Illinois Car Accident Laws

If you’re in a car crash in Illinois, you’ll need to know the car accident laws in Illinois to file an accident report or claim damages.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Edited by Amy Bobinger
Car accident laws in
require you to report the accident to the police department if there was significant property damage. To recoup the cost of damages, you can file a claim through your
car insurance
company or pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
  • You may be required to file a police report after a car accident if it results in death or property damage over $500 to $1,500
  • Illinois drivers must have liability insurance with limits of at least 25/50/20 and uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage of the same limits
  • Drivers have two years from the date of the accident to file for economic or non-economic damages
  • Illinois applies modified
    comparative negligence
    for recovering damages after an accident

What to do after a crash: Illinois car accident reporting laws

After a car accident
, you should get yourself—and any passengers in your vehicle—to safety immediatel. Then, here’s what you should do:
  • Move the car to the side of the road (or another safe place away from cars)
  • Call 911 if anyone involved in the vehicle crash needs medical assistance
  • Take pictures of the accident and document any damages
  • Exchange insurance information with the other driver, including your name, address, motor vehicle registration number, and vehicle owner's name
Once you’ve taken care of the basics, Illinois law requires you to report the accident to the police and your auto insurance company. Here’s a deeper look at how car accident laws in Illinois apply to accident reports.

When to report an accident to the police

According to
Article IV
of the Illinois Vehicle Code, drivers involved in a car accident resulting in the following situations must file a report with the Illinois State Police within 10 days of the auto accident: 
  1. Resulted in injury or death,
  2. Caused over $1,500 in property damage, if all drivers were insured, or
  3. Caused more than $500 in property damage, if any driver was uninsured.
The law enforcement agency you need to contact depends on where the collision took place:
  • Public highway: Report with the Illinois State Police.
  • City: Local police department or sheriff’s office.
  • Illinois tollway: Contact District 15 of the Illinois State Police at (630) 241-6800.
In some cases, you can file the crash report
. You can request a copy of the accident report by mail or online for $5.
If a police officer comes to the scene of the accident, you aren’t required to file your own police report—the responding officers will do that for you. If you need a copy of your accident report, you can visit the
Illinois State Police website
to access it online.

Filing an insurance claim after an Illinois car accident

In addition to filing a police report, you’ll also need to notify your car insurance company about the accident. But how insurance will pay for the damages will depend on the circumstances of the crash:
  • If the other driver was at-fault but insured: Their liability insurance should pay for your damages up to their policy limits. 
  • If the other driver was at fault but uninsured: Your UM/UIM bodily injury coverage can help pay for your medical bills up to your policy limits, but your vehicle repairs won’t be covered by insurance unless you have collision coverage on your own policy.
  • If you’re the at-fault driver and you’re insured: Your liability insurance will cover the other party’s damages up to your policy limits, but your own damages will only be paid for by insurance if you purchased collision coverage.
  • If you’re the at-fault driver and you’re uninsured: it will be difficult (or impossible) for you to be reimbursed for your damages through insurance or a personal injury lawsuit. The other driver may file a lawsuit against you for their damages.
Need to know: If the other driver is at fault and you’re uninsured, you can still be compensated for damages in Illinois—unlike "no pay, no play" states, where you can not collect if you’re in an accident while driving without insurance, regardless of fault.
Minimum insurance requirements in Illinois
Like most states, Illinois state law requires all drivers to have
liability coverage
. Here’s what you need to meet the
minimum insurance requirements in Illinois

Who’s to blame: comparative negligence law in Illinois

One of the first questions that comes up after an accident is: whose fault was it? 
Let’s take a look at an example. If Marty blows through a stop sign and hits Jade’s car, but Jade was talking on her cell phone at the time, who actually caused the accident? And who can collect damages?
The state of Illinois applies modified
comparative negligence
when it comes to recovering damages after an accident. This means that if you’re found responsible for less than half of the fault in a traffic accident, you can be compensated for your injuries after your percentage of fault has been deducted.
Looking at the example above, both drivers broke traffic laws, so Marty and Jade are both responsible for the accident. However, if the insurance companies determine that Marty is 65% at fault and Jade is 35% at fault—then Marty cannot collect from Jade, but he may file a claim through his insurer if he has collision coverage or MedPay. Jade can be compensated for 65% of the damages from Marty or Marty's insurance company, and she can still use collision coverage and Medpay if she has it.
While most states have adopted modified comparative negligence, other versions of the law, like pure comparative negligence or
contributory negligence
, may be in effect if you cross state lines.

Claiming damages after an accident: personal injury laws in Illinois

If insurance doesn’t cover all of your medical bills and repair costs after a serious accident, you may have to collect damages through a personal injury lawsuit. According to the Illinois
Code of Civil Procedure
, drivers have two years from the accident date to file for either economic or non-economic damages.
  • Economic damages: Tangible expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and property damages.
  • Non-economic damages: Difficult-to-document losses that include pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and loss of society.
Depending on the nature of your lawsuit, you may also file for compensatory or actual damages, which refer to a combination of economic and non-economic damages.

Exceptions to personal injury laws in Illinois

Failing to file a personal injury claim within the two-year statute of limitations will usually result in the court dismissing the case. However, there are some cases where you may be allowed
more time
to file your claim. 
Exceptions to personal injury laws in Illinois include:
  • If the injured person was legally disabled at the time of the accident but has since recovered, they have two years to file the lawsuit once the disability is removed.
  • If the injured person was under 18 at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations does not begin until they turn 18.
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