When a car crash occurs, assessing fault and assigning liability is not always a simple process. Certainly, sometimes, a neglectful driver is distracted by using a cell phone while driving or perhaps staring at some spectacle on the other side of the street instead of keeping their eyes on the road and causes an accident. In that case, the responsible party is clear and liability is much easier to assess.
(Read our blog post that discusses the basics of automotive personal injury claims)
But what if a car accident is caused by multiple parties or entities? What if a combination of circumstances met to create the accident responsible for an injured party’s condition? What then? The fact is, a plaintiff has one bite of the apple when it comes to bringing a lawsuit after a car crash to recover damages for their injuries. If that injured party accepts the first quick settlement offer, they may end up leaving compensation on the table and forfeiting the opportunity to recover the full scope of compensation they are entitled to collect in such a circumstance.
Let’s say, for instance, you’re driving along a busy three-lane highway with new construction ahead. The three lanes have been merged to create two but signage to that effect is ambiguous or simply non-existent. Add to that, a reckless driver is focused more on their cell phone than the road changes ahead and ends up hitting your car as you observe the new lane route. Furthermore, the driver behind your car is driving way too close to your vehicle and is unable to stop in time when the accident occurs and rear-ends your car. This cluster of mishaps is clearly more complex than a simple distracted driver accident. Right? Well, so is determining fault.
An experienced personal injury attorney like those at Bizzieri Law Offices in Chicago will likely investigate all possible causes of the accident and determine that pursing damages from: (1) the municipality for not providing adequate warning of the new lane changes; (2) the distracted driver in the next lane that hit your car; and (3) the driver behind your vehicle that rear-ended you because they were driving too close, not adjusting for road conditions. The fact is pursuing damages from all responsible parties increases your chances of recovering the full scope of damages to which you’re entitled in this case.
In this particular case, the jury will likely assign fault proportionately to each of the parties found responsible for the accident. Should one or more of the defendants attempt to use the defense that you (the plaintiff) were partially at fault, the jury would then evaluate your own culpability. Ultimately in many states, a financial award would be divided in proportion to each responsible party’s level of responsibility for the accident.
Illinois follows a modified version of the doctrine of joint and several liability. Under the doctrine, multiple defendants are jointly and severally liable if their concurrent acts brought about an injury to the victim. This doctrine allows a plaintiff to recover the full value of a judgment from any one party determined to be at fault. That party is then able to seek contribution from the others found to be responsible for the accident.
The complexity of such an accident truly underscores the necessity to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in these kinds of cases. The attorneys at Bizzieri Law Offices in Chicago have the experience and the knowledge of Illinois personal injury law to adequately investigate and assess all possible parties at fault in your case. We work hard to recover the full scope of damages you’re entitled to in your claim, and we don’t collect a fee unless we recover damages in your case. Call us today at 773.881.9000 to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney and begin your journey to recover the damages you deserve.