Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Car Insurance Overview - Illinois By Christine Murray

Illinois is one of the majority of states in the United States that has chosen not to implement no fault legislation. As such, whether an individual can recover medical expenses and/or loss of income typically can only be determined by knowing whether a person is at fault, in whole or in part, for the accident and the specific insurance policies held by the people involved in the accident.
There are generally two types of car insurance coverage. First party coverage is insurance that covers you and your property. It can cover such things as medical expenses, damage to your car, the cost of lawyers to defend an action if you are sued by another driver, etc. Third party coverage is insurance that protects you by paying other people damages for injuries that you caused them. In Illinois, for the most part, the extent of both the first party and the third party coverage a car owner has is determined by the insurance policy itself.
The State of Illinois sets out certain minimum insurance coverages that all car owners are required to carry. There is a minimum of $20,000.00 for personal injuries to a single person and a minimum of $40,000.00 for personal injuries if there is more than one person injured in the car accident. There is also a minimum of $15,000.00 property damage coverage required. In today's society these minimum limits are inadequate to protect most people. It is common to purchase car insurance that increases these limits. Two of the more common car insurance limits are first: $100,000 for each person that suffers personal injuries to a maximum of $300,000 if more than one person suffers personal injuries in the car accident, and second: $300,000 per person injured to a maximum of $500,000 if more than one person suffers personal injuries.
In addition to increasing the limits, a car owner may well be advised to also consider purchasing medical payments coverage. Unlike jurisdictions that have imposed "no-fault" legislation where certain medical payment coverage is mandatory, Illinois does not require such coverage and it is left to the individual to decide if they want it or not. Medical payment coverage is like a form of health coverage. It is often referred to as "personal injury protection" or "PIP" protection. Again, if this type of coverage is purchased the insurance policy will specify the maximum amount the insurer will pay out under this coverage.
While there are many different types of insurance coverage that are available two more will be of specific interest to the person that has suffered personal injuries in a car accident. These are the uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits. Although the State of Illinois mandates minimum insurance coverage there are still many people who drive without any insurance or without sufficient insurance to cover the damages their negligence causes. These types of insurance coverage protect you if a negligent driver without insurance, or with inadequate insurance, causes a car accident in which you suffer personal injuries. In Illinois, if you have insurance coverage you automatically have uninsured coverage UNLESS you signed a form called a UM Waver Form.
As this brief summary suggests, the wording of each car insurance policy held by the drivers and or owners of the cars involved in a car accident will largely determine what a person who suffers personal injuries can or cannot recover. What might appear to be language that is straight forward and clear cut to the typical person, may not have such a straight forward and clear cut legal interpretation. Also, every person who suffers personal injuries in a car accident has their own unique problems to solve. As such it is impossible to provide any hard and fast rules or suggestions of how best to proceed. One thing is clear, however. There are strict time lines within which legal actions must be started. There may also be time lines for forms to be filled out and claims to be filed with the insurer. It is always best to speak with an Illinois qualified car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the car accident. Typically a car accident personal injury lawyer will give you an initial consultation for free. Take advantage of that service and protect your rights.
This article is not intended to be a full or complete summary of Illinois law nor is it intended to be used in any way as legal advice. For legal advice you should call a qualified, licensed personal injury lawyer. This article is simply an overview of some points that might be of general interest to people, and in particular people that have suffered personal injuries in a car accident. If you want legal advice Injury Alliance can assist you in locating a qualified personal injury lawyer that practices in your area. First consultation, be it by telephone or in person, will be free. If you do not choose to find a lawyer through the Injury Alliance but prefer to find one by yourself, we still recommend you choose someone who specializes in car accident claims. Many attorney's specializing in car accident claims will also provide a free initial consultation.

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