Unsafe conditions on any property have the potential to cause serious harm to visitors. If you’ve been injured because a property owner failed to maintain their house, yard, or place of business, you have the right to take legal action. A Chicago premises liability lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help you determine if you have a case and what you may be eligible for in regard to compensation.
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Illinois Premises Liability Laws
To build a strong premises liability case, you’ll first want to understand the applicable laws in Illinois. States establish their own premises liability laws. In most situations, property owners in Cook County are legally obligated to create safe environments for visitors that are free from hazards. The Illinois Premises Liability Act details what a property owner is responsible for and when they can be held liable for another person’s injuries.
The first section of the act distinguishes the difference between invitees and licensees. An invitee is someone who visits a property for the benefit of the property owner, while a licensee is a guest who is there for their own amusement. An invitee might be a contractor that a property owner has hired to fix a leaking roof, and a licensee could be a friend invited over to enjoy a barbeque.
Regardless of the category a visitor falls into; the property owner needs to ensure their location has been adequately maintained and rid of hazards.
The act also established property owners’ duty to those who use their premises for off-roading or shooting firearms. Essentially, property owners are not responsible for noise or sound emissions, nor are they liable for any public nuisance or private trespass. They can be held liable if a licensee engages in willful and wanton conduct outside the regular use of the facility.
Property owners in Illinois do not owe any duty to adult trespassers, aside from avoiding willful or wanton conduct that would compromise the wellbeing of a trespasser.
Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Claims
Illinois imposes a strict two-year statute of limitations on filing a premises liability claim. This means that if you were hurt on someone else’s property, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a legal claim. While this might seem like plenty of time, anyone who has ever dealt with the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit knows the time, effort, and legal know-how that goes into it.
The insurance company may try to run out the clock on the statute of limitations. Don’t let yourself be bullied into accepting less than what you are owed. When property owners fail to protect visitors and allow a dangerous condition to cause harm, they should be held responsible for the harm they’ve caused.
When you schedule a free consultation with the Chicago premises liability attorneys at Thomas Law Offices, we’ll advise you of what the timeline for your claim might look like. We’ll also ensure that you understand your options for recovering compensation for things like lost wages, medical bills, and more.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases
There are a number of situations that can result in a premises liability claim. However, some accidents are more common than others. Some of those more frequently filed cases include slip and fall accidents, dog bite injuries, negligent or inadequate security, and swimming pool accidents. Examples of the most common premises liability cases that follow often involve some type of neglect or inadequacy by property managers or owners.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents happen often and can take place anywhere. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), slip, trip, and fall accidents account for 15% of all accidental deaths in the United States—placing them just behind car accidents.
Falling frequently leads to severe injuries—especially for the elderly. Broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and head trauma are just some of the common injuries slip and fall victims are left to deal with. However, when those injuries are fatal, the surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek justice on their loved one’s behalf.
Property owners are responsible for ensuring any obvious and foreseeable hazards are taken care of so no one gets hurt. Slip and fall accidents that result from negligence include uneven or wet surfaces with no warning signs, loose floorboards or carpets, unsalted ice in the wintertime, poor lighting, missing handrails, and broken steps.
Dog Bite Injuries
Getting attacked by a dog can result in severe physical and emotional trauma. In Illinois, dog owners are responsible for ensuring their dogs remain secured on their property at all times with a fence or a structure that’s at least six feet tall.
According to state law, a dangerous dog is a dog that’s unmuzzled, unleashed, or unattended by its owner. To prove a dog wrongfully injured you, you have to show that the dog attacked you, you had a right to be where you were at the time of the attack, and you did not provoke the dog in any way.
If a dog has bitten you, it’s essential to seek medical attention right away. Even minor wounds can result in severe infections if not treated properly. Document what happened and file a police report. Once a doctor has treated you, it’s time to reach out to an experienced premises liability attorney.
In the event an individual is injured by a third party because of an owner or tenant’s failure to provide adequate security, the victim can seek civil redress. Negligent security claims can be filed as a result of robbery, rape, assault, or battery. Settings where negligent security cases may apply include apartment complexes, ATMs, bars, construction sites, convenience stores, movie theaters, parking garages, schools, and shopping malls.
Commercial and residential landowners or possessors can be sued for negligent security, but you’ll need to understand their duties to ensure a successful claim. For example, a retail business in a shopping mall may have a responsibility to protect those who shop in the business from foreseeable criminal attacks. However, a residential tenant may only be able to control what happens to guests inside their apartment, not in the complex’s parking lot.
Accidents involving falling objects occur most frequently at stores and retail establishments. Improperly stocked shelves and products placed out of reach can fall and strike customers on the head. A customer who is struck on the head by an object falling from a tall shelf might suffer a traumatic brain injury.
When property owners in Cook County fail to create safe environments for visitors, they can be named as responsible parties in premises liability lawsuits. Securing maximum compensation from the insurance company is often necessary for victims to reach the fullest possible recovery.
Swimming Pool Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of accidental injury death in the United States. Approximately ten people die every day from unintentional drowning, and many of those accidents happen in swimming pools. If a drowning is not fatal, it can result in brain damage due to the loss of oxygen.
Children are most at risk of having an accident near or in a swimming pool. If the pool is not fenced in correctly, the drain is defective, there are electrical hazards, or the area around the pool isn’t kept dry or clutter-free, there’s a chance that someone will get injured.
Vacationers and travelers have several options outside of traditional hotels when it comes to accommodations. One of the most popular is Airbnb, which lets people stay in homes and other properties—often at a cheaper rate than hotels or resorts. In addition, if you’re injured while staying in an Airbnb, your legal situation is likely to be much different than if you had chosen a hotel because of Airbnb’s insurance.
Airbnb provides its hosts with Host Protection Insurance, which is the primary insurance policy in effect during a guest’s stay. It comes with $1 million worth of coverage. So, if you’re injured on a host’s property, you’d likely start to seek compensation for your medical bills and other losses through Airbnb’s insurer.
However, it’s important to note that Airbnb insurance does not cover product liability, asbestos, or Chinese drywall claims. The policy applies on a per-occurrence basis for accidents involving bodily injury and property damage.
Apartment Building Accidents
If you’re injured in your apartment building, it might not be clear whether you can hold your landlord or the property owner accountable. In most cases, however, the landlord is responsible for maintaining all of a property’s common areas in a reasonably safe condition.
If a landlