As an at-fault modified comparative negligence state accidents in Illinois can often be complex in their court filings and awards. Every accident victim in the state, because of its at fault nature has a three pronged strategy for recovering damages, contacting their insurer, going directly after the insurance company of the person that caused the accident or through a civil suit against the person or insurer directly. For criminal charges there can be both a criminal and civil court proceeding.
Modified Comparative Negligence
For car accidents in Illinois being one of only a dozen or so states that ascribe to the modified comparative negligence 50 percent bar rule it can often be a surprise to victims how litigation, fault and awards are handled.
Comparative fault rules allow the possibility that multiple parties could be at fault for an accident. For example, you could be speeding when a vehicle aggressively pulls out in front of you causing you to hit them from behind. Both parties would be found at fault because you were going over the speed limit. In this case the aggressive driver may be ascribed 80% of the negligence while the speeder would be ascribed 20% blame.
These types of traffic accidents would result in the victim’s award being reduced by the amount of fault they are ascribed by the court, judge or jury. If the total damage including medical expenses were $20,000 for the speeder, their final award would only be $16,000 due to it being lowered by 20% the same amount as their ascribed fault in the accident.
This comparative fault scenario is of course if the matter is taken to a court proceeding without going through an insurance adjuster or mediator first. The need for legal representation in these situations becomes apparent when you realize that fault percentages are not empirical and are fully subjective to the decision-making body during the negotiations. If a person is found 50% or more at fault in Illinois they have no recompense to recover damages.
For traffic violations in Illinois, the state uses a point system to determine eventual license suspension. A first time offender with 15 points or more can receive a license suspension from 2 to 12 months whereas a repeat offender could receive a suspension between 4 to 12 months. Repeat offenders are measured within a 7 year time frame for look back offences.
Offenders under 21 often face stiffer penalties including license suspension for night time driving, license revocation for an alcohol related offense, or losing your license for 2 or more moving violations within a 2 year period.
Besides these penalties the local county or city jurisdiction also penalizes drivers with surcharges, fines and court fees that vary by location.
Considering that most traffic violations have a potential to increase your insurance costs and multiple violations can result in licenses suspension or revocation, it is often in the driver’s best interest to hire an attorney. Attorneys can often get violations reversed or lowered to a lesser fine or charge resulting in fewer points to their driver’s license. These lower violations often do not have resulting insurance ramifications as the higher point offenses.
As one of harshest states dealing with DUI offenses it is often advised for drivers to contact an attorney immediately upon being arrested and charged with a DUI.
DUI convictions in Illinois result in a minimum 1 year suspension, up to 1 year in jail, up to $2500 in fines and a mandatory ignition interlock device on the first offense. A second offense results in a minimum 5 year license suspension along with the other penalties as a first offense. A third offense results in jail time from 3-7 years and a minimum license suspension of 10 years as well as other penalties listed for first and second offenses.
There is a zero tolerance policy for drivers under 21, meaning a BAC of 0.0% for any driver under 21 years old. The state follows the national standard of 0.8% for adults and 0.4% for commercial drivers.
With one of the harshest DUI legislation in the country, a traffic violations point system and a complex at fault comparative negligence rules in place, hiring an attorney in Illinois is a smart move for accidents, traffic violations and DUIs.