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Illinois Negligence Laws

Maybe it was a fender bender in traffic in The Circle. Or maybe you slipped on that section of the sidewalk your neighbor never shovels. Either way, if you're injured and you think it was someone else's fault, you may be asking yourself if you have a negligence claim. So how does such a claim work, and what are the state laws regarding how much you can get for your injuries?

Here's a brief summary of negligence laws in Illinois.

Elements of a Negligence Case

Negligence describes a situation when someone owes a duty to another person and fails in that duty, therefore becoming liable for any resulting injuries reasonably related to a person's negligence. For example, a surgeon who leaves a scalpel inside of a patient which causes an infection may be held liable for medical malpractice. Illinois negligence laws recognize contributory negligence, in which the plaintiff can also be found to be partially at fault for his or her own injuries.

If you believe someone else was negligent and therefore liable for your injuries, in order to win in court you must prove all of the elements of a negligence case:

  • Duty: the defendant owed you a duty of care;
  • Breach of Duty: the defendant failed to meet that duty;
  • Cause in Fact: but for this failure, you would not have been injured;
  • Proximate Cause: this failure (and not something else) caused your injury; and
  • Damages: you have actually been injured and suffered some loss.

For instance, one of the elements is "damages," meaning you must have suffered damages (injuries, loss, etc.) in order for the defendant to be held liable. Therefore, even if you can prove that the defendant indeed acted negligently, you may not collect damages if you didn't suffer any injury or loss.

Negligence Laws in Illinois at a Glance

State negligence laws can vary significantly depending on where you live and your specific circumstances. You can find an overview of the basic provisions of Illinois negligence laws, as well as links to relevant statutes, in the table below.


Illinois Statutes, Chapter 735, Act 5, Article II, Part 11, Section 5/2-1116 (Limitation on Recovery in Tort Actions)

Modified Comparative Negligence

Over 50% recovery barred; under 50% damages diminished in proportion to the plaintiff's percentage of fault. For example, if a judge or jury finds that the plaintiff was over 50% negligent/responsible for their own injuries, then they are barred from recovering any damages. If under 50%, then their damages are diminished in proportion to their percentage of fault

Contributory Negligence -- Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery


Contribution Among Tortfeasors

Yes, as per § 100.01 et seq. of the Illinois Statutes

Uniform Act


Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Illinois Negligence Laws: Related Resources

For additional information and resources, please visit the links listed below.

Get Legal Help with Your Negligence Case in Illinois

Illinois has a wide variety of tort laws that apply to cases from slip-and-falls to medical malpractice and more. Finding the right specialist who understands Illinois' modified comparative negligence rules can maximize your chances for the highest possible damage recovery.

If you have a personal injury matter that merits legal attention, you should contact an Illinois personal injury attorney to learn about your options.

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