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Understanding Comparative Negligence in a Slip and Fall Accident [infographic]

Written by Ankin Law Office

Comparative negligence is used to describe the share of fault attributable to each party in a slip and fall accident case. To win a slip and fall lawsuit in Illinois, the injured party must prove that the property owner was negligent in providing safe property conditions and/or maintenance of the property, and that the owner’s negligence was primarily responsible for the accident. Because the amount recovered is reduced by the percentage of fault held by the victim, comparative negligence can significantly impact a plaintiff’s verdict.

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Understanding comparative negligence infographic

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Proving Comparative Negligence

In slip and fall cases, comparative negligence has to do with whether the plaintiff was negligent in connection with the accident. Comparative negligence compares the degree of fault between the plaintiff and the defendant. Although property owners have a duty to keep property safe from dangerous conditions that could cause injuries, that doesn’t always mean that the owner was negligent if injuries occur.

Property owners have a duty to provide reasonable care and protect invited parties from unreasonable risks of harm. If a person suffers injuries on the property due to a breach of this duty, the owner can be held liable for injuries. The accident victim must prove that the property owner knew, or should have known that the property was unsafe, and failed to take reasonable steps to repair the problems.

In some slip and fall accidents, the victim may contribute to his/her own injury by lack of attention or outside distractions. In such cases, the rules of comparative negligence may be used by the court to determine the percentage of fault between the injured party and the property owner. A court or insurance company will only determine the injury victim’s comparative negligence after it determines the property owner’s liability. If the property owner is not determined negligent, comparative negligence will not be used. However, if the property owner is proven negligent, the court will use comparative negligence to determine the degree of liability. In slip and fall cases where the defendant and the plaintiff are both at fault, the court has to compare each party’s percentage of liability.

The plaintiff’s degree of fault will reduce the amount of his/her awarded damages. For example, if the court awards total damages of $100,000 and the plaintiff is found to be 40 percent at fault, recovery will be reduced by 40 percent, awarding the plaintiff $60,000.

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