In this article, we discuss Illinois personal injury and negligence laws and answer the following questions:
We’ve all seen the adds on television and plastered across billboards that exclaim in bold letters, “If you’ve been in a wreck…” or “Lasting injury from a medical procedure? Call now!” These are ads for personal injury legal services. Personal injury and negligence is a broad field of law that includes many types of injuries, but at its core handles almost any situation where an injury results from the interaction of two or more parties, whether purposefully or by accident. The injured party (the plaintiff) can file a personal injury lawsuit citing negligence against the other party (the defendant) seeking damages related to the injury.
When someone sues another party in a personal injury claim, they are usually relying on the concept of negligence to establish the other party’s fault for the underlying accident. Negligence is the argument that in any situation involving more than one party, each party owes a duty to the other, and failing in that duty results in the offending party being liable for injuries received by the injured party (plaintiff). Some common examples include car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, medical malpractice, product liability issues, etc.
Proving negligence in a personal injury case involves proving the existence of the five different elements of negligence, including:
To have a negligence claim in a personal injury case fault of one or more parties must be established. Comparative fault refers to how much responsibility each party shares for the plaintiffs injury. In some cases, the fault is straightforward and 100% on the side of the defendant, such as one car rear-ending another at a stoplight. But what if the car that was rear-ended had faulty brake lights? Or the light had turned green and the first car pulled forward, but suddenly stopped for no discernable reason? Situations such as these can complicate where the fault lies in a personal injury case. Comparative fault will determine how much blame is assumed by each party, and to what degree the plaintiff’s compensation is impacted.
Modified Comparative Negligence is the system Illinois uses to determine the amount of damages awarded in a negligence claim. It takes into account what degree of fault is attributable to both the defendant and the plaintiff. If it is clear the defendant is 100% at fault for the plaintiff’s injury, then the plaintiff will usually receive 100% of the damages awarded. However, if the court finds that the plaintiff is 40% at fault for the personal injury he or she will receive an appropriately reduced award in proportion with the degree of fault.
In Illinois, under the modified comparative negligence system, if the court finds the plaintiff is responsible for more than 50% of the fault attributable to his injury, then he will incur zero in damages.
Damages awarded in a personal injury case will depend on the specifics of the case, but in general, they are divided into three categories:
The statute of limitations on filing a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois is two years. The two year period begins on the date of the injury or the day that the plaintiff discovered he or she was injured. If the claim is against a city or county, the period shortens to one year.
If you’re involved in a personal injury or negligence lawsuit, whether on the plaintiff’s side or defendant’s side, a critical first step is to secure a competent personal injury attorney. If you have questions about personal injury and negligence claims in Illinois, please give us a call at 630-324-6666.
O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone or at our office locations in: