Although amounts vary, nearly every state, including Illinois, requires minimum vehicle liability insurance. The mandate is designed to protect people from the risks posed by uninsured drivers. The reality, however, is that there are many uninsured motorists on the roads. Considering the most common personal injury claims arise from traffic accidents, the risks posed by uninsured motorists cannot be overstated. Unless the proper steps are taken, a relatively straightforward process can become an expensive, time-consuming endeavor, resulting in unpaid medical bills and a judgment-proof defendant.
After an accident in Illinois, there are specific steps that victims must take to properly assert a claim for just compensation against an uninsured motorist that has caused an accident. In some cases, the uninsured motorist’s driver’s license may be suspended until the motorist compensates the victim or complies with applicable state statutes. According to the Illinois Secretary of State, there are two methods to suspend a driver’s license of an uninsured motorist, with the aim of encouraging driver to compensate the victim:
1) Submit an Illinois Crash Report to the Illinois Department of Transportation to confirm that the at-fault party was uninsured, then request that the Secretary of State suspend the uninsured motorist’s license for failure to have insurance.
2) File a lawsuit and obtain a judgment against the uninsured motorist. If the judgment is not satisfied within 30 days of obtaining the judgment, the victim can submit the judgment to the Secretary of State, which will suspend the uninsured motorist’s license until the judgment is satisfied.
Suspending a driver’s license is a powerful tool to ensure cooperation. In today’s world, it may be impossible to earn a living without a vehicle, especially in the suburban communities outside of Chicago, which lack substantial public transportation. License suspension, however, will not necessarily guarantee the uninsured motorist’s cooperation. If the motorist is unwilling or unable to obtain car insurance in the first place, it is similarly likely they are unwilling or unable to satisfy the judgment, with or without their driving license. Therefore, obtaining uninsured motorist coverage prior to an accident may be the best way to protect against the dangers posed by uninsured motorists.
Although policies differ, “full coverage” automobile insurance normally provides compensation for accidents caused by uninsured motorists, including accidents involving pedestrians, hit and run drivers, and many accidents involving children. The insurance policy insures the risk presented by uninsured motorists. In exchange for the premium paid by the policy holder, the insurance company or carrier provides compensation to victims of accidents involving uninsured motorists. The insurance company also has the right to seek compensation from the uninsured motorist, but for the reasons highlighted above, it is unlikely that the uninsured will be able to compensate anyone, including the insurance carrier. Even with full coverage, disputes with insurances companies arise that will necessitate the assistance of experienced counsel. Insurance policies are written by experienced attorneys with insurance industry expertise. It is crucial to seek advice from an experienced attorney able to interpret the language of the policy for you and ensure your claim is filed in a timely manner. When consumers unwisely forego their rights to bring uninsured motorist claims, insurance carriers convert premiums into profits — by the millions.