If you’re in a car accident in Illinois (or injured in another accident type) and suffer damages, you’ll likely have questions about who will pay for these damages and what your legal options are.
At the offices of VanDerGinst Law, our Illinois car accident attorneys can help you to understand our state’s fault laws and how to recover your maximum settlement amount.
What Is a “No-Fault” State?
In a no-fault car accident state, fault for an accident does not play a role in a party’s ability to recover damages — at least for most minor and moderate crashes.
Instead, after an accident, each party will make a claim with their own insurance company for compensation, regardless of fault. This means that if you cause an accident, you’re not barred from recovery.
It also means that if you’re in an accident caused by another driver, whether or not they have insurance or whether or not you can prove their fault won’t matter – you’ll file a claim under your own policy either way.
However, no-fault car insurance states generally have a ‘threshold’ at which plaintiffs can step outside of the ‘no fault system’ and file a lawsuit directly against the party for any damages that are in excess of that amount.
As an example, in New York state, the basic threshold for the no-fault system is $50,000. If a car accident victim suffered more than $50,000 in economic damages in a crash in New York, they will be eligible to sue the responsible defendant.
Is Illinois a No-Fault State?
No – the state of Illinois adheres to a traditional fault-based system, also called a tort liability system. This means in Illinois, drivers who cause accidents are responsible for paying for them.
For example, if you were injured in a crash in Rock Island County that was caused by a distracted driver, you have the right to make a claim against their insurance company. Of course, if you were responsible for causing a crash, another party may try to hold you liable for the resulting damages.
Under a fault-based system, it is imperative that all serious car accidents are comprehensively investigated. Fault for an accident is not always clear. Indeed, in some cases, two or more parties may actually share the blame (fault) for causing a single crash.
As Illinois is a comparative negligence state, you can still sue another party if you were somewhat responsible for an accident, as long as you were at fault for 50 percent or less of the crash.
How to Prove Liability in Illinois
As a general rule, car accident claims in Illinois are based on negligence. To hold another party, most often another driver, legally responsible for your accident, you must establish that their negligence contributed to your injuries. Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care in a given situation. There are four basic elements of a negligence claim:
- The defendant owed a duty of care;
- The duty of care was breached;
- The breach of duty was the proximate cause of the accident; and
- The victim suffered actual harm.
To be clear, you must be able to prove that you suffered damages in order to bring a successful negligence action in Illinois.
Illinois a Comparative Fault State
As was mentioned, Illinois recognizes the rule of comparative fault. Under Illinois law (735 I.L.C.S. § 5/2-1116) a plaintiff can still recover compensation even if they contributed to their own injuries — so long as they are not more than 50 percent to blame for their harm.
With comparative fault, a victim’s recovery will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. So, if you were determined to be 15 percent to blame for your accident, you can only hold the other party 85 percent responsible for your losses.
Get Help From an Illinois Auto Accident
At VanDerGinst Law, our Illinois car accident lawyers are committed to helping injured victims maximize their financial recovery. If you have been involved in an Illinois accident, our lawyers can help you to understand fault laws and bring forth your claim.
For trusted representation from a seasoned professional with a track record of success, please contact us at our Moline law office today.