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Understanding Illinois Law Regarding Shared Fault in Personal Injury CasesIn the majority of injury-causing accidents, determining why an accident occurred is not simple and straightforward. There may be many variables that combined to cause a “perfect storm” of circumstances. For example, in a drunk driving accident, the driver’s intoxication may not be the only reason the accident occurred. It may also have been raining, the road may have been in poor condition, or the other driver involved in the collision may have glanced down at his or her phone moments before the crash. In situations involving shared fault, who is deemed legally responsible for the harm caused in the accident? Illinois follows a legal doctrine called modified comparative negligence when a person’s injury was partially his or her fault and partially the fault of another party.

Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence

There are two main ways that states handle personal injury cases involving shared liability: comparative negligence or contributory negligence. In states that follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, if an injured person contributed to his or her own injury, he or she cannot collect compensation. This is considered an unreasonable rule in many people’s eyes because a person who is only one percent at fault for an injury is barred from collecting compensation from a party who was 99 percent responsible. Fortunately, Illinois is a comparative negligence state. This means that an injured person can still collect damages even if he or she is partially at fault for the injury-causing accident.

Illinois followed a slightly modified version of comparative negligence which is sometimes referred to as the “51-Percent Bar.” According to the rules of modified comparative negligence, an injured party may be eligible for compensation as long as he or she was not 51 percent or more responsible for his or her injuries. However, the amount of compensation he or she can receive will be reduced according to his or her percentage of fault. For example, if an injured party requested $50,000 in a lawsuit for a slip and fall accident but the court found him to be 20 percent responsible for the accident, he would receive $40,000.   

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Nursing Home Neglect May Lead to Recurrent BedsoresResidents in a nursing home may have physical and mental disabilities that make them dependent on nursing home staff for help with daily living tasks like showering, eating, and taking medication. Some residents may also have significantly reduced mobility. They may be unable to get in and out of bed on their own or need help changing positions in their bed or wheelchair. Staying in one position for too long puts pressure on the skin and can cause painful bedsores. If a resident is experiencing frequent bedsores or bedsores that are not properly addressed, this may be a sign that he or she is suffering from nursing home neglect.

Causes and Treatment of Bedsores

Bedridden or immobile nursing home residents are very susceptible to bedsores. Also called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, bedsores are caused by unrelenting pressure that cuts off circulation to the skin. Bedsores can be very painful and may lead to serious infections or even sepsis. Nursing home staff must periodically reposition residents so that a body area does not receive long periods of pressure. If a bedsore does develop, staff should ensure that the wound is kept clean and protected by gauze or other appropriate dressings. The staff should carefully monitor the resident for signs that the bedsore is worsening or has become infected. In some cases, the wound may require debridement, skin grafts, or other major medical intervention.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act (NHCA) protects the rights of individuals living in nursing homes. The act asserts that nursing home residents have all of the rights that any other individual would have under state and federal law. It also gives residents the right to be free from physical and chemical restraints except under very specific circumstances, the right to manage their own financial affairs, the right to privacy, and many other rights. Most importantly, nursing home residents have the right to be free from neglect and abuse. The NHCA states that an owner and licensee are liable for any negligent or intentional act or failure to act that injures a resident. When nursing home staff fail to provide reasonable care to residents and the resident is injured or killed as a result, the nursing home may be legally responsible for the harm caused. The injured resident or his or her family may be entitled to damages. They may receive compensation for medical expenses caused by the injury, pain and suffering, and more.

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How Can I Get Compensation For Medical Bills Caused by a Dog Bite?There are more than 76 million dogs living in homes across the United States. While the majority of these animals will never harm a human, dog attacks do happen. Dog bites can cause considerable damage, both physically and mentally. A person who is bitten by a dog may suffer deep puncture wounds and lacerations, torn ligaments, broken bones, and more. Because of the high level of bacteria in dogs’ mouths, these wounds may also become infected. Medical bills can quickly add up after a dog bite, but a personal injury lawsuit may help a dog bite victim recover compensation for these and other expenses.

