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Factors That May Reduce Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

February 15, 2023

When you get hurt in an accident in Illinois, it is important to understand the factors that may reduce damages in a personal injury claim. There are several considerations that will impact how much you are entitled to recover.

The experienced attorneys at Coplan + Crane have built a reputation for excellence in personal injury matters in Chicago. We are committed to helping our clients obtain the maximum compensation they deserve for losses caused by others’ negligence. Call us now for a FREE case review.

5 Factors That Can Affect Damages a Personal Injury Claim in Illinois

What are some examples? Here are five factors that can impact the value of a personal injury claim in Illinois: 

1. Comparative Negligence

The first factor that can reduce damages in a personal injury claim is comparative negligence. Illinois follows the law of “modified comparative negligence.” This means that if you are 50 percent or less at fault for your injuries, you can recover a portion of your damages based on your percentage of fault. For example, if you are deemed 10 percent at fault, you can recover 90 percent of your losses. But, if you are more than 50 percent at fault, you cannot recover any financial compensation. 

Comparative negligence can take many different forms. In car accident cases, for example, forms of comparative negligence can include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light or stop sign 
  • Driving while distracted
  • Following too closely 
  • Failing to brake in time to avoid a collision

With that said, comparative negligence is entirely case-specific. For example, if you were distracted, this may or may not have played a role in your accident. As a result, while these factors can impact how much you are able to recover, they won’t necessarily reduce accident victims’ damages in all cases. 

2. Credibility 

Another factor that can reduce damages in a personal injury claim is lack of credibility. If the insurance companies (or the judge or jury) have reason to distrust you, this can prevent you from recovering the full compensation you deserve. Some examples of mistakes that can negatively impact your credibility include:

  • Misrepresenting the facts when reporting your accident to the insurance company 
  • Claiming that pre-existing vehicle damage resulted from the accident 
  • Claiming that a pre-existing injury resulted from the accident 
  • Claiming that you needed to miss work when you were able to do your job 
  • Exaggerating your pain and suffering or the psychological effects of the accident 

3. Evidence (or Lack Thereof) 

Lack of evidence can also make it more difficult to recover the full compensation you deserve. If the insurance companies are not absolutely convinced that you can win your case at trial, they won’t be incentivized to settle your case for full compensation. For example, if the following types of evidence aren’t available, this could make it more difficult to negotiate a favorable out-of-court settlement:

  • Video footage of the accident
  • Forensic evidence from the accident scene
  • Photos from the accident scene
  • Reliable eye-witness testimony 
  • A police report or other formal record of the accident

The same goes for evidence of your accident-related losses. When it comes to proving your losses, the more evidence you have, the better. Lacking any of the following types of evidence can also lead to a reduction in the damages you are able to recover:

  • Medical records 
  • Employment records 
  • Prescription receipts 
  • Documentation of your pain and suffering
  • Documentation of your other non-financial losses 

4. Age and Income

Your age and income will also play a significant role in determining the value of your personal injury claim. Generally, the older you are, the less you have to lose in terms of future earnings and other future effects. With regard to income, recent changes in your income can impact the value of your claim as well. For example, if you were recently laid off or you quit your job to start your own business, your loss of future income might not be as significant as it would have been otherwise. 

5. Being Unprepared for Trial

Finally, being unprepared for trial can have a huge impact on personal injury settlement negotiations. If the insurance companies know you aren’t prepared to go to court, they will use this to pressure you into a low settlement. Conversely, if you hire a lawyer with a track record of successfully taking clients’ cases to court, this will show the insurance companies that you are fully prepared to fight for the compensation you deserve. 

Call a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer for FREE

If you’ve been injured in an accident and want to know what your claim is worth, we encourage you to contact us for a FREE, no-obligation consultation. Our attorneys understand the factors that can affect damages in a personal injury claim and we can help you pursue the full and fair compensation to which you may be entitled under the law.

To speak with a Chicago, Oak Park, or Rockford personal injury lawyer at Coplan + Crane in confidence, call (708) 358-8080 or tell us how we can reach you online now.