Until just a few short decades ago, victims of personal injury were barred from collecting monetary damages in most states if they were even slightly at fault, even if the injuries were mostly due to another party’s actions or negligence. Fortunately, the state of Illinois has adopted what is commonly referred to as the Modified Comparative Negligence Rule to help soften the financial blow that often occurs to personal injury victims.
Under the Modified Comparative Negligence Rule, a personal injury victim can recover damages only if he or she is 50 percent or less at fault for the accident that occurred. If an injury victim’s percentage of fault is determined to be more than 50 percent, the injured party is considered to be mostly at fault and he or she will be barred from receiving compensation for his or her injuries or property damages. Personal injury victims who are determined to be less than 50 percent at fault, however, may not receive full monetary compensation, since the amount recovered might be reduced to reflect the injured party’s portion of fault. For example, if an injured party in a car accident is decided to be 40 percent at fault, he or she may only receive 60 percent compensation.
How is the Modified Comparative Negligence Rule Applied?
While application of the rule might seem pretty straight forward, and it may be easy in some cases for a court or jury to determine which party exceeded the 50 percent bar, determining the actual amount of fault for each party can be tricky. The judge or jury considers the following factors when determining the percentage of fault each party contributed:
- Was the injured party someplace he or she shouldn’t have been, like private property or an area where customers or visitors are not allowed?
- Did the injured party’s carelessness or neglect for his or her safety contribute to the injuries incurred? Examples include using a phone or otherwise not paying attention to the conditions which caused the injury.
- Were any third parties involved who might have contributed to the accident that caused the injury?
- Should the dangerous condition have been obvious to the injured party?
- Were reasonable steps taken by the defendant to protect visitors from personal injury like the placement of cones, signage, or restrictive barriers?