If you get in your car headed for work or even for a fun Saturday shopping spree, and another driver rams into you and causes property damage and personal injury, what are your options under Illinois law?   

The first thing to remember is that Illinois is an at-fault auto insurance state. This means that you and your insurance company can hold the other driver responsible for compensating for property damages and injuries when the other driver is mostly at fault.  

You have three avenues to recover from your losses and injuries. First, you can file a claim with your insurance provider, who will then file a subrogation claim against the at-fault vehicle operator. Second, you can also file with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Lastly, you can file a property damage and/or personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.  

That being said, since insurance companies are for-profit, private institutions, the other driver’s provider is not necessarily going to write a blank check based on what you claim. They will assign a claim adjuster to the case, who will question you on what happened and the proof you have. Claim adjusters are professionally trained to get you to say something that can be used to limit the company’s liability or even provide a reason to deny your claim.  

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicular accident in or around Chicago, Illinois, or anywhere in the counties of Cook or Collar, contact us at Stiberth, Scarlati & Boudreau, LLC. We are dedicated to fighting for the just compensation due you for your injuries – or for the loss of a loved one – in an auto accident. We provide personalized, compassionate representation during these challenging times. Let us deal with the claim adjusters. 



Auto Insurance Laws in Illinois

As noted above, Illinois is an at-fault automobile insurance state, which means that the driver who causes the accident is responsible for any injuries and damages. On its basic level, auto insurance requirements in the state are known as 25-50-20. This refers to the minimum liability requirements that each driver must carry.  

The first 25 stands for $25,000 in liability for an injury to one person that you cause, and the 50 to $50,000 in total liability for injuries caused by you to all persons. The 20 is for $20,000 in property damage coverage. Remember, these provisions cover only injuries and damage you cause, not that you suffer. 

Filing a Claim for Injuries or Property Damage

Again, you have three routes to recover for injuries or property damage you suffer because of someone else’s driving – filing a claim with your insurer, filing a claim with the other driver’s insurer, or filing a lawsuit for personal injury or property damage – or for the wrongful death of a loved one. 

Now, if you choose to seek civil action against the other driver, you need to be aware that there are statutes of limitations. For personal injuries, you must file within two years of the accident; for property damage, it’s five years. As for wrongful death, it is also two years, but from the date of the death, which may be later than the actual injury that results in death.

Though these limits apply to lawsuits, insurance carriers have many different standards. Clauses in auto insurance policies require prompt reporting, so in general terms, you must file your claim within days or perhaps within a few weeks at most, or the insurer can reject your claim. 

The Principle of Comparative Negligence

When you obtain a driver’s license in any state, you have a duty of care toward other drivers. If you’re speeding, driving recklessly, or ignoring road warnings and you cause an accident, that represents negligence on your part. However, there are circumstances where the other driver may share some of the blame or fault.  

Suppose you’re driving behind another vehicle, even a tad too close, but the other driver’s brake lights are malfunctioning. The other driver suddenly hits the brakes to avoid something in front, and you ram into that person’s rear, causing head and neck injuries. Under the principle of modified comparative negligence recognized in Illinois, the other driver could share part of the fault.   

Comparative negligence can play a major role in auto accident settlements or in lawsuits. In the above example, say the driver who was rammed into was found to be 25 percent liable because of malfunctioning brake lights; the settlement or jury award could be reduced by 25 percent.   

If your medical expenses and other losses totaled $20,000, you would receive only $15,000. If your percentage was judged to be over 50, you would not be eligible to receive anything. That’s why modified comparative negligence is also known as the “51 percent rule.”


Don’t deal with these adjusters by yourself. Get an experienced auto accident/personal injury attorney to press your claim and negotiate for the best possible settlement. If you or a loved one has been injured – or worse, lost their life – in an accident in or around Chicago or throughout the counties of Cook and Collar, reach out immediately to the legal team at Stiberth, Scarlati & Boudreau, LLC. We care, and we will fight for your just compensation.