Understanding Fault in Car Accidents: Legal Perspectives  


Illinois follows a fault-based model when determining negligence in motor vehicle accidents. This means that the person responsible for causing the accident can be held liable for damages incurred by the injury victim. Usually, this is done through the at-fault driver’s auto insurance or through a lawsuit.

However, before compensation for these damages can be awarded, negligence must be determined. Gaining a legal perspective on fault in car accidents can help you decide what to do next.

Assessing Negligence After a Car Crash

When someone is negligent behind the wheel and causes an accident, they will be held liable for your losses. This will require an investigation by the insurance companies of all involved drivers. They will look at various factors to see who was at fault based on whether someone was texting while driving, running a red light or stop sign, speeding, driving drunk, or engaging in any other negligent behavior.

If the other driver is determined to be negligent, that is only part of the equation for recovering your compensation. As the injury victim, you must also show that this accident caused your injuries and led to your damages.

Fault-based laws make it more challenging to prove these points. It could be even more difficult if the other driver left the scene. In the event of a hit and run accident, you may not find the other driver and need compensation through your own insurance company. Whether the at-fault driver remained on the scene or sped away, having an attorney gives you an advocate with the legal knowledge required to stand up for your rights.

What Happens in Accidents Involving Multiple Vehicles?

Car accidents in Illinois are already complicated enough when just two vehicles are involved. If there are more than two vehicles, each driver’s actions need to be evaluated to determine what level of responsibility they may have.

One of them may have clearly been the major cause of the crash and take on most of the liability. However, there is a chance that the other drivers could all be assigned their own percentages of fault in the accident, too. This is known as comparative negligence, and having an understanding of this legal concept can help you avoid some common pitfalls in the aftermath of accidents.

What Does Comparative Negligence Mean in Illinois Car Accidents?

Comparative negligence laws in Illinois assign fault to multiple drivers in a car accident. As such, you could be assigned partial responsibility for the accident, depending on the factors.

Illinois uses a modified comparative negligence law, which means you can still recover damages if you have less than 50% of the blame. Otherwise, you will be barred from recovering anything.

For example, you may have been going slightly over the speed limit at the time of a multi-vehicle crash. Even though you weren’t fully responsible, by speeding, you could be assigned a percentage of fault at 20%. With damages awarded at $100,000, it would then be reduced by this percentage, meaning you’d only be able to collect $80,000.

Some car accident victims wind up being assigned more blame than they deserve. This is one of the biggest reasons why most injury victims choose to hire an attorney to ensure they are represented fairly in a car accident case. There is great potential for complications in Illinois car accidents, especially when more vehicles are involved. Make sure you fully understand fault-based laws and your rights when you file your accident claim.

By Clare Louise