Ideally, fault in an accident would be clear cut, and those responsible would pay for it. However, it’s often more complex than that. Sometimes, the injured party contributed in some way to their own injury, and even if they didn’t, those who are actually responsible may claim they did.
When someone is injured in an accident that was partially their own fault, Illinois law applies modified comparative negligence rules. These could reduce the amount received for the injury, and in some cases, it could even preclude someone from recovering damages at all.
Illinois Comparative Negligence Law
Personal injury law works on the principle of negligence. Simply put, the party that is responsible for the accident is supposed to pay damages. In order to recover damages, you have to prove that the other party was in some way responsible for your injuries.
If you are found to be partially at fault for your accident, the amount of responsibility you have for your injury is calculated as a percentage. If that amount is less than 50%, then you will be able to recover damages, but the end total will be reduced by the percentage. If you are found to be 50% negligent or more, then you cannot recover damages at all.
Example 1: Partial Fault in a Vehicle Accident
As an example, let’s look at a car accident. Suppose you were making a left turn into an intersection when a driver plows into you coming the other way. After the accident, evidence is found that they were both speeding and texting while driving. Since they weren’t paying attention, they are considered to be at fault.
However, it is also found that you didn’t have your turn signal on at the time. A jury finds that you were 30% at fault for your injury, assigning the majority of the blame to the person who was speeding and texting. As a result, you still recover damages for medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering, but the total amount is reduced by 30%.
Example 2: Partial Fault in a Premises Liability Case
Here’s another example: suppose you’re walking into a store one day and slip on spilled candies in the entryway. You were looking at your phone at the time and didn’t notice them, brightly colored as they were, and hurt your hand, elbow, and tailbone in the resulting fall.
If you can prove that the store manager should have known about the spillage, then you may have a slip and fall case. However, the manager may claim that you should have noticed the spill yourself, so while they didn’t put up signs like they should have, you might be found partially negligent as well.
Importance of Legal Representation
In both these cases, the results can be highly subjective. Some juries may put more weight on your level of negligence than others, and the difference is often in the presentation of your case. To get the best results, you need a skilled personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the law as well as past court precedents. Hart David Carson LLP can provide the legal assistance you need when you’re pursuing damages in these cases, so contact us today.