In the event of an accident, your behavior can impact the amount of compensation you receive for a personal injury lawsuit, even if someone else is partially responsible. That is because Illinois has contributory fault laws that might prevent you from obtaining damages for your case.
When multiple parties are involved in an accident, each party might share some level of responsibility. To determine the strength of your case and the amount of compensation you might be entitled to, it is crucial to understand how comparative negligence laws work in Illinois. Just because you played a role in causing your injury does not necessarily mean you are not entitled to recover compensation.
For a free case assessment with our Illinois personal injury attorneys, call Rhatigan Law Offices at (312) 578-8502.
What is Contributory Negligence and How Does it Work in Illinois?
In the event that you win your personal injury lawsuit, it is possible that you might not receive the full amount of compensation you believe you deserve. This is due to the modified comparative fault rule in Illinois. Fortunately, our Chicago personal injury attorneys can assist you in arguing against any allegations that you contributed to your own injuries, as this rule can be complex. The rule requires an assessment of whether you bear any responsibility for the accident and, if so, the degree of responsibility you bear.
Illinois’ Modified Comparative Fault Rule
Although a victim might have contributed to the circumstances causing their injuries, Illinois law allows them to recover damages from other negligent parties. The court will determine the percentage of fault of each contributing party to establish compensation availability. According to 735 I.L.C.S. 5/2-1116, compensation can still be recovered if the victim bears 50 percent of fault or less, but their damages will be reduced according to their percentage of fault. If the victim bears more than 50 percent of the fault, they will not be eligible for compensation.
How Percentage of Fault is Determined
If you were involved in a car accident and got rear-ended by another driver while stopping at a stop sign, your lawyer might argue that you hold no responsibility as you were following the traffic laws, and the one who hit you is to be held entirely accountable. Consequently, you would receive the full amount of the damages that you are entitled to claim.
On the other hand, if you had stopped at the same stop sign, but your brake lights were not working, and the driver who hit you assumed you were still moving, in this case, the judge or the jury might determine that you share 40% of the blame for the accident. As a result, the compensation that you are entitled to claim would be reduced by 40%, which is equivalent to your share of the fault. However, there is a significant exception to this.
If it is concluded that you hold more than 50% of the responsibility for the accident, you would be deprived of receiving any compensation related to the accident.
Who Decides the Percentage of Contributory Negligence in Illinois?
The degree of fault can be a highly disputed matter during settlement talks or in court proceedings. The defense attorney might attempt to argue that you were mostly to blame for the accident or try to downplay the defendant’s degree of responsibility.
If there is no agreement on the degree of fault during settlement discussions, the court will need to decide during litigation. In a jury trial, the jury will make this crucial determination, whereas, in a bench trial, it will be up to the judge to decide.
Ways to Limit Your Contributory Negligence in Illinois
It is recommended that you take certain steps to mitigate your liability in case of an accident. Seeking immediate medical attention is essential as it serves to establish a clear connection between the accident and your injuries. This can also help prevent any disputes that might arise as to whether your injuries were caused by another factor. By doing so, you can safeguard yourself against being held accountable for an accident that was not your fault.
To ensure a thorough investigation of the accident, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible from the scene. This includes obtaining statements from witnesses, taking photos and videos, and documenting all available details. By collecting this information, it is possible to determine what exactly happened during the incident and establish who might be at fault.
Hiring a Rockford, IL personal injury attorney with ample experience handling similar cases is crucial if you have suffered a personal injury. A skilled personal injury attorney can assist you in gathering evidence, building a strong case, and advocating on your behalf. With their expertise, they can also help to reduce your percentage of fault and negotiate the best possible settlement for your case. Do not hesitate to seek the assistance of our team to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
How to Recover Compensation After an Accident in Illinois
Illinois operates with a fault-based insurance system that holds the responsible party accountable for the victim’s economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. In Illinois, victims are usually required to utilize their own insurance to cover their injuries. This might also restrict the victim’s ability to sue unless the injuries are severe. However, if the insurance payout is insufficient to cover the victim’s injuries, they can pursue a lawsuit to recover the remaining damages.
Many victims discover that a lawsuit is the most effective method to obtain the full amount of damages they deserve. This is because a lawsuit permits recovery beyond the economic damages alone. A victim can seek non-economic damages, such as physical pain, emotional distress, and other subjective damages caused by their injuries. These expenses are usually not included in the compensation provided through an insurance claim.
What is the Time Limit to File a Lawsuit in Illinois?
It is important to know that each state has its own time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit, known as a statute of limitations. Failure to file the case before this deadline can have serious negative effects on the client’s case in Illinois. According to 735 I.L.C.S. 5/13-202, personal injury victims are usually given a two-year window from the date of the accident to file their lawsuit.
You should act quickly. Failure to file your case within two years of your accident will typically result in you being prevented from recovering compensation, regardless of your percentage of fault.
Our Illinois Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
Our Joliet, IL personal injury lawyers at Rhatigan Law Offices can provide you with a free case review when you call us today at (312) 578-8502.