One of the first steps many people take after a serious car accident is to determine fault. When you determine who was at fault, you can begin legal proceedings to recover compensation for any crash-related injuries, including medical bills, auto repairs, lost wages, and more. But what happens if no one appears to be at fault? Is it possible for a car accident to be no one’s fault?
What Is a No-Fault Car Accident?
A no-fault car accident is one in which there is no discernable at-fault party. Uncontrollable events, including a sudden traffic obstruction or a medical emergency, could be the cause of a so-called no-fault accident.
However, we know that car accident liability can be complicated, and even collisions that appear to have no discernible at-fault party are often the result of a person’s or entity’s negligent, reckless, or wrongful actions. Consider the following potential at-fault parties in a car accident:
- Other drivers
- A driver’s employer
- The manufacturer of a defective auto part
When considering who may be at fault for an accident, we must also consider how our state laws affect liability.
Is Illinois an At-Fault or No-Fault State?
Each state has the authority to set its own personal injury laws, which govern car accident liability. Most states are considered at-fault states, while a small minority are no-fault states. In a no-fault state, car accident victims must recover compensation from their own auto insurers regardless of who technically caused the accident.
Illinois is an at-fault state, which means that there must be an at-fault party from which you can recover compensation. More specifically, Illinois mandates modified comparative negligence rules.
Illinois’ Modified Comparative Negligence Rules
In Illinois, modified comparative negligence rules determine who may recover compensation for car accident damages and how much they are entitled to.
Who Can Recover Compensation for Car Accident Damages?
A crash victim is only legally entitled to compensation when it is determined that they are less than 50% at fault for the accident. If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle collision, be wary of any attempts by the other driver or their insurance company to assign a majority of the blame to you. All the insurance company has to do is prove that you were at least 50% responsible for the accident for you to lose all legal rights to compensation from the other driver.
To reduce the possibility of being blamed for an accident that was not your fault, Prince Law Firm recommends you do the following:
- Call the police – While still at the scene of the accident, call the police and ask them to send an officer to create an accident report.
- Take pictures of the accident scene – Take detailed pictures that show where the accident occurred, property damage to both vehicles, weather conditions, and evidence that may quickly disappear, such as skid marks and debris.
- Seek medical care – Have yourself evaluated for car accident injuries as soon as possible, either in the emergency room, at an urgent care location, or with your primary care doctor. Keep records of all your medical visits and take pictures of your injuries.
- Exercise caution when speaking with insurance adjusters – You will be contacted by an insurance adjuster soon after the accident. Be careful of your words and avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as you taking responsibility for the collision. Avoid speculation and stick to the facts.
- Contact an experienced car accident attorney – A serious motor vehicle accident can disrupt your life in more ways than one. To ensure you have access to the compensation you are fully owed under Illinois state law, contact an attorney here in Illinois to begin working on your case.
If you suspect that the other driver or their insurance company is trying to pin the entirety of the blame on you, contact Prince Law Firm to learn more about your rights after a car accident in Illinois.
How Much Is a Car Accident Victim Entitled to in Damages?
The exact amount of compensation to which you are entitled will depend on the details of your case, including the damages you’ve suffered and what percentage of fault you have been assigned. However, Marion car accident cases often involve compensation for both economic (financial) damages:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Auto repairs
And non-economic (non-financial) damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment in life
These examples are far from an exhaustive list of economic and non-economic damages you may be entitled to in a car accident claim. In a relatively small number of claims, victims are also entitled to something called punitive damages. Punitive damages are not awarded to compensate a victim for a specific loss, but to punish the at-fault party for intentional, fraudulent, or willful and wanton behavior.
Your total compensation award will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If the other driver was 100% at fault, you would receive the entirety of your award. If you were 20% at fault, your compensation would be proportionately reduced by 20%.
Who Pays for My Damages if Fault Isn’t Clear?
If you and the other driver were both equally at fault for the accident resulting in a 50/50 split of liability, you are not without options for recovering compensation. In this situation, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company.
While it would be nice to believe that your own auto insurer is on your side, you must remember that it is a business like any other. This means that its priority is making profits and improving the bottom line, not paying out car accident claims.
If your car accident case requires filing with your own insurer and they are denying your claim, do not hesitate to contact Prince Law Firm for help reviewing the details of your auto insurance policy.
Prince Law Firm Takes on Complex Car Accident Cases
If fault for your car accident is in dispute, it is essential that you secure knowledgeable and experienced legal guidance. If you try to take on the insurance company on your own, you risk losing out on some or all of the compensation you are owed.
The attorneys at Prince Law Firm offer free consultations to accident victims in Marion, IL and the surrounding areas. You’ll have the opportunity to sit down with an actual car accident lawyer to discuss the details of your case, whether you have a valid claim, and what compensation you might be entitled to. Illinois state law places a time limit on how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit, so do not delay—contact us to schedule your no-obligation case evaluation today.
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