Chicago Premises Liability Attorney
Our Chicago premises liability attorneys know a lawsuit can arise when someone is injured on someone else’s premises. This may be a construction worker getting hurt at a construction site or a customer slipping and falling in a grocery store on a spill of some sort.
Do I Have a Premises Liability Case?
The injury must be caused by an unsafe condition on the premises. Examples include oil on the floor, a hole in the floor, an unbarricaded hole on a construction site or failure to have fall protection for an ironworker on a construction project.
Contrary to widely held belief, the injured person is not automatically entitled to compensation for their injuries. The law in Illinois states that an injured person must prove several facts about the premises and the injuries before damages may be awarded.
Premises Liability Claims in Illinois
If you or a loved one are injured on someone else’s property, there are a few issues to focus on in order to prove the property owner’s negligence. These issues include:
The Duty Owed to You
Did you have a right to be on the property as an invitee or a licensee? If you have a right and expectation to be on another person’s property, the property owner has a duty to ensure you are reasonably safe from harm. Did they know about a dangerous condition on their property, or should they have known about the dangerous condition?
- The duty owed to you. Did you have a right to be on the property as an invitee or a licensee? If you have a right and expectation to be on another person’s property, the property owner has a duty to ensure you are reasonably safe from harm. Did they know about a dangerous condition on their property, or should they have known about the dangerous condition?
- Breach of duty. If the property owner knows about the dangerous condition but failed to fix it in a reasonable or timely manner (or failed to warn you about it), they could be held liable for your injuries.
- Did the breach cause your injuries? The property owner’s breach of duty must be linked to your injuries.
- Did you suffer actual harm? You must show that you suffered real physical, emotional, or financial harm due to your injuries.
In most cases, trespassers are not protected under premises liability laws because they are on a person’s property illegally. However, there are exceptions for minors who are trespassing. In general, properties should be kept reasonably safe from foreseeable hazards that a child might get into.
Proving Your Unsafe Premises Case in Chicago
The best way to prove the existence of a defect or condition is to take pictures of the defect as soon as possible after the injury. The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words was never more true than in a personal injury case. Photographs should be taken from all angles, including from ground level. Rulers should be utilized to measure and show the size of the defect and these measurements should be photographed. Take as many pictures as you need. It’s better to err on the side of taking too many photos.
Independent witnesses who are able to testify regarding your injury are extremely important. After the incident, try to get the names of anyone who may have seen the accident or who helped you after the accident. These people can testify to the conditions in case the owner denies it. Obtaining a copy of an accident report is a good way to get the names. This will enable your Chicago unsafe premises attorney to call witnesses who are not employees of the defendant to testify on your behalf.
A second major point that any person must prove in order to prevail in a premises injury claim is called “notice”. The owner must have noticed that the condition existed before he or she will be found liable. In other words, the Plaintiff must show that the owner or possessor of the property or the general contractor knew or should have known of the unsafe condition.
While the Defendant may have a duty to exercise reasonable care for your safety, the jury will be instructed that you have the same duty. The Defendant normally accuses the Plaintiff of not keeping a proper lookout, not asking his union steward or foreman to change the job conditions and/or not attempting to prevent the accident.
Types of Premises Liability Claims in Illinois
Slip and Fall/Trip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of premises liability cases. When we look at the statistics provided by the National Floor Safety Institute, we can see that more than one million people go to the emergency room each year due to slip and fall injuries. We know that these incidents happen in a variety of ways, including:
- Food and drink spills
- No wet floor sign after mopping
- Loose carpeting
- Loose floor material
- Stairs that have no grip or are broken
- Parking lot defects
- Low-lying obstacles
- Cords running across the floor
- Uneven floor surfaces
All property owners, whether a business or residential property, must take steps to ensure their premises remains safe at all times. This means ensuring everything is inspected on a regular basis and that all hazards are fixed. Many premises injuries occur due to faulty displays, benches, stairs, shelves, elevators, doorways, and more.
