Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Illinois?

Learn what kinds of car accidents need to be reported in Illinois, and what happens if you don't report the crash.

Do you know what steps to take after a car accident? There are things that you should do, of course, but there may also be things you're legally required to do. State laws differ on this subject. In Illinois, are drivers required to report any car accident they're involved in? If so, how is the report supposed to be made? What are the penalties if a driver fails to report an accident? We'll cover these questions (plus a few more) in this article.

When Must a Car Accident Be Orally Reported in Illinois?

The driver of a vehicle that was involved in an accident in Illinois must orally report the accident if it resulted in

  • injury to or death of any person, or
  • property damage in excess of $1,500 (or $500 if any of the vehicles involved in the accident is not covered by car insurance).

If no police officer came to the accident scene, the driver must give notice of the accident to the local police department if the accident occurred within a municipality in Illinois.

If the accident did not occur within a municipality, the driver must give notice to the nearest office of the county sheriff or the nearest headquarters of the Illinois State Police.

How Soon Must the Driver Report the Accident?

The driver must report the accident by the fastest available means of communication. This logically means by cell phone, if the driver has one. If the driver has no cell phone, then the quickest available means of communication would be by using a pay phone, someone else’s cell phone, or by going to the nearest police department.

Does the Driver Have to File a Written Accident Report in Illinois?

A driver involved in a reportable accident must file a written accident report as soon as possible, but not later than 10 days after the accident, to the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Safety, using an official form that can be obtained from the police.

What If You Don’t Report a Reportable Accident in Illinois?

Failure to report a reportable accident is punishable by suspension of your driver’s license in Illinois. Providing false information on an accident report is a class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a $500 fine and a 30 day jail sentence.

What If I am Unable to Report the Accident Immediately?

If the driver is physically incapable of making the accident report, and there was another occupant in the vehicle at the time of the accident, that occupant must make the report as long as he or she is able to do so. Alternatively, if the driver was incapable of making the report and was not the owner of the vehicle, the owner must make the report as soon as practicable.

For More Information

For more information on the rules for reporting a car accident in Illinois, you can refer to the Illinois Compiled Statutes Chapter 625, sections 11-406 and 11-407.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has also published a Guide to Accident Reporting in Illinois.

Should I Report the Accident to My Automobile Insurance Company?

There is no Illinois law that requires a vehicle operator or owner to report a car accident to the owner’s car insurance company, but standard automobile insurance contracts almost always require the insured to report any accident very soon after it occurs. If the insured fails to report an accident within a reasonable period of time (like, within a day or two), the insurer may deny coverage for the accident.

So, even if your car accident was minor and did not rise to the level of a “reportable” accident according to Illinois law, you should report it to your insurer so that you have coverage for the accident in case you need it.

After Reporting the Accident

Reporting a car accident may be just the first step for drivers involved in a crash. Especially if key issues like fault for the accident are being disputed by other parties, or if the accident resulted in serious injuries, you should consider contacting a qualified Illinois car accident lawyer to discuss your situation and make sure your legal rights are protected.

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