A guy looking at this car in dismay

Being injured in a car accident is never easy and far more difficult if you are involved in a collision with a driver who was underinsured or not insured at all. Although Illinois law requires car owners to carry automobile insurance, a recent study by the Insurance Information Institute found that more than 13 percent of drivers in the state are uninsured.  

If you have been injured in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist in Chicago, turn to Stein & Shulman, LLC. We have extensive experience handling uninsured/underinsured accident claims and will fight to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. 

You may wonder why the driver that hit you wasn’t insured, but there is no justification for failing to carry automobile coverage. In any event, your primary concern should be getting the medical care you need. Let our experienced uninsured auto accident attorneys take over all the details of your claim so that you can focus on recovering. 

When you consult with us, we will take the time to explain all your rights and help you obtain compensation even if the other driver was uninsured or underinsured. Well-versed in the applicable state insurance laws, trust the team at Stein and Shulman to provide you with compassionate representation when you need it most. 

We have a proven history of helping injury victims throughout the Chicagoland area obtain compensation for injuries caused by uninsured and underinsured motorists.  Contact our office today to set up a free consultation. In the meantime, we’ve created this convenient guide on uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) accident claims in Illinois.

What You Need to Know About Automobile Insurance in Illinois

Under Illinois Law, all registered motor vehicles must be covered by liability insurance in the following minimum amounts:

auto insurance is designed to protect both you and other drivers, however, uninsured motorists can and do cause accidents, which is where UM/UIM coverage comes in

What is Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage?

Unlike other states, Illinois requires you to carry uninsured motorist coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. You also have the option to purchase higher amounts, in which case underinsured motorist coverage is included.

Given that the cost of a serious injury could far exceed the UM required minimums, many individuals carry higher amounts of UM coverage, which is not that expensive. In addition, UM/UIM Property Damage coverage is also available, however, it is purchased less frequently. 

In any event, pursuing a UM/UIM claim in the Chicagoland area can be complicated and dealing with insurance companies is frustrating. While you are required to purchase minimum UM coverage, this does not necessarily mean your claim will be paid.

The best way to protect your rights is to work with the experienced attorneys at Stein & Shulman. We’ll do everything we can to achieve the best possible outcome for your case and help you obtain the coverage you deserve.

The Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Illinois

In Illinois, all drivers must carry an insurance ID card or have proof of insurance before getting behind the wheel. Under state law, driving without insurance is typically considered a petty offense; however, there are serious consequences. 

A first offense is punishable by a three-month driver’s license suspension and fines of up to $1,000, plus court costs and a $100 reinstate fee. The penalties increase for second and third offenses and driving with suspended license plates due to an insurance violation will result in an additional fine of $1,000 as well as an additional 6-month license suspension.

Finally, operating a motor vehicle and causing bodily harm to another individual is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, and fines. Despite these penalties, uninsured motorist accidents are becoming increasingly common in the state of Illinois. 

How Does a UM/UIM Claim Work Exactly?

Because Illinois is a fault state, you are entitled to file a claim regardless of who was at fault for the accident. After an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you must first look to your own insurance company for coverage. Your insurer essentially takes the place of the insurer for the uninsured/underinsured driver who caused the accident that resulted in your injuries. 

The common reasons for filing UM/UIM claims include:

Despite the fact that UM/UIM coverage is intended to cover your bodily injuries in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, these claims can be exceedingly complex and come with a number of rules and restrictions. 

If you plan to file a claim, you must notify your insurer as soon as possible because most insurance policies impose strict deadlines for filing UM/UIM claims. If you miss the deadline,  your insurer will likely deny the claim. 

Also, to have a valid claim, you must be able to demonstrate that (1) the other driver was at fault and (2) he or she was uninsured or underinsured. Even if your claim is valid, insurers often put profits ahead of injury victims and attempt to pay as little as possible or deny claims. 

