More and more Americans are joining the workforce each day, and most of them do not live within walking distance of their employer. Commuting has become so synonymous with the “rat race” that some jobs come with stipends to encourage employees to use environmentally friendly means of travel when going to and from the workplace. It is inevitable, then, for accidents to happen during the times that most Americans are traveling. Regardless of the type of transportation used by a commuter involved in an accident, they are still protected by Illinois’ personal injury laws. These laws were created to help injured parties recover damages from someone who causes them harm, and the law does not care whether the accident occurred at noon, or during rush hour.
While the law does not distinguish between times of day in its coverage, it does take into account what type of transportation the injured person was using at the time of the injury. What is meant by that is that who the named responsible party (or parties) is depends on what kind of vehicle the person was injured by. For example, a commuter who is injured when a careless driver behind them hits them in a traffic jam will need to seek recovery from that person directly and/or his insurance company. However, a commuter who uses public transportation such as a bus or train would likely need to seek damages from multiple potential parties, including the municipality who regulates the transportation. In addition, given the larger potential class of injured individuals when there is an accident involving mass transit, an injured person should be prepared to spend more time in negotiations than an individual involved in a two car accident.
Under Illinois law, an injured party can recover the full amount of damages that he/she suffered after an accident so long as the fault lies entirely with the other party. The law allows for damage awards to be reduced by the percentage of fault shared by the injured party. This is called the “comparative fault rule” and can diminish an award by the percentage of fault, up to 50%. If the injured party is more than 50% at fault, however, a court will disallow any damages to be awarded as they are considered to be responsible for the accident. This is because the law was designed to protect innocent victims of accidents and providing them recourse to obtain needed monetary assistance to speed their recovery. So long as the injured party remains at or below 50% at fault for the accident, Illinois does not place a cap (or upper limit) on the damages that may be awarded to that person. What this means is that an injured person can be awarded a significant amount of money from the person(s) responsible for an accident in which they were injured. It is not uncommon, especially in cases involving mass transit, for an award to reach six or seven figures.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, or an accident involving public transportation, you do not have to face recovery alone. While you are busy trying to put the pieces of your life back together, the opposing side’s attorneys are working hard to limit their liability. Call Robert T. Edens, P.C today for a consultation with an experienced attorney, who will be on your side to ensure you receive the relief you are entitled to.