Illinois has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum coverage requirements in the country. Many drivers only carry between $25,000 and $50,000 of personal injury insurance. In many situations, the hospital bill alone could be more than $100,000 from a serious injury collision.
This insurance gap is especially critical in catastrophic injury situations. If the tortfeasor (negligent actor) does not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation, the extra money must come from somewhere.
It’s possible to sue the tortfeasor separately. But many individuals are effectively judgement-proof. Fortunately, Rockford victims have some other options.
Umbrella Insurance Coverage in Rockford
Many drivers have additional insurance protection which may not be reflected on the proof of insurance that the tortfeasor produces at the scene of the crash. Personal umbrella policies generally provide additional coverage for:
- Bodily injury, and
- Property Damage.
In many cases, the umbrella policy limit is at least $300,000. So, with a little digging, an attorney can determine proper insurance coverage amounts.
Other kinds of umbrella policies are usually available as well, most notably in homeowners’ insurance policies. These coverages are important because the cost of dog bite claims has increased significantly since 2003.
Employer Liability in Illinois
If the tortfeasor was an Uber driver, taxi driver, bus driver, or other commercial operator, the respondeat superior (“let the master answer”) rule is normally applicable. Employers are vicariously liable for the negligent acts of their employees if:
- Employee: The tortfeasor must have been an employee, as far as Illinois tort law is concerned. In this area, this label is not limited to workers who receive W-2s and regular paychecks. Owner operators, independent contractors, and even many unpaid volunteers are also “employees.” The employer controls all these individuals, to a certain extent, and that’s normally the only requirement.
- Scope of Employment: The law broadly defines this key phrase as well. Any activity which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. For example, in workers’ compensation cases, an injury during a company softball game is within the scope of employment. Happy and healthy workers benefit the employer.
Furthermore, as in all other Illinois negligence cases, the injury must be a foreseeable result of the tortfeasor’s conduct or misconduct.
Employer liability theories like respondeat superior allow victim/plaintiffs to access additional sources of recovery. Some other vicarious liability theories include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.
Owner Liability in Illinois
People under 18 cannot own property as a matter of law. It’s also very common for owners to loan their vehicles to other people. In both these situations, the negligent entrustment rule may apply.
Owners are vicariously liable for damages in these cases if they knowingly allowed incompetent persons to drive their vehicles. People without valid drivers’ licenses are usually incompetent as a matter of law. Circumstantial evidence may be admissible as well, such as a bad driving record or previous safety suspensions.
Commercial negligent entrustment cases work a bit differently, due to the Graves Amendment.
Team Up with Compassionate Attorneys
Even in catastrophic injury cases, obtaining fair compensation is often not a problem. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. After-hours visits are available.