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Modern Comparative Negligence

Just a few short decades ago, Illinois personal injury law took the narrow view that a victim of personal injury should only receive damages when they themselves bore absolutely no measure of responsibility in their injuries. The legal name for this rule is called “contributory negligence” and it spelled hardship for anyone involved in an accident where they might have contributed in any way to its cause. So let’s say a slip and fall accident occurs in aisle 3 of a local supermarket when several customers overheard an intercom call for a “clean up” in aisle 3 more than 20 earlier. Sounds pretty cut and dry, right?


But let’s say the injured party breaks an ankle because they were seen making an attempt to avoid the spill by walking around it, but were also distracted because they were texting at the same time and not paying strict attention to the dangerous conditions. Under contributory negligence, the injured party might have been found partially negligent and would have been barred from receiving an award for their injuries. They would have been completely responsible for their medical care.

Sounds harsh? Well, many states, including Illinois, that observed contributory negligence rules in the past 20 years have adopted a less stringent view of comparative negligence called “modified comparative negligence,” which allows an injured party who is found to bear 50% or less of the responsibility for their injuries to recover damages less their proportion of responsibility. This modified comparative negligence still bars any plaintiff found to be more than 50% responsible for damages from receiving any monetary awards, but it does compensate plaintiffs who can demonstrate a 50%  or more share in the responsibility on the part of the defendant.

Application of this rule is no more cut and dry than determining who is bears the largest proportion of responsibility in a given accident case. After all, many factors contribute to a finding of fault in a variety of personal injury law suits.

Arguing a case where the defendant claims plaintiff negligence entails a wealth of strategies that not only demonstrated the defendant’s fault, but also a preponderance of evidence showing the plaintiff took due care prior to their accident.

Evidence must be collected and that can come in forms ranging from witness testimony to video, and even expert witness analysis and scenario staging. Only a skilled personal injury attorney with a wealth of experience in personal injury litigation should be relied upon to argue such a complex case.

Panio Law Offices offer attorneys skilled and knowledgeable in arguing and negotiating personal injury damages in Illinois. We serve as passionate advocates for our clients, routinely winning large damage awards and ensuring they are compensated for injuries, lost pay and more.

If you have questions about filing a personal injury claim where you may bear some of the responsibility for some of your injuries, call us at 888.799.7561. We can help.

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