Often, injured motorists have contributed in some way to their own accidents. They were either driving carelessly or recklessly themselves when someone slammed into them, causing damage. For example, a driver might have forgotten to use a turn signal, which contributes to another vehicle rear-ending him or her. Once upon a time, Illinois prevented people from bringing lawsuits if they in any way contributed to their own injuries. Fortunately, that law has changed.
Modified Contributory Negligence
According to 735 ILCS 5/2-1116, an injured person can bring a lawsuit for compensation so long as that person was not more responsible than all other parties. In other words, a plaintiff can be 50% responsible for the injuries but no more.
For example, Samantha might have gotten into a fender bender with two other cars. If she was 51% responsible for causing her injuries, then she cannot receive anything. However, if she is 50% or less at fault, then she can still receive compensation.
Nevertheless, the amount of compensation a negligent plaintiff can receive will be reduced by her proportion of fault. For example, if Samantha’s injuries are worth $50,000, but she is 50% responsible, then the most she can receive is $25,000. If she were 20% responsible, then she could receive $40,000.
Willful and Wanton Behavior
In some situations, comparative negligence will not apply, especially if the defendant’s conduct is “willful or wanton.” This generally means that the defendant must have intentionally or deliberately tried to injure you. Someone intentionally running you over would not be able to claim contributory negligence as a defense. For that reason, they also could not reduce the amount they must pay you based on your own negligence.
How Contributory Negligence Affects Settlements
In a lawsuit, the jury will determine each party’s percentage of fault after hearing evidence about the accident. What happens if you hope to settle your lawsuit? Does contributory negligence matter at all if you do not end up in court?
The answer is “yes.” You can expect the other driver’s insurance company to closely investigate what happened, including your own actions in the moments leading up to the collision. If they believe you contributed to the crash, then they will reduce the amount of compensation they offer.
By hiring the right car accident lawyer, you can try to minimize your own negligent conduct and maximize the neglect the other drivers share. This is why it is so vital to meet with an attorney before you talk to the other driver’s insurance adjuster. Your attorney can help you clarify what happened and present the evidence in a way that underplays your own contribution to the collision.
Contact a Lawyer at Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow Today
Injured motorists need compensation to cover medical costs, replace lost wages, and compensate for pain and suffering. Rather than wait for the at-fault motorist to offer a favorable settlement, injured victims should reach out to a car accident lawyer at Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow today. Our attorneys know how to maximize our clients’ financial recovery so that they can begin putting back the pieces of their lives. Schedule your free consultation by contacting us today.