After getting into a car accident, your head may be swirling with worry about what to do next. Suffering injuries in a crash means that you have the right to file a personal injury claim for your car accident. This allows you to recover your expenses for the medical bills related to your injuries, lost wages, and other types of damages.
However, to establish fault in a car accident, you need to prove the four elements of negligence. Negligence in a personal injury claim involves duty of care, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages resulting from this injury.
The Elements of Negligence in Car Accidents and Personal Injuries
If you were injured in a car accident that someone else caused, you must show the elements of negligence were present.
Duty of Care
First, you need to show that the other driver owed you a duty of care. Essentially, every driver undertakes a duty of care every time they get behind the wheel. All drivers must operate their vehicles in a safe way and obey the laws of the road. Proper duty of care on the road looks like driving the proper speed limit, stopping at red lights or stop signs, avoiding distractions, and following traffic laws.
Breach of Duty of Care
While every driver has a duty of care to others on the road, it doesn’t mean that they have breached it by getting into an accident. To prove negligence, you need to show the other party’s actions or inactions breached their duty of care, such as speeding or running a light.
Causation means that the breach of duty led to the accident that caused your injuries. You must prove that without the breach, you would not have been injured or wound up with damages.
Damages are the final element of negligence. This can include the physical injuries you were left with in the aftermath, property damage, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
If your attorney can help show that the other party was negligent by meeting these four elements, you could receive compensation for your losses. However, in Illinois, there is a slight wrinkle that can change the outcome. Known as comparative negligence, it is one of the leading reasons why you will want to hire an attorney to lead the way through your car accident claim.
What Illinois Drivers Need to Know About Comparative Negligence
Maybe you can show that the other driver was negligent in the crash. Even so, in the state of Illinois, you may not receive anything if the other driver can successfully argue that you were also at fault for the accident.
Comparative negligence could turn your whole case upside down. Under this law, if you are found to share 50% or less of the fault for the accident, you will have your compensation reduced by your own percentage of fault. If you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you will not be able to recover any compensation.
In other words, if a jury awards you $100,000 in compensation but comparative negligence has been factored in with 20% of the fault assigned to you, then you would only recover $80,000. Often, when car accident victims try to represent themselves, they are blindsided with results like these. After sustaining serious injuries and incurring mountains of expenses because of someone else’s negligent driving, it isn’t fair for you to recover less and still face a heavy load of debt.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Hiring an auto accident lawyer is a better strategy than facing things alone. You’ll be able to get the time you need to rest and heal while they work to recover damages for your disability, emotional distress, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
An attorney will know how to avoid the common pitfalls in your car accident case. They can secure proper evidence to protect your rights and fight for what is fair.