In Chicago and throughout Illinois, all drivers are required to have insurance in the event of an accident that causes damage or injuries. However, even though this is the law, many vehicle owners still drive around uninsured (UM – uninsured motorist) or underinsured (UIM – underinsured motorist). How does this happen? Many times, drivers will simply get a cheap policy in order to get their cars on the road and then either cancel it or just stop paying it. Yes, this is against the law, but no, it doesn’t stop some people from driving without coverage.
So what happens if you have an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist? Or, what happens if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run and are unable to find out the insurance information of the driver who hit you? How do you file a claim? This is where your own insurance policy comes in.
Q: What car insurance does Illinois law require?
A: For any vehicle, the state requires liability insurance (bodily injury liability coverage). The minimum liability coverage a driver must carry is $20,000 for property damage, $25,000 for the injury or death of one person, and $50,000 for multiple injury victims or deaths in a single car accident. Uninsured motorist coverage is also mandatory. It’s recommended to get a policy with more coverage, however. If you’re found at fault for a crash with injuries or death and the damages exceed your policy limits, you could be held personally liable for the difference.
Q: If I’m injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, what is my recourse?
A: If you’re injured in an accident and the other driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover your injuries or damage (or it was a hit-and-run where the driver cannot be identified), you and your car accident lawyer should look at your own policy first. Typically your UM/UIM coverage should pay what the other driver’s insurance would have covered, up to the limits of your policy.
Q: What is the penalty for not having insurance?
A: A conviction of driving without insurance can result in fines from $500 to $1,000, along with loss of license and registration until proof of insurance is obtained.
Here’s a fictitious example of UM/UIM coverage in action:
A woman (Ms. A) is involved in an accident where her car is hit by a man (Mr. B) who runs a red light at an intersection. She suffers serious injuries, which total over $100,000. However, the driver who hit her carried only $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage. Ms. A was able to bring a claim against Mr. B’s insurance policy up to his $50,000 limit. However, that only covered half of her bills. After that, Ms. A brought an underinsured motorist claim against her own policy to cover the other $50,000.
If you suffered injuries in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, look to our Chicago car accident attorneys at Gainsberg Law for strong advocacy and experienced representation. We will vigorously fight for the compensation you deserve. We invite you to schedule a meeting with our legal team through our contact form, or by calling 312.548.9019 today.