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3 approaches to assigning liability for slip and fall accidents

Hazards to personal safety exist throughout Illinois. A broken stair rail or icy sidewalk could cause a person to slip or fall. In some cases, victims might be partially at fault for their injuries, but laws have been developed that could allow such injury victims to still recover a portion of damages. The legal rules of contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence guide the determination of liability.

Contributory negligence represents the most limiting law for victims. Someone who can be shown to have been even 1 percent at fault for an injury would not have any legal claim for damages upon the property owner where the accident occurred. Pure comparative negligence treats victims with greater generosity. The accident investigation will decide the percentage of the victim's fault and then assign the remaining liability to the property owner. For example, someone who was 90 percent at fault could still potentially collect 10 percent of damages.

Under modified comparative negligence, a court or insurance company would determine which party was most at fault. An accident that can be at least 51 percent attributed to the actions of the injured person would not oblige the property owner to pay a settlement. If the person was less than 51 percent responsible, then the remaining portion of liability could be assigned to the property owner.

A victim of a slip-and-fall accident might choose to consult an attorney before filing a personal injury claim. The lawyer could inform the victim about the approach to calculating liability. If some or all of the negligence can be laid at the property owner's feet, then the attorney may prepare the lawsuit. This action would entail documenting the evidence about the responsible party's negligence.

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