Illinois’ Modified Comparative Negligence Rule
In Illinois, fault is determined proportionately using the state’s modified comparative negligence standard. Generally, this means that each driver, or party to the accident, will be assessed a personal percentage of fault. If anyone seeks compensation, each driver will be responsible for damages that equate to their level of fault in the accident.
For example, if you’re rear-ended at a stoplight but one of your brake lights wasn’t functioning, the court may find you to be 20% at fault for the accident. This means that you can only recover 80% of the total compensation you are awarded for any damages or injuries. If that total is $100,000, for instance, the insurance company or court will deduct 20% to account for your level of fault in causing the accident, or $20,000 — leaving you with $80,000 in compensation.
If your percentage of fault, or negligence, rises to 50 percent or more, you will not be able to recover anything from the other party.
Weather-Related Driving Requirements in Illinois
As many Illinois drivers know, weather conditions can be quite challenging at times. The Secretary of State recently released “Illinois 2021 Rules of the Road” to emphasize the various laws and driving standards that apply year-round. The document contains specific sections on driving in the fog, rain, high winds, and winter in general.
These sections emphasize driving more slowly and increasing the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you while turning off cruise control. In the rain, Illinois law specifically requires that your vehicle’s headlights must be on if you’re using your windshield wipers.
Regardless of the weather conditions, a driver is always responsible for operating their vehicle in a way that allows them to maintain control over it. In snowy or raining conditions that might mean driving slower and leaving more room between you and the vehicle in front of you - failing to do so constitutes negligence.
Liability for Road Conditions
In addition to the pothole example in the opening section, other road conditions can make driving more dangerous and accident-prone. Other hazards include:
- Road debris remaining from other accidents, or from fallen trees and downed power lines
- Damaged utility lines such as broken water mains or leaking gas lines
- Improperly maintained roads such as uneven pavement, potholes, or worn bridges that can cause tire blowouts or other mechanical failures
- Foliage that blocks drivers’ views when entering or exiting a highway
- Road construction equipment that poses obstacles to safe driving while not being properly isolated or blocked off
- Malfunctioning traffic signals
The maintenance of roads, highways, and expressways is typically the responsibility of the state, county, or municipality in which you are traveling. While government entities are often immune to civil lawsuits, claims based on poor road maintenance — a valid form of negligence — are sometimes possible.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), for instance, says this about filing a claim for road-related accidents, “IDOT evaluates each claim based upon strict standards on negligence and liability established by the Illinois Court of Claims.” One of these standards is that IDOT must have been alerted to the hazard prior to the accident and then failed to repair it in a reasonable amount of time.
Get The Guidance You Need Today
If you’re going to file any type of accident claim in Illinois, various statutes of limitations and claim filing deadlines (especially when it comes to government agencies) typically means that the sooner you take action, the better your chances of winning a successful claim.
If you or someone you know has been injured and/or a vehicle has been damaged due to weather or road conditions, you have the right to pursue compensation. The legal process of pursuing a claim may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to face these challenges on your own. Call or reach out to our firm, Marker & Crannell, today to schedule your own free case consultation. We’d be happy to sit down with you, discuss the details of your case, and go over our approach to help you seek justice.