Uninsured motorists who cause accidents are now facing up to one year of jail time when they cause an Illinois automobile accident under a new law passed by the General Assembly. Currently, uninsured motorists who are ticketed for any reason — including causing an accident — must pay only a $500 fine for the first offense. There are no added penalties for causing an accident at present. However, come January 1 when the new law takes effect, uninsured drivers who cause an accident may face prison time.The law comes into effect at the right time. With tougher economic times, the number of uninsured motorists in Illinois is rising as people choose to forgo car insurance as required by law. However, when you buy your own car insurance, you should keep in mind that the added penalties for failing to insure your car as required by law may not deter others from skipping out on their obligation to get insurance. Therefore, you should always obtain uninsured motorist coverage for your vehicle. That way, if you are involved in an Illinois car accident with an uninsured motorist, you can make a claim for compensation under your own policy.Moreover, because many drivers who buy insurance simply to “keep legal” buy only the Illinois state minimum liability coverage of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident, you will also want to make sure to buy underinsured motorist coverage for your vehicle as well. In Illinois underinsured motorist coverage applies when the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover the injuries they cause in a car accident and fills in the gap between the amount of coverage that they had and what you purchased.As an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer, I see the benefits of having proper amounts uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage on at least a weekly basis. This is cheap coverage which protects you and your family and you should not go without both uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage.