Is Illinois a No-Fault or Fault State for Car Accidents?

When filing auto insurance claims, people in different states might have to adhere to different rules and procedures. While some states have no-fault policies, Illinois does not. Fault must be shown in an Illinois car accident case.

When you file an insurance claim after a car accident in Illinois, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case to determine who is at fault. If you successfully show how the other driver is at fault, their insurance should cover your damages up to the policy limit. Proving a no-fault claim requires evidence similar to what you might see in a courtroom, and there is often overlap between insurance claims and lawsuits. Evidence might involve pictures and videos from the accident, witness testimony, hospital records, and more. You can use your own insurance, but only certain policies might apply. If you cannot show fault in an insurance claim, you should talk to your attorney about pursuing a lawsuit to get compensation.

Reach out to our Illinois personal injury lawyers at the Rhatigan Law Offices by calling us at (312) 578-8502, and make an appointment for a free evaluation of your claims.

How Fault Applies in Illinois Car Accident Cases

Illinois is a fault-based or tort state for car accidents. This is opposed to no-fault states, where personal injury protection (PIP) policies may cover injured drivers without showing fault or responsibility. While in no-fault states, drivers file claims with their own insurance providers, this is not so in Illinois. You must instead file a claim with the other driver’s insurance. The only way that the other driver’s insurance will pay for anything is if you prove that they caused the accident.

When discussing fault, we often talk about it in terms of insurance. Fault-based rules apply to auto insurance claims. When you file a claim, you need evidence from the accident that shows how the other driver is to blame. This might be anything, and you should talk to an attorney about how to find the strongest evidence possible. If you cannot prove fault, the insurance company might deny your claim.

In many cases, while an injured driver is trying to prove the other driver is at fault, the other driver is trying to pin the blame on the other guy. This might mean that when our Chicago car accident lawyers file an insurance claim and try to prove fault, we must also be prepared to defend you against allegations of wrongdoing. Even if the other driver does not prove you caused the accident entirely, they might convince the insurance company you were at least partially responsible. If this happens, your claim might not be denied, but compensation might be reduced. A lawyer can help you avoid these pitfalls and maximize your compensation.

Proving Fault in a Lawsuit or an Insurance Claim in an Illinois Car Accident Case

Proving fault is an important element of insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits after a car accident. For many, these two legal actions are intertwined. You might file an insurance claim only for your claim to be denied or for the insurance company to stall and avoid making a decision. If this happens, you and your lawyer might shift gears and start a personal injury lawsuit. Both require a showing of fault, but what fault looks like and how it is demonstrated will differ.

Fault in a Lawsuit

In a lawsuit, proving fault can be a bit more challenging, as stronger evidence and arguments may be required. Even if you prove the defendant is the direct cause of the accident, you might not necessarily show enough to have them held liable for the accident.

Liability is often based on more than mere fault. It is often based on negligence. Negligence is comprised of four legal elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. For example, you might show that the defendant is the direct cause of your accident (causation), but you might not show they owed you a legal obligation of care (duty). In that case, the jury would likely not find the defendant liable.

An attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to prove each element of your claim, including the defendant’s fault for the accident.


In an insurance claim, fault is the crux of the case. The strict evidentiary rules and procedures of the courtroom do not apply. Instead, the insurance company sets the rules for how fault is determined and what kind of evidence must be presented. Insurance companies look out for themselves first and injured drivers second. As such, having a lawyer help you with your claim is a good idea, as the rules might not be stacked in your favor.

This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the one hand, you can present powerful evidence that might not be admissible in a courtroom. While courts tend to prohibit the admission of police reports as hearsay, insurance companies often want to see them. On the other hand, the insurance company makes the final decision, and they are not always as impartial as they should be. Remember, they are only concerned with their bottom line.

How to Prove the Other Driver is At Fault for Your Illinois Car Accident

To prove another driver is at fault for your accident, you need evidence. Evidence is the heart and soul of your case. Without it, your claims might be dead on arrival. Our Peoria, IL car accident lawyers can assist you in finding evidence for your case, which is often unique to your situation and difficult to obtain.

Evidence often comes from the scene of the accident. To help prove fault to insurance companies, many people take photos and record videos of the accident scene immediately after the crash. These recordings might be extremely important because car accident scenes are cleared away very fast, and evidence of the crash and fault might be lost.

