Can They Really Do That?
I get inquiries all the time from people who were involved in motor vehicle crashes for which they were responsible. The common theme goes something like this: I was involved in a crash a number of (months/years) ago and now I got this letter from a (collection agency/insurance company/the Secretary of State) saying they (are going to suspend/have already suspended) my driver’s license. Can they really do that?
The answer, in most cases, is, “Yes, they can really do that.”
How, why, and on what basis?
Read further to find out.
Illinois Safety and Financial Responsibility Law
In essence, the Illinois Safety and Financial Responsibility Law requires that everyone involved in a motor vehicle crash involving property damage or personal injuries exceeding $500 (just about all crashes) prove they have insurance to pay for the damages they caused.
If you are insured when you are involved in such a crash, it’s easy. You just file a claim with your carrier, let them pay for the damages, and you never sweat your license being suspended.
But if you don’t report it to your carrier or did not have valid insurance, you can be in a bind.
What can happen? Well, as we mentioned above, your driver’s license can be suspended by the Illinois Secretary of State for failing to abide by the Illinois Safety and Financial Responsibility Law (ISFR).
What if you dispute the amount of damages or you dispute it was your fault? The law provides that you can request a hearing. All this is set forth in Section 2-118 of the Illinois Vehicle Code and 92 Illinois Administrative Code 1002.220.
What if You Did NOT Have Insurance?
If you did not have insurance, didn’t have valid insurance, or failed to promptly report this accident to your carrier, you might receive a notice of suspension. The Secretary of State suspends the license, but it is usually the other driver’s insurer, a collection agency, or some other entity that requests the suspension, due to the amount owing being unsatisfied.
What options do you have?
- Request a hearing. If you dispute the amount due or the liability, do this and get your chance to be heard.
- Once you have either done that or accepted responsibility, you can pay the full amount due and owing. Once you do, your license is good to go.
- You can file bankruptcy to discharge the debt. This is the most extreme option.
- You can enter into an installment agreement with the party to whom you owe the money and inform the Secretary of State. As long as you do not miss any payments, you maintain a valid driver’s license.
Illinois Motorist Report
You may have been involved in a traffic crash and received a paper form from the responding officer. Usually, it is white with orange borders and is titled Illinois Motorist Report. The primary purpose of this is to enforce the law that all drivers must be insured and inform you that it is the duty of every driver who is involved in a crash to file such a form with the Illinois Department of Transportation within 10 days of such crash. The main reason is to keep tabs on whether all parties had valid auto insurance, as is required by law.
Failure to send this in is the first step to non-compliance with the ISFR law.
Do it. Every single time.
Always have insurance. No matter what your car is worth. Always. I can’t emphasize that enough. Cover your butt. Don’t leave things to chance. Before driving any vehicle anywhere, always verify that YOU have valid liability coverage!
- Insurance is the law. It’s there to protect you.
- Failure to have insurance can lead to a suspension of your license.
- Even if you did not have insurance, there are ways to keep your license.
Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman
As in all cases involving injury, medical malpractice, or other injury and potential liability, if you have been involved in a vehicle accident, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.