Is a Car Accident a Personal Injury Case?

Is a car accident a personal injury? Car accidents in Chicago, Illinois, fall under the personal injury category of law. Personal injury is a general legal term for bodily injuries and psychological injuries you suffer due to someone else’s negligence. You may be eligible to pursue compensation for the financial and non-financial losses resulting from a car accident caused by another person’s negligence. You can recover compensation for your losses through either a car insurance settlement or an injury lawsuit.

Female motorist in a crash getting out of the car. Is a car accident a personal injury?

Contact Ankin Law at 312-600-0000 if you or a loved one was injured in a car accident.

Personal Injury Laws in Illinois

Personal injury laws in Illinois specify your right to recover compensation when you sustain injuries and losses due to an accident caused by another party. They also outline obligations you must meet before exercising your rights.

Knowing your rights and obligations can help prevent you from making costly blunders that compromise your claim for damages. The most crucial personal injury laws pertaining to car accidents in Illinois are as follows:

Fault in Illinois

Illinois uses a “fault” or “at-fault” insurance system when determining liability for injuries and losses arising from motor vehicle accidents. The driver who caused the accident is responsible for covering the damages and expenses incurred by the other driver. In most cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays these damages and losses.

Car Insurance Requirements in Illinois

All drivers must have liability insurance to drive lawfully on Illinois roads. This insurance pays for losses and expenses incurred by the other driver in an accident where the insured driver was at fault. Consequently, if you or a loved one got injured in a crash caused by the other driver, you can start a claim with that driver’s insurance company. A car accident lawyer can determine your claim’s value, help establish liability against the other driver, and negotiate a sufficient payout with that driver’s insurer on your behalf.

Minimum liability coverage in Illinois includes:

  • Bodily injury coverage per individual worth $25,000;
  • Bodily injury per accident of $50,000; and
  • Property damage per crash amounting to $20,000.

Illinois also requires drivers to have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This insurance kicks in if you get injured in an accident where the at-fault driver either lacks insurance or has inadequate coverage. Minimum UM/UIM coverage in Illinois is $25,000 per individual and $50,000 per crash.

UM/UIM coverage only pertains to physical injuries sustained in the accident. It does not cover damage to your vehicle and other valuable possessions. Fortunately, you can add UM/UIM coverage for property damage to your auto policy for an extra layer of protection.

Modified Comparative Negligence Rule in Illinois

Illinois uses the modified comparative negligence rule to calculate fault allocations in personal injury claims. It considers the percentage of blame for the accident shared between you and the defendant.

You will get 100% of the compensation awarded if the judge or jury finds the defendant entirely liable for your injuries. The court will reduce your compensation based on your percentage of fault if it determines you were partially liable for your injury.

You will not receive any award if the court determines your share of liability is above 50%.

Accident Reporting Requirements in Illinois

Illinois laws mandate drivers to notify the police of accidents leading to injury, death, or property damage of $1500 or more. This amount reduces to $500 if a driver involved in the crash does not have liability insurance.

Notifying the police of the accident by calling 911 at the accident scene meets the reporting requirement. You will have up to 10 days to file an accident report with the Illinois State Police if no officer shows up at the accident scene.

How Do Personal Injury Claims Work?

A personal injury claim starts when you report an accident to your insurer and the other driver’s insurer. The next step is seeking medical treatment to have your injuries examined, treated, and documented.

A skilled car accident lawyer can help you compile and send a comprehensive demand letter to the other driver’s insurer. The letter details your account of the accident, who is to blame, and the amount that will fully cover your damages. It also contains your medical records, bills, and proof of lost income and other monetary losses.

A detailed demand letter supported with compelling evidence can result in a reasonable settlement offer from the insurance company. Your lawyer will review the offer to determine if it accounts for all your damages or losses. If not, the lawyer will submit a counteroffer and engage the insurer in a series of negotiations.

Your lawyer will file a lawsuit in court and ask for a trial if settlement negotiations fail. At trial, the lawyer will present your account of the accident and back it with evidence and legal arguments. The jury or the judge will analyze the evidence and arguments presented by both sides to determine whether you will receive compensation and, if so, how much will be reasonable.

Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim After a Car Accident in Illinois

You can pursue a personal injury claim after an Illinois car accident by assembling all evidence of your accident, such as pictures and videos of the crash scene, witness statements, police reports, and medical records. You can then hire a lawyer with a proven history of winning cases like yours both through insurance settlement and trial process.

Your lawyer will look at all the evidence available in your case to identify the liable party (or parties), determine how much your car accident is worth, and establish if the liable party has liability insurance. The lawyer will secure fair compensation by negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurer or skillfully litigating your case at trial.

Types of Compensation

You may pursue various types of compensation in a personal injury lawsuit if you suffered injuries after a car accident. Medical expenses are the main type of compensation recoverable in an injury lawsuit. These expenses include ambulance fees, hospital bills, doctor consultation fees, physical therapy, and assistive devices like crutches.

You may also seek lost wages or reduced earning potential and property damages. Non-economic damages like loss of companionship and physical pain and suffering are recoverable in personal injury claims.

The court may award punitive damages on top of your compensatory damages if it finds the at-fault driver’s actions to be intentional or grossly negligent. Punitive damages act as a punishment for the defendant for his or her egregious behavior like drunk driving.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries Involving Car Accidents

People who get injured in car accidents in Chicago, Illinois often wonder, “How long after a car accident can you claim an injury?” The statute of limitations sets a strict deadline for exercising your rights after getting injured in a crash. In Illinois, you have two years to sue the at-fault driver for damages.

The two-year statute of limitations applies to bringing a personal injury lawsuit in court. The deadline will continue counting even after you begin settlement negotiations with the other party’s insurer, and it will expire if you fail to start a lawsuit in two years. That is why it is wise to choose an attorney for a car accident promptly after the crash to help monitor your deadlines and initiate a lawsuit if necessary.

Types of Personal Injuries Resulting From Car Accidents

What is considered an injury in a car accident claim? There are a variety of injuries victims may sustain in a car accident.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

TBIs are the most common injuries associated with car accidents. They happen when a sharp blow to the head causes brain damage. TBIs can result in long-term disability or even death.

Back Injuries

Car accidents often result in back injuries, as the spine cannot withstand a strong impact. Symptoms of back injuries may take a while after the accident to manifest.

Broken and Fractured Bones

Car accidents usually cause broken or fractured arms, wrists, legs, ankles, and ribs. They may sometimes leave victims with a broken pelvis.

Whiplash

A whiplash is another common personal injury caused by car accidents. It develops when the impact of the accident causes the neck to bend back and forth vigorously. This injury usually damages ligaments, nerves, tendons, joints, and muscles in the neck.

Long-Term Consequences of Car Accident Injuries

Car accident injuries can have long-term effects on the physical, psychological, and financial aspects of your life. Long-term physical effects include chronic pain, restricted mobility, weakened muscular strength, and scarring or disfigurement. You may also develop anxiety and depression, emotional trauma, sleeping difficulties, memory loss, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

On top of physical and psychological effects, you will face long-term financial constraints. These injuries can also result in out-of-pocket expenses, such as transportation costs, assistive devices, home modifications, and in-home caregivers.

Car accident lawyers at Ankin Law have helped victims in Chicago, Illinois, recover financial compensation for their economic and non-economic losses. Contact us at 312-600-0000 for a free consultation. 

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
If You Suffered Injuries:
Get Your FREE Case Evaluation