How Long do You Have to Report a Car Accident in Illinois?
Have you been in a recent accident and need to know more about reporting a car accident in Illinois and how long you have to report one? In general, you will want to report a car accident to the police or to the auto insurance companies as soon as you can to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
If you need to report a claim late, you should know a few things. If you or someone you love sustained injuries from an accident and need help on the next steps, continue reading below. We will cover all you need to know about reporting auto accidents in Illinois and who you can contact for additional guidance.
How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in Illinois?
After you get involved in an accident, you will want to report the case as soon as possible. Most insurers give you up to 30 days to report the accident, but you will need to check with your insurer to double-check.
Some have time limits; others don’t. There are statutes of limitations that state the latest time that you can report a bodily injury, and that is two years in Illinois.
How to Report Car Accidents
After you get into an accident, you will want to report it as soon as possible. Immediately after the accident, check for injuries. If there are injuries, call 911 to get an ambulance to the scene as quickly as possible. If there aren’t any, and you can safely move out of the way of traffic, call the police to create a report.
Take pictures of the accident scene and location. Make sure that you get photos of all vehicles involved in the accident.
Gather Important Information
It is imperative to remember that you should not admit fault at the scene. Neither you, the other driver, nor the police officer at the scene can determine liability. Your auto insurance company and the other driver’s insurer will make that call.
To help them with their liability decision, you will want to gather as much information from the other drivers as possible. Try to take photos of the vehicle’s license plates. Your auto insurance company can use that plate information to find out more about who owns the car and if there are any active insurance policies.
Other information to gather:
- Names of all drivers
- Names of all passengers
- Auto insurance information
- Accurate phone numbers
- Driver’s license information
- Mailing addresses
- Year, make, and model of all vehicles involved
Having all the information on hand will make the claim reporting process extremely easy. After the officer provides you with the report number, make sure you give this information to your insurance company.
Call the Insurance Company
Once you are settled and comfortable enough, you will want to reach out to your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company. Both sides will need your statement about what happened, so make sure you are able to recall precisely what happened in the accident.
Side Note About Recorded Statements
It is standard for auto insurance companies to need to take a recorded statement from you to complete their investigation. If you are comfortable with speaking with the auto adjuster about what happened, you can move forward and tell them everything you know.
If you plan on retaining counsel for your injuries or because there is a chance that liability may be an issue, you will need to speak with your attorney first. Once you retain counsel, auto insurance companies legally cannot tell you anything about what is going on in the case. This is because your contract between you and your attorney bars auto insurance companies from speaking to you.
Comply With the Investigation
Granted that you don’t have legal representation, you will want to comply with the auto insurance adjuster. They may request information from you in order to move the claim forward at different points in the claims process. Auto insurance companies have thirty days to “pay, delay, or deny” the claim.
This means that they have 30 days to make their decision to pay if they are at fault for the claim, or they will need to issue a denial. If the claim is under investigation and the adjuster is waiting on information to complete the case, they will send you a “delay letter.”
The letter will thoroughly explain why they are delaying the case and may suggest that you go through your own carrier to repair your vehicle. If the insurance company accepts fault, they can reimburse you your deductible later on.
Accident Reporting Laws in Illinois
To begin, many are likely aware that you are supposed to report an auto accident after one occurs. However, there are situations which exist where people may not want to report an accident. Perhaps the accident was minor, and the two parties decide not to report it. Let’s say, down the line one of those people experience prolonged injuries from the non-reported accident, you could have problems. Therefore, it is always best to promptly report any accident you have gotten in. Illinois State law (Illinois Statute Chapter 625 Vehicles § 5/11-406) states that you must report your accident if…
- Property damage exceeds $1,500
- The accident was responsible for bodily injury or death
Motorist Crash Report
The Motorist Crash report is a document handed to you by the police after an accident occurs. However, people must know that this is not an official police report. Separately, a police report will be done by the officer involved and there is a fee for issuing that report. Additionally, some insurance companies will not pay claims without a police report. Finally, the required information for filling out the Motorist Crash Report includes the following below.
- Time/place of the auto accident
- Name, address, & date of birth of all the drivers involved
- Driver’s license information for motorists involved
- License plate numbers for all motorists involved
- Name & address of all parties involved & the name of their insurance carrier
- Name & address of registered vehicle owners of vehicles involved in the incident
- A description explanation of what was going on during the accident
What Happens if I Report the Claim Too Late?
If you have auto damage or injuries from an accident that happened months ago, you can still submit a claim, and the auto adjuster will investigate the file. They will want to know why you reported the accident so late and will most likely need to inspect your vehicle to ensure that the damages match what you’re claiming.
Injuries months later are a bit harder to pay for, but they will do their best to evaluate your case fairly. There are cases where people are not able to report their claims for a while because they are in the hospital for their severe injuries.
