Illinois car accident victims who seek compensation from the insurance company representing the party who is legally responsible for their injuries may find that all of the damages they suffered are not covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. For this reason, all Illinois drivers are required to carry underinsured motorist protection coverage, which is used to compensate an injured party for their losses which exceed the policy limits of the other driver. A case recently decided by the Appellate Court of Illinois demonstrates some important issues that arise for injured drivers attempting to make an underinsured motorist claim to their own insurance company after an accident.
The plaintiff in the recently decided case was a man who was involved in two auto accidents in the fall of 2010 and suffered injuries from each crash. Neither accident was the plaintiff’s fault, and he made insurance claims with the companies who covered the other drivers, and was awarded the policy limit amount for each claim, which was $20,000 for each accident. Although the insurance companies paid out the policy limits and had fulfilled their obligation to the plaintiff, he still claimed that he suffered damages in excess of the amount he was paid, and made a claim with his own insurance company to collect additional damages under his own underinsured motorist bodily injury protection policy.
The plaintiff’s initial claim against his insurance company was referred to arbitration, which is an out of court proceeding where each party submits their case to a panel of arbiters, who are licensed attorneys in Illinois who have been additionally licensed to rule at arbitration proceedings. At arbitration, the plaintiff argued that he suffered a total of $45,000 in damages from the two accidents, and was entitled to such an award from his insurance company under his underinsured motorist protection policy. The arbitration panel agreed with the plaintiff and awarded him $45,000.