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What are Construction Accident Laws?
We want to provide you with a glossary of laws so that you are prepared if you are ever involved in a construction accident. To understand them in better context, please contact one of your experienced attorneys. He or she can walk you though their application to your facts and circumstances.
Statutes of Limitations
Here are some important laws that stipulate when you can bring an action for damages after an Illinois construction accident:
735 ILCS 5/13-202:
"Actions for damages for an injury to the person, or for false imprisonment, or malicious prosecution, or for a statutory penalty, or for abduction, or for seduction, or for criminal conversation that may proceed pursuant to subsection (a) of Section 7.1 of the Criminal Conversation Abolition Act, except damages resulting from first degree murder or the commission of a Class X felony and the perpetrator thereof is convicted of such crime, shall be commenced within 2 years next after the cause of action accrued…
735 ILCS 5/13-205:
"Actions on unwritten contracts, expressed or implied, or on awards of arbitration, or to recover damages for an injury done to property, real or personal, or to recover the possession of personal property or damages for the detention or conversion thereof, and all civil actions not otherwise provided for, shall be commenced within 5 years next after the cause of action accrued…"
For actions related specifically to construction, see 735 ILCS 5/13-214, provided in part:
"(a) Actions based upon tort, contract or otherwise against any person for an act or omission of such person in the design, planning, supervision, observation or management of construction, or construction of an improvement to real property shall be commenced within 4 years from the time the person bringing an action, or his or her privity, knew or should reasonably have known of such act or omission. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, contract actions against a surety on a payment or performance bond shall be commenced, if at all, within the same time limitation applicable to the bond principal."
Illinois sets out specific requirements for the structure and substance of what plaintiffs and defendants must draft. Here are some laws that affect plaintiffs' pleadings:
735 ILCS 5/2-603:
"(a) All pleadings shall contain a plain and concise statement of the pleader's cause of action, counterclaim, defense, or reply.
(b) Each separate cause of action upon which a separate recovery might be had shall be stated in a separate count or counterclaim, as the case may be and each count, counterclaim, defense or reply, shall be separately pleaded, designated and numbered, and each shall be divided into paragraphs numbered consecutively, each paragraph containing, as nearly as may be, a separate allegation.
(c) Pleadings shall be liberally construed with a view to doing substantial justice between the parties."
There are a few different ways that defendants can knock your case out of court. Here are the two main varieties:
735 ILCS 5/2-615:
"Motions with respect to pleadings. (a) All objections to pleadings shall be raised by motion. The motion shall point out specifically the defects complained of, and shall ask for appropriate relief, such as: that a pleading or portion thereof be stricken because substantially insufficient in law, or that the action be dismissed, or that a pleading be made more definite and certain in a specified particular, or that designated immaterial matter be stricken out, or that necessary parties be added, or that designated misjoined parties be dismissed, and so forth."
735 ILCS 5/2-619
"Involuntary dismissal based upon certain defects or defenses. (a) Defendant may, within the time for pleading, file a motion for dismissal of the action or for other appropriate relief upon any of the following grounds. If the grounds do not appear on the face of the pleading attacked the motion shall be supported by affidavit:"
For negligence actions, fault is an incredibly important issue. Illinois law defines fault in the following statute:
735 ILCS 5/2-1116(b):
"Fault" means any act or omission that (i) is negligent, willful and wanton, or reckless, is a breach of an express or implied warranty, gives rise to strict liability in tort, or gives rise to liability under the provisions of any State statute, rule, or local ordinance and (ii) is a proximate cause of death, bodily injury to person, or physical damage to property for which recovery is sought."
Illinois maintains a system of modified comparative fault. As outlined below, this means the plaintiffs can recover as long as their portion of the fault is below 51%; however, their recovery is limited by the amount that their own misconduct played into the incident.
735 ILCS 5/2-1116:
"In all actions on account of bodily injury or death or physical damage to property, based on negligence, or product liability based on strict tort liability, the plaintiff shall be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought. The plaintiff shall not be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is not more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought, but any damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion to the amount of fault attributable to the plaintiff."
