Illinois Car Accident and Personal Injury Laws



If you've been injured in a car accident in the State of Illinois, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and/or personal injury claim. In this article, we'll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. To read the entirety of each law, click the link to the specific State of Illinois statutes in each section.

Here are the Illinois car accident and traffic laws we'll cover:

Pedestrian Laws

Pedestrians and Crosswalks

The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian has reached the halfway point of the crosswalk, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the crosswalk as to be in danger.
Section 11-1002

Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways

No pedestrian is permitted to suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a moving vehicle that is so close as to be an immediate hazard.
Section 11-1002

Pedestrian Control Signals

Whenever special pedestrian control signals, exhibiting the words Walk or Don't Walk or the symbols of a walking person or an upraised palm are in place such signals shall indicate as follows:

  1. Walk or Walking Person. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.
  2. Don't Walk or Upraised Palm. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, whether flashing or steady. Any pedestrian who has partially completed the pedestrian's crossing on the Walk or Walking Person signal shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island while the Don't Walk or Upraised Palm signal is showing.
Section 11-307

Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks

Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.

Pedestrians can cross an intersection diagonally only when it is authorized by traffic-control devices.
Section 11-1003

Pedestrians on Roadway

Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway.

Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians are permitted to walk only on or along the left side of the roadway or on it's shoulder facing traffic from the opposite direction.
Section 11-1007

Pedestrians' Right of Way on Sidewalks

The driver of a vehicle must yield the right of way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk.
Section 11-1008

Drivers to Exercise Due Care

The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver's horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person.
Section 11-1003.1

Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

A pedestrian who is under the influence of alcohol or any drug to a degree which renders him a hazard must not walk or be on a roadway, except on a sidewalk.
Section 11-1010

Driving Laws

Obedience to Traffic Control Devices

A driver must obey any traffic control devices applicable to the driver, unless directed by a traffic or police officer.
Section 11-305

Driving on Right Side of Roadway

Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:

  • When passing another driver in the same direction
  • When there is an obstruction in the right lane
  • Upon a roadway with three marked lanes of traffic
  • Upon a roadway restricted to one way traffic
Section 11-701

Passing On the Left

Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
Section 11-703

Limitations on Overtaking on the Left

Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within two hundred feet of oncoming traffic.
Section 11-705

Passing On the Right

Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:

  • When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
  • When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
Section 11-704

Following Too Closely

A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is "reasonable and prudent", having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway. A driver who is towing another vehicle must leave sufficient space ahead of their vehicle to allow an overtaking vehicle to enter and occupy this space without danger.
Section 11-710

Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices

Drivers must not drive while using a handheld mobile electronic device, except for the sole purpose of contacting emergency services.
Section 12-610.2

Drivers and Intersections

When two (2) drivers approach an intersection at approximately the same time the driver on the left must yield to the driver to their right.
Section 11-901

Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections

A driver who intends to turn left at an intersection, or into an alley, private road or driveway must yield the right of way to drivers approaching from the opposite direction and may proceed once a safe interval occurs.
Section 11-902

Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway

A driver about to enter or cross a roadway from an alley, building, private road, or driveway must yield the right of way to all other vehicles on the roadway to be crossed.
Section 11-907

Bicycling Laws

Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.
Section 11-1502

Motorcycling Laws

Motorcycles and Headlights

Motorcycles must have at least one lighted lamp, showing a white light visible for at least 500 feet in the direction the motorcycle is proceeding. Instead of this lighted lamp, a motorcycle may be equipped with and use a means of modulating the upper beam of the head lamp between high and a lower brightness.
Section 12-201

Driving Offenses and Accident Requirements

Reckless Driving

A driver who drives in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving, and can be fined and imprisoned.
Section 625-11-503

Alcohol and Minors

A driver under the age of twenty one (21) must not drive upon any roadway after drinking any measurable amount of alcohol.
Section 11-501.1c

Driver's Duty to Give Information and Render Aid

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person, including other drivers, passengers, and/ or passersby must give the driver's name, address, vehicle registration number, and upon request and if available exhibit such driver's license, to any person involved in the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 11-403

Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 11-403.

Section 11-403 reads that a driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person, including other drivers, passengers, and/ or passersby must give the driver's name, address, vehicle registration number, and upon request and if available exhibit such driver's license, to any person involved in the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Sections 11-401 and 11-403

Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property

A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property or another car which is driven or attended by any person must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 11-403.

Section 11-403 reads in part that a driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person, including other drivers, passengers, and/ or passersby must give the driver's name, address, vehicle registration number, and upon request and if available exhibit such driver's license, to any person involved in the accident.
Sections 11-402 and 11-403

Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Car or Unattended Property

A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with other property which is unattended must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.

