When another driver has caused a serious car accident that led to your injuries, it is important to think about filing a car accident claim in DuPage County. Even if you think you might have been partially to blame for a collision, it is important to avoid discussing liability with anyone—from the other driver to an auto insurance company—until you have spoken with a DuPage County car accident lawyer.
Why should you avoid discussing fault with anyone? If you do file a car accident claim, the defendant may be able to raise the defense of comparative fault, or contributory fault, in order to avoid be responsible for 100 percent of the damages.
You should know that, even if you do bear some responsibility for an accident, you can still recover damages from the defendant under Illinois law.
What is Comparative Fault or Contributory Fault?
Comparative fault, which is described as contributory fault under Illinois law (735 ILCS 5/2-1116), is a set of legal principles that says a defendant may be able to avoid full responsibility for damages in an accident in which he was negligent if that defendant can prove the plaintiff bears some responsibility for the cause of the accident. Illinois law defines contributory fault as “any fault on the part of the plaintiff . . . which is a proximate cause of the death, bodily injury to person, or physical damage to property for which recovery is sought.”
To put it another way, if the plaintiff’s own negligence also contributed to the accident, then she can be required to take responsibility for her own role in the accident. The notion of comparative fault or contributory fault is typically a defense that is raised by a defendant in order for the defendant to avoid complete responsibility for a collision.
Different states handle comparative fault in distinct ways. In some states, if a plaintiff is even 1 percent responsible for causing a car accident, the law says that the plaintiff cannot recover anything. In other states, a plaintiff can recover damages regardless of whether she was 1 percent or 99 percent to blame for an accident, but her damages will be reduced by her percentage of liability. Illinois follows what is known as a “modified comparative fault” rule.
Understanding How Contributory Fault Works Under Illinois Law
For car accident claims in DuPage County, a plaintiff can recover damages even if she was partially to blame for the crash, as long as she was not more responsible than the defendant(s). In other words, if the plaintiff is more than 50 percent to blame, she will not recover anything. If she is 50 percent or less to blame, however, she can recover damages and her award will be reduced by the percentage of her determined negligence.
As an example, imagine John is speeding by driving five miles per hour over the speed limit. However, Mark runs a red light and crashes into John. If John had not been speeding, the collision might not have happened, but John feels that Mark really caused the crash by running the red light. John files a car accident claim against Mark, and a jury determines that John is 10 percent negligent for the collision. Under Illinois law, his recovery is reduced by that 10 percent. So, if the jury awards John $50,000, that award is reduced by his fault (10 percent, or $5,000), and John recovers a total of $45,000.
If a jury were to have determined that John was 51 percent or more at fault, he would not have been able to recover anything.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer for Help with Your Case
Contributory fault is complicated, and it is important to discuss your auto accident claim with an experienced Chicago car accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC to learn more about how we can assist you.
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