The timeline for bringing criminal charges against a driver who causes a hit and run accident will depend on the severity of the incident and whether the accident resulted in property damage, injuries to another, or death. This means a driver who causes a hit and run could be charged up to three years after a collision or one year and six months depending on the degree of their charge.1 To help you better understand Illinois’ hit and run laws and how the State punishes those who commit this crime, below we have provided you with some helpful information.
In Illinois, it is Illegal for a Driver to Leave the Scene of an Accident
Any driver who is involved in a motor vehicle accident in Illinois is required to remain at the scene, exchange information with the other parties involved, and render aid or seek help if injuries were sustained. If a driver violates this law, they can be punished in a number of different ways depending on whether the incident resulted in property damage, injuries to another, or death. Below is a brief explanation of how the State charges drivers when each of the following circumstances exists.
When a Hit and Run Accident Results in Property Damage
If a driver leaves the scene of an accident that results only in property damage, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, according to 625 ILCS 5/11-402. For most misdemeanor crimes, 720 ILCS 5/3-5 says the statute of limitations, or time limit for which a person can be charged, is set at one year and six months. Generally, once the statute of limitations has expired, criminal charges can no longer be filed.
When a Hit and Run Accident Results in Injuries or Death
If a driver fails to remain at the scene of an accident that results in injuries to another or death, 625 ILCS 5/11-401 says they are guilty of a Class 4 felony. Generally, a felony carries a three-year statute of limitations, although it could be shorter depending on whether the driver was charged with any additional crimes. For example, if a driver leaves the scene of an accident in Illinois that results in the death of another, he/she could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. In this case, the driver who caused the hit and run accident could be charged at any time after the incident as there is no statute of limitations for this particular crime.
If you were involved in an accident with a hit and run driver and are looking to obtain justice for the harm they have caused you and anyone else who may have been traveling in the vehicle with you, you may be able to do this with the help of an attorney.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit Against a Hit-and-Run Driver
Just as the State of Illinois has set a statute of limitations for crimes, it has also set a statute of limitations for bringing a civil lawsuit against a driver who causes a hit and run accident. A civil lawsuit is one way for the victim of a hit and run accident to hold a driver accountable for their reckless behavior, given the driver has been identified. There are different types of civil lawsuits and those that are filed against drivers who cause a hit and run accident are referred to as personal injury lawsuits. In the State of Illinois, you generally have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against another party.2
If you are looking to hold the driver who fled the scene of your accident financially responsible for your injuries, you might want to consider filing a civil lawsuit against them. In your lawsuit, you can request that you are awarded compensation for the following damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Past and future medical expenses
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In addition, you may also be entitled to recover punitive damages which is another form of financial relief. Unlike the other damages that look to compensate you for how the accident has impacted you physically and/or financially, punitive damages serve as a form of punishment to the driver and look to deter other drivers away from engaging in the same or similar behavior.
Contact The Kryder Law Group, LLC if You Were Involved in a Hit and Run Accident in Illinois
If a driver in Chicago caused an accident and then fled the scene, you may be wondering how they are going to be punished for their negligent behavior if and when they are identified. To learn more about how drivers are punished for causing hit and run accidents and what steps you can take to potentially recover compensation for your physical and financial suffering, contact The Kryder Law Group, LLC at (312) 598-0982.