A GEICO Insurance Claim Law Firm Serving Illinois and Greater Chicago
Malman Law is a personal injury law firm that has collected hundreds of millions of dollars for over 20,000 injured clients in Greater Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois. We have spent decades fighting Big Insurance, and we absolutely will not allow our clients to be tricked or bullied by auto insurance companies that put their customers’ interests on the back burner in the service of their own bottom line.
What is GEICO?
GEICO, which stands for Government Employees Insurance Company, is not at all that its name implies, since it is not owned or operated by any government. It is a private, for-profit insurance company that writes well over $20 billion in premiums, making it America’s second-largest auto insurer. Like any other private business, it seeks to maximize its profit. It does so in two main ways: By accepting premiums from customers, and by denying or minimizing claims filed by some of those very same customers.
A Primer on Illinois Auto Accident Law
Your vehicle accident claim will be based on two major sources of law: (i) the terms of your GEICO auto insurance policy and (ii) Illinois state law. The most relevant features of Illinois auto insurance law include:
- Mandatory auto accident liability insurance with policy limits of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
- Mandatory auto accident property damage insurance with a policy limit of at least $20,000 per accident.
- Mandatory uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance with policy limits of at least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident.
- A two-year statute of limitations deadline for personal injury claims.
- A five-year statute of limitations deadline for property damage claims.
- If you were also at fault, comparative negligence principles do not bar recovery but merely reduce the value of your claim in proportion to your percentage of fault, unless you were 51 percent or more at fault.
Types of Cases We Handle
At Malman Law, we handle just about any type of vehicle accident claim serious enough to require the services of a lawyer, including:
- Drunken driving accidents
- Texting while driving/cell phone accidents
- Road rage accidents
- Rear-end collisions
- T-bone collisions
- Sideswipe collisions
- One-car accidents
- Rollover accidents
- Head-on collisions
- Traffic pile-ups
- Pedestrian accidents
- Fatal accidents/wrongful death accidents
Resolving Your Insurance Claim With GEICO
Depending on the facts surrounding your accident, you might file a GEICO auto insurance claim in one of two different ways:
1. Third-Party Claims
Illinois is a “fault” auto insurance state. This means that your first resort when an accident is the fault of another driver is to claim against the other driver’s liability insurance policy. Since you are not listed as the insured on the negligent driver’s GEICO insurance policy, your claim will be considered a third-party claim. Your two most serious challenges when filing a third-party claim will be:
i. Determining the terms of the policy. Insurance policies tend to be written in “legalese,” and you can bet your bottom dollar that GEICO is not going to be eager to explain the terms to you in plain English, knowing that you can use this knowledge as leverage to secure a higher settlement offer.ii. Filing a lawsuit, or credibly threatening to do so, if the insurance company stonewalls you or refuses to offer an adequate settlement. Insurance companies generally do not want to go to court because of the expense and legal risk of doing so. For this reason, the realistic threat of a lawsuit is often enough to get them to increase their settlement offer. If you are not represented by an attorney, however, or if your attorney has little or no courtroom experience, a threat to file a lawsuit is unlikely to be taken seriously.
2. Claims Against Your Own Policy
Even if the accident was the other driver’s fault, you will need to seek compensation under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy if:
i. You were the victim of a hit and run accident and you cannot locate the offending driver.ii. The offending driver carries no liability insurance (which is illegal in Illinois) and lacks the financial resources to pay your claim out of his or her personal resources.
iii. The value of your claim exceeds the policy limits of the offending driver’s liability insurance policy ($25,000 for a one injury accident if the driver carries only the legal minimum coverage).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1) Should I settle my claim with GEICO or file a lawsuit?
Well over 90 percent of auto accident insurance claims are settled out of court. This doesn’t mean, however, that you absolutely shouldn’t file a lawsuit. Two of the most common reasons to file a lawsuit are:
- The statute of limitations is about to expire. To beat the Illinois statute of limitations, you need to file a lawsuit before the deadline expires. This means that you have to file a formal complaint with the court, pay the filing fee, and have the other party served with formal notice of the lawsuit. Once the lawsuit is filed, you have beaten the statute of limitations no matter how long it takes to reach a verdict.
- GEICO is stalling or refusing to offer an adequate settlement. Filing a lawsuit is a good way to pressure an insurance company into upping its settlement offer, as long as it believes there is a good chance that you can win at least as much in court as they are offering at the settlement table. You can always offer to withdraw the lawsuit if they agree to an acceptable settlement.
Filing a lawsuit does not prevent you from reaching a subsequent settlement – in fact, you can reach a settlement at any time during a personal injury trial, even five minutes before the judge announces the court’s decision.
2) he police report says the accident was my fault. Can I still file a claim?
Yes, you can. Although the police report can be used as persuasive evidence, it isn’t the final word on a personal injury or wrongful death claim. To rebut a statement on a police report, you can use eyewitness testimony, physical evidence (photographs of skid marks, for example), expert testimony, and accident reconstruction analysis. Nevertheless, since a police report is a persuasive piece of evidence, a negative police report sets the odds against you right from the start, and you will have to play “catch-up ball” in terms of gathering persuasive counter-evidence to win the case. An Illinois court, however, might find you only partially at fault for the accident. As long as the other party was mostly at fault, you can still recover a reduced amount of damages.
3) an I ask GEICO for “pain and suffering” damages?
Yes you can, and you should definitely do so if you experienced significant physical suffering as a result of the accident. Pain and suffering is considered a non-economic loss, and it is designed to compensate the victim for physical suffering. Of course, since an intangible loss is inherently difficult to quantify, you can expect GEICO to attempt to take full advantage of this ambiguity to offer a low settlement value.
There is usually much more room to negotiate pain and suffering than to negotiate medical expenses, although both can be successfully disputed when a skilled claims adjuster negotiates directly with a claimant or an inexperienced lawyer. A skilled personal injury lawyer, however, can sometimes obtain an offer for pain and suffering that far exceeds the total compensation for medical expenses and lost earnings combined.
Pain and suffering are not necessarily the only types of non-economic damages you may be entitled to, however. If you lost a limb or were disfigured in the accident, for example, you may suffer significant mental anguish, with or without physical pain. Illinois personal injury law recognizes mental anguish as a basis for compensation if the facts suggest that you are likely to suffer from it. Additionally, if the victim died in the accident, a personal representative appointed by a court can file a wrongful death lawsuit, which involves its own set of damages.
4) Do I have to pay taxes on a personal injury or property damage award?
The general answer is no. Any amount that you receive to compensate for personal injury is not considered earned income, and is therefore not taxable except to the extent that interest was included as a portion of your award. Property damage compensation, such as vehicle repair, is generally not taxable, either. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are awarded in addition to any compensatory damages you are entitled to, and they are taxable at ordinary income tax rates. None of this changes if your recovery comes from a courtroom verdict instead of an out-of-court settlement.
Enter Action With Boldness
Just as you wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself, it’s not a good idea to represent yourself in an auto accident claim. It may be an even worse idea to retain a lawyer who is inexperienced or who normally practices in a different field of law. The professionals at Malman Law, by contrast, have collected over $200 million for 20,000 clients over the past two decades. The increase in the value of your recovery attained through hiring world-class representation could add up to far more than the legal fees themselves.
You needn’t worry that you can’t afford this quality of representation. Our Zero Fee Guarantee ensures that you won’t owe us a dime in legal fees unless we collect a judgment or settlement for you. Call Malman Law today or contact us online so that we can discuss your case and advise you of your options.