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How do car accident claims work in Illinois?

Whether you're in a fender bender in the parking lot or you get hit from behind by a car that has been tailgating you for miles, you could end up seriously injured. If that happens, it's important to understand how injury laws operate in Illinois.

Illinois follows the majority of the rest of the states when it comes to car accidents: The person who negligently caused the accident is liable for any injuries from that accident. This is unlike the states that use the "no-fault" rule that makes every driver essentially responsible for his or her own damages. However, Illinois also uses a rule known as "modified comparative negligence" when it determines how much the negligent driver has to pay.

How does that work?

First, the court has to look at how the accident occurred and assigned a percentage of fault to each driver for the victim's injuries. For example, maybe the other driver ran a red light and there was simply nothing you could have done to prevent what happened or your injuries. That driver would be 100 percent at fault.

As long as a jury doesn't decide that you are 50 percent or more to blame for your own injuries, you can still collect payment for your losses from the other party. That payment will be reduced, however, based on the percentage of fault assigned to you.

For instance, if you are not at fault at all, and your pain, lost wages and medical bills amounted to a value of $10,000, you'd collect all $10,000. But if you were found 20 percent at fault, you'd still be awarded $10,000 -- but you'd only collect 80 percent of that, or $8,000. The total would be reduced because of your comparative contribution to your own injuries and losses.

Motor vehicle accident cases can involve a lot of complex issues -- and when comparative fault is involved, it often pays to consider your legal options early. That way, you can start collecting the evidence you need to support your position as soon as possible -- before any of it gets lost or forgotten.

Source: FindLaw, "Illinois Car Accident Compensation Laws," accessed May 29, 2018

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