Determining fault in an accident can be a complex process that depends on the specific circumstances of the accident. The process of seeking recourse after a serious car accident can vary depending on the state, as negligence laws differ significantly across the U.S.
In Illinois, the law follows a modified comparative negligence rule when it comes to determining fault in car accidents. This means that the court will determine each party’s degree of fault and the damages awarded will be reduced based on the percentage of fault attributed to each party. For example, if the court determines that the other driver was 80% at fault, and you were 20% at fault for the accident, the damages awarded to you would be reduced by 20%. Therefore, if your damages were $10,000, you would receive $8,000, which is the remaining 80% of the damages.
An assignment of fault involves a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the accident, such as the location, the vehicles involved, the road conditions, and the behavior of the drivers. To determine fault in an auto accident, several factors are considered, including:
- Police Reports: When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, they will investigate and document the details of the accident in a report including any citations issued. The police report will also include any statements made by the parties involved.
- Eyewitness Accounts: Witnesses to the accident can provide valuable information about what happened, which can help paint a more thorough picture of what occurred.
- Physical Evidence: Physical evidence, such as skid marks, damage to the vehicles (including location and severity), and debris, can provide valuable insight into the cause of the accident.
- Traffic Laws: The state of Illinois has specific traffic laws that drivers must follow, some involving speeding or running a red light.
- Driver Behavior: If a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is involved in an accident, they will likely be found at fault. The court will consider the driver’s blood alcohol concentration, reckless or distracted driving, and negligence when placing fault.
- Road Conditions: Poor road conditions, such as ice or snow, visibility, and/or construction can significantly impact someone’s driving. If one of these factors contributes to an accident, fault may be assigned to the driver who failed to adjust their driving accordingly.
The type of accident also provides evidence to establish liability, such as a:
- Rear-end collision: In a rear-end collision, the driver who hits the car in front is usually considered at fault. However, there may be exceptions, such as if the driver in front suddenly and unexpectedly slammed on the brakes.
- Head-on crash: In a head-on collision, fault may be determined by which driver crossed the centerline or was driving in the wrong lane. However, other factors are also considered, such as if any drivers were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a mechanical failure caused the accident, poor weather, or unexpected road conditions.
- T-bone collision: In a T-bone collision, fault may be determined by which driver had the right of way.
- Single-car accident: In a single-car accident, fault may be attributed to the driver if they were driving recklessly, distracted, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, there may be other factors, such as road conditions or mechanical failure, that could also be a factor in the accident.
Illinois has adopted a modified version of the comparative negligence standard. This modified standard places a cap at 50% fault. Meaning the plaintiff can only recover damages if they are found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident. If the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault, they cannot recover monetary damages.
Each case is unique. It is important to remember that fault is not always clear-cut, and there may be multiple factors that contribute to an accident. An experienced auto-accident attorney can help you provide the necessary evidence to protect yourself and ensure fair compensation.
Meyers & Flowers is recognized as a top Chicago personal injury law firm with an extensive winning record. The Meyers & Flowers car accident litigation team combines years of experience in complex automobile lawsuits with the use of modern technology to achieve the best possible results for every client. Beyond our legal skills and experience, we genuinely care about the people we represent. Submit a free case evaluation online or call us to explore your legal options: (630) 232-6333.