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Regardless of the weather, the winter holiday season is a dangerous time to be on the road. Increased traffic, distracted drivers, and those who have had too much to drink can make getting your family home quite the adventure. When accidents happen, it is important to know how to handle them. If you have been injured in an accident in which you were not at fault, you are likely eligible for compensation by filing a personal injury claim.
First- and Third-Party Claims
In the vast majority of cases, these types of claims will be handled by the two insurance companies of the parties involved in the accident. Filing for coverage with your own insurance company—if you were at fault or equally at fault as the other driver—this is known as a first-party claim. If you are filing for coverage with the other driver’s insurance company, this is known as a third party claim. Not surprisingly, filing a third-party claim is more complicated and difficult to administer because you often do not have direct contact with the point person at the insurance company.
In Illinois, drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of $20,000 coverage per person and $40,000 per accident for bodily injury liability, and $15,000 for property damage liability. Illinois has a law known as as “comparative negligence,” meaning that both people involved in the accident—rather, their insurance companies—will likely be liable to pay at least some damages, property or otherwise, sustained in the accident. A court ruling may be necessary to decide how much each party is at fault. If the court determines, for example, that Driver A is 80 percent responsible for the accident, because he ran a red light, and that Driver B is 20 percent responsible for the accident, because he was speeding, Driver A will be responsible to cover 80 percent of the of damages, while Driver B will be responsible to cover the remaining 20 percent.
When the at-fault, or the "more" at-fault driver, is not insured, it can be very complicated. Many insurance companies offer uninsured motorist insurance to cover incidents in which the other driver failed to carry insurance, but these policies tend to be only necessary for professional or long-distance drivers who are on the road all the time and whose resulting risk of accident is much higher.
If you or someone you know has been in an accident and have questions about how to file an insurance claim for damages, the most important first step is to seek legal counsel. Do do go through it alone. Contact an experienced DuPage County personal injury attorney today.