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You Can Still Collect Damages In Illinois, Even If An Accident Was Partially Your Fault

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When you are hurt in an accident in Illinois, you may be entitled to financial compensation even if you were partially at fault for your own injuries. Injury accidents can be complex, and they often involve shared responsibility among several parties who were at fault. If you've been injured, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you explore your options.

Prior to the 1980s, Illinois courts used a harsh rule called “contributory negligence.” Under this rule, if an accident victim was only slightly to blame for his or her own injury, he or she could not sue the person who was principally responsible for the accident. This rule frequently led to unfair results where victims walked away empty-handed. In an effort to address this problem, the old rule was replaced through the actions of the Illinois Supreme Court and the Illinois Legislature.

Now Illinois applies the rule of “modified comparative negligence” found at 735 ILCS 5/2-1116, which allows an accident victim to collect damages if he or she is not more than 50% at fault for the injury. This rule also adjusts the amount of compensation the injured party can collect, based on how much the party was at fault for the accident.

The steps of this process can be illustrated using an example:

A pedestrian tries to cross at the middle of a street without going to a corner or crosswalk. A speeding driver carelessly runs a nearby red light, colliding with the pedestrian. The pedestrian is badly injured in the accident.

The driver likely has violated several safety laws, including speeding, running a red light, and driving carelessly.  But the injured pedestrian also broke the law by stepping into the path of a car while crossing in the middle of a street, a form of “jaywalking.”

When an injury case goes to trial, the court uses evidence to calculate the amount of responsibility for each party. The court assigns each party a percentage estimate. In a case like the one above, the court may find the driver 80% responsible, and assign the other 20% responsibility to the careless pedestrian. With this in mind, the court makes two critical calculations.

First, the court determines whether the injury victim was 50% or more responsible for his or her own injury. If the victim is 50% or more at fault, he or she normally cannot collect damages. In this example, the pedestrian is only 20% responsible for his or her own injuries, so he or she is allowed to collect.

Next, the court calculates a damages award to address the victim's injuries. This figure is obtained using evidence such as medical bills and expert testimony. In this case, perhaps the injuries and loss of work add up to $100,000. So the court will award $100,000 minus $20,000, since the careless pedestrian was 20% responsible for his or her own injuries.

Under the old system of contributory negligence, the injured pedestrian would have received no compensation at all. Now, thanks to the modified comparative negligence rule, he or she would be awarded $80,000 to address the injuries while still accounting for his or her own negligent role in the accident.

The Illinois rule of modified comparative negligence applies to a broad range of accidents, including traffic collisions, slip and falls, and many other situations. These cases rely upon assertive arguments and complex presentations of evidence. In order to obtain the compensation you deserve, you should consult with a lawyer who understands the Illinois modified comparative negligence rule and the Illinois rules of evidence.

If you've been hurt in an accident in Illinois, you need an injury attorney who can explain your rights and argue your case. These claims require an intricate knowledge of the law. When you’ve been hurt, talk to an experienced attorney at Cavanagh Law Group.

When Winning Is the Only Option, Contact CLG

To speak to a professional and find out if you have grounds to file an injury lawsuit, call our firm at (844) 515-2223 or fill out the form below.

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