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Comparative Fault

Illinois Comparative Fault Laws and Personal Injury Claims

Comparative FaultIn Illinois, if you have been injured because of somebody else’s negligence (or fault), whether in a car accident, because of a defective condition on that person’s property, or in some other way, you have the right to seek financial compensation for your injuries. You can potentially obtain this compensation by pursuing a personal injury claim against the person who was at fault for your injuries and/or that person’s insurance company. Should you fail to resolve the personal injury claim with the at-fault party, you may need to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you seek in a court of law. But in order to achieve a successful outcome in any personal injury case, you need to prove that the other party was at fault for your injuries. In Illinois, however, any successful Plaintiff must overcome an important roadblock: the state’s comparative fault laws.

What Is Comparative Fault?

In Illinois, fault determines which party pays for any damages resulting from an accident. While there are cases in which one party is totally at fault while the other party is totally blameless, there are other situations where fault is not so cut and dried. In these instances, comparative fault determines how the blame will be divided for any personal injuries or property damage for a given accident, as well as how an injured Plaintiff’s compensation will be impacted if he or she were judged to have contributed to the accident in some way.

While some states bar injured Plaintiffs from recovering any compensation at all if they contributed to an accident in any way, Illinois uses what is known as a modified comparative negligence system.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Modified comparative negligence is a theory of comparative fault that holds that an injured Plaintiff can obtain damages from a Defendant provided that the Plaintiff’s degree of fault is not more than 50 percent. If a Plaintiff is determined to have been more than 50 percent at fault for the incident, then he or she would not be able to obtain compensation for personal injuries from the Defendant.

Furthermore, Illinois’ modified comparative negligence laws will also reduce an injured Plaintiff’s compensation in proportion to his or her degree of fault.

To see these concepts in action, imagine a situation where a Plaintiff incurs $100,000.00 in damages as a result of an incident with the Defendant.

In the first case, a judge determines that the Defendant was 50 percent responsible for the incident, meaning that the Plaintiff was also 50 percent responsible for his own injuries. Under modified comparative negligence, the Defendant would still be liable, but the Plaintiff’s damages would be reduced by the 50 percent for which he is at fault. Therefore, the most that the Plaintiff would be able to recover for his damages would be $50,000.00.

In the second case, a judge decides that the Plaintiff was more than 50 percent responsible for the incident. In this case, the Plaintiff’s degree of fault will have exceeded the modified comparative negligence limit of not more than 50 percent. Therefore, the Plaintiff would not be able to recover $50,000.00, but zero.

Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers

As you can see, Illinois’ comparative fault laws can significantly reduce the maximum amount of compensation that a Plaintiff can recover in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. It is therefore of the utmost importance to demonstrate the Defendant’s level of blame for an accident to the fullest degree. For this reason, many injured parties find that they may benefit from the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer, like the Chicago personal injury lawyers at GWC Injury Lawyers, Illinois’ largest Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firm.

If you have been wrongfully injured, please contact GWC today for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives.