Weather forecasters are predicting that the Midwest will enjoy a winter that’s drier and milder than normal, thanks to El Nino weather pattern, but we’re certain to see a few snow and ice storms before spring arrives. And with winter weather comes the risk of injuries from slip-and-fall accidents. If you’ve fallen on someone else’s property, a Chicago personal injury lawyer can review the specifics of your accident. If the property owner or tenant was negligent in clearing snow and ice off of sidewalks and other parts of the property, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
The Basics of Illinois’s Personal Injury Law
Under Illinois law, if you’re injured as a result of another person’s negligent, reckless or intentional actions, you can receive compensation – known as damages – for your accident-related losses.
You have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. This deadline, known as the statute of limitations, is shortened to one year if your claim is against a city or county government. If your accident occurs on state-owned property, you must file a formal claim with the government within one year and must file a lawsuit within two years of your accident if you can’t reach a settlement with the government. Because lawsuits can take months to prepare, you should hire a Chicago personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
Illinois’s Comparative Fault Rule
If your lawsuit is successful, the damages you’ll receive are intended to compensate you for your accident-related expenses. These may include:
- Medical expenses related to your injuries, including the cost of doctors, hospitals, rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Medical supplies such as prescription drugs or crutches
- The cost of transportation to and from medical appointments
- The cost to repair or replace any property that was damaged in your accident, such as ripped or torn clothing
- Lost wages if you’re unable to work as a result of your accident
- Any temporary or permanent disability you suffer because of your slip and fall accident
- Pain and suffering
- Other accident-related expenses
But before you start counting your money, it’s important to understand Illinois’s “comparative fault” rule. Under this system, any damages you receive will be reduced in direct proportion to your share of the blame for the accident.
Let’s assume you’re injured after a slip-and-fall accident on a sidewalk that hasn’t been shoveled and have $100,000 in accident related expenses. The comparative fault rule could be applied in different ways depending on the circumstances of your accident.
Imagine it’s impossible to walk around the un-shoveled sidewalk because there’s a fence on one side and a huge snowdrift on the other side. Despite walking slowly and cautiously, you still fall. The jury hearing your case might reasonably determine that you bear 0 percent of the responsibility for your accident and the property owner bears 100 percent. You’d be awarded $100,000.
Now imagine the sidewalk is un-shoveled, but you’re talking on your phone and aren’t paying attention to where you’re walking. The jury might determine you bear 45 percent of the blame, and your compensation would be reduced by 45 percent to $55,000.
Finally, imagine that one side of the walkway is shoved and the other side isn’t. You’re not paying attention because you’re on your phone, and you walk on the un-shoveled side, where you slip, fall and are injured. In that case, the court might determine that you bear 75 percent of the blame for your accident – and that’s where you’re in trouble. Under Illinois law, if you are 50 percent or more to blame for your accident, then you cannot recover any damages in connection with your accident.
Hire a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer
As soon as possible after your accident, call the Chicago personal injury lawyers at Cogan & Power, P.C., at (312) 477-2500. Our team of attorneys will schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to review the details of your accident at our downtown Chicago office or the location of your choice. We’ll help determine whether you have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit and discuss your legal options. But don’t delay – you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit, and will be unable to recover any compensation if you allow the statute of limitations to expire.