Injured parties in car accidents caused by the negligence of others often wonder, “what does car accident insurance cover?” Auto accident insurance covers monetary losses arising from a car accident. These losses include medical bills, lost wages or income, vehicle repair/replacement costs, and physical pain and suffering. In Illinois, drivers must carry liability coverage with limits of 25/50/20 and minimum amounts of uninsured and uninsured motorist coverage. A car accident lawyer can help you start a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company and persistently push for the highest settlement possible.
How Much Car Insurance Does Illinois Require?
Illinois is a fault state. Consequently, the driver whose negligent actions cause a crash must pay for the damages suffered by the accident victim. The state law requires drivers to carry liability coverage of at least $25,000 for personal injury or death of one person and at least $50,000 for personal injury or death of several individuals in a single car accident.
The coverage must provide at least $20,000 for property damage per accident. It must also provide minimum uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured (UIM) coverage. Drivers must also carry proof of insurance to confirm that they have met auto insurance requirements.
Driving without the required car insurance coverage can result in severe punishments, including fines and driver’s license suspension. Similarly, driving without valid proof of insurance carries up to $1,000 in fines, temporary driver’s license suspension, and at least a $100 reinstatement fee.
What Does Car Accident Insurance Cover?
Knowing what car accident insurance covers can help you understand what you can sue for in a car accident lawsuit in Illinois. The at-fault driver is responsible for covering damages and other losses suffered by car accident victims. The driver does not pay this money out of pocket. Instead, liability insurance kicks in and covers the costs of personal injury to the other driver and damage to the property.
Liability insurance is two-part coverage: bodily injury and property damage. Bodily injury liability pays for the losses and expenses stemming from the injuries caused by the car accident. They include:
- Medical Costs: This category comprises any expenses associated with treating car accident injuries. Medical costs cover emergency room (ER) visits, diagnostic tests, physician fees, medication, surgery, hospital stay, physical therapy, and other treatment expenses. You may also be entitled to future medical damages if your injury will require ongoing treatment.
- Lost Earnings: These damages compensate you for wages, earnings, or profits you lost when you could not work because of your injuries. They can also cover any lost future earning capability if you cannot work or return to your pre-injury position because of your injuries.
- Pain and Suffering: This damage is usually subjective and hard to quantify. It compensates you for the physical pain and discomfort, alongside the emotional agony, arising from your injuries or accident. Chronic physical pain, scarring, disfigurement, and psychological effects like depression and anxiety typically fall under this category.
Property damage liability, on the other hand, pays for repair or replacement costs of property damaged in the accident. Valuables damaged or destroyed in car crashes include the car, expensive cameras, phones, and even clothing.
Your UM/UIM coverage applies if you get injured in an accident caused by a driver with no insurance or inadequate insurance to pay for all your damages and losses in full. This coverage also applies to hit-and-run accidents.
The UM/UIM coverage pays for losses arising from bodily injury only. Fortunately, you can purchase additional UM/UIM property damage liability coverage to increase your protection. This additional coverage gets incorporated into your policy as an endorsement to cover damage to your property and other valuables in an accident caused by an uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run driver.
How Do I File a Car Accident Claim Against an Insurance Company?
Illinois law allows you to pursue compensation for injuries and property damage caused by a car accident through filing a claim against the liable driver’s insurance provider. This type of claim is called a third-party insurance claim.
You have two options to initiate a third-party claim against the other driver’s insurance company. First, you can notify your insurance company, which will, in turn, start a claim with the other driver’s insurer.
The other option is to start the third-party claim yourself. You can do that on the other driver’s insurance company’s mobile app or online portal. Alternatively, you can get the company’s contact information and request a representative to guide you on starting a third-party claim.
You will need to submit your background information and details of the crash, regardless of how you initiate the claim. Your name, contact information, accident date and location, and the other driver’s name and insurance information are some pieces of information you must provide. A police report is also essential in filing a claim against the other driver’s insurer.
With that in mind, documenting the accident and exchanging information with the other motorist after a car accident is always a good practice. It is also wise to call the police. In fact, calling the police after an accident that leads to injury or death is a legal requirement in Illinois.
Cooperating with a Claims Adjuster
Upon receiving your claim, the at-fault driver’s insurer will assign an adjuster to your claim. You will need to cooperate with the adjuster to get a desirable outcome from your claim. Ensure you do not cross certain limits, even as you work with your adjuster. You shouldn’t, for instance, accept an unfair settlement offer or keep negotiating with an adjuster who is not giving your claim the seriousness it requires.
Consider letting a car accident lawyer handle your claim at this initial stage to reduce the chances of making costly mistakes. Your lawyer will take over all correspondence and communications between you and the adjuster. The lawyer will also guide you on things to do and blunders to avoid to safeguard your legal rights.
Determining Liability in a Car Accident
The other driver must be liable for the crash that caused your injuries and property damage for you to receive compensation via a third-party insurance claim. Sometimes liability is clear, and the other driver’s insurer agrees to pay the claim. An example is a rear-end crash, where the driver who fails to comply with the safe following distance requirement is always liable. Another example is when compelling evidence against the other driver is available.
Other times, liability is unclear, and the other driver’s insurer is unwilling to pay the claim. An example is when you are potentially partially at fault for your accident and injuries. Another example is when your accident involves multiple potentially at-fault parties. In both scenarios, an accident lawyer can establish the other driver’s liability and get you an acceptable settlement.
Proving Your Injuries and Damages
You must show that your injuries and damages are a direct consequence of the accident caused by the other driver. You can do that by supporting your claim with your medical records, financial documentation for your lost wages or income, and other forms of evidence.
The insurance company may send you a settlement offer upon establishing that its insured driver was at fault for your accident. The first offer is usually significantly lower than the actual value of your claim. A series of settlement talks with the insurance adjuster may be necessary to get a sufficient payout.
Your lawyer can handle these settlement talks on your behalf. The insurance company is likely to give you a decent settlement if you have a lawyer who is not scared to take your case to court on your side. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the cost of a car accident lawsuit to avoid surprises if a lawsuit will be necessary to recover damages from the at-fault driver’s insurer.