Here, Illinois law defines a products liability action:
735 ILCS 5/13-213(3):
""product liability action" means any action based on any theory or doctrine brought against the seller of a product on account of personal injury, (including illness, disease, disability and death) or property, economic or other damage allegedly caused by or resulting from the manufacture, construction, preparation, assembly, installation, testing, makeup, characteristics, functions, design, formula, plan, recommendation, specification, prescription, advertising, sale, marketing, packaging, labeling, repair, maintenance or disposal of, or warning or instruction regarding any product. This definition excludes actions brought by State or federal regulatory agencies pursuant to statute."
Here, Illinois law defines product:
735 ILCS 5/13-213(2):
"(2) "product" means any tangible object or goods distributed in commerce, including any service provided in connection with the product. Where the term "product unit" is used, it refers to a single item or unit of a product."
Here, Illinois law defines what it means a seller:
735 ILCS 5/13-213(4):
"(4) "seller" means one who, in the course of a business conducted for the purpose, sells, distributes, leases, assembles, installs, produces, manufactures, fabricates, prepares, constructs, packages, labels, markets, repairs, maintains, or otherwise is involved in placing a product in the stream of commerce."
Here is the peculiar statute of repose for products liability actions:
735 ILCS 5/13-213(4)(b):
"(b) Subject to the provisions of subsections (c) and (d) no product liability action based on any theory or doctrine shall be commenced except within the applicable limitations period and, in any event, within 12 years from the date of first sale, lease or delivery of possession by a seller or 10 years from the date of first sale, lease or delivery of possession to its initial user, consumer, or other non-seller, whichever period expires earlier, of any product unit that is claimed to have injured or damaged the plaintiff, unless the defendant expressly has warranted or promised the product for a longer period and the action is brought within that period…the action commenced within the applicable limitation period and, in any event, within 10 years from the date such alteration, modification or change was made, unless defendant expressly has warranted or promised the product for a longer period and the action is brought within that period..."
Joint and Several Liability
Here is Illinois' law on joint and several liability:
735 ILCS 5/2-1117:
"Joint liability. Except as provided in Section 2-1118, in actionss on account of bodily injury or death or physical damage to property, based on negligence, or product liability based on strict tort liability, all defendants found liable are jointly and severally liable for plaintiff's past and future medical and medically related expenses. Any defendant whose fault, as determined by the trier of fact, is less than 25% of the total fault attributable to the plaintiff, the defendants sued by the plaintiff, and any third party defendant except the plaintiff's employer, shall be severally liable for all other damages. Any defendant whose fault, as determined by the trier of fact, is 25% or greater of the total fault attributable to the plaintiff, the defendants sued by the plaintiff, and any third party defendants except the plaintiff's employer, shall be jointly and severally liable for all other damages."
Here is Illinois' law regarding contribution among defendants:
740 ILCS 100/2:
"Right of Contribution. (a) Except as otherwise provided in this Act, where 2 or more persons are subject to liability in tort arising out of the same injury to person or property, or the same wrongful death, there is a right of contribution among them, even though judgment has not been entered against any or all of them. (b) The right of contribution exists only in favor of a tortfeasor who has paid more than his pro rata share of the common liability, and his total recovery is limited to the amount paid by him in excess of his pro rata share. No tortfeasor is liable to make contribution beyond his own pro rata share of the common liability."
To read about the laws and rules of workers' compensation in Illinois, click here:
OHSA sets forth clear rules and mandates for construction sites. To read more about them, click here:
Want to Know More About Construction Accident Law?
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC works with construction accident victims to see how the laws of Illinois afford them relief. We can help you pursue a lawsuit to secure the most amount of compensation possible under the law. Plus, we can help you on contingency so that you only have to pay if you are happy with the outcome of trial. Just call our offices today to see how Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can assist you.
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