How Third-Party Claims Are Decided in Illinois
Unlike with workers’ compensation claims, which operate on a “no-fault” basis, those filing third-party liability suits will need to prove that the offending party’s negligence directly contributed to their injuries. You will likely need experienced legal assistance to clear this legal standard.
To prove negligence in a third-party liability claim, you must establish that:
- The third party had a duty of care. What this means depends on the circumstances of the incident. If a vendor caused an injury at a worksite, for example, they had an obligation to exercise reasonably safe behavior around everyone present there. If you were injured by a random individual in a car accident, the driver had a duty to operate their vehicle safely.
- The third party breached their duty of care. Once some manner of duty of care has been established, you must demonstrate that the third party violated their responsibilities. For a vendor at a worksite, this might mean not following established safety protocols. For a random driver, it might mean texting instead of keeping their eyes on the road.
- The third party’s breach directly caused the incident. Behaving inappropriately is not enough: You must prove a causal relationship between the failure and the incident. A vendor failing to alert those at the site to imminently moving machinery might cause a piece of equipment to strike you, for example. A driver’s inattention due to texting may cause them to run a red light and hit your vehicle.
- The incident caused by the third party’s breach led to your injuries. Finally, you must prove that the incident directly led to physical, emotional, and/or financial injuries.
Proving fault in a third-party liability suit can be difficult in the first place, but Illinois also adjudicates these cases under “comparative negligence” rules. This means that your role in the incident will also be evaluated as part of the lawsuit, with a jury deciding to what extent you were responsible for your injuries.
Percentage of Fault
In determining comparative negligence, both you and the third party will be assigned a percentage of fault. For example, you might be found to have been 30% at fault, while the third party is assigned 70% of the blame. You can be found partially at fault – even if you were the one injured – if there is evidence that you were not following appropriate safety protocols or were otherwise engaging in reckless behavior.
Your percentage of fault will determine the total amount of damages you can potentially recover. If a judge ultimately awards $100,000 in damages but you are determined to be 30% at fault, you will have your total award reduced by 30%, leaving you only able to recover $70,000. If you are found to have been 51% responsible for the accident or higher, you will not be entitled to recover any damages at all.
How We Can Help You with Third-Party Liability Claims
You should assume that the third party you are pursuing legal action against will have quality legal representation. If the third party is a company, they will likely be represented by an insurance company experienced in adjudicating these matters.
Our Law Firm can help you explore your options after an automobile accident and vigorously represent your interests in and out of the courtroom. We have decades of experience and can leverage our knowledge to benefit your case.
A successful third-party liability claim can entitle you to recover damages for property damage, healthcare costs, lost income, physical and emotional injuries, and more. Our team will work to recover the damages you need to recover and get your life back on track.
Discuss your legal options for third-party liability claims in a free initial consultation with our Kenny Law Firm. Call (312) 647-2483 or contact us online!