What Information to Exchange After a Car Accident in Chicago?
The immediate aftermath of a vehicle accident in Chicago can be confusing, but there are various steps that you will need to take right away. This includes the exchange of information with other parties involved. Here, we want to more thoroughly examine the types of information that you should hand over at the scene of the accident. We also want to review some things that you should not do at the scene of the crash.
If Others at the Accident Scene are Hostile
In the immediate aftermath of a vehicle accident, tempers can flare. Other drivers or passengers may be angry for various reasons, either at themselves or at anyone else they think is at fault for the incident. If you have been involved in a vehicle accident and there are hostile parties at the scene, you need to let the police get to the accident site and handle the exchange of information between the parties. Do not put yourself into a dangerous situation, and do not do anything to escalate tempers.
What Information Should You Try to Get?
There is various information that you can try to gather after the vehicle accident occurs. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Names of everyone involved. Try and get the names of every person involved in the vehicle accident written down. This includes other drivers and passengers involved.
- Contact information. While you are getting the names of everyone involved, try and get their contact information written down as well. This is particularly important for other drivers involved in the incident as well as any eyewitnesses.
- Preferred contact method. Make sure you get the preferred contact information for each person involved. Some individuals may have preferred contact methods during work days or during certain hours.
- Driver’s license numbers. You can ask to see the driver’s licenses of everyone involved so you can get the proper spelling of their names and to get their driver’s license numbers. Please understand that no one is required to show you their license, so if they say no, let that be the end of that conversation.
- Vehicle information. Write down as much information as you can about the vehicles involved. This includes the make, model, year, color, license plate numbers, and any other characteristics that stand out.
- Vehicle identification numbers. If you are able to do so, try and get the vehicle identification number (VIN) for the vehicles involved. The VIN is the most accurate way to determine ownership of the vehicle.
- Name of insured for the vehicle. Get the name of the individual who has the insurance policy for the vehicle involved. Often, the individual driving the vehicle is not the person who has insured the vehicle.
- Insurance carrier and policy numbers. Write down the name of the insurance carrier and the insurance policy number for all other vehicles involved.
Do You Have to Report the Accident to Chicago Police?
Almost every vehicle accident that occurs in Chicago should be reported to the police. If we examine Illinois law, we can see that an accident should be reported to law enforcement if any of the following circumstances surrounding the crash apply:
- The incident caused an injury
- The incident caused a death
- There was property damage of $1,500 or more
Previously, those involved in a crash were required to separately submit an accident report to the DMV within ten days of the incident occurring, but this separate report is no longer required. Additionally, the property damage threshold of $1,500 is lowered to $500 if any party involved in the crash is uninsured.
Please note that it is very hard to determine the dollar value of property damage at the scene of an accident. Thus, we recommend reporting a collision regardless of the level of property damage actually seen right after the crash.
If the other driver tries to insist on not calling the police to the scene of the incident, do not listen. The other driver may try to offer cash or give their contact information and say you will “settle up” later. This is not okay. Do not let this happen. Inform the other driver that you will be calling law enforcement officials to come to the scene to handle the incident.
What if a Driver Flees the Scene of the Accident?
If a driver flees the scene of an accident, obtaining the information you need becomes much more challenging, if not impossible. Do not, under any circumstances, try to chase a driver who flees the scene. This creates incredible dangers not only for yourself but also for others in the area.
If you have been in an accident and one driver left the scene, you need to stay where you are and contact law enforcement officials. Give the police as much information as you remember about the other party involved and let them take over the process of finding the driver. You need to get an accident report that says that the other driver left the scene. If the police locate the other driver, you will be able to obtain the information you need from a follow-up police report.
You should report the incident to your insurance carrier just like any other crash and tell your carrier that the other driver fled the scene of the incident. Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is automatically applied to all insurance policies in Illinois at the minimum levels required, which are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. You can use this coverage to obtain compensation for your medical expenses after an incident occurs.
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage is not required under Illinois law, but we strongly recommend carrying this type of coverage so you can repair your vehicle if an accident with an uninsured motorist occurs. Without uninsured motorist property damage coverage, recovering compensation for your property damage expenses after an uninsured motorist crash becomes much more challenging, if not impossible. This is particularly true if you do not have collision coverage as part of your insurance policy.
Contact an Attorney
If you or somebody you care about has been involved in a vehicle accident caused by the actions of another driver, reach out to an attorney immediately. A lawyer can help you gather the evidence needed to prove liability and then work to recover the compensation you are entitled to.