As briefly mentioned above, the police report from a car accident is typically not admissible evidence. These reports are considered hearsay because they are compiled by police officers who did not witness the accident. While the report might be used in an insurance claim, you need to be more creative in a lawsuit. We might use the police report as a guide to other evidence that was uncovered by the police. Names of witnesses the police talked to might be in the report, and we can track them down and ask them to testify.

Proving fault does not always require evidence that is definitive or 100% certain. Insurance companies and courts may consider various bits of smaller evidence that might not prove fault to a certainty on their own, but come together to form a larger picture.

Can I Use My Own Auto Insurance After an Accident in Illinois if I Have to Prove Fault?

Since Illinois is a fault-based state for auto insurance claims, you likely have to file a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance. Insurance companies will take time to review evidence, read statements, and hear out each driver’s side of the story. As you can expect, it can take some time before the insurance company makes a finding of fault and pays compensation. In the meantime, you might rely on other insurance policies to cover costs while your main claim is pending.

If you need to pay for various medical expenses after the accident, you may rely on your own health insurance if you have it. Under the collateral source rule, you may claim the full extent of your medical costs even if they are paid for by a third party, such as your own insurance provider. You might also use MedPay insurance to cover medical bills from the accident while your insurance claim is in the pipeline.

You might have supplementary insurance policies that can help you cover costs while your third-party claim against the other driver is pending. For example, if you were the victim of a hit and run, you can file a claim with your uninsured or underinsured motorist policy if you have it. This might help you while the police track down the other driver and bring them to justice.

What Happens if I Cannot Prove Fault in an Insurance Claim After an Illinois Car Accident?

If you find yourself unable to prove fault in an insurance claim after a car accident, talk to a lawyer if you have not done so already. There might be other legal options at your disposal. Remember, proving fault to insurance companies can be tricky. Even when fault is clear, they might give you a hard time, delay your claim, or even deny it if they think they can get away with it.

A lawsuit is often the next step when insurance does not pan out as we hoped. In many cases, we can file a lawsuit before your insurance claim is denied. If your claim takes too long or things do not look good, a lawsuit might pressure the insurance company to reach a favorable decision faster to avoid a lawsuit.

While lawsuits are challenging and take longer to complete, they often allow plaintiffs to claim and recover a wider range of damages. While insurance claims tend to cover various economic expenses, they sometimes do not include non-economic damages for pain and suffering. In a lawsuit, you may claim these damages and others that insurance might not cover.

Is Being “At Fault” the Same as Being Held Liable for a Car Accident in Illinois?

Being deemed at fault for a car accident by an insurance company is not the same as being held liable for the accident in a court of law. Even so, both might have similar consequences, depending on the situation.

When dealing with an insurance claim, if the other driver is found to be at fault, their insurance company will pay for your damages, at least up to the limits of the other driver’s policy. This is not exactly a formal finding of wrongdoing. Finding fault is often less formal than judicial proceedings.

When a driver is held liable for an accident, they are required to pay your damages for the accident. While many drivers have insurance policies to help them pay for damages, these policies have limits. If your damages exceed the policy limits, the other driver is still liable to pay, but now they must pay out of pocket.

Liability tends to encompass more than just fault. As discussed above, liability is based on negligence, which is made up of duty, breach, causation, and damages. To be held liable, the defendant must first be found to have had a legal duty of safety owed to the plaintiff. In car accident cases, it is the duty to drive with reasonable safety under the circumstances. The breach is whatever the defendant did to violate this duty.

Causation is essentially what insurance companies look at when they find fault. The defendant must be the direct and proximate cause of the crash. Finally, damages must be real, not just possibilities or hypothetical.

What if I am Partially At Fault for My Illinois Car Accident?

If you are partially at fault for the accident, you risk losing compensation. Illinois follows a modified comparative fault rule. In short, if you are found to be partially responsible for the accident, the court may reduce your damages in proportion to your share of the blame. For instance, if you are deemed 15% responsible, your damages may be reduced by 15%.

There are limits to this rule. If you are found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, you cannot recover any damages, and compensation may be reduced to $0.

Such principles also apply to insurance claims. Generally, insurance companies follow the law of the state in which they operate. So, your insurance company should follow the Illinois rule of modified comparative negligence. Even so, check with an attorney, as insurance companies might try to deny your claim based on contributory or comparative negligence.

Talk to Our Illinois Car Accident Lawyers About Proving Fault in Your Case

Reach out to our Evanston, IL car accident lawyers at the Rhatigan Law Offices by calling us at (312) 578-8502, and make an appointment for a free evaluation of your claims.