Car Accidents

Like other states, Illinois imposes responsibilities on every person to whom the state issues a driver’s license. Getting behind the wheel of a car includes a duty to exercise reasonable care while operating the vehicle.  Chicago car accidents happen.  A person who has been injured or whose car has been damaged can ask the courts to decide if another driver has violated the duty of care and should compensate him for his losses.

Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care. A driver may be held liable for injuries and damages that result from acts that the driver knew or should have known would likely cause an accident. A failure to stop those acts may qualify as a lack of reasonable care. For example, a person may fail to use reasonable care when he runs a red light, drives through an intersection, and hits another car

The negligence of a driver must be the proximate cause of the damages suffered by the person filing a lawsuit. More simply, the driver’s negligence must have led to the victim’s injury. For example, a person involved in a Chicago car accident who complains of lower back pain likely will not get compensation if the pain is the result of an old injury suffered years before the accident. However, compensation could be possible if the car accident aggravated a pre-existing condition

Illinois allows a person who suffers property damage or personal injury to recover damages. The damages are classified as either economic or non-economic. Economic damages include lost earnings, medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and repair or replacement of damaged property. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering, as well as compensation for a disability.

Even so, a person can reduce the potential damages in an injury lawsuit through his own fault or negligent conduct. Illinois is a comparative negligence state. If a court or jury decides that an injured person’s own negligence was a contributing factor in causing the accident, the court will reduce the damages award by the injured party’s percentage of negligence. For example, in a lawsuit resulting in an award of $50,000 for injuries sustained in an accident, the court would reduce the award by $5,000 if the injured person was 10 percent negligent.

It is important to know which person to sue after a car accident.  Illinois law makes a driver responsible for damages caused by his negligent operation of a vehicle. If the driver was operating the car in the course of his employment, the employer could also be liable in a lawsuit.  In addition, a passenger in a vehicle that causes an accident may sue the vehicle owner for damages. If the owner was not present in the car, the law in Illinois limits his liability to situations in which the owner knew that the person to whom he gave his car was a reckless or inexperienced driver.

An injured person must file a lawsuit arising out of a Chicago car accident within a certain period of time known as the statute of limitations. Illinois has one statute of limitations for accidents causing personal injuries and another one for accidents where only property damage occurs. Consult with an attorney immediately after a vehicle accident happens to find out which statute of limitations applies.