If this is the case, the auto insurance company will investigate and make their decision to review for payment and liability. As a general rule of thumb, the longer you wait, the higher your chance that the insurer will deny your claim.
When to Not File a Claim
If you have damages less than your deductible, you can skip reporting the accident to your insurer. If you plan on repairing your vehicle on your own, you won’t need to let your insurance company know.
In the event that you cause damage to another person’s vehicle or property, you will need to file a claim. Even if their damages are minor and they ask you to handle the repairs out of pocket, you may want to reach out to your auto insurance company. If the other person decides to call your insurance company after you’ve paid them, your insurer is legally still liable for paying them for their damages.
Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to hire an attorney to handle reporting a car accident in Illinois, but it does not hurt to reach out to one. Most reputable attorneys offer free case evaluations before they take on your case and charge you a fee.
Even more so, most attorneys work based on a contingency fee. This means that you won’t have to pay any attorney fees unless your case wins. Your attorney will just deduct their fee from your final settlement amount.
Benefits of Hiring a Car Accident Attorney
There are several benefits that come with hiring a car accident lawyer. First, they are sympathetic and can support you through your case.
They can recommend doctors, and other treatment plans to make sure you get the proper treatment and care you deserve. Car accident injuries can be intense and can take time to heal from, so you will want to make sure you receive adequate care.
Getting involved in an auto accident is a scary experience that no one should have to go through. You’re hurt, confused, and upset, and this is with reason.
When you are in this state of mind, can you be sure that you will make the right decision for yourself and your case? The answer to that question is most likely a “no.”
Attorneys don’t have the same emotions that you do, which gives them the ability to think clearly. They can accurately negotiate your case and get you the compensation you deserve.
They Understand Auto Insurance Company Tactics
Auto insurance adjusters are trained to prey on your emotions and to get you to take the lowest offer possible. They know that you hurt and want to get this over with, so they focus on that emotion. You think that you’re getting a friendly adjuster who cares about you when they are actually doing their job.
This is nothing to be ashamed of; at the end of the day, auto insurance companies are big businesses that have a lot to lose, so they have to protect their bottom line. Your attorney is aware of how the negotiation phases go and what you should receive compensation for. Auto insurance companies are more likely to be meticulous with your case when you have an attorney representing you.
Can Represent You in Court
In the event that your case goes to trial, you will want to have a reputable attorney protecting your interests. Court dates and other court proceedings can happen on the most random days.
If you aren’t able to meet these deadlines, you can risk losing your case. Instead of worrying about that, you can hand the task of dealing with your court proceedings to your attorney.
How to Find a Car Accident Lawyer
A quick online search for car accident lawyers near me will surely overwhelm you with many different attorneys. Instead, you can reach out to friends and family members for recommendations.
When you find a few attorneys that you may want to work with, conduct interviews with them. They may be the boss in the courtroom, but you have the power to hire or fire them at any point.
As mentioned above, you will want to interview your attorneys. Get a feel for their office environment and speak with them in person about your case if you can.
You can ask them questions about their process in how they handle cases. Do they have a team that will work on the case? Who is the best point of contact? Who should you contact if you have questions?
Check Out Their Reviews
There are several different third-party websites you can use to check a law firm’s reviews. You can use Yelp, Google, or the Better Business Bureau to see what other previous clients enjoyed or disliked about working with these attorneys.
Of course, the best way to gauge an attorney is to meet them in person, as stated earlier. Always trust your intuition.
Possible Car Accident Lawsuit Compensation
In addition to the other insurance company paying for your vehicle repair costs, they can also provide you with additional compensation if you get hurt. For example, the auto insurance company can pay for your medical expenses and any income you lost due to the accident.
There are other damages, known as “general damages,” that you can claim. This includes pain and suffering, punitive damages, and loss of companionship.
The only way you will know what compensation you may be able to claim is to reach out to a reputable injury attorney. They can walk you through the claims process and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Get the Compensation You Deserve
A car accident can be a very scary situation that leaves victims wondering what they should do next. However, people still need to be aware of the actions that need to take place following an auto accident. Above all, if you are in an accident make sure you are not injured and get to a place of safety. In addition, individuals may not think about this at first, but you likely will need to report your accident. Specifically, you should know how long you have to report an accident in Illinois and the laws involved with doing so.
It is important to know about reporting car accidents in Illinois and how long you have to report the incident in the event that you get into an accident. Before you report an accident, make sure that you and your passengers are safe and unharmed.
If there are injuries, be sure to seek treatment right away. If you recently were involved in an accident and need to seek counsel, contact us now for a free case evaluation. Our team is ready to answer any questions or concerns you have about filing a car accident lawsuit against another driver.