If you are injured on somebody else’s property in Illinois, you may be able to bring a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner to recover damages.
Thousands of Illinois residents visit the emergency room every year after sustaining injuries in accidents that occur on unsafe or improperly secured properties. Hazardous conditions such as wet floors, faulty wiring, improperly stacked merchandise, loose carpeting and uneven ground can cause accidents resulting in serious injury.
Under Illinois law, businesses and property owners have an important responsibility to provide safe environments for visitors to their property. When property owners fail to take this responsibility seriously, they may be required to pay for the medical expenses or other losses incurred by those hurt on their property. If a property owner was aware of a hazardous condition that caused your injury and failed to take timely, reasonable steps to protect you from it, you may be able to recover full compensation for the injuries you have suffered.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is a broad area of tort law (civil claims by individuals injured as the result of another party’s conduct) which ultimately refers to the legal responsibility of a property owner to ensure that their property is in a reasonably safe condition for visitors. It covers many different types of accidents that occur at private residences or rental homes, commercial stores or offices, or public areas due to defective or hazardous conditions on the property. The property in question may be poorly designed or simply be improperly maintained.
Compensation can be sought for many injury-related expenses, including medical bills, prescription medication costs, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and even lost future wages in the event your injuries prevent you from being able to work.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are a leading cause of unintentional injuries in the United States: roughly 8 million people across the country are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year for injuries related to slips, trips or falls.
Conditions that often lead to slip and fall injuries include:
- Wet, oily and/or slippery floors
- Broken or uneven sidewalks
- Torn carpeting or unsecured rugs
- Defective staircases
- Loose or broken floors, sidewalks, or steps
Lack of Maintenance
Various types of building elements – including appliances, light fixtures, and elevators – can become dangerous if they are not properly maintained. If an elevator or appliance malfunctions due to a lack of maintenance and injures a visitor, the property manager can be held liable.
These cases frequently arise in apartment buildings or offices. Owners of those buildings have a responsibility to act reasonably in securing access to the buildings, which explains why large apartment buildings and offices generally have security guards and/or restricted access. If an authorized party breaks in (or simply enters through an unsecured door) and injures or kills someone inside the building, the injured party may have a premises liability case against the building owner if it can be shown that reasonable steps were not taken to secure the building.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Individuals who own and operate swimming pools are responsible for the routine maintenance and upkeep of the pool as well as proper supervision and safety of swimmers. Pool owners may be held liable for accidents that could have been prevented by maintaining pool drains and grates, training lifeguards, or ensuring the area around the pool was not slick. Drownings and near-drownings can occur if a pool owner fails to properly maintain the pool, including features such as diving boards and slides. A fence or locked gate should always be used to keep out children and prevent the foreseeable risk of an accidental injury.
Without proper lighting, visitors are unable to navigate safely through a property. Adequate lighting is particularly important for areas such as entryways, stairwells, and hallways which can quickly become dangerous if not properly illuminated. This also applies to inadequate or missing lights in parking garages, parking lots, and streets, as well as poor lighting resulting from power outages. Whether a property owner neglects to install a light fixture or allows light bulbs to burn out without replacing them, if someone is injured as a result, they may be liable.
Proving Negligence in Premises Liability Cases
In Illinois, property owners are obligated to take reasonable steps to maintain a safe, non-hazardous environment for visitors to their property. However, when an accident does occur, the onus is on the victim and his or her attorney to prove that the property owner was negligent.
Under the Illinois Premises Liability Act, an injured person can establish a premises liability claim by proving the following elements:
- A condition existed on the property that presented an unreasonable risk to visitors
- The property owner knew (or should have known) that the condition on the property posed an unreasonable risk of harm to visitors
- The property owner should have anticipated that visitors may fail to recognize the hazard or fail to protect themselves from it
- The property owner failed to protect or warn the victim; and
- The victim was injured as a direct result of the hazardous condition
There are four elements that are essential to obtain a successful verdict in a premises liability case. It must be established that:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care. A thorough evaluation of the case can help determine which parties were responsible for maintaining the property and addressing any hazardous conditions that were present.
- A hazardous condition existed. Would a reasonable person have identified the condition as being dangerous? Did the defendant have the opportunity to remedy the situation before the accident happened?
- The defendant had knowledge of the dangerous condition (or should have known about it). If the defendant failed to complete the standard industry practices regarding inspections, routine maintenance and timely repairs, it can often be proven that improper premises management resulted in the dangerous conditions that caused your injuries.
- The hazardous condition caused injuries or death. The injury victims must have suffered verifiable damages due to the hazardous condition.
Victims of slip and fall accidents may be able to recover damages such as medical expenses, lost income and benefits, disfigurement, disability, pain and suffering, rehabilitation costs, property damage, and more. Each premises liability case is different, and the damages will vary depending on the nature and extent of the injuries.
What You Should Do If You’re Injured on Someone’s Property
If you’ve been injured while on someone else’s property, Illinois premises liability laws provide you with legal options to hold negligent parties liable and help you collect monetary compensation for the damages you’ve sustained. Whether you suffered a slip and fall accident, or have been injured as a result of poor maintenance, inadequate security or other dangerous property conditions, a person injury attorney at Herbert Law Firm can help you obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and out of pocket expenses.
For a confidential consultation about your premises liability case, call us at 312-655-7660 or fill out our online form at https://danherbertlaw.com/contact/. This consultation is free, and we won’t collect a fee for our services until we recover compensation for your case.
To learn more about our personal injury legal services, please visit our website at https://danherbertlaw.com/practices/personal-injury/.