Once located the driver who caused the accident must give the driver's name, address, vehicle registration number, and upon request and if available exhibit such driver's license, to the property owners involved in the accident.

If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving the driver's name, address, vehicle registration number, and the owner’s name and address.
Section 11-404

Driver's Duty to Notify Police Department

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or total damage to all property resulting in $1,500 or more must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest police office.

If the driver is physically unable to give immediate notice and there is another occupant in the car, the other occupant must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest police office.
Sections 625-11.406 and 625-11.407

Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments

Every law enforcement officer who investigates a motor vehicle accident must forward a written report of the accident to the Administrator within 10 days after investigation of the accident, or within such other time as is prescribed by the Administrator.
Section 11-408

Accident Report Forms

The Administrator must prepare and upon request supply to police departments, sheriffs and other appropriate agencies or individuals, forms for written accident reports.

The written reports must call for sufficiently detailed information about the cause, conditions then existing, and the persons and vehicles involved or any other data concerning the accident.
Section 11-411

Open Alcohol Container Law

No driver or passenger may transport, carry, possess or have any alcoholic liquor within the passenger area of any motor vehicle upon a highway in Illinois, except in the original container and with the seal unbroken. Passengers of a motor home or a hired vehicle are permitted to possess an opened container of alcohol.
Section 625-5-502

Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant in an amount which renders the driver incapable of driving safely along roadways. In Illinois, a driver is guilty of the offense of Operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.
Section 11-501

Ignition Interlock Device

A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might be ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver's driving privileges during the pendency of the driver's probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.

An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver's body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
Section 625-6-206.1

Liability Laws

Illinois Dram Shop Law

Illinois has a Dram Shop Law. Dram Shop Law refers to the liability of private social hosts, bars, hotels nightclubs and other commercial establishments who serve alcohol to patrons or to minors for injuries intoxicated patrons or minors cause to third parties such as in car accidents.

Under Illinois law, a commercial establishment that sells or provides alcohol to a person is liable for the personal injuries and property damage caused by the intoxicated person.
Section 235.6-21

Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits

In the State of Illinois, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:

  • At least $25,000 per person
  • At least $50,000 for two or more people
  • $20,000 per occurrence for property damage
Section 7-203

Illinois Insurance Information

For information about auto insurance requirements, see the Illinois Department of Insurance website.

Modified Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)

In Illinois, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim's liability in causing the accident, their comparative negligence, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives.

If the victim contributed less than 51% of the negligence that caused the accident, then their compensation is reduced by the amount they contributed to the accident. If the victim contributed 51% or more of the negligence that caused the accident, then the victim is barred from receiving any compensation.
Section 735.5.2-1116

Example of Modified Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)

One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie's lane and their cars collided.

Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.

After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson's car crashed into Melanie's. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a mobile device while driving.

Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for using a mobile device while driving and partially responsible for the accident.

The verdict stated Jackson's negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 30%. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.

In the event the jury had found Jackson's negligence equaled 49% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 51%, the jury would be barred by law from awarding Melanie any compensation for the damages.
Comparative Negligence: Section 735.5.2-1116
Right of Way: Section 11-902
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices: Section 12-610.2

Illinois's Fault-based Car Insurance

In Illinois, car owners must purchase liability insurance. In the event of an accident, a victim can file a claim with their own car insurance company or the insurance company of the at-fault driver, or they can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

For information about filing an insurance claim in Illinois, see the Illinois Department of Insurance website.

Statute of Limitations

Illinois has a two (2) year statute of limitations for personal injuries claims and a five (5) year statute of limitations for property damage claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must either file their claim within the allowable period of time. The victim is barred from pursuing the negligent driver in court after that period of time has passed.
Section 735.5.13-202

Small Claims Courts

In Illinois, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $10,000, exclusive of filing fees and court costs. For information about submitting a small claim, see the Illinois Attorney General website.

Illinois Government State Claims - Sovereign Immunity

In Illinois, it is not possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency.

It is possible to submit a claim against a public employee in the Court of Claims if the employee's action or inaction was based on actual or deliberate intention to harm, or if not intentional then an utter indifference to the welfare of others.
Section 745.5.1
Section 745.10.2-202
Section 705-505

Example

If Melissa, an engineer with the Chicago Planning Department, ran a red light on her way to a worksite and caused an accident, the City of Chicago can claim sovereign immunity, but the injured parties can file a claim in the Court of Claims against Melissa for her disregard for others.

A state claim against a state employee must be filed within one year after the accident and is limited to a maximum compensation of $100,000.
Section 745.10.8-101
Section 705.505
NCSL

Sources

State Government of Illinois

Illinois Department of Transportation

Illinois General Assembly

Illinois State Police

Governors Highway Safety Association

Illinois Bar Association

National Conference on State Legislature

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