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Negligence and Comparative Negligence under Illinois Law

Posted on in Car Accidents

comparative negligence, Crystal Lake personal injury attorneyNegligence is a straightforward concept that forms the basis of most car accident lawsuits, but all too often it can go unexplained. The basic explanation of negligence closely tracks what the word means in daily life. It is a lawsuit based on another person's carelessness. However, the legal definition is a bit more precise.

What is Negligence? 

Proving that a driver in a car accident was negligent requires the injured party to show four elements of negligence. They are often summed up as duty, breach, cause and harm.

  • First, the injured party must demonstrate that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care. This means that the law must require the defendant to take reasonable precautions not to injure the plaintiff. This element is almost always satisfied when two drivers are sharing the road.

  • Second, the plaintiff must show that the defendant breached that duty. The defendant must have done something careless, such as texting while driving, speeding, or even just not watching where he or she was going.

  • Third, the plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant's careless was the cause of the accident.

  • Fourth, the injured party has to show that the harm he or she suffered resulted from the accident.

If someone injured in a traffic accident can show these four elements, then he or she may have a strong claim for negligence.

Comparative Negligence 

Still, sometimes situations are not so cut-and-dry. There are instances where both the injured party and the defendant were not being as careful as they could have been. In the past, this would have completely prevented the victim from recovering for his or her injuries, but the Illinois legislature passed a law to change that. Now, juries compare the negligence of the victim with the negligence of the defendant.

As long as the defendant bears at least 50 percent of the responsibility for the accident, then the plaintiff may still recover for his or her injuries. However, the victim would see his or her total recovery reduced by the amount of responsibility they share for the accident. For instance, if the plaintiff is 10 percent responsible for the crash, then he or she can only recover for 90 percent of their injuries.

If you or one of your loved ones was recently injured in a traffic accident, and you want to learn more about your rights, contact a Crystal Lake personal injury attorney today. Our firm is here to help you get the full, fair compensation that you deserve.

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