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Learn about our firm and how our expertise in personal injury cases will ensure that you receive the best possible outcome to your case.

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In a personal injury case, what is contributory negligence?

Many prior posts on this Chicago personal injury law blog have discussed the important legal concept of negligence. Negligence is a theory on which liability in a lawsuit may be based and implies that an individual, who owed another a duty of care, committed actions or inactions that led to the detriment of another party. However, negligence is not a simple concept and not always exclusive to one actor in an incident. For example, when a car accident occurs on a Chicago-area road, more than one driver may be to blame.

The state of Illinois has on its books a contributory negligence statute. Contributory negligence is the negligence that an accident victim may commit during the occurrence of the event, which in turn causes his harm. Depending upon how much a victim contributes to the accident that left him injured, the recovery of his damages may be limited or even barred.

In Illinois, 50 percent is the threshold at which a victim's ability to recover losses is cut off. That means that if an individual's negligence was more than 50 percent of the cause of the accident then he cannot recover losses from the other party who contributed to the accident. If a victim's negligence is determined to be less than half at fault of the accident, then he can recover his damages in proportion to the other actor's level of liability.

A lawsuit is a legal tool that victims may use to recover damages and return their lives to what they were before suffering personal injuries and other accident-related losses. However, individuals involved in car accidents should be aware that contributory negligence can reduce or eliminate their recoveries. Contributory negligence does not apply in all motor vehicle accident cases, but those who are confronted by it should be prepared to defend themselves and argue to show the defendant's negligence. Individuals who wish to learn more about their options for pursuing negligence-based litigation may wish to speak with personal injury attorneys.

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