Illinois auto accident victims who file claims with the drivers' insurance policies have certain rights, and they can expect the claims to follow certain procedural steps. It is important for victims to understand the rights that they have, the duties that the insurance companies owe and to whom they owe those duties, the timelines involved and what to expect. An auto accident attorney may help clients navigate through the claims process.
Insurance requirements and duties
Under Illinois law, drivers are required to carry insurance to protect others when they are at fault in causing accidents. At a minimum, drivers must carry $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage. They must also have at least $15,000 for property losses. It is important for injured victims to understand that since they do not have contractual relationships with the other drivers' insurance companies, those companies owe greater duties to protect the drivers that they insure than they do to victims who are injured by their insureds. They will act to protect the interests of the at-fault drivers over those of the people who are injured.
After an accident
After an accident, the insurance company's representatives will contact the injured victims. It is important to be careful when talking to insurance adjusters. Insurance companies try to elicit statements from injured victims that can be used against them in order to deny claims. Victims can tell the companies that they plan to consult with an auto accident attorney before making statements.
When a claim is filed, the insurance company will then begin its investigation. If the company determines that its insured driver is at fault, it will offer a settlement. The victims may then decide whether or not to accept the offer. They may make counter-offers if they choose. It is important for people to determine the appropriate value of their claims in order to accurately weigh an offer that has been extended. Once an offer is accepted, victims may not later seek additional money even if their losses exceed the settlement amounts.
Finally, it is important to act quickly because the statute of limitations for a bodily injury claim is two years. If victims wait too long, they may be barred from later seeking recovery for their losses. Personal injury attorneys may help their clients to determine the value of their claims and negotiate to secure offers that fairly compensate them.