Understanding Illinois Injury Laws

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Illinois injury laws include a wide variety of concepts that spell out how the state’s statutes deal with strict liability, time limits for filing, damage caps, automobile-related injuries, and comparative fault.

When examining the entire field of Illinois injury laws, the points below should be kept in mind:

Damage Maximums

Before 2010, Illinois had only one damage cap within its personal injury statutes, and that was on the amount a plaintiff could receive in medical malpractice cases. That pre-2010 rule placed a cap on “non-economic” malpractice damage claims. However, a 2010 Illinois law negated that cap on the grounds that it was not in line with the state’s constitution.

While many states have various forms of damage caps in personal injury cases, Illinois currently does not have any, either for specific types of claims or as an overall monetary amount in injury cases.

Strict Liability

When it comes to dog bites, Illinois statutes are strictly construed against the animal’s owner. Even in cases of a first bite, state laws hold the owner completely responsible for any damage done by the animal to the injured party.

Automobile-Related Laws

Note that some states have “no-fault” auto injury statutes. Illinois, however, is what is commonly called a “fault” statute, which means that an injured party who did not cause the accident is allowed to sue the at-fault person’s insurance company, his or her own insurance company, or the at-fault person directly.

A car accident lawyer in Chicago can help a plaintiff determine who needs to be named in the claim.

Time Limits

Illinois has a hybrid system of time limits for filing and suing in injury claim cases. For civil cases, there is currently a two-year statute of limitations for filing.

Sometimes, depending on the particular circumstances in a given situation, the statute’s “clock” might not start running until the injured party actually “discovers” the injury.

In cases where citizens allege that they were injured by the state or by a municipality, they have just one year to file but two years to sue.

Any plaintiff in an injury case within the state of Illinois should pay close attention to the statute clock in such cases. That way, a timely claim can be filed if necessary.  

Comparative Fault Concepts

Some states, and Illinois is one of them, have a system that divides fault in certain accidents. This comparative method can assign a percentage of fault in cases where more than one person caused the injury. Many view the comparative fault method as a more fair way to handle cases where perhaps two, three, or more parties were the source of an injury.

Note, however, that according to a specific wrinkle in the Illinois statute of comparative fault, when a party is 50 percent at fault, that party will not be able to receive any damage award. The logic behind this rule is that if someone was “half responsible” for the injury occurring, then that party was at least equally responsible for creating the injury in the first place.  

Illinois Injury Law: The Big Picture

Like every other US state, Illinois has its own, unique set of personal injury statutes. Learning the particulars of the state’s legal system with respect to this area of the law is essential for gaining a general understanding about how the Illinois statutes deal with personal injury cases.

Accident victims who want to make a personal injury claim, or who need to defend against one, should immediately contact a competent Illinois injury lawyer and discuss the best approach to the situation.

References

A list of all Illinois compiled statutes on the state’s webite

A general overview of the topic of personal injury law

Chicago personal injury lawyers