How Long Do You Have to File an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident in Illinois?
Car accidents are stressful, and pursuing a claim can be confusing. The more you know about the process, the easier it will be. One important issue involves the timeline of an insurance claim. Learn more about how long you have to file an insurance claim and what steps you should take to ensure you meet all deadlines.
Is There a Time Limit to File an Insurance Claim?
Many insurance companies require you to report an accident within 24 to 48 hours after the crash. However, a full claim should always be filed within a “reasonable amount of time” after the car accident. If possible, you should file a car insurance claim the same day or within a few days after an accident.
If you fail to submit a claim promptly, the insurance company may deny your claim. They may doubt that you have serious injuries or other losses. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to get compensation.
Illinois Statute of Limitations
You must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years after the car accident in Illinois. If you fail to meet this deadline, known as a statute of limitations, you forfeit your ability to get any money from the at-fault party or their insurance company.
In some cases, insurance companies will deny and delay claims to use the Illinois statute of limitations against you. They know that they won’t have to pay you anything if you fail to file a car accident lawsuit within the required time.
What Compensation Can You Recover?
When you’re involved in a car accident, you can get two types of damages in a lawsuit: economic and non-economic.
What Are Economic Damages?
Economic damages are those that can be easily valued through direct monetary loss. Actual expenses and out-of-pocket costs are considered economic. Your economic losses may include:
- Property damages
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Lost business opportunities
If your loved one dies in a car accident, you can also get burial costs, funeral expenses, loss of inheritance, and other related damages.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
Non-economic damages are not as easily quantified. They include losses that are not directly related to monetary spending. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Physical impairment
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Non-economic damages are highly subjective and vary significantly from case to case. Calculating non-economic damages is challenging, and expert opinions and financial professionals are often needed.
The Illinois Tort Law Process
Car accident cases fall under Illinois tort law. “Tort” is a legal term for an act or omission that causes harm to another person. Most torts are caused by negligence, or the unintentional actions or omissions of the at-fault party. That negligence makes the at-fault party liable for your damages.
Here is the process your Chicago car accident attorney will use to obtain a fair car accident settlement for you.
Filing a Claim After the Accident
The first step in the tort process is filing an insurance claim. Let your attorney handle this step so that you don’t say anything the insurance company will use against you in the future. You should never talk to the insurance claims adjuster or sign anything before you get legal advice.
Sending a Demand Letter
Once your attorney calculates your claim’s worth, they will send a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This demand letter will detail how their insured was negligent and why they should be held liable. It will also demand the insurance company to pay all your damages.
Before sending a demand letter, you must retain medical bills, lost wage statements, proof of property damage, and other losses—the amount of money your attorney demands will depend on your damages.
Negotiating with the Insurance Company
The insurance company will not likely pay your demand right away. They will probably make a counteroffer. However, that initial offer is almost always a “lowball” offer much lower than you deserve. Don’t ever accept the insurance company’s initial offer. Allow your attorney to negotiate with the insurance company to get a higher offer. Negotiations can take a significant amount of time.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit
You will likely need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the insurance company and the at-fault person. This will let the insurance company know that you mean business. Insurance companies are more likely to settle for a higher amount if you file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit does not mean you will have to go to trial.
Engaging in the Discovery Process
When you file a lawsuit, you also go through the discovery process. This is where each side shares evidence with the other. This can help you obtain support for your claims against the at-fault party.
Getting a Settlement or Going to Trial
The final step in the tort process is obtaining a fair settlement or going to trial. Your personal injury attorney will do their best to get you fair compensation. However, if the insurance company refuses to meet your demands, you may have to go to trial. Your attorney can make sure you are fully prepared for a trial.
Filing an Appeal
Either party in a lawsuit may file an appeal if the trial does not go the way they want. If you lose at trial, you can file an appeal and make further arguments to the Court of Appeals. You will have an opportunity to make your arguments heard more than once if you need to appeal.
Turn to a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer
When you’re involved in a car accident, you need someone on your side who knows how to handle cases like yours. Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. is a personal injury law firm that focuses on clients and their needs. We will review your case and help you understand your rights.
Call our Chicago car accident lawyers today at (312) 236-2900 or contact us online for a consultation.