In many car accidents, the drivers of both cars may be responsible for the crash. For example, one car may have been speeding while the other car drove through a red light. In snowy and icy conditions, both vehicles in the accident may have slid out on the road, or been unable to stop. The question, then, is can a driver who causes a car crash file a claim for damages against the driver of the other vehicle?

Unlike many other states, Illinois is not a no-fault state. In no-fault states, a driver who is 100% at fault for a crash can still seek payment of his/her medical bills and lost wages – up to the policy limits. Since Illinois doesn’t use no-fault insurance, the driver who causes the accident must seek damages through a liability claim.

Contributory negligence in Illinois

Illinois uses the doctrine of contributory negligence to determine whether negligent drivers can recover damages. The statute that governs contributory negligence can be found at 735 Illinois Compiled 5/2-1116. The statute states that “The purpose of this Section is to allocate the responsibility of bearing or paying damages in actions brought on account of death, bodily injury, or physical damage to property according to the proportionate fault of the persons who proximately caused the damage.”

In short, the statute applies to wrongful death claims, personal injury claims, and claims for damage to the vehicles involved in the crash.

Contributory negligence has two essential provisions:

  • First, if you caused the crash and you were more than 50% responsible, you cannot recover any damages.
  • Second, if you were equally at fault or less at fault than the other driver in the crash, you can seek damages for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income, car damage, and any death damages that Illinois covers. However, your damage award will be adjusted to reflect how much (in what percentage) you caused the accident.

For example, if you were going 10 miles over the speed limit and the other driver crossed into your lane, a jury might find that the other driver was 80% at fault and you were 20% at fault. A jury may decide that your car accident claim is worth $70,000 because you broke your arm, you lost income, a doctor had to place your arm in a cast, and you suffered while the arm healed. Since you were 20% at fault, your claim will be reduced by 20%. This means you will be awarded $56,000 and not $70,000.

The assignment of fault (the percentages the apply) is made by the jury.

As there are states that will deny your claim even if you were just one percent at fault, the good news is really that a partial award is better than no award.

At Gainsberg Law, we fight aggressively to show that you weren’t at fault for your crash. If it’s clear you were partially liable, we work to show that the other driver was the person who should take most of the blame and that your negligence was minor compared to the other driver’s negligence. Our Chicago car crash lawyers have been helping drivers, passengers, and other roadway victims get justice for 20 years. For help with all phases of your car accident claim, call us at 312.313.1621 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.