Restaurant owners and operators have a heightened slip and fall risk for patrons due to food and drink spills. Keeping that in mind, they must also work to ensure all food is stored, prepared, and cooked properly to prevent food-borne illnesses for their guests.
Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs
Businesses and private residence owners with pools and hot tubs on the premises are required to take steps to ensure the area is reasonably safe. This includes having a fence around them with locking gates so children cannot get in while unattended. This also includes using all chemicals appropriately so that guests and patrons do not become ill.
If the property owner, gas company, or third party is negligent in their duties and hits a gas line, this could lead to catastrophic explosions that affect entire buildings and their surrounding areas.
Plenty of people in and around Chicago have pets. If you are on another person’s property and are bitten by or knocked down by an animal, the property owners could be held liable for any injuries you sustain. Consider speaking with a dog bite lawyer in Chicago to learn more about your legal options.
Many properties in and around Chicago employ security measures to keep guests and residents safe. Stores, business operators, hotels, and apartment complexes should all take reasonable measure to ensure those who have a right to be on their property are safe. This could include having security personnel present at all times. If should also include having surveillance equipment, working locks, and more.
Many people do not think of private residence owners in these situations, but the truth is that they are held to the same standards as business property owners. A private resident owner has a duty to ensure the safety of those legally allowed to be on their property. All of the items on this list apply to private residences as well. This includes friends and family. It also includes people like those delivering the mail, lessees, utility readers, etc.
Common Injuries from Unsafe Premises
Premises liability injuries vary greatly, as you could imagine when looking at that list of causes. It is not uncommon for us to see the following injuries in the aftermath of a premises incident:
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Drownings or near-drowning
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Severe lacerations or amputations
- Severe burn injuries
- Internal organ damage or bleeding
- Emotional and psychological trauma
Compensation in an Illinois Premises Liability Lawsuit
There are various types of compensation available for a premises liability case. Each case is different, but we will generally look at recovering both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to quantifiable things like:
- A person’s medical bills due to the injuries they sustain. This can include hospital and doctor bills. It can also include rehabilitation and physical therapy costs.
- A person’s income and benefits if they cannot work while they recover.
Economic damages can also include things that are a bit harder to calculate like a person’s future medical bills, loss of future wages, and diminished earning capacity due to the injuries.
Non-economic damages refer to things that are a bit harder to calculate. This can include:
- Pain and suffering damages
- Emotional and psychological damages
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
Calculating non-economic damages will often involve the help of expert medical witnesses as well as economic experts who can testify to a jury how the injuries are currently impacting your life and how they will continue to do so in the future.
If the gross negligence or carelessness of a property owner caused your injury, we will also see to pursue punitive damages against them.
Statute of Limitations in Illinois
In Illinois, the statute of limitations that you have to file a premises liability case is generally two years from the date the incident occurred. The same time limit applies to a wrongful death case that loved ones may want to bring if they lose someone in a premises liability case. Failing to meet these deadlines will result in your case being dismissed.
The statute of limitations is important and highlight two things:
- Seek medical assistance as soon as a premises incident occurs. This ensures your well-being is taken care of, and it helps link the incident to your injuries. A delay in seeking medical care will give the other side ammunition in their case. They will work to prove that your injuries occurred in some other incident.
- Seeking a premises liability lawyer early in the process will help ensure you do not miss any deadlines. These cases can become incredibly complicated, and the paperwork alone is enough to push most people past the deadline. A Chicago premises liability attorney will have the experience you need to handle all aspects of your case.
Top 10 Preventable Injuries in the United States
Falls were the leading preventable injury across the United States in 2017. If another person or party was responsible for your injury, our premises liability lawyers can help.
Contact Our Unsafe Premises Lawyer
Chicago premises liability cases can be among the most difficult and require the help of an experienced premises liability lawyer. Contact the Chicago personal injury attorneys at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates today to schedule a free consultation.