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.

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.

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.

Glenview Attorney

Glenview Attorney
Glenview Lawyer

My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I’m a Glenview lawyer. I often hear jokes about lawyers. I’m a personal injury lawyer and as such, have often been called an “ambulance chaser.” I take no offense to these jokes. But what I do object to are outrageous claims made by attorneys to convince an accident victim to hire them. This gives all lawyers a bad name. If you want a fair assessment of your case, call us at 312-848-9783.

The Million Dollar Case

A couple months ago I received a call from a woman who was injured in an auto accident. She was climbing into the back seat of a co-worker’s car when suddenly the co-worker started to drive away. The victim was dragged behind the car for approximately twenty feet. In the process, she re-aggravated a pre-existing knee condition.

She started calling lawyers to obtain information. One lawyer she spoke to immediately told her that she had a “million-dollar case.” Most people when they hear that would get pretty excited. Who doesn’t want a million dollars? But she was a bit suspicious and called our office for another opinion.

“A million dollars” she told me. “Really,” I said. I asked her about her injuries and determined that there might be a case, depending on the severity of her injury. I asked her how much insurance the driver of the vehicle had and how much underinsured (UIM) insurance she had. She didn’t know.

Politely I told her, “if the defendant only has a $25,000.00 insurance policy, where is the other $975,000.00 coming from?”

Illinois Insurance Policy Requirements

In the State of Illinois, all drivers are required to have a minimum of $25,000.00 in liability coverage. Very often, that is all the money there is to recover for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

As such, it is critical that you have enough uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage – a minimum of $100,000.00, if you can afford it. You cannot control how much insurance the other guy has but you can take steps to protect yourself.

Personal Injury Settlements

The reason so many people fall for exaggerated evaluations – like the million-dollar case – is that huge verdicts are the only verdicts we hear about in the news media. It’s not sexy to report on the simple auto accident which resulted in a fractured arm and settled for $50,000.00. The media would rather tell you about the million-dollar Liebeck vs. McDonalds Restaurants hot coffee case.

Yet $25,000.00 and $50,000.00 recoveries are far more common and represent what most personal injury settlements look like. Sure, there occasionally are multi-million-dollar cases, but they are few and far between.

Fair and Honest Assessment

When attempting to determine how much your case is worth, you have to take into account a variety of factors. This includes the amount of your medical bills, the severity of your injury, what insurance company you are dealing with, and more.

If you contact our office, one thing we can guarantee is that we will give you fair and honest assessment of your case. We will help you establish reasonable expectations so that there are no surprises when the insurance company makes its’ first offer. We believe this is a good policy all around. It helps us meet our obligation to be honest with our clients and also gives our clients accurate information upon which to make decisions about how to proceed.

Small Claims Court

For many cases, you may not even need a Glenview lawyer. If your case is worth less than $10,000.00, which many soft tissue cases are (often those cases involving minor contusions, sprains and strains), you can even represent yourself by filing a lawsuit in small claims court. If we feel this is your best option, we will tell you.

Don’t fall for exaggerated claims. Call our office for a free consultation. We will take the time to discuss your case with you. You will talk to a Glenview lawyer, not just an admin person. Call us today at 312-848-9783

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