Do you know what you should do after a car accident? In Illinois, the things you need to do begin with notifying the police and, in some cases, filing a written accident report. Our focus here is on your notice and reporting obligations. Specifically, we'll explain:
Illinois law creates several possible auto accident notice and reporting obligations, including:
Under Illinois law, unless there's already a police officer on the scene, after a car accident you must notify:
You must provide this notice by "the fastest available means of communication," which in most cases will be by cell phone. If the driver is injured and can't provide the required notice but there's a passenger in the car, the passenger has to notify the authorities. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/11-407 (2023)).
You're also obligated to remain at the accident scene, provide information, and render aid to others. In addition to showing your driver's license, here's some of the information you'll need to provide:
If the other driver is injured and can't receive this information, and if no police officer responds to the scene, you'll have to report this information to the nearest police department. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/11-403 (2023)). Violation of § 11-403 is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500, together with mandatory court assessments.
When a police officer responds to a crash and investigates the accident, the officer has to file a written report within 10 days of completing the investigation. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/11-408 (2023)).
If, as sometimes happens, police don't come to the accident scene, it becomes each driver's obligation to file a written report. Specifically, within 10 days of the accident, each involved driver must file a written accident report with the ISP if the accident caused:
You might be able to report some accidents via the ISP Online Crash Reporting Application. For a $5 fee, you can get a copy of a crash report by mail or online.
Note, finally, that Illinois law allows municipalities—counties, townships, and cities—to require that drivers file written crash reports. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/11-415 (2023)). Some municipalities have adopted additional reporting requirements. Check local law to make sure you comply.
Illinois law doesn't require that you report a car accident to your auto insurance company. But your auto policy requires that you give your insurer notice of a wreck within a reasonable period of time—typically within a day or two after the accident. If you don't report a wreck as required, you've breached the insurance contract. This can lead to problems, including a possible denial of coverage, that you don't need.
Reporting is usually easy. Most insurers have an online accident reporting page or a reporting app you can use. It's also a good practice to follow up online reporting with notice by old-fashioned "snail mail."
Policy requirements aside, it's a good idea to report the accident to your auto insurer, even if the wreck was minor and you weren't required to report it to the authorities. If anyone files a claim against you and you haven't reported it, your insurer might refuse to cover you. And if the accident involved significant injuries or property damage, chances are your insurance company will find out about it anyway.
Following Illinois' notice and reporting requirements likely will be the first of many steps you need to take after being involved in an auto accident. To protect your legal rights, contact an experienced Illinois car accident lawyer.
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