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 is a brief summary of negligence laws in Illinois.

General Negligence Law

Negligence describes a situation when someone owes a duty to another person and fails in that duty, therefore become liable for any resulting injuries. For example, a surgeon who leaves a scalpel inside of a patient, causing infection, may be held liable for medical negligence. Illinois negligence laws recognize contributory negligence, in which the plaintiff is partially at fault for his or her own injuries.

Negligence Laws in Illinois

State negligence laws can vary significantly depending on where you live and your specific circumstances. The basic provisions of Illinois negligence laws are listed in the table below.

Code Section

735 ILCS 5/2-1116

Comparative Negligence


Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery

Over 50% recovery barred; under 50% damages diminished in proportion to plaintiff's percentage of fault

Contribution Among Tortfeasors

Yes; 740 ILCS 100/0.01, et seq.

Uniform Act


Negligence Cases

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 to 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.

Get Legal Help from an Illinois Attorney

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' contributory 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 attorney to learn about your options.

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