This is the next post in a series of articles discussing handling car accident cases in Peoria, Illinois. My previous article provided an overview of the topics to be discussed throughout this series. Given the potentially complicated nature of car accident litigation, it also stressed the importance of retaining experienced personal injury counsel to help victims and their families throughout the process. In this article, I will address a complex and often contentious legal theory that is commonly an issue in car accident cases – Illinois’ comparative fault laws. If you have been injured in an accident and need assistance, contact my office to speak with an attorney.
Illinois comparative fault laws allow a Peoria victim to recover damages even if they were partially responsible
Establishing who was responsible for a Peoria car crash can be challenging in some circumstances. Whether the accident involved multiple vehicles, poor weather conditions, or drivers who were both violating traffic laws, disputes may arise about each party’s level of liability. Many people hesitate to pursue their legal right to recover damages if they feel that they were partly to blame for an accident. In some states, victims are legally barred from doing so if they were partially at fault for the incident. However, Illinois is a modified comparative fault state, which means that so long as the victim was not more than fifty percent at fault for the accident, they can still recover damages. During the settlement negotiations or at trial, a determination will be made regarding the victim’s percentage of liability. The injured party’s compensation will be reduced proportionally by that percentage. For example, if the total damage is estimated to be $100,000 and the plaintiff is twenty-five percent responsible for the wreck, they would still receive $75,000. If the victim is fifty-percent liable, they would recover $50,000. If, on the other hand, the plaintiff is found to have been fifty-one percent liable or more, then they would not recover.
It is important to retain a Peoria lawyer who can effectively communicate comparative fault arguments to a jury
To reduce their potential exposure to pay damages to victims under the comparative fault laws, insurance companies and defense counsel often argue that victims bore some responsibility for accidents. Such arguments can involve complex factual situations and legal theories of liability. The difference between being fifty percent and fifty-one percent responsible can mean the difference between receiving compensation for damages or receiving nothing. Given what is at stake for victims who may already be facing lost wages, staggering medical bills, and other financial hardship, it is imperative to engage an attorney who understands how to clearly explain one’s case to a jury. Effectively communicating complex evidence and facts in ways that jurors can understand can have a significant impact on the outcome of one’s case.
Retaining counsel as soon as possible after an accident has occurred will help ensure that evidence establishing the liability of the defendant will be discovered and preserved. If you need assistance, contact our Peoria accident lawyer. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.