A minor car accident may ruin your plans for the day, but a serious one could change the course of your entire life. If you were recently injured in a crash that someone else caused, you may find yourself dealing not only with severe physical harm but significant financial and emotional losses as well. However, you should not have to pay for these costs if another person is responsible for the wreck.
Fortunately, help is available from a qualified Elgin car accident lawyer if you want to file suit against another person or entity whose negligence resulted in your collision. Beyond just collecting evidence of liability and representing your best interests in and out of court, an experienced personal injury attorney could help you pursue compensation for every injury and loss you are eligible for.
Establishing Liability for a Car Crash in Elgin
Car crashes are the most common source of personal injuries in Illinois. However, pursuing civil litigation over one may not be a simple matter. To hold someone liable for a car accident, an injured plaintiff must prove the defendant in their civil case was legally negligent. This means they must prove the following criteria are true:
- A duty of care existed between the defendant and the plaintiff
- The defendant did something reckless or careless that constituted a breach of their duty of care
- The defendant’s breach of duty proximately caused a collision
- The collision in question directly resulted in the plaintiff suffering compensable damages
Everyone who operates a motor vehicle on a public roadway owes all other drivers on the road a duty to act reasonably and obey the law, so the existence of a duty of care is almost never in dispute in car accident cases. However, where things get complex is proving that the accident and the plaintiff’s subsequent damages would not have occurred were if the defendant had not acted recklessly. And that proof must be based on a preponderance of available evidence. This is where the assistance of a local car accident attorney is often critical.
Legal Presumptions for Car Accident Liability
Car accident liability is often determined based on several legal presumptions. For instance, if somebody has a duty to yield and they breach that duty, they are usually presumed to be liable for an ensuing collision. If a person is injured in an intersection crash where another driver failed to yield right of way, a car accident attorney could use this as strong evidence of fault.
On the other hand, a skilled lawyer could help an injured victim overcome these legal presumptions based on other factors. For example, say a driver was traveling straight through an intersection and collided with a motorist turning left. The left-turning vehicle is usually presumed liable, as they have a duty to yield to oncoming traffic. However, if the car traveling straight was speeding and reached the intersection faster than they should have, they could be held liable for the collision.
To prove this, an attorney would need to gather strong evidence of the circumstances, such as witness statements or video footage. Legal presumptions do not always accurately reflect what happened in Elgin car accidents, so it is important to work with a lawyer who could thoroughly investigate the crash.
Potential Limitations on Filing Suit
Defendants are not the only parties in civil lawsuits who can bear liability in the eyes of the court. If a civil court determines that the injured plaintiff was also negligent to some degree, 735 Illinois Compiled Statutes §5/2-1116 grants the court the authority to reduce that plaintiff’s final damage award proportionately by their degree of fault. Additionally, if the plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault for their own injuries, they are ineligible to file suit and cannot recover any compensation at all.
It is also important for plaintiffs to be aware of the statute of limitations set by 735 ILCS §5/13-202 as well. If an injured plaintiff in Elgin does not file suit within two years of the date their accident occurred, they may be barred from recovery at all.
Get in Touch with an Elgin Car Accident Attorney Today
It can be hard to know what to do after being involved in a car accident, especially if it left you with severe injuries and financial losses. Filing a civil lawsuit may seem like the best course of action, but without professional legal guidance, it could be difficult to effectively prove negligence and achieve a positive case result.
Seeking help from an experienced Elgin car accident lawyer is a good idea if you want to maximize your chances of success. To talk with a legal professional about how they could help you with your claim, call today to set up a consultation with the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd.