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.

The Dangers Of Driving While On The Phone

The digital age has brought with it a new menace on the roads.

That menace is drivers who use their cell phone while driving. A study by Cambridge Mobile Telematics has shown that about one-quarter of drivers involved in accidents, were on their phones within a moment of crashing. It was also shown that more than half of the accidents in the study were the result of distracted driving due to cell phone use.Auto Accident Attorneys Chicago

When you are driving in Chicago, dealing with distracted drivers is an unavoidable reality.
Areas to be particularly wary of include:

• The drop-off areas at both airports
• Solidarity Drive between the Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium
• King Drive
• Grand Avenue
• The Stevenson Expressway
• Lake Shore Drive

As the economy has improved and gas prices have gone down, more cars have gone on the road. When you throw distracted driving into the mix, traffic fatalities tend to rise.

The Cambridge study shows that despite the ban on using hand held devices while driving, places like Illinois are not seeing a dramatic reduction in the average amount of time drivers spend on the phone.

Enforcement of the ban is very difficult. There are far more drivers on the road than the police can keep track of and almost all of them have cell phones. For this reason, police only catch about one in ten violators of this ban.
In Illinois, if you are caught using your phone while driving, you can expect to pay a $75 fine for the first offense and up to $150 for any subsequent offenses.

With all these drivers looking at their phones instead of the road, no one is safe. Even the most alert drivers are at risk of being involved in an auto accident. Having a good auto accident attorney on your side has never been more important than it is today.

If you spot a driver texting while driving, call the attorneys at Chicago Legal Group at 847-305-4105.

Get Medical Treatment If You Get Hit In An Auto Accident

We’ve recently signed up several new clients who we urged to get medical treatment right away. Stories below.

Many of the new cases have been auto accident cases (not many people riding bicycles or motorcycles right now in Illinois). However, I’ve noticed a trend recently. Mainly, that many clients are calling us up and they have no idea what their injuries are. Their ankle hurts or their knee or shoulder. They went to the emergency room right after the accident (sometimes the morning after) and were checked out. However, they realized quickly that an E.R. doesn’t provide optimum care. They will stabilize you and get you out to a specialist. As such, clients are coming home from the hospital not knowing what is really wrong with them.

Then they make the mistake of talking with the insurance company, telling them everything, and possibly even settling for a small amount. This is a mistake.

Two clients that come quickly to mind include “Rory” who got rear ended in an accident down near Aurora, Illinois. His shoulder which had pre-existing issues was thrust forward. Rory is a vet so his medical care is awful at the VA. They put him off and put him off until a couple months later they realized he suffered a fracture in the head of his shoulder.

Another client “Lee” who we recently signed up was injured near Des Plaines, Illinois. He was feeling pain in his neck but didn’t act on it right after his accident. We encouraged him to get to a doctor immediately and here we are a few weeks (and a cervical MRI) later and he in fact has a bulging disc.

Both these guys would have suffered the short end of the stick if they didn’t pursue further medical attention. They might have settled their case for a nominal amount or they might have waited six months to get any treatment which only would have opened the door for the insurance company to argue “gap in treatment.”

The bottom line – get in an accident, contact an attorney and get medical treatment.

If you have a question about your accident, call me at 847-305-4105. Barry Zlotowicz

Illinois drivers gear up for new 70 mph limit

 Illinois Car Accident Attorney In December 2014, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation permitting 70 mph speed limits on state toll highways. According to The Quad-City Times, the change will impact more than 300 miles of roads near Chicago. Critics have expressed worries about the safety impacts of these higher speeds. As any Illinois car accident attorney can attest, speed can contribute to more severe crashes and injuries. At higher speeds, drivers may also have more difficulty preventing or avoiding accidents.

Continue reading “Illinois drivers gear up for new 70 mph limit”

4 Driver distractions that have nothing to do with cell phones

 Driver distractionsWith all the media attention given to texting and driving, it is easy to dismiss other forms of distractions in the vehicle as insignificant. However, any activity that takes the eyes, hands or attention away from the task of driving is considered a distraction and can be potentially deadly. Driver distractions that pull attention from the road for two seconds double the risk of a crash.

Continue reading “4 Driver distractions that have nothing to do with cell phones”