If you were ever injured on someone else’s property, you may have considered filing a personal injury lawsuit to hold the property owner liable for your injuries. The following article will provide some helpful information regarding whether property owners in Illinois are liable for injuries sustained by others on their property.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is a legal concept, based in personal injury law, which alleges that an injury a person sustained resulted from a defective condition on the premises of another (for example, a store owner, landlord, homeowner, etc.).
What are Some Types of Premises Liability Cases?
There are various types of premises liability cases, which include the following:
- Slip and fall accidents: Slip and fall accidents resulting from wet floors, unsecured rugs, and loose steps can be dangerous. If the property owner has failed to properly maintain the premises, they could be liable for any resulting slip and fall accidents.
- Elevator or escalator accidents: Elevators and escalators can pose danger if they are not properly maintained. If someone is injured while using an elevator or escalator on the premises, the property owner can be held liable for those injuries.
- Fire accidents: If a fire breaks out on the premises and someone is either injured as a result or suffers property damage, the property owner can be held liable.
- Toxic chemicals: Sometimes there are toxic chemicals on premises. If someone is injured by these chemicals (for example by inhaling or inadvertently touching them), a property owner can be held liable for those injuries.
- Defective conditions: If a property owner is aware of defective conditions on the premises of which others are unlikely to be aware, and fails to make these conditions safe, the owner can be held liable for any resulting injuries.
- Inadequate security: If a property owner fails to take necessary precautionary measures to ensure the safety of people entering the premises and someone is injured as a result, the owner could be held liable for any resulting injuries.
What Does Illinois Law Say About Premises Liability?
Under common law, the duties that property owners owe to entrants depended on the legal status of the person who entered the premises. There are three categories of entrants, which are — invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
- Invitees: Invitees are entrants who have either been expressly or implicitly invited to the property for business reasons. An example of an invitee is a customer who enters the premises of an electronic store to make a purchase. Under common law, a property owner had to reasonably inspect the premises to ensure that conditions are safe for invitees.
- Licensees: Licensees are entrants who have permission to enter the property, but who do so to further their own interest. An example of a licensee is a social guest. Under common law, a property owner had a duty to ensure that he does not knowingly or intentionally expose licensees to an unreasonable risk of harm.
- Trespassers: Trespassers are entrants who enter the property without permission from the owner. Under common law, a property owner only had a duty to refrain from willingly or carelessly causing harm to trespassers.
However, in 1984, the Illinois Premises Liability Act (740 ILCS § 130) abolished the distinction between the duties owed to invitees and licensees but retained the common law duty regarding trespassers. Furthermore, this act states that in regard to invitees and licensees, a property owner’s only duty is to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances regarding the state of the premises or acts done or omitted on them.
It should also be noted however, that the 1990 Illinois Supreme Court case of Ward v. K Mart ruled that a property owner can be held liable for injuries that occur to entrants if the owner:
- Knows, or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover the dangerous condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to entrants.
- Should expect that entrants will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it.
- Fails to exercise reasonable care to protect entrants against the specific danger.
What Do I Need to Prove in a Premises Liability Case?
In order to make a successful personal injury case based on being injured on someone else’s property , the injured person will need to show proof of the following elements:
- A dangerous condition existed on the premises at the time of the accident. This could be evidence of a wet floor, a loose floorboard, or other defective condition on the premises.
- The property owner knew (or should have known) of the dangerous condition. This element can be proven by showing some evidence that the owner knew of (or had reason to know of) the dangerous condition.
- The owner of the property failed to take reasonable care to protect the well-being of entrants from the dangerous condition on the premises. If the owner becomes aware of a defective condition on his premises but fails to take the proper actions to rectify or warn others of the defective condition, they will be liable for the plaintiff’s resulting injuries.
- As of a result of this failure, the plaintiff was injured. If an owner fails to take reasonable care to protect people from a dangerous condition on his premises that they were aware of (or reasonably should have been aware of) and the plaintiff suffers an injury or property damage as a result, this element is satisfied.
Why Should I Consider Hiring an Attorney to Represent Me?
If you were injured on someone else’s property and have decided to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party, you should consider seeking legal advice and hiring a personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you in some of the following ways:
- An experienced attorney can help you build a stronger personal injury case. Personal injury lawsuits based on premises liability require that you prove that a property owner is responsible, at least in part, for your injuries. However, it can sometimes be difficult to prove with certainty exactly what was the cause of your injuries. This is when it would be helpful to hire a personal injury attorney, who can gather evidence to help strengthen your case. This may include interviewing witnesses, obtaining medical records, or hiring experts to examine evidence.
- An attorney can help you dispute a denial from the property owner’s insurance company. Sometimes, the owner’s insurance might deny a personal injury claim. There are various reasons why an insurance company may deny a claim, but the most common reason is that the company does not believe (either based on the evidence presented or the claims of the owner) that the owner is liable for the injuries. A personal injury attorney can dispute the denial and ensure that a mutually satisfactory agreement is reached.
- An attorney can help move along the processing of your claim. Insurance companies can often be slow in processing personal injury claims. Even if your claim is not denied outright, these companies could delay the processing of your claim by failing to respond to your inquiries or failing to send payment if a settlement has been reached. An attorney can contact the insurance company to request expeditious processing of your claim.
- An attorney can help you meet important deadlines. Timing is crucial in personal injury cases. There are various statutory deadlines and court filing deadlines that must be adhered to in order to ensure the timely processing of your claim. A personal injury attorney will keep you updated of all relevant deadlines and general updates regarding the processing of your claim.
- An attorney can help you obtain additional damages. Attorneys can help you obtain all the damages that you are entitled to in court. For example, juries typically award pain and suffering damages in personal injury cases. As such, if you settle your claim outside of court, the award amount you receive may not include these types of additional damages. An attorney will explain all damages that you are entitled to and will help you receive compensation for these damages in court.
- An attorney can help you gain a better perspective of your case. When you get injured and you believe someone else is the cause of that injury, it can be difficult to remain unbiased. You may only see the case from your perspective and neglect to see possible challenges that the property owner may raise if the case goes to trial. Though attorneys ultimately want to win their cases, they also must ensure that they are unbiased and can anticipate potentially harmful claims that the other party might make. For example, if you fell in a store because the floor was wet but you were on your phone and did not notice the “wet floor” sign, you could be deemed contributorily negligent in causing your injuries. An attorney can help you see the case from the other side so that you can prepare for any challenges that the owner may make regarding either the cause or extent of your injuries.
Were You Recently Injured While on Someone Else’s Property? Contact an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney
If you were recently injured on someone else’s property and need to understand what the next steps you should take are, Palermo Law Group can help. We can help you build a strong personal injury case and ensure that you receive compensation for your injuries and medical bills. Please call our law firm at (630)-684-2332 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation with our personal injury lawyer.