Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist Claims
While all Illinois drivers are required to carry liability insurance (coverage meant to pay damages to other drivers) a number do not. Research shows that around 13.7% of Illinois drivers are uninsured, which is slightly higher than the national average. Of course, many more are underinsured, which means their coverage may not be enough to cover your medical costs and property damage if they collide with you.
In Illinois, like many other states, motorists are required to carry a minimum level of uninsured motorist insurance coverage. This law offers you some protection when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, although the minimum limits are only $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Accidents are traumatic and expensive and minimum coverage often doesn’t provide enough financial compensation. That’s when you need the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Uninsured Driver Claims
If an uninsured driver is at fault in your accident, you would first file a claim against your own insurance policy. If the accident is minor or you are carrying more than the minimum insurance amount, your insurance payout may cover the damage. If it doesn’t, you may be stuck with the difference.
Suing an uninsured driver is often not worth the trouble since people who don’t have coverage generally do not have much money. Of course, there are exceptions. Some drivers accidentally let their policies lapse through carelessness or during stressful periods in their lives. Others don’t think they should be forced to buy anything. Still other drivers believe they are invincible. After all, they’ve avoided accidents for years – why would one happen now? In these cases, you may be able to collect by suing the other driver. Your attorney will advise you on whether you should seek damages or accept that they aren’t recoverable.
Underinsured drivers are also a serious problem since the minimum coverage limits are often not enough to pay for any serious injury or even damage to a more expensive vehicle. In 2018, the average price of a new vehicle was more than $35,000. If another driver totals your new vehicle, their policy may not be enough to cover the car or truck damage much less any medical issue you may have.
To protect yourself in this instance, you need underinsured motorist insurance, something that Illinois encourages but does not require. When you are looking for car insurance, the insurer will give you an option to buy only the minimum uninsured motorist coverage, which doesn’t include underinsured coverage. You may also choose uninsured motorist coverage that that is greater than the $25,000/$50,000 minimum, which automatically gives you underinsured coverage. In any case, you may select uninsured coverage that is as high but not higher than your bodily injury liability coverage amount.
Imagine that you just purchased a brand new Shelby Mustang (with all the options), drove it off the lot and were immediately struck by a late model compact with minimum liability insurance. Even if you are not injured, the at-fault driver’s policy may not be enough to fix your new car. If you don’t have adequate underinsured driver coverage yourself, you may be facing a huge loss. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you need the advice of an Illinois attorney.
Getting the Right Insurance Coverage
Illinois drivers are lucky because they pay less than drivers in many other states. The average policy costs $1,120 annually, which is 21.6% less than the national average. These lower rates are a factor in the number of uninsured Illinois drivers, which is also lower than that in a number of other states.
Still, some drivers choose the legal minimum to save money. Experts recommend that each policy’s liability coverage should include $100,000 for injuries per person, $300,000 for total injuries per accident and $50,000 for property damage per accident – a much higher level of coverage than Illinois demands. The legal minimum is just not enough to protect either driver.
Filing a Lawsuit
Your attorney may decide that filing a lawsuit against the uninsured driver is worth the time and money. If you can prove the other driver was at fault, the court may find in your favor and enter a judgment against them. If the other motorist has assets, you may be able to collect on the judgment. If they have little in the way of money or property, collecting may be impossible. Suing an underinsured driver may have similar results. A legal professional will be able to advise you on whether a lawsuit is practical in your case.
Whiteside & Goldberg
Illinois drivers know how to handle tough road conditions, and they share the road with all kinds of vehicles, including SUVs, sports cars, trucks and farm equipment. The urban roads are crowded, and the rural roads can be narrow and curvy. Accidents happen all the time, and often an uninsured or underinsured driver is involved. You can end up being injured and not able to get the compensation that you deserve. If you are struck by an inadequately insured driver in Illinois, contact Whiteside & Goldberg. Their experienced attorneys will advise you on the best course of action.
Whiteside & Goldberg understands Illinois traffic and insurance law. They will guide you to the most prudent way to proceed and file a lawsuit when it’s necessary to protect your interests. For more information, take advantage of their free consultation. The firm never charges a fee until they win a settlement for you. Contact them today at by calling 312-334-6875 for the Whiteside & Goldberg Michigan Avenue location and 815-730-7535 for their Shorewood office.
The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact an attorney at Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd.