Who Pays For Injuries in a Car Accident?

The party who pays for injuries in a car accident depends on what caused the crash. An individual determined to be at fault for is responsible for paying for injuries in a car accident in Chicago, Illinois. This is because Illinois has adopted a fault or at-fault insurance system. This system requires anyone found liable for an accident to cover the losses and expenses of a victim who suffers injuries in the crash. Victims can receive compensation through a settlement agreement with the liable driver’s insurer or a successful personal injury claim.

Young woman by the car after an accident and a man with smartphone, making a phone call. Who pays for injuries in a car accident.

Illinois Comparative Negligence Laws

Car accident cases directly involve two parties: first party (the insured) and third party (the claimant). Both parties can be liable for the accident in some instances. Comparative negligence laws determine how the liability for a car accident will get apportioned between the parties.

Illinois uses a modified comparative negligence model to determine recoverable damages in car accident cases where the injured party was partly at fault. You can only receive compensation if your percentage of fault for the accident is under 50%. Additionally, your recoverable compensation will be lowered in proportion to your share of fault for the accident.

A car accident lawyer can investigate the crash thoroughly to ensure the defendant’s insurance company does not wrongfully apportion liability for the accident to you. If investigations reveal you are partly to blame for the crash, your lawyer will aggressively fight to lower your percentage of fault and increase your compensation.

The Importance of Determining Fault After a Car Accident

Determining fault is crucial in identifying who to hold financially accountable for injuries and losses an accident victim suffers. The liable party or the liable party’s insurer is responsible for covering these losses.

Your compensation may get slashed proportionally to your percentage of liability if you are found partially liable for the accident in question.

Getting involved in a car accident where you are partially at fault can also impact your future auto insurance premiums. You might notice a sharp increase in your updated policy bill after you have been found partially at fault for a car accident. The reason is that insurance companies rely on past car accidents where you were found liable to estimate future risk.

What Is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance?

PIP insurance pays for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses arising from a car accident. This coverage applies regardless of who is to blame for the crash. It covers the individual named on the policy, family members, passengers, and pedestrians injured in an auto accident.

PIP pays for injuries in a car accident on time. It eliminates the waiting time associated with determining liability against another person, as PIP claims get paid no matter who caused the crash. You will, however, have to reimburse your PIP or health insurance company if you receive compensation in a successful personal injury claim against the liable party or entity.

PIP coverage does not pay for damage to your car, damage to another person’s property, and injuries sustained by other motorists and their passengers. It also does not cover injuries from a crash while you were paid to drive or engaging in criminal activities like escaping the police.

What Are the PIP Requirements in Illinois?

PIP insurance is an optional coverage in Illinois. Auto liability insurance with required coverage limits is, however, compulsory in the state. Although Illinois does not require PIP coverage, having it in your policy can prove helpful if you get injured in an accident.

Liable drivers’ insurance companies rarely pay medical bills and other expenses incurred on time. In fact, they might wait until the medical bills are past due date and about to be submitted for collection. This strategy subjects you to financial distress and weakens your bargaining position.

You can use optional coverage in your auto insurance policy, like PIP, to pay your medical bills first and pursue compensation from the liable driver’s insurer later. Doing this allows you to negotiate from a position of strength.

Seeking Compensation Through a Personal Injury Claim

Follow these steps to better your chances of receiving compensation through a personal injury claim in Illinois:

Collect Evidence of Fault

You must gather all the evidence needed for a car accident injury claim against a fault driver to recover reasonable compensation. Evidence collection should start at the scene of the accident. Use your smartphone to take as many pictures and videos as possible. Ensure your pictures capture the accident location, nearby traffic signs and signals, and skid marks. Also, take pictures of your injuries and damage to your vehicle.

Obtain contact and insurance information from the other driver. Write down names and contact information of eyewitnesses. Check for traffic or surveillance cameras near the area and note their location. Obtain a copy of the accident report from the police if they visited the accident scene.

Get Medical Help

Seeking medical attention is an essential part of winning a personal injury claim. It results in official documentation of your injuries. The medical documents created by your treating doctor helps connect your injuries to the accident.

Continue medical treatment for your injuries until you achieve maximum medical improvement. That way, it will be relatively easy to determine and prove damages that cover the full extent of your losses or expenses.

Hire a Skilled Car Accident Lawyer

Do not hire just any lawyer that appears on the first page of your online search results. Instead, look for an experienced car accident lawyer with an excellent record of resolving cases related to yours. Initial consultations are free for most car accident lawyers. Use this offer to discuss your case with two or three lawyers and choose the one you feel will adequately represent your best interests.

Initiate an Insurance Claim

You must report the accident to your insurance company or the at-fault party’s insurer on time. Failure to file soon after the crash might result in claim denial. The company may argue that you waited long past the accident date to initiate an insurance claim because you lacked grounds for compensation, or that your injuries resulted after the crash.

Focus on the details of the crash when reporting it. Respectfully ask the insurance adjuster or representative to speak with your lawyer for any questions or clarifications.

An experienced car accident lawyer knows how car insurance companies investigate accident claims. The lawyer will guide you on what to do and what not to do during your insurance claim investigations.

Settlement Negotiations

Personal injury cases rarely go to trial. Most get resolved through settlement negotiations with insurers. Insurance companies employ various strategies to try to devalue or deny insurance claims. These strategies include deliberate delays in claim processing, early lowball settlement offers, shifting fault to the accident victim, and lowering injury severity.

Your lawyer knows these strategies and will counter them effectively to ensure you get a reasonable settlement.

Moving Your Personal Injury Claim to Court

Your lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit if the insurance company fails to cooperate or offer a fair settlement. Although lawsuits are a last option, they are effective at pushing insurance companies to pay for injuries in a car accident.

Filing a lawsuit allows you to use discovery to access evidence the other side has regarding your claim. Your lawyer will continue negotiating with the other side after starting a lawsuit. A mediator may be involved at this phase.

The claim will move to trial if settlement negotiations are unsuccessful with the help of a mediator. Depending on the type of trial, a judge or jury will examine evidence presented, determine facts that have been demonstrated, and issue a verdict. The verdict will specify damages.

Types of Damages Available

Does car insurance cover medical bills? Car insurance will compensate you for the medical costs of treating accident-related injuries. You may recover lost wages or income if you miss work due to injuries from a car accident. Costs of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle or other valuable possessions are also recoverable through an insurance claim or lawsuit.

You may receive non-economic damages in a successful injury claim against the other party or entity. These damages cover mental or emotional trauma arising from the accident. They include physical pain and emotional suffering, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and diminished quality of life.

You may get punitive damages if the other party’s conduct exceeded ordinary negligence. These damages are specifically designed to penalize the at-fault party and discourage similar conduct in the future.

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
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