Chicago Car Accident Reporting_ Deadlines and Legal Requirements

Driving carefully doesn’t guarantee you’ll never be involved in a motor vehicle crash in Chicago. You may be involved in a wreck someone else causes.

It’s essential to call the police in Chicago when this happens. Even if a crash seems minor, you should still report it to authorities. When a police officer arrives at the scene, they will complete a crash report that could be useful when you file a claim for compensation if you were injured.

Filing an Accident Report in Chicago: What You Need to Know

It used to be true that Chicago accident report law requires motorists to call 911 and report motor vehicle accidents when they result in any of the following:

  • Death
  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage of more than $1,500

However, a recent change in the law altered that requirement. Now, the only people required to report a motor vehicle crash are those state employees who were involved in a crash in a state vehicle.

Don’t assume that the crash is minor, even if that’s how it appears. The collision may have caused injuries or damage you’re not currently aware of. Err on the side of caution and call the police to officially report the crash.

What to Do While Waiting for Police After You Report a Car Accident in Chicago

You don’t have to know the local police department’s number to report a crash. Call 911, explain the situation and your location, and a dispatcher will send an officer.

Take the following steps while waiting for an officer to arrive:

Don’t make any statements apologizing for the accident or indicating you’re even partially to blame for the crash. In the aftermath, people might ask if you’re okay or if you need medical help. Don’t say you’re “fine.” Remember, you may have sustained injuries without knowing it. Saying you’re unharmed immediately after a crash could limit your chances of receiving compensation later.

How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in Chicago, Illinois?

Under the old law, you had 10 days from the date of a wreck to file an official report. Since the law has changed, you need not report the crash. Let the police officer on the scene take care of that.

Seeking Compensation After a Chicago Car Crash: Understanding Insurance Deadlines

In Illinois, if someone else causes a wreck that leaves you with injuries, you can file a claim with their insurer. Doing so lets you pursue compensation for such losses as medical bills and lost wages. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might also seek compensation for intangibles like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, or disfigurement.

Contact the at-fault party’s insurance company shortly after the wreck. Individual insurers may have different policies regarding when claimants must report injuries. You might struggle to pursue the compensation for which you’re eligible if you miss an insurer’s deadline. Most insurers require claims to be filed “as soon as is practicable.”

Be very careful when communicating with the insurance company or a claims adjuster. Their goal will be to find grounds to deny your claim outright or to minimize your payout. If you say anything indicating that your injuries aren’t very serious or that you played a role in causing the crash, it could harm your claim.

Although you’re seeking compensation from someone else’s insurance company, you should also report the crash to your insurer. Your policy likely requires you to report wrecks within a day or two. Check your policy and contact your insurance company accordingly.

How Reporting a Car Accident in a Timely Manner Affects Your Case

Along with potentially being a legal requirement, when a police officer files a car crash report, it may positively influence your claim. Reasons why include:

  • A crash report ensures there is an objective record of the circumstances of a wreck. Resolving disputes with the insurance company may be easier if you can reference a police report.
  • Calling the police makes it a certainty that there will be a crash report. This indicates that you take the collision seriously. Like seeing a doctor right after a wreck, this signals to the insurance company the crash was significant.
  • Including a police report with your claim may speed up the approval process.

That said, always check the crash report when you request your copy. It’s possible the police made errors when completing the report. You can contact the police and ask them to make corrections if this has occurred.

What Is the Deadline for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Illinois?

two toy cars looks like car accident and a gavel on the table

Negotiating for a fair out-of-court settlement with the insurance company is the ideal goal in the aftermath of a wreck. However, achieving this goal isn’t always possible. Sometimes, insurers unfairly refuse to offer claimants fair settlements.

You may file a lawsuit in this scenario. When you file a lawsuit, you can seek compensation in court.

You have limited time to do so. If you’re seeking compensation for car wreck injuries, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the crash. Act fast to avoid waiving your right to compensation.

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer

Knowing what steps to take in the hours, days, and weeks after an unexpected motor vehicle wreck can help you maximize your claim for compensation. Reviewing your case with a lawyer is a wise decision that can improve your chances of getting the money you deserve.

At JJ Legal, a Chicago car accident attorney will explain your legal options. We can handle all correspondence with the insurance company, preventing you from saying anything that might limit your compensation. Our team can also explain any other deadlines and requirements that might apply to your case. Learn more by contacting us online today or calling us at 312-200-2000 for a free case review.

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