Chicago Hit and Run Accident Lawyer
As drivers, we are responsible for stopping and exchanging information if we are in a car accident. Unfortunately, not all drivers uphold this duty. Hit and run accidents occur when a person does not stop, leaving the victim without the necessary information to file an insurance claim.
If you are in a hit-and-run accident in Chicago, the attorneys at Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC can help. We will work closely with you to explore all possible options for compensation. Call us today at (312) 586-1700.
Why Choose Us
- Our attorneys have helped hundreds of Chicago residents secure the compensation they deserve. We have recovered over $400 million in settlements and jury verdicts.
- Our firm strives to provide the highest level of professional service to our clients. We will work with you to identify your most optimal path to recovery.
- If you have any questions about your case, our firm is here to help. Our Chicago personal injury attorneys will be happy to answer your questions and respond to any concerns you may have.
Why an Attorney is Necessary for a Hit and Run Claim
Just like any other vehicle accident, the process of getting through a hit-and-run accident can be challenging. An attorney may be necessary when it comes to recovering compensation, both from your own insurance carrier, as well as the insurance carrier of the other party (if the other party is apprehended).
Additionally, if the other party is apprehended by law enforcement officials, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against them to recover compensation, particularly if they do not have insurance period
An attorney will also assist with ensuring that you, as the crash victim, are thoroughly evaluated by trusted economic and medical experts. These individuals can help put together a coherent report about what you should be paid as a result of your losses.
Legal Options for Chicago Hit and Run Victims
Illinois is a fault car insurance state, which means that drivers who cause accidents must pay for their victims’ damages. The state requires all drivers to hold liability insurance to pay for these losses. Typically, you have two options to hold an at-fault driver accountable for your damages: an insurance claim against the driver’s policy, or a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois civil court.
If you are in a hit-and-run accident, you do not know who the at-fault driver is and cannot file these claims. To recover compensation for your injuries, however, you could use your own insurance. Illinois requires insurance policies to include uninsured motorist coverage.
By filing an uninsured motorist claim, you can recover compensation for the following types of damages.
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Physical therapy expenses
- Disability accommodations
- Pain and suffering
However, uninsured motorist coverage does not pay for damage to your vehicle. You will need to use another form of insurance, known as collision coverage, to pay for these expenses. Your attorney at Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC will examine your policy and identify your optimal path to maximum compensation.
Most Common Causes of Hit and Run Accidents in Chicago
The main factor differentiating hit and run accidents from regular vehicle accidents in Chicago is the fact that a driver flees the scene. In most cases, the driver who flees the scene of a crash is the at-fault party. However, there are times when individuals flee the scene even if they did not cause the accident, often for reasons that have nothing to do with the collision in the first place.
Some of the most common causes of hit and run accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Operating too fast for conditions
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Intoxicated driving
- Failing to stop at stop signs or stop lights
- Following other drivers too closely
- Overall reckless driving behavior
Even though the causes of these incidents are the same as other types of crashes, the reasons a person flees the scene set these incidents apart. Individuals may leave an accident scene because they do not have insurance or because they are intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Individuals could also flee the scene of the incident if they wish to avoid encounters with law enforcement. This could be because of their intoxication or because they have a warrant out for their arrest.
Sometimes, individuals flee the scene of an accident because they are scared and in shock.
Illinois Hit and Run Laws and Statutes
In the state of Illinois, drivers are required to report a vehicle accident if the incident leads to an injury, death, or property damage of more than $1,500 if all drivers are insured. If a driver involved in the incident does not have insurance, then the property damage threshold for reporting the incident drops to $500.
When we examine Illinois law, we can see that drivers are responsible for stopping their vehicles at or near the scene, providing their name, address, and vehicle information to other parties, and assisting any injured persons.
The report form that must be filled out is generally provided by the responding police officer. However, this form can also be obtained at any law enforcement station in Illinois, and it should be filed online or by mail, as indicated on the form ,within 10 days after the incident. Failing to report the incident could result in a license suspension.
Penalties for hit and run depend on the circumstances surrounding each particular incident, but they could lead to either a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on whether or not there are any injuries. Penalties can range from anywhere up to one year in prison and a fine of $2500 or up to three to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. If an accident involved a death, individuals could spend up to 15 years in prison.
Can I Make a Hit and Run Claim as a Pedestrian or Bicyclist?
Yes, bicyclists or pedestrians injured as a result of a hit and run accident may certainly file a claim. If the driver is apprehended by law enforcement officials, and if the driver has insurance, the injured bicyclist or pedestrian can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. It may be necessary to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover compensation. However, if a driver fled the scene because they did not have insurance, it is unlikely they will have the assets needed for an injury claim to actually be successful.
Injured pedestrians and bicyclists may also be able to file a claim with their own insurance carrier, particularly if they have uninsured motorist coverage or some form of personal injury protection (PIP). If you are a bicyclist or pedestrian and sustained an injury caused by the negligent actions of a hit and run driver, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney for a free consultation of your claim as soon as possible.
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident
The moments after a hit-and-run accident can be scary and disorienting. You may want to track down or chase after the at-fault driver. However, it is important to carefully preserve evidence and protect yourself from further harm.
- Pullover in a safe location and write down any information you remember. Do not attempt to follow the driver—this can be very dangerous. Instead, record details such as the vehicle’s color, make, model, or partial license plate number.
- Call 911 and report the accident to the police. Provide as much information to the police as you can about the other driver.
- If there are any witnesses in the area, ask them if they saw anything that could help identify the driver. Collect their contact information for use in your future claim.
- Seek medical attention immediately and save all records related to your treatment and your injuries.
- Take photographs of your injuries, damage to your vehicle, and the area around the scene.
- Contact a Chicago hit-and-run accident attorney to discuss your legal options.
Time Limit to File a Claim
There are various timeframes in place that individuals need to be aware of when filing a hit-and-run accident claim in Chicago. First, individuals need to report the incident to their personal insurance carrier within a day or two after the incident occurs. Failing to report the incident to an insurance carrier promptly could result in the claim being delayed or denied.
Additionally, the personal injury statute of limitations in Illinois is two years from the date an injury occurs. This means that hit and run victims have two years from the date of the crash to file a personal injury lawsuit against the alleged negligent driver, but this really only comes into play if the driver is apprehended and identified. Failing to file a lawsuit with then this two-year timeframe will result in the victim becoming unable to recover any compensation for their losses. If a person loses their life as a result of a hit-and-run accident, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death.
If a person needs to file a civil claim to recover compensation for property damage, the statute of limitations is extended to five years from the date the incident occurs.
Will Uninsured Motorist Coverage Help?
Illinois State law does not require drivers to carry any type of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. However, we strongly encourage every person reading this article to examine their policy and consider purchasing uninsured motorist coverage.
When a person has uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage and uninsured motorist property damage coverage, they significantly increase their protection on the roadway. When we examine information available from the Insurance Information Institute (III), we can see that approximately 12% of all drivers in Illinois are not insured. This is a significant percentage of drivers. If you carry uninsured motorist coverage and are struck by an uninsured driver in Chicago or anywhere in Illinois, you will be able to turn to your own insurance carrier to recover compensation for your losses.
It is not uncommon for hit-and-run drivers to also be uninsured. Often, the reason a driver flees the scene is that they do not have insurance and do not want to face the consequences. If you carry uninsured motorist coverage, you will be able to recover compensation for your medical bills and property damage losses, at least up to your policy limits, which is better than nothing at all.
Contact a Chicago Hit and Run Accident Lawyer
If you are in a hit-and-run accident in Chicago, the attorneys at Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC can help. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn more about your legal options.