This is the next article in my series on the handling of slip and fall cases in Peoria, Illinois. My last article discussed why premises liability cases can take significant time to settle. It is important to understand that a victim’s damages should be reasonably determinable before a demand for payment is sent to the insurance carrier. Accepting a “quick” settlement can result in the victim not receiving the full amount of compensation to which they are entitled. An experienced attorney will determine when is, and when is not, a good time to submit the settlement demand. In this article I will address a topic which often leads to confusion – how Illinois’ comparative fault laws impact such cases. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Illinois residents who are injured in a fall can still recover damages if they were partially responsible for the accident
Illinois is like many states in the country in that we have adopted the idea of comparative fault. This means that a victim can be partially at fault for the accident but can still recover damages. The damages awarded to the victim will be reduced in proportion to the extent that they were responsible for the accident. So, if a victim is forty percent responsible for the accident then the defendant would only pay sixty percent of the total damages (100 percent – 40 percent). If it is found that the victim was fifty percent, or more, responsible for the accident then they will not recover any damages. The determination of how much fault each party should be assigned is up to the jury.
The foregoing concepts are best explained by way of example. Suppose the patron of a grocery store is walking down the aisle and slips in a puddle. The patron suffers a severe back injury and her total damages (which include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering) total $500,000. The security footage shows two things. First, the puddle had existed for several hours and the store was clearly negligent in not mopping it up. Second, the victim was looking at her phone while walking and not paying attention to what was in front of her. Under this scenario, the jury may find that the victim was also negligent as she was not paying attention to where she was going. The jury finds that the store is eighty percent responsible for the fall with the remaining twenty percent of fault falling on the victim. The victim would be awarded $400,000 ($500,000 x 80%). If the jury had found that the victim was fifty percent, or more, responsible for the accident then they would have received nothing. It is important to remember that how the jury will rule in any given situation will always depend on the facts of the case.
Peoria slip & fall victims should retain an attorney who is experienced in arguing before a jury
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident then it is important that you retain an attorney who is experienced in presenting such matters at trial. The issue of comparative fault can raise highly complicated factual arguments. Your case will need to be presented to the jury in a way that is clear, concise, and understandable. It is important to remember that you only get one chance to present your case and it must be handled correctly.
If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria slip and fall lawyer. My office will make sure that you know what to expect as the process moves forward. We will be in regular communication with you and will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone today. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.