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Protect Your Rights By Filing A Negligence Lawsuit

The path that many accident victims use to seek justice is a negligence lawsuit. Illinois law allows plaintiffs in these claims to recover damages by proving four elements:

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  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff;
  • The defendant failed to comply with the required standard of care;
  • The defendant’s breach was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and
  • The plaintiff incurred actual damages as a result of the accident.

Regarding the first element, the specific duty is determined by the relationship between the parties. In typical situations, such as highway driving, people simply owe a duty of reasonable care to avoid exposing others around them to foreseeable hazards. Illinois courts have interpreted this to mean behaving in the same way that the ordinary person would act under similar circumstances. When an individual or entity behaves unreasonably, he or she has breached the duty. This can happen in countless ways on the road, including speeding, distracted driving, or running a red light.

The third element of a negligence claim, causation, may be complicated. For the victim to recover, the defendant’s actions must have directly caused the victim’s injuries. There are two sub-elements called actual and legal cause. Actual cause means that the plaintiff’s injury would have been avoided if the defendant had not breached the duty of care. Proximate cause means that the harm was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s acts or omissions.

To hold a negligent driver liable, a victim finally must prove that he or she incurred quantifiable damages. These can be both objective and subjective forms of harm. Objective costs might include medical expenses, damage to a vehicle or other property, and lost wages or lost earning capacity. More subjective damages might try to account for the pain and suffering that the victim experienced after the accident.

Hanaford Law Offices is a personal injury attorney providing high-quality legal services in Florida across Naples SW Florida and Chicago Illinois.