As we often point out, the single most common way that residents in Chicago and throughout Illinois suffer a traumatic brain injury is when they are caught in the middle of a traffic accident. Considering that TBIs are spurred by significant contact between the head and a hard surface. In an auto accident, the body is jostled around very quickly. Even when seat belts are worn, it is very difficult to prevent the head from making contact with the dashboard, side window, or even back of the seat. Obviously much depends on the speed of the vehicle during the collision and the angle of the contact, but hard knocks on the head are incredibly common.
With that in mind, all those working to address the TBI problem frequently place focus on minimizing car accidents. Similarly, lawyers who work on traumatic brain injury cases usually need to be well versed in the legalities associated with car accidents in order to help clients who suffer a TBI receive fair compensation for their injuries. Insurance companies are usually at the heart of these legal matters. As most know, the law requires Illinois drivers to have auto insurance coverage. But the scope of that coverage varies. Sometimes, those who suffer a serious injury may not actually receive nearly as much as they are owed because of minimal insurance coverage (either their own or the provider of another involved in the accident).
Illinois Car Insurance Requirements
In the past observers have pointed out that Illinois is one of the most lax states when it comes to mandatory auto insurance requirements. Drivers are still required to have it, but the amount of coverage is one of the lowest in the country–and lower than any of our neighboring states in the Midwest. Right now the law requires $20,000 in bodily injury coverage ($40,000 for multiple injured parties) and $15,000 for property damage coverage. Those levels have existed since 1989.
That may soon change.
This month the Illinois House of Representative just passed a bill that would offer an increase–though modest–in the amount of coverage that all motorists are required to have. Per the terms of the legislation (S.B. 1898), all motorists would be required to have $25,000 of bodily injury coverage ($50,000 for multiple injured parties) and $20,000 in coverage for property damage.
The bill passed the Senate earlier in the year, which means that its passage in the House will send the bill to the Governor’s desk. If he signs the measure, then the bill becomes law, taking effect at the beginning of 2015.
While the actual change in the law is relatively small, it is encouraging that policymakers are recognizing the importance of fairer insurance policy levels. The truth is that even these increased levels do not come close to covering the cost of even relatively minimal injuries and their long-term consequences. That is certainly true for traumatic brain injuries, which frequently cause hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in damages.
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