When Is an Owner Responsible for a Dog Attack?

If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, you may wonder whether or not the owner is legally responsible for the damage caused by the attack. According to Illinois law, a dog owner is liable for bite-related injuries if the injured person was in a public place or lawfully on private property when the bite occurred and the dog was not provoked. If you were bitten while you were walking on a public sidewalk, for example, the owner would most likely be considered liable for the injury. However, if you were bitten while taking a shortcut through someone else’s backyard and you did not have permission to be on the property, the dog owner would likely avoid liability.

Illinois Is a Strict Liability State

In some states, a dog owner is not responsible for injuries caused by a dog attack if the owner had no reason to believe that the dog was aggressive. However, Illinois follows “strict liability” when it comes to injuries caused by a dog. This means that even if a dog has never bitten someone before, the owner may still be liable. The theory of strict liability applies to injuries caused by a dog bite as well as non-bite injuries. For example, if you were knocked to the pavement by a dog and suffered a concussion, the owner may still be legally responsible. You may be entitled to damages including but not limited to:

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How Do Helmets Influence Personal Injury Lawsuits Involving a Motorcycle Accident?For motorcycle enthusiasts, nothing compares to the feeling of the first motorcycle ride of spring. Illinois winters can be especially dreary, so many motorcyclists are eager to get back on the road as soon as warmer weather arrives. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are not uncommon, and many result in serious injuries or death. Experts estimate that motorcyclists are about 27 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than motorists driving a car. A person who is hurt in a motorcycle accident may be left with substantial expenses that are not covered by health insurance. If another party’s negligence led to the accident, it is very possible that the injured person will be entitled to compensation. If negligence led to a motorcyclist’s death, his or her surviving family may also be entitled to compensation.

What If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?

Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is similar to wearing a seatbelt in a car. Everyone knows that these precautions help prevent injuries in the event of an accident, but they may not always remember to take these precautions. Motorcyclists hurt in an accident often wonder if they can still collect compensation for an accident even if they were not wearing a helmet. While helmets are not required by Illinois law, failure to wear a helmet can impact Illinois personal injury claims involving motorcycle accidents.

It is important for motorcyclists to know that they can pursue compensation via an injury claim even if they were not wearing a helmet at the time of their accident. Illinois personal injury claims are subject to “modified comparative negligence.” This means that an injured party can still bring an injury lawsuit even if he or she partially contributed to his or her own injuries. As long as the injured party is not found to be more than 50 percent responsible for his or her injuries and property damage, he or she may still be eligible for partial compensation. If the injured party is found to be partially responsible for his or her injuries, the compensation he or she receives may be reduced according to his or her percentage of fault. For example, if a motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet when he or she was struck by a drunk driver, it could be argued that his or her head injuries would have been reduced if he or she was wearing a helmet. However, the drunk driver still holds the majority of fault for the accident. If the motorcyclist was found to be 25 percent at-fault for his or her injuries, the compensation he or she receives is reduced by 25 percent.

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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Illinois?Wrongful death is defined as a death that occurred due to the negligent or wrongful actions of another party. Wrongful death lawsuits may follow a death caused by a drunk driver accident, workplace accident, construction accident, assault, medical malpractice, and more. Through a wrongful death claim, a surviving loved one may receive compensation for the expenses and losses incurred by the death. This may include compensation for medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, mental anguish, and the loss of companionship. If you have recently lost a loved one, you may wonder who is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim in Illinois.

Determining Whether a Successful Wrongful Death Claim Is Possible

Not every unexpected death qualifies as wrongful death. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act states that a party may be liable to an action for damages if:

  • The death of a person was caused by the party’s neglect, wrongful act, or default; and
  • If the person had not died, he or she would have been entitled to recover damages for his or her injuries

Most wrongful death claims involve a party who was negligent. A successful wrongful death claim based on negligence is possible when the responsible party has a duty of care, the party breached that duty, an individual dies as a result of the breach of duty, and damages are incurred.

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