Proving Negligence in Illinois Motor Vehicle Accidents
When a motor vehicle accident occurs, neither party wants to be at fault. Dealing with insurance companies, higher premiums, and facing a civil lawsuit are all matters that most people would like to avoid. However, the cause of every accident must be analyzed. Even in cases where liability seems clear, an investigation may reveal otherwise.
In all negligence lawsuits, three elements must be proven:
- The at-fault party owed the victim a duty;
- This duty was breached by the at-fault party’s negligence; and
- Due to this breach, the victim suffered damages.
In motor vehicle accidents, all drivers have a duty to drive in a manner that is reasonable under the circumstances. Obeying traffic laws and traveling at a reasonable speed in inclement weather are examples of fulfilling this duty.
If the driver is negligent in some way, the driver has breached this duty. Texting while driving, speeding, and failing to obey traffic signals are all examples of negligence.
Finally, the victim must have suffered some type of damages for the claim to stand. Examples of damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Illinois follows a modified contributory negligence model in negligence lawsuits, such as those involving car accidents.
With modified contributory negligence, if the plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault for an accident, that plaintiff will not be entitled to any damages. If the plaintiff is less than 50 percent at fault, the plaintiff’s damages will be reduced in an amount proportionate to fault. For example, if it is determined that the plaintiff is 20 percent at fault for an accident, any award the plaintiff is entitled to will be reduced by 20 percent. If the plaintiff had $100,000 in damages, the plaintiff will only be entitled to $80,000.
How does this work? Consider a plaintiff that is rear-ended by another driver. The other driver is clearly at fault, but the plaintiff was not wearing a seatbelt, which contributed to the severity of his injuries. The plaintiff’s negligence is partially responsible for his injuries.
Negligence is determined by examining all of the evidence in a case. The evidence submitted in a motor vehicle accident claim may include:
- Cell phone records
- Medical records
- Eyewitness statements
- Expert witness reports
- Video surveillance footage
- Accident reports
Additional evidence may also be submitted. The parties, through their attorneys, will submit evidence that seeks to reduce their own liability and direct blame toward each other. This is why it is important to hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible after you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident. Your attorney will be able to defend you against any frivolous claims and will ensure that you obtain the compensation you deserve in your case.
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At Stein & Shulman, LLC, we protect our clients from frivolous allegations in accident cases. to make sure they recover the money they are rightly owed. To schedule your consultation with our team, call (312) 422-0500 today.