How To & TipsLaw

What Happens If You’re at Fault in a Car Accident?

There’s never a great way to be involved in a car accident, but most people know enough about Illinois liability law to recognize that they would probably rather not be at fault. If you are at fault for a car accident, however, you may still be able to collect money for damages depending on the type of insurance that you carry. As personal injury lawyers in Illinois, we strongly encourage drivers to carry full coverage and not just the state minimums. It can be invaluable.

Required Insurance Isn’t Enough

To drive a car in the state of Illinois legally, you must carry Bodily Injury coverage, Property Damage coverage, and Uninsured Motorist Coverage in the following amounts.

  • Bodily Injury (BI): You must have a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This insurance covers other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Your occupants may be covered if they are not part of your household. Each person can be covered up to $25,000 individually, but the insurance company doesn’t have to pay out more than $50,000 for the entire accident. In other words, three people would not be able to collect the maximum amount of $25,000 each if you have the minimum coverage.
  • Property Damage (PD): You must carry at least $20,000 per accident. This pays for other people’s property that was damaged in the accident.  As you can imagine, if you hit an expensive vehicle, this coverage will be inadequate.
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM): Unlike other states, Illinois mandates $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage. This protects you if an uninsured motorist causes an accident.

With the exception of a situation where an uninsured motorist strikes your car, these coverages don’t protect you. If you carry the minimum coverage and you cause an accident, you will not be reimbursed for your property damage or injuries. For most people, this can be a devastating mistake.

Comparative Negligence in Illinois

You may be charged with an accident, but still not be entirely at fault. Illinois has a comparative fault law, which means that both drivers can share blame for an accident. That means that if you are 90 percent at fault and the other driver is 10 percent at fault, you will be responsible for 90% of the damages. This can be a silver lining as damages approach the limits of your insurance policy.

Can I Be Personally Sued?

If you cause an accident and you have minimum coverage, your insurance should cover you for the injuries of other people and damage to their property to the limit of your policy. If the accident is a serious one, however, you may be liable for amounts that far exceed those coverages. Depending on your personal resources and the amounts involved, the other party may choose to sue you for damages. No one wants to be in this situation.

Protect yourself with a comprehensive policy. Accident settlements can easily go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ask your insurance agent how much coverage you should have. If you’re injured in an accident, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your claim.

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