A handful of states in the country follow no-fault laws that govern auto accidents. In these states, drivers who are involved in a crash and sustain injuries must go through their own car insurance company to claim accident benefits, regardless of which driver was at fault. In these states, drivers can only sue negligent drivers when they sustain serious injuries.
After an accident in Illinois, many drivers often wonder what the next steps are. Illinois is not a no-fault state, which can make the aftermath of an accident even more complex. While all accident victims should work with a personal injury lawyer after a car accident, it is even more important in states such as Illinois that do not follow no-fault laws.
Request a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney from Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC. Headquartered in Fairview Heights, IL, we serve all of southern Illinois and eastern Missouri.
Illinois Car Accidents are Governed by Tort Law
Illinois follows tort, or fault, law after a car accident. Like other torts, accident victims must file a claim against the negligent or careless driver before they can claim compensation for their medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. Unlike states that follow no-fault laws, there is no injury threshold in Illinois. Regardless of the injury sustained, accident victims can file a claim for compensation.
Illinois Insurance Requirements
All drivers in Illinois are required to purchase minimum amounts of auto insurance. Those minimums are $25,000 in bodily injury and wrongful death for one person and $50,000 for bodily injury and wrongful death for the entire accident. Drivers must also purchase a minimum of $20,000 to cover property damage.
The minimum amounts of insurance drivers are required to carry in the state may make it sound as though there is plenty of compensation available after a crash. Unfortunately, the minimums are not usually enough to fully cover a person’s losses after a crash. Compensation is intended to fully cover an accident victim’s medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and all of their other losses.
If the minimum amounts of insurance are not enough to fully cover an accident victim’s losses, they can file a claim directly against the at-fault driver. It is for this reason that drivers are always encouraged to purchase more than the minimum auto insurance requirements. While more coverage will come at a slightly higher cost, it is worth it if someone is found liable after an accident.
Proving Fault After a Car Accident
Whether an accident victim files a personal injury claim with the negligent party’s insurance company or files a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver, they must prove that the other driver was to blame. The burden of proof is on the accident victim. Proving fault after a car accident is similar to proving fault in any other type of personal injury case, and it is just as challenging to do.
- Duty of Care. Injured parties must first prove the negligent driver owed them a duty of care. This is often a given in car accident cases, because all drivers on the road are required to operate their vehicle in a reasonable manner that will keep everyone on the road safe.
- Negligence. Secondly, injured individuals must prove the at-fault driver breached that duty of care, or that they acted negligently. This is often much more challenging and requires clear and convincing evidence that the at-fault party acted negligently.
- Cause of Accident & Injuries. An act of negligence is not enough to claim damages, though. Accident victims must also prove that the negligent act caused the accident, and that the crash caused them to sustain injuries.
All of these elements of a claim are very difficult to prove. An Illinois personal injury lawyer will know how to prove these elements of a claim so accident victims recover the maximum damages they deserve.
Understanding Comparative Fault in Illinois
As Illinois is not a no-fault state, all drivers can be held liable if they contributed to a car accident, including accident victims. Illinois is a comparative fault state. This means that when accident victims contributed to the crash that caused their injuries, they can also be held liable. Still, accident victims can collect compensation as long as they were not more than 50 percent to blame.
Defendants in car accident claims will often raise the argument of comparative fault to reduce the amount of damages they are liable for paying. These arguments are sometimes difficult for accident victims to refute, particularly when they are trying to recover from serious injuries. An Illinois personal injury lawyer will know how to defend against these claims so injured individuals can recover the full damages they deserve.
If it is found that an accident victim contributed to the accident that caused their injuries, any compensation they receive can be reduced by their same percentage of fault.
For example, a driver may have crashed into an accident victim making a left turn in an intersection. It may be found that the accident victim was making an unsafe left turn, so they may be found 20 percent at fault for the crash. However, the court may also assign the defendant 80 percent of the blame for speeding. When defendants are successful with the argument of comparative fault, any compensation they receive is then reduced by the same percentage of the plaintiff’s fault. In this example, the plaintiff’s compensation would be reduced by 20 percent.
Get Legal Help Today
Illinois is not a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents, which can make it even more difficult for you to claim the compensation you need after a crash. At the Law Office of Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC, our experienced car accident attorneys can prove your claim and refute arguments that you were at fault, so you claim the full settlement you deserve. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a crash, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys and learn more about how we can help.