Even though Illinois has a mandatory auto insurance law, about one in eight drivers in the Prairie State have no insurance. Furthermore, Illinois has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum coverage requirements in the country. So, many other drivers are dangerously underinsured.
Lack of insurance is particularly an issue in catastrophic injury situations, such as wrongful death. Sometimes, these tortfeasors (negligent drivers) may not have enough coverage to fully compensate the victim/plaintiff.
It is possible to file a claim against the individual and collect the balance, but many people are effectively judgment-proof. Fortunately, Illinois has liberal third party liability rules. So, an additional source of recovery may be available in many of these cases.
If the tortfeasor was an Uber driver, taxi driver, bus driver, or another commercial operator, the respondeat superior (“let the master answer”) rule usually applies. In Illinois, employers are liable for the negligent acts of their worker if:
Illinois is a modified joint and several-liability state. So, if there are multiple responsible parties, the judge usually apportions damages among them based on their percentage of fault.
Many states have limited or eliminated their dram shop laws in recent years. But Illinois law still holds bars, grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores, and other commercial alcohol providers liable for damages in some cases.
Many states require direct evidence in these cases. Such evidence usually must include knowledge of intoxication. But under Illinois law, victim/plaintiffs need only establish that the provide alcohol was a proximate (substantial) cause of the tortfeasor’s intoxication. There is no knowledge requirement.
Packaged alcohol providers are usually liable in the same way as non-packaged providers. It is foreseeable that a patron will open a bottle of beer or other alcohol and drink it on the way home.
Knowledge may not be a requirement in vicarious owner liability claims either. The victim/plaintiff need only prove that the owner negligently entrusted property to an incompetent driver. People without valid drivers’ licenses are usually incompetent as a matter of law. In other cases, such as a bad driving record, circumstantial evidence of knowledge and incompetency may establish liability.
Commercial negligent entrustment cases work a bit differently, due to the Graves Amendment.
The tortfeasor may not be the only person responsible for damages. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Chicago, contact Michael T. Friedman & Associates, P.C. Home and hospital visits are available.
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