Is there a more perfect state in the United States than Illinois? From the farms to the breathtaking architecture and baseball stadiums of Chicago, the nation’s fifth most populous state has it all: one of the greatest cities in America, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, and more natural beauty than can be described in an article on car accident compensation laws. That natural beauty and the Cubs come at a price, however: tourists and traffic, which means a higher probability of car accidents and a need for Illinois drivers to have some familiarity with the rules of car accident compensation.
The chart below lays out key aspects of Illinois' car accident compensation laws, and is followed by detailed explanations of the laws.
"At Fault" and "Modified Comparative Fault" Rules in Illinois
Illinois’ car accident laws are as unremarkable as the Cubs’ playoff record: the state is one of the vast majority of U.S. states to employ "at fault" (also known as a "tort liability") rules for car accident claims. Drivers involved in car accidents who seek compensation must prove that the other party was at fault for the accident.
How much fault? Illinois is a "modified comparative negligence" (often referred to as "modified comparative fault") jurisdiction. That sounds complicated, but it’s really common sense: to recover compensation for car accident injuries or property damage, the party seeking compensation must not be more at fault than the other party involved in the accident.
Fault is measured in terms of percentages calculated by a judge or jury (if the claim doesn’t settle first): fault of 50% or more prevents that party from recovering. This law operates to reduce damage awards as well -- a person 25% at fault would only recover 75% of his damages, for example.
Types of Damages
Damages that often result from car accidents include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical costs
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Rental cars
- Lost wages
- Loss of affection or companionship
- Wrongful death
The above damages are often categorized as economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include replacement or repair of the damaged cars, past and future medical expenses, lost income, and calculable other out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic injuries, on the other hand, cover things such as pain, emotional stress, and disfigurement or disability.
Limits on Damages
The harshest limit in any legal case is the statute of limitations (time limit) for filing your case. In Illinois, there are two different time limits: an injured party has two years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury and five years to file for property damage. A pending insurance claim doesn’t buy you time to file a lawsuit, so it is important to consult with an attorney early to evaluate the strength of your claim.
Beyond the time limit, and any reduction in damages under the comparative fault law, there is no other cap on damages – Illinois’ cap was found to violate the state’s constitution in 2010.
Get Legal Help from an Illinois Car Accident Lawyer
Missing a filing deadline or settling for less than your case is worth can be devastating to you and your family if you are injured severely in a car accident. An experienced attorney can discuss the strengths of your case and how much compensation may be available. Contact an Illinois car accident lawyer today.