Illinois is one of several states where plaintiffs who share some responsibility in their own injuries may be bound by the rule of “Modified Comparative Negligence” to also share in some of the financial burden for their injuries. This simply means that damages may be awarded only in proportion to level of responsibility each party bears. When we say that states observe “modified” comparative negligence, it means that plaintiffs that are assessed 51% or more of the responsibility for their claims are awarded nothing.
In the state of Illinois, this modified comparative negligence applies to dog bite attacks and resulting injuries. When a plaintiff brings a personal injury claim seeking damages in a dog bite attack, it’s common for a defendant to claim that the plaintiff bears some or all of the responsibility for the attack. Should that defense prevail and the plaintiff is assessed 51% of the responsibility for the attack, they can expect to receive nothing for their trouble.
Quite often, determining what level of responsibility a plaintiff can be assessed in their own dog bite attack can be subjective. However, whatever that number, you can be confident it will reduce any damages you may be entitled to (sometimes to a great extent).
Let’s say, for example, that you encounter what seems to be a very docile and friendly dog sitting in a parked car with the window open slightly. You reach in to pet the dog and he bites you severely injuring tendons in your hand. Is the owner at fault for leaving the window ajar? Are you at fault for reaching into the car to pet the dog? There may be many factors at work in this case. What if the owner understood the dog have a history of dog bite attacks? Then some level of liability may be assessed to them. If you’re awarded damages under Modified Comparative Negligence how much of those damages you may actually receive depends on an often subjective judgement of just how much responsibility you should bear in your injuries.
Ultimately, in many of these cases, defendant will blame the plaintiff for their own injuries (at least in part), and the weight that that assertion can carry may damage your claim entirely.
For that reason, it’s vital that dog bite victims record and document all of the factors at play in their case from the very start, if possible. Tracking down witnesses to the incident, documenting the facts of your case from the outset and obtaining the counsel of experienced personal injury attorneys like those of Bizzieri Law Offices in Chicago can all be incredibly important steps to take to protecting your right to compensation.
The attorneys at Bizzieri Law Offices offer the experience and knowledge necessary to fight for your rights and we have the track-record of success to show for it. Call us today at 773.881.9000 if you have any questions about filing a personal injury claim. The initial consultation is free, and there’s no fee unless we win damages for you.