This is the next post in a series of articles discussing bicycle accident cases in Peoria, Illinois. My last article provided an overview of topics to be addressed throughout this series. It also emphasized the importance of retaining an experienced personal injury attorney if you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a bike crash. Doing so will help to ensure that key evidence is preserved and that your rights are protected. In this article, we will discuss how comparative fault laws may impact such cases. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with an attorney.
Under Illinois’ comparative fault laws, a bicycle accident victim may recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the crash. I previously discussed the application of this concept in the context of a car accident case. The same principles apply to matters involving an injured bicyclist. Illinois allows a victim to recover damages from a defendant as long as the victim was not more than fifty percent responsible for the accident. During the settlement negotiations or at trial, the plaintiff’s level of responsibility will be determined. If below fifty percent, the victim’s damage award will be reduced in proportion to their share of fault. A victim will not be able to recover, however, if the jury finds that they were fifty-one percent, or more, responsible for the crash.
Consider the following example. Suppose a cyclist swerves into traffic and is hit by a car. The bike rider was clearly negligent and partially responsible for the crash. During the investigation, however, witness statements and other evidence proves that the driver of the car was texting at the time of the incident and was also speeding. Under these circumstances, it is possible that the jury would find that the driver of the car was more responsible for the incident than was the bicyclist. If the jury found that the cyclist was thirty percent responsible, the driver was seventy percent responsible, and the victim’s damages were $100,000, then the victim would receive $70,000 ($100,000 – 30 percent).
Establishing each parties’ relative liability can be challenging. Given the impact on the defendant’s obligation to pay damages, the issue of comparative fault can become contentious. This is particularly true in catastrophic injury or wrongful death cases where damages can be significant. It is not uncommon for defense counsel to try and place as much blame as possible on the victim as a defense strategy. For these reasons, it is essential to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights. If you need assistance contact my Peoria office today. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.