Insurance companies frequently rely on the rules of comparative negligence in Illinois to deny claims or underpay claims. Under the state’s negligence laws, you can only pursue compensation if you were less than 51 percent at fault for the accident. If so, the amount you can recover will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. 

For example, if you have $20,000 in accident-related medical expenses but you are found to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, the amount of your compensation will be reduced to $16,000 ($20,000 x .20 = $4,000/$20,000-$4,000 = $16,000).

In the end, it takes a skilled attorney to minimize your liability and help you obtain the maximum coverage you deserve. Our legal team will stand by you every step of the way and make sure the insurance company honors your claim. 

Can I Sue the Uninsured Driver Who Caused the Accident?

While it is possible to sue the uninsured motorist to recover damages for your injuries, it may not be feasible because drivers who don’t carry auto insurance usually don’t have substantial assets. On other hand, you may have a basis for a personal injury claim against a third party that was responsible for the accident.

As an example, if the accident was caused by a vehicle defect, you may be able to pursue a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or distributor. Similarly, if your accident was caused by road defects or debris, a municipal liability lawsuit can be brought against the government agency that is responsible for road and highway maintenance.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your uninsured or underinsured accident, working with an experienced attorney can mean the difference between being left to foot the bill for your medical expenses and obtaining the full coverage that you purchased.

UM/UIM Coverage and Pedestrian Accidents in Illinois

 A pedestrian crossing the street in the crosswalk and in the background a car looming towards them

Your UM/UIM insurance covers any accidents involving a motor vehicle even if you were not driving at the time, including hit-and-run accidents that injure pedestrians. UM/UIM coverage applies when you, a child, spouse, or immediate family member who resides with you are injured in a pedestrian accident and the driver was at fault.

How Stein & Shulman Can Help With Your UM/UIM Claim

While UM/UIM coverage is designed to protect you and your family in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, the insurance company does not have your interests at heart. 

The insurer will require you to prove that (1) there was contact with the other vehicle and (2) the other driver was at fault. If you don’t have evidence that supports your claim, it will likely be denied. 

The best way to protect your rights is to work with the experienced attorneys at Stein & Shulman. When you become our client, we will: 

Above all, we are committed to helping you recover damages for your injuries. If the insurer refuses to make a fair settlement offer or denies your claim, we will explore your options.

When Insurance Companies Deny UM/UIM Claims

At Stein & Shulman, we are all too familiar with the tactics  insurers use to deny UM/UIM claims:

  • You failed to provide notice of the collision within a reasonable time
  • Your premium payments lapsed, and you lost coverage
  • The underinsured motorist policy doesn’t cover your damages
  • The value of your claim doesn’t exceed the other driver’s policy limits
  • Lack of evidence of your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages

If your insurance company refuses to pay your UM/UIM claim, we will help you pursue an appeal with your insurer, which basically involves an alternative form of dispute resolution known as arbitration. If we determine that your insurer was in breach of contract or acted in bad faith, we may recommend filing a lawsuit. Above all, we will always work in your best interests and make sure your rights are protected.

Contact Our Experienced Chicago Uninsured Motorist Accident Attorneys Today

A guy and an attorney

The legal team at Stein & Shulman is highly experienced in handling uninsured and underinsured motorist claims and will work tirelessly to protect your rights. Although insurers have an unfair advantage over policyholders, we know how to level the playing field. 

With over 45 years of combined experience in personal injury law, we have a proven history of holding insurers accountable and helping our clients obtain the compensation they deserve.

When you become our client, you can rest assured that your UM/UIM claim will be handled professionally and efficiently. 

Knowing that being injured in an accident can become an overwhelming physical, financial and emotional burden, we will offer you legal knowledge, compassion, and a superior level of personal service. We handle all injury claims on a contingency basis, which means you will not pay any attorneys’ fees until we recover for you. The sooner you contact our office, the sooner we can start working on your UM/UIM accident claim.