Negligence is a cause of action — or a part of the set of facts that makes a lawsuit appropriate — in virtually all personal injury cases. Negligence occurs when one party breaches its duty and causes harm to another.
Often, that “duty” is simply the duty to exercise reasonable care. If someone is driving carelessly by, for example, sending a text message behind the wheel, that person is not exercising reasonable care. If the careless driver causes a car accident, the driver or the driver’s insurance company may be liable for any injuries caused.
Entities (such as corporations) may also be liable for negligence. For example, a corporation might fail to maintain its property safely, and so someone is injured in a fall or other accident. Additionally, a company is vicariously responsible for the negligence of their employees if that negligence is committed within their scope of employment. A company is also at fault if it places an unreasonably dangerous, defective product into the stream of commerce.
If the defendant’s negligent behavior caused an injury to the plaintiff, then the defendant is liable for damages. Money damages may be awarded for, among other things, the plaintiff’s medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of normal life, court costs and attorney’s fees.
In many situations, both parties may have acted negligently, but one party is more at fault than the other. Car accidents often involve such circumstances. For a plaintiff to win a lawsuit and be awarded damages in the state of Illinois, the plaintiff’s share of the fault must be 50 percent or less. The damages award will be reduced according to the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault.
Under Illinois law, when more than one defendant caused harm to a plaintiff, they are each jointly liable for the full amount of the plaintiff’s medical expenses. Each defendant is jointly liable for damages if that defendant is 25 percent or more at fault; defendants that are less than 25 percent at fault are liable only according to their percentage of the fault.
If you have been injured and believe that your injuries were the result of another’s negligence, contact Briskman Briskman & Greenberg to discuss your case.