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What Is Fault?

Law Office Of James P. Leahy June 26, 2020

When an accident causes you harm, your thoughts may eventually turn to the issue of recovering for your losses. The question that requires answering is “Who is at fault?” A court’s determination regarding which party has responsibility for causing the harm can affect the outcome when filing a legal action for relief. 

The Illinois General Assembly website describes “fault” as an act or a lack of action that is a “proximate cause” of harm to another person or property. If your lawsuit can show how another party caused you harm, your circumstances could meet the standard required for a jury award. 

How Do Courts Determine Fault in An Actionable Lawsuit? 

The Cornell Law School defines “actionable” as a situation in which the circumstances or facts fulfill the requirements of a legal action to recover damages. This may not always translate into a straightforward process. 

The court carefully reviews the facts and evidence to determine the factors that contributed to the accident. The jury also looks to assess the degree of fault contributed by each party. The evidence presented by both sides plus accident reports, video footage and witness testimony may all serve to help the jury decide. 

Is an On-The-Job Accident a Workers’ Compensation Case or An Actionable Claim? 

Workers’ compensation reflects a “no-fault” recovery method for medical expenses and lost wages. An employee injured on the job does not need to prove the harm resulted from workplace negligence or faulty equipment. Employees injured at work may apply for workers’ compensation benefits even if they were 100% responsible for causing their own injuries. 

When gross or willful negligence causes harm to an employee, a worker may have an actionable claim against his or her employer. The fault could also reflect the negligence or carelessness of a third party, such as a truck driver making a delivery to a workplace. Product liability may also play a role in a worker’s injury, such as a defective machine injuring its operator. 

Because of the many factors involved in assigning fault, careful consideration of the facts can help to determine whether the harm caused represents an actionable lawsuit.