In some accidents, it’s easy to see who’s to blame. In other scenarios, though, it may be much more complicated.
When you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, or another type of accident, you only have a valid personal injury claim if you can determine fault and prove negligence.
In Illinois, it’s important to understand how fault is determined. The fault-based laws may mean you incur blame and lose some or all of your compensation. Reviewing these legal insights can help clear up some of the mysteries surrounding personal injury cases.
How Liability Is Determined in Personal Injury Claims in Illinois
There certainly are some scenarios where it’s completely obvious who’s at fault. But in many cases, it’s much more complicated. In car accidents, every driver should have insurance coverage, and it must be determined who was at fault to find out which insurance company needs to pay for the injury victim’s damages.
Car accidents can be notoriously complex in this state. However, other types of personal injury situations may be even more difficult to prove. The laws for negligence provide a basis for the courts to make this determination and assign blame appropriately.
What Negligence Has to Do with Personal Injury Claims
For a personal injury claim to have any merit, there needs to be a clear case of negligence. This is defined as failing to act with reasonable care causing harm to someone else.
Proving negligence establishes fault and serves as the basis of your claim. It is the responsibility of the injury victim to prove negligence. This is done by showing that the other party owed you a duty of care and that duty was breached by their actions.
Furthermore, the breach of this duty must have caused your injuries and you incurred damages from your injuries. As an example of how negligence works in a personal injury case, consider a car accident.
You arrive at a red light and stop, as you are required to do by law. While stopped at the light, another driver rear-ends your vehicle. It’s determined the other driver was texting and driving. In this case, it is clear to see the other driver was negligent by texting, which caused them to be distracted from the task of driving. During this distraction, they crashed into your vehicle, causing your injuries and financial damages.
Be aware, though, that Illinois works with a modified comparative fault model. This means that you could be deemed partially responsible for your own injuries. You can seek compensation for your claims, but only if you are shown to be less than 50% at fault. Any percentage above that bars you from claiming your damages.
Are There Other Ways to Prove Fault in Personal Injury Claims?
Some types of personal injury cases in Illinois prove fault in other ways that don’t require negligence. A prime example of this is when the defendant intentionally inflicted harm, such as in an assault and battery claim.
Dog bites are another type of personal injury claim that does not require the victim to prove negligence. This is because Illinois follows strict liability laws that make the dog owner liable for all injuries except in cases where the dog was deliberately provoked or the victim was trespassing.
What Kind of Evidence Can Help Prove Fault?
Evidence used to prove fault in your personal injury case will depend on the factors of the situation. Often, this can be done with medical records, police reports, photos or videos of the scene, eyewitness testimony, and surveillance footage, to name a few.
In some cases, it may be difficult to gather evidence when your injuries are debilitating. Working with an attorney can help as they can start gathering the evidence while you recover from your injuries.
What Damages Can You Recover When You Prove the Other Party Was At Fault?
With the help of a personal injury lawyer, you can fully calculate your damages from the accident and injuries. Most cases will seek compensation for medical bills as well as lost income from being unable to work while recovering.
In car accidents, you will likely pursue property damage. However, that likely won’t apply in a slip-and-fall accident case. Many injury victims who try to navigate these claims on their own fail to realize they can seek compensation for things that go beyond economic damages.
Pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life are just some of the noneconomic damages you may be able to seek in your claim. While it’s not mandatory to hire a personal injury attorney when making a personal injury claim, you should consult one.
Most offer free initial consultations to help you determine if you have a valid claim, highlight your legal options, and help you discover the full extent of your losses.