Negligence – Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer
Negligence is the failure to exercise the care that a reasonable person would use under the same or similar circumstances. Negligence is not concerned with whether someone intended to cause harm. Instead, the focus is on whether someone acted reasonably or whether they acted carelessly.
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are based on negligence. For a plaintiff to recovery in a negligence action in Illinois, the plaintiff must prove: 1) the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care; 2) a breach of that duty of care; 3) causation; and 4) damages. All four elements must be proven by a preponderance of evidence standard, meaning each element must be proven as more probably true than not. If the plaintiff cannot prove all four elements, then they cannot recover anything.
The most common negligence cases involve auto accidents, premises liability or slip and fall cases, and professional negligence cases. In an auto case, negligence often revolves around whether the defendant was traveling too fast for conditions or failed to keep a proper lookout for others. In a premises liability case, negligence typically depends on whether the defendant’s property was unreasonably dangerous. In a professional negligence case such as for medical malpractice, proving negligence typically requires expert testimony that the defendant deviated from the accepted standards of care.
In a negligence case, the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s breach of care caused the plaintiff’s injuries or damages. Causation requires both factual cause and legal cause. Factual causation asks whether the defendant’s negligence was, in fact, the cause of the plaintiff damages. That is, but for the defendant’s conduct, the plaintiff would not have been injured or harmed. Legal cause requires proof of foreseeability. That is, the plaintiff must prove that it was reasonably foreseeable that the defendant’s conduct would or could cause injury or harm. Finally, to prove causation, the defendant’s negligence need not be the sole or only cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff need only prove the defendant’s negligence was a cause of the injuries or damages.
In Illinois, damages available to plaintiffs in a negligence case are compensatory in nature, rather than punitive. Within compensatory damages, there are economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are financial damages that resulted from the negligent conduct. In typical personal injury cases, these economic damages often include medical expenses and lost wages that were incurred in the past and any such damages that are likely to occur in the future. Non-economic damages in personal injury cases can include past and/or future pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and/or emotional distress.
In choosing a lawyer to handle a negligence case, it is important to select one that has the knowledge, skill, and motivation to properly prosecute the case. Chicago personal injury lawyer Jason M. Kroot has been successfully handled over a hundred negligence cases, including those involving car accidents, premises liability, product liability, and medical malpractice. For further information, feel free to contact Kroot Law, LLC for a free consultation.