Illinois tougher uninsured motorist law passes

Drivers who cause a car accident without automobile insurance face up to a year in jail under a tougher new Illinois uninsured motorist law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday.

Chicago personal injury attorney Dave Abels was interviewed about the new law earlier this summer and has published several blogs about the need to crack down on uninsured motorists and to raise the state’s mandatory minimum insurance coverage.

“The way the law stands right now it just doesn’t provide real protection for people who are seriously injured in auto accidents,” said Abels, of Abels & Annes, a Chicago law firm that handles car accidents, motorcycle accident and other personal injury claims. “It covers you for small accidents but not the big accidents that you really care about where your life is changed forever.”

The new law makes driving without insurance a misdemeanor criminal offense and carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The old law carried a fine of up to $1,000 and a license suspension of 3 to 6 months.

The new law, which The Southern newspaper noted was heavily supported by lawmakers this spring before heading to Gov. Quinn for his signature, is named after Johnston City native and Southern Illinois University graduate Michael Dean.

Dean was hit and killed by an uninsured driver while driving on Illinois 13 in July 2006.

Abels said the new law is a step in the right direction but noted that Illinois still needs to address its low mandatory insurance limits of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per occurrence.

“No amount of money is going to bring a loved one back or make a family whole again, but $20,000 is a slap in the face,” Abels said. “I have handled car accident death cases where the victim incurred over $500,000 in medical bills.”

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a Chicago car accident, there are things you can do to help protect your rights — even if the at-fault driver does not have insurance. The personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS.

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