Illinois Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

About two people die in Illinois road accidents every day, with many more injured. A personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois will be governed by the following rules and principles:

Statute of Limitations: In Illinois, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit seeking redress for personal injury. You have five years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit over property damage.

If the Victim is Partially at Fault: If a car accident victim wins a lawsuit but is ruled partially at fault, the court will deduct a pro-rata portion from his damages – 25 percent if he was 25 percent at fault, for example. If he was more than 50 percent at fault, however, his recovery will be zero.

Fault/No Fault Rule: Illinois is a “fault” auto insurance state, meaning that there is no legal bar preventing a victim from filing a claim against the other driver’s liability insurance policy or filing a lawsuit with a court.

Minimum Insurance Coverage: The legal minimum liability insurance coverage is $20,000 per injured victim, $40,000 cumulative per accident, and $15,000 for property damage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers Coverage: Illinois requires its drivers to carry uninsured motorist insurance with limits of $20,000 per injured victim and $40,000 for personal injury per accident.

Types of Damages Available: Illinois offers full compensatory damages for both economic and non-economic losses. Punitive damages require evidence of malice or outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant, and are limited to three times the amount of compensatory damages.

Product Liability for Defective Vehicles: The three primary theories of liability are strict product liability, negligence and breach of warranty. Although the mere existence of danger is not enough to establish that the product is defective, a design defect can be proven using either the consumer expectation test of the risk-utility test.

Suing the Government over Defective Roadways (Sovereign Immunity): Although a plaintiff might be able to win a defective roadway lawsuit seeking damages against the state of Illinois, Illinois law concerning lawsuits against the state government is complex, with many exceptions and qualifications

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: Illinois does not require motorcycle riders to wear helmets.

Seat Belt Laws: Passengers 15 to 18 years old must buckle up, as must drivers under 18. The maximum fine for a first offense is $25 plus court costs.

Dram Shop Laws: Alcohol vendors can be held liable to third parties by serving alcohol to underage drinkers and obviously intoxicated adults who then proceed to injure someone due to their intoxication. Social hosts bear limited third-party liability for serving underage drinkers but not intoxicated adults.

DUI/DWI Penalties: In Illinois, a first offense can result in up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The minimum driver’s license suspension is one year.

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): Texting while driving and driving while using a hand-held electronic device are both banned in Illinois. School bus drivers and drivers under 19 are banned from using cell phones even if they are not hand-held.