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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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Are Motorists Always Liable for Bicyclist Injuries After an Accident?In Illinois, bicyclists are permitted to share the roads with cars as long as they abide by the rules of the road. Bicycles are considered "vehicles" when they ride on the road and must obey traffic laws in order to avoid a collision. 

However, accidents can happen even if everyone involved is trying to be as safe as possible. It can happen as a result of driver distraction or ignorance of the bicyclists. Either way, Illinois is an "at-fault" state which means whoever is responsible for the accident will pay for the damages and any injuries sustained after the incident. Since bicyclists have less protection than a motorist, injuries can be catastrophic.

What is Catastrophic Injury?

An injury that is so severe that it alters a victim's way of life forever is considered "catastrophic." This can include: 

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