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b2ap3_thumbnail_comparative-fault-balance-negligence.jpgImagine this scenario: You are cruising down the highway at about 10 miles over the speed limit when you are hit by a drunk driver. You suffer significant injuries to your back and neck that leave you unable to work and drowning in medical bills. The drunk driver’s insurance company offers you a settlement which does not even come close to compensating you for your damages. Is there a way that you can sue to recover compensation? The answer in Illinois is “yes.”

Illinois’ comparative fault law allows those injured by another’s negligence to sue even if they were partially responsible for the injury or accident. In this example, the original driver may have contributed to the accident by speeding, but if the other driver was more to blame, a personal injury suit is still possible.

Defining Negligence Under Illinois Law

The word “negligence” is used to describe a situation when a person or entity owes a duty of care, or responsibility, to another person and fails to uphold that duty. For example, doctors have a duty to their patients to maintain the prevailing standard of care within their area of practice. A doctor who significantly deviates from this standard of care and causes injury to his or her patient may be considered negligent. Similarly, drivers using public roadways have a duty to the other motorists on the road to drive with care and attention. Driving drunk is certainly not upholding this duty. Therefore, many drunk drivers are held liable when an accident they cause results in injuries.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneyAs the old proverb goes, two wrongs do not make a right. In fact, when applied to an auto accident or other type of personal injury, two wrongs can actually create an even bigger problem. Countless television commercials, billboards, and phone book advertisements bombard you daily about your rights to collect compensation following an accident. What they may not tell you right away, though, is that your contribution to your own injuries could impact the amount you may be able to recover.

Determining Who Was Negligent

Assume for a moment that you are in your car, sitting at an intersection, waiting for the light to turn green. You are listening to music on the radio, but are not otherwise distracted by a cell phone, or any other additional stimulus. Without warning, a drunk driver slams into the back of your vehicle, causing extensive damage and leaving you with broken bones and a neck injury. While the other details of the case, including insurance coverage and criminal charges, may not be so clear, the assignment of fault in this example would be very straightforward. The actions of the drunk driver caused the accident and he or she would likely be completely liable for your injuries.

Now consider a more complex hypothetical situation. In this case, you are driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit while talking on a hand-held cellphone when another driver, who is also texting, runs a red light and broadsides your car. In this example, both you and the other driver were engaged in illegal—possibly negligent—behaviors that may be seen as contributing the subsequent accident and injuries. If you file a personal injury claim, it may be left to a judge or jury to determine each party’s percentage of fault before damages can be awarded.

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Rockford personal injury attorneysThe weather has been warming up in Northern Illinois, and that means that people are out picnicking, swimming, and walking their dogs. Although many consider dogs to be “man’s best friend,” the reality is that dogs are still animals, and their behavior is not always predictable. Sometimes, a dog who has never shown signs of belligerence suddenly becomes aggressive. If you have been bitten by a dog in Illinois, it is important to know that you might be able to receive financial compensation for your injuries.

Illinois Dog Bite Laws

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximate about 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States every year. Illinois has traditionally been a state in which a higher-than-average number of dog bite lawsuits are filed. This is partially due to how the law is written. In some states, a dog owner is not responsible for damages caused by a dog bite if the dog had never bitten anyone before. For example, if someone owned a dog who was usually friendly and non-aggressive, but then one day the dog suddenly bit someone, the dog owner may not be held liable because he or she did not know the dog was capable of violence. However, Illinois does not have this law in place. Instead, a dog owner can be held liable for damages caused by his or her dog biting someone even if the dog has never shown signs of aggressiveness in the past.

The Illinois Animal Control Act dictates when a dog owner is liable for injuries caused by his or her dog. According to the act, “If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”

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