You often hear about personal injury lawsuits claiming that a person, group or company is guilty of negligence. But what constitutes negligence and how will it impact your Illinois personal injury claim? To answer this question, we should examine the theory behind Illinois negligence laws.
Definition of Negligence
Dictionary.com defines negligence as “the failure to exercise that degree of care that, in the circumstances, the law requires for the protection of other persons or those interests of other persons that may be injuriously affected by the want of such care.”
Put more simply, there are many scenarios where a certain standard of conduct must be adhered to. If someone fails to maintain this standard, then they may be guilty of negligence. This can include injuries that are a result of someone’s actions or inaction.
Some common examples of negligence include:
- Reckless or careless driving which causes an Illinois car accident;
- Mistakes by physicians which lead to injury or death (usually called medical malpractice);
- The release of harmful substances into soil or bodies of water by manufacturers; and
- Poorly-maintained structures which collapse or cause injuries to their occupants.
Modified Comparative Fault and Illinois Negligence LawNegligence laws differ across the United States, but Illinois negligence law follows what is known as a modified comparative fault system. This is a specific type of comparative negligence system which assigns relief or compensation based on how much fault lies with each party.
In states which embrace this doctrine, a court establishes how much blame should be assigned to each party, and then damages are adjusted accordingly. Illinois’ modified comparative fault system can be viewed as a comparative negligence system with a maximum “fault percentage” past which parties cannot be compensated for damages.
In addition, Illinois negligence laws utilize what is commonly referred to as the 51% rule. This means that if an Illinois court rules that a party is 51% or more responsible for an accident or incident, they are not entitled to any damages. The argument behind the 51% rule is that the person or entity that is mostly responsible for an accident-i.e., the more negligent party-should not be able to receive compensation from it.
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