver of the vehicle that hit you will NOT pay your medical bills until your case settles.

As such, there is no sense in telling your medical providers to bill that driver’s auto insurance. That is a sure way to have your medical bills go to collections. It’s very unfair. You were not at fault for the accident. Still, you are the one responsible to confirm who pays your medical bills after an auto accident. As such, we recommend using one of the following means to get those bills paid.

MedPay Insurance

What is medpay? Medpay or medical payments coverage, is a clause within many auto insurance policies. It is optional coverage in Illinois so not everyone has it. You will usually contract with your auto insurance company for them to pay the first $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000 of your medical bills, regardless of fault.

I’ve read a lot online that people don’t recommend purchasing medpay. I disagree completely. For the few dollars a month medpay costs, it is a valuable thing to have if you get in an accident. Many people cannot afford to pay their deductible or co-pays which are so high these days. Medpay can cover that for you. If you don’t have health insurance at all, medpay is an option for getting your medical bills paid, again, regardless of fault. Finally, unlike health insurance which might pay 80% of a medical bill leaving you with the balance, medpay will pay 100% of the bill.

Health Insurance

I always tell my clients when they get any kind of medical treatment, tell your medical provider to bill your health insurance (but for bills paid by medpay).  There are many advantages to using your health insurance to pay your medical bills, the main one being is that your health insurance company such as Aetna or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, will likely have contracted rates with your medical provider. As such, Aetna will only have to pay their contracted rate for a bill rather than the whole rate.

So, for example, if you get a bill for $10,000 for an emergency room visit. Aetna will pay $5,000 of that bill and the rest will be written off by the medical provider.

You’re not completely off the hook, however. You may still have copays or a deductible that needs to be paid. Also, your health insurance company expects to be reimbursed for the money they paid on your behalf out of the proceeds of your settlement/recovery.

Still, using your health insurance to pay your medical bills after an accident is the best way to keep your medical costs down and get your bills paid.

Liens

Liens provide an interesting wrinkle to the issue of who pays the medical bills after an auto accident. A lien in this context basically means that when you recover from the injuries suffered in your accident, you are obligated by law to pay back your lien holders. These could include the ambulance company, emergency room, your physician etc.

Hospitals often file liens shortly after treating a patient so that they are assured of getting reimbursed for their services. Once they get paid by the health insurance company they will release their lien. Other providers may voluntarily enter into a lien agreement with you such as a chiropractor or physical therapist. In exchange for you and your attorney signing the lien, they agree to provide you treatment and hold off on billing you for the services until your case is resolved.

If you want more information on Illinois medical liens, check out the Illinois healthcare lien act.

Cash

Another option for paying your medical bills is to pay them up front with cash. This is seldom used of course, but it is an option to ensure your bills get paid.

Third party and uninsured motorist insurance

As stated above, the insurance company for the driver who hit you will not pay your medical bills until you settle or otherwise resolve your case. However, when you settle, one of the aspects of the settlement will be reimbursement for your medical bills.

So, for example, let’s say you are involved in a minor fender bender but you do go to the hospital. You have no other treatment and your emergency room bill is $3,000.

You enter into a settlement with the auto insurance company of $10,000. That settlement includes reimbursement for your $3,000 in medical bills. Meaning, that after you pay your medical providers and/or health insurance company back, you will be left with $7,000 (assuming you do not have to pay attorneys’ fees).

The same thing applies to uninsured motorist coverage. If you are hit by an uninsured driver, you will file a claim against your own auto insurance policy. The same analysis will then apply. If you recover $10,000 from your insurance company, you will have to pay back the $3,000 in medical bills from your recovery.

If you are involved in a car accident in Illinois and you want to know who pays the medical bills after an auto accident, contact Barry Zlotowicz at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Traffic Accidents on the Rise in Illinois

Have you noticed that there seem to be more accidents on the sides of Illinois highways and roads recently? As a Chicago personal injury lawyer, I am acutely aware of what is going on out on our roadways. Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of accidents. Maybe it was the bad weather. Surfaces were frozen and slippery longer. Maybe its because now that the world has thawed there is construction everywhere altering traffic patterns everywhere. Whatever it is, one thing for sure is that there are more accidents on Illinois roads then there were last year.

The Illinois Department of Transportation recently released a study reported on in the Chicago Tribune article entitled “Traffic accidents on the rise in state, to almost 800 a day.” The study results were from 2013, the year most recently studied by the Department. In short, there were 782 accidents per day in the State of Illinois in 2013. 782! Its no wonder that insurance premiums are so expensive. Most of those accidents are fender benders not involving significant injuries however the cost in property damage alone is staggering let alone paying for medical bills and compensating victims for their pain and suffering. The National Safety Council estimated that the cost of all those accidents was $5.7 billion – with a “B” – dollars.

Of note from the statistics is that in 2014, nearly 900 people were killed in those accidents with nearly one-half of the deaths occurring in Cook County, Illinois. 130 of those victims were killed in the City of Chicago.

What causes so many accidents? Again, weather conditions are partially at fault but so is human error. Approximately one-third of all the accidents were caused by excessive speed and another one-third were caused by alcohol. Deer were responsible interestingly for five percent of crashes – we do get a lot of calls from motorcyclists who got in accidents caused by deer (and occasionally a Moose or other animal). Tractor trailers were involved in four percent of all accidents and a high percentage (10%) of fatalities.  Only two percent of all accidents were vehicle-pedestrian and only one percent was vehicle-bicycle (3,586 in 2013 resulting in 30 cyclists dying). The other group primarily responsible for accidents were teens between 16-19 years old who accounted for ten percent of severe injuries and seven percent of fatalities.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a vehicle accident, feel free to contact Chicago personal injury lawyer Barry Zlotowicz at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation