Interviewer: What happens if you’re in an accident and the police do cite you? At least the police say you caused part of the accident. Does that mean you case is doomed and you are not entitled to recovery?
Recovery Can Depend on the Facts of the Case; Were There Any Witnesses?
Harry Williams: If somebody that’s injured in an accident calls me and may have been given a ticket or the police officer had attributed some fault to them that does not necessarily negate the case. It depends on the facts of the case and it, more importantly, depends on whether there were any witnesses.
For instance, if there is an intersection accident, the person that calls me says that the accident was the other person’s fault. Of course, the other person says they had a green light and they met in the middle of the intersection, had a collision, then that’s going to be a difficult case to prove in court or to recover compensation on, unless there are some witnesses because it’s the “he said, she said” issue.
In Illinois, Liability Must Be Found at Less Than 50% in Order to Receive Recovery
In Illinois, when you go in front of a jury, if the jury finds that the party claiming that he or she was not at fault but that party is the one that files a lawsuit—if they find that party was 50% at fault or more—then that person cannot recover.
We have to be able to show a jury that the person that the person we claim as the at fault party, was more than 50% liable for the accident.
Your Recovery Can Be Reduced If It Found That You Were Partially at Fault for the Accident
Any time I have those kinds of cases where it’s up in the air, whether my client’s going to be 50% at fault or even 40%, I’ll ordinarily decline that case because it’s just too difficult to prove in court. If the jury finds, for instance, that my client is 30% at fault and the other person is 70% at fault, then the jury then has to determine what the award for bills and lost wages and pain and suffering should be for my client.
Then they have to reduce this by the percentage of negligence. In other words, if the jury says my client’s entitled to 50,000 and they say my client is 30% at fault, then they’re going to reduce it by 30%, which is 15,000 off of that, so that’s the reward.