You probably already know that if you were injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to hold that negligent driver liable for the damages you suffered as a result. These damages can include medical expenses and lost wages, as well as noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.
Given the high costs of medical care, your damages can be quite high after any accident. They can be astronomical after a serious accident that leaves you permanently injured. Recovering compensation through a lawsuit can be crucial to helping you and your family deal with the long aftermath of a serious injury.
But what if the other driver wasn’t the only person who was negligent in your accident? Can you recover compensation if you were partly at fault in the accident that caused your injury?
The quick answer to this last question is, in Illinois, in some cases, yes. To understand why, we will provide an introduction to the topic of comparative negligence. But first, we should discuss the basics of negligence.
Negligence and liability
Under Illinois law, every driver has a duty to take reasonable care to avoid unnecessary risks that might cause an accident that could harm someone else. When they breach this duty, they are acting negligently. If their negligence is the cause of an injury to someone else, then the injured person can hold them liable for their damages.
To give some examples, when drivers run stop signs, race over the speed limit or text while driving, they are acting negligently. If any of these behaviors causes an accident that injures someone else, then the negligent party can be held liable for the injured party’s damages.
The truth is that even the best drivers fall short of their duty of care from time to time. As a result, many accidents involve two or more drivers whose negligence contributed to an accident. Illinois’ comparative negligence law can govern what happens in such cases.
For example, take an accident in which one driver runs a stop sign and another failed to turn on headlights when it was getting dark. The driver without headlights is badly injured in the accident.
In this case, an Illinois court would determine the percentage of fault for each driver. So long as one driver is no more than 50% at fault for the accident, they can recover compensation from the other. However, their compensation is reduced according to their percentage of fault.
If the court finds that the no-headlights driver was 20% at fault, then they can recover, but their recovery is reduced by 20%.