Contributory Fault

When another party injures you through negligence, intentional tort, or other wrongdoing, Illinois personal injury laws provide a legal cause of action for damages. You can sue the responsible party to hold them financially liable for your lost wages, medical bills, pain, suffering, and other damages. 

However, your compensation could be reduced if you are partially to blame for causing your injury. Depending on your level of fault, you could be barred from receiving any money for damages under the rule of contributory fault.

What Is Contributory Fault?

What Is Contributory Fault?

Contributory fault or contributory negligence is a tort rule that bars an injured party from receiving damages if they contributed to the cause of their injury. You could be just 1% at fault for an accident and be barred from receiving any compensation for a personal injury claim. 

For example, suppose you were distracted during your slip and fall accident. A jury might find that you and the store both share blame for your injury.

Under the contributory fault rule, you could not recover any compensation for your slip and fall claim. Only four states and the District of Columbia have adopted this harsh rule for personal injury cases. 

What is Comparative Negligence?

Under the legal theory of comparative negligence, an injured party can still receive compensation for damages. However, your damages will be reduced to account for your share of fault.

For example, suppose a jury awards you $750,000 for a car accident claim. However, the jury finds that your actions contributed to the cause of the car crash by 40%. 

The judge would reduce your damages award by 40% or $300,000. Therefore, instead of receiving $750,000 for your car accident case, you would receive $450,000 because you were 40% at fault for causing the car wreck.

What Standard Does Illinois Use for Personal Injury Cases?

Illinois uses a modified comparative fault standard for personal injury claims. Illinois Compiled Statute 735 5/2-116 sets a 51% bar for contributory fault cases. Therefore, if you are more than 50% at fault for causing your injury, you cannot recover any money for a personal injury claim. However, if you are less than 51% to blame, your compensation is reduced by your level of fault. 

Damages in a personal injury case include economic and non-economic losses. The Illinois contributory fault law applies to all damages. 

Examples of the types of damages you could receive for a personal injury case include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Out-of-pocket expenses 
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Permanent impairments, disfigurement, and disability
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Personal and long-term care
  • A decrease in quality of life
  • Rehabilitative care and therapy

Carefully documenting your damages increases the value of your personal injury claim. If you do not know how much the damages are worth or do not understand what damages you can receive, seek legal advice before accepting an insurance settlement offer. Your personal injury case could be worth much more than the settlement offer.

Ways You Can Protect Yourself Against Allegations of Contributory Fault for a Chicago Personal Injury Case

The insurance company and at-fault party will try to avoid liability for your damages. Therefore, they will use contributory fault laws to their advantage whenever possible.

It is best not to say anything that could be interpreted as admitting fault for an accident. For example, just saying “I’m sorry” after an accident could be twisted to argue that you were admitting you caused the accident.

Avoid answering questions for the insurance company until you speak with a Chicago personal injury lawyer. Do not agree to discuss the accident or your injuries on a recorded telephone line. Also, do not agree to provide written or recorded statements without legal advice.

You should avoid using social media during your personal injury case. Comments, photos, tags, and posts could hurt your case. 

It is best not to discuss the accident with anyone other than your attorney’s office. Even though you need to discuss your injuries with your doctors, you do not need to discuss how the accident occurred for them to treat your injuries. Focusing on your symptoms and signs of injuries during your medical appointments is better and safer.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys understand the tactics insurance companies use to deny and undervalue your personal injury claim, including allegations of contributory fault. We fiercely fight unjust allegations of blame to protect your right to fair compensation for damages. Call the Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers at (312) 929-2884 to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help you get the money you deserve after an injury or accident.