If you have been injured in an auto accident in Illinois in which the other person is at fault, you may assume you can recover 100% of the financial compensation owed for your medical bills, pain, and suffering, time off work, etc. It may surprise you to learn that even if you think the other party is the only one at fault, you may not collect the full amount of your damages. Illinois law recognizes comparative negligence, which means that you may not be able to recover the full amount of your damages if you shared some of the fault.
The other party’s insurance company will be looking to assign any percentage of fault to you they can, even if it is only a tiny percentage. This is one of the reasons why it is important to have a Rockford auto accident attorney fighting to protect your rights. At Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow, Ltd., we work tirelessly to build the strongest case possible to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Elements of a Negligence Claim
To start, it is important to understand how liability is determined in an Illinois auto accident. There are five main elements in an Illinois auto accident case. These are:
- A duty must exist.
- The duty has to be owed from the defendant (at-fault party) to the plaintiff (you).
- The defendant has to have breached that duty.
- You, the plaintiff, must have suffered damage and/or injuries.
- The damages and/or injuries you suffered must be proximately related to the defendant’s breach of duty.
What this means is that the defendant must be legally required to conduct himself or herself in a certain manner. The second element means that the legal requirement to act in a certain manner must extend to you as the plaintiff. If it is determined that the defendant breached the duty owed to you and you were injured, then he or she would be liable for your injuries and/or damages.
Recovering for a Portion of Your Damages
If your case goes in front of a jury and they determine the defendant was 80% at fault, that means you are 20% at fault for the accident. Any award in your favor would then be reduced by your percentage of fault. This means you would collect 80%. What is important to know is that if you are found to be over 50% at fault, you are barred from any recovery in that situation. This means the defendant could end up recovering his or her damages from you.
Types of Damages You Can Recover
It is also important to understand what you are asking for when making a settlement demand with the defendant’s insurance company. There are two main types of damages awarded in negligence matters, with a third applicable in select cases:
- Economic Damages: Medical bills, loss of earnings, future medical treatment or loss of earnings, physical damage to your vehicle
- Non-Economic Damages: Pain and suffering, loss of consortium, disfigurement/disability
- Punitive Damages: Only applicable in select cases where the court tries to “punish” the at-fault party, usually only awarded in cases involving drunk driving, drag racing, etc.
Contact an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you need assistance pursuing a Rockford auto accident claim, contact Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow, Ltd. today to schedule an initial consultation.