Can I Sue If I Was Partially At Fault?
If you've recently been in a car crash, become injured as a result of slipping and falling, or were in any other kind of accident, you may be thinking about hiring a St. Louis personal injury lawyer and attempting to recover damages for your injuries and mental anguish. But in many accidents, the injured person may not have been partially responsible for causing the accident. Maybe they did not yield to oncoming traffic yet were still hit by a speeding truck, or were under the influence when they slipped, fell, and hurt themselves. Even though they may be within their rights to file a personal injury lawsuit, they may not do so because they believe their "guilt" will prevent them from winning a judgment or settlement.
The experienced St. Louis personal injury lawyers at Halvorsen Klote have encountered this situation multiple times. In both Missouri and Illinois, you do not need to be 100% "innocent" to file a personal injury lawsuit. We have helped many people on both sides of the river get the damages they deserve after an accident, even if they were partially at fault. Before you give us a call at 877-51-HKLAW or contact us online, you should take a look below at how Missouri and Illinois handle personal injury cases where both parties were at least partially at fault.
What Is Comparative Fault?
Traditionally, personal injury lawsuits operated on what was called the contributory negligence standard. Under this standard, when someone did not act like a "reasonable person" and were in an accident that caused an injury, they could be held responsible for the accident. This usually meant that the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit could file a counter-claim against the plaintiff, stating their injuries occurred at least partially due to the plaintiff's own actions. If proven, this meant that often a plaintiff would be entirely prohibited from recovering damages.
However, all but four states (plus the District of Columbia) in America have moved away from this standard. States began to recognize that placing a total ban on damage recovery because a plaintiff had only made a slight error in judgment or actions was quite harsh. Also, many of these counter-claims were filed maliciously or fraudulently, which only slowed down the wheels of justice. Most states now operate under what is known as the comparative fault standard, which means that damages can be split proportionally based on the degree both parties were at fault in an accident. There are two types of comparative fault standards, and it is essential to know that the standard is different in Missouri than it is in Illinois.
Comparative Fault in Missouri
Missouri is one of 13 states that uses the pure comparative fault system. As its name would suggest, this means that all awards or settlements are paid out in proportion to how much a judge or jury believes each party was responsible for the accident. For example, if a jury awards a $100,000 settlement but then decides that the plaintiff was 25% responsible for causing the accident, they would only receive $75,000.
Comparative Fault in Illinois
Illinois is part of the majority of American states--33 in total--that operates using the modified comparative fault standard for personal injury lawsuits. There are two different interpretations of this standard: the "51% rule" and the "50% rule". Illinois uses the former, which states that plaintiffs can only collect damages if they were not more at fault for the accident than the defendant, i.e. if they were not 51% at fault. (The 50% rule reverses that: the plaintiff must be less responsible than the defendant, which means that if both parties were equally responsible, no one can collect damages.) As in Missouri, Illinois reduces damages based on the percentage of fault, as well.
Talk To A St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer
Most personal injury or accident cases in Greater St. Louis are not always cut and dry. However, no matter whether you are in Missouri or in Illinois, even if you were somewhat responsible for an accident that caused you to become seriously injured, you can file a lawsuit to get at least a portion of the money you are entitled to receive.
The personal injury attorneys at Halvorsen Klote are experienced in dealing with Missouri and Illinois accident cases where the degree of fault was not always clear-cut. Call them today at 877-51-HKLAW or contact them online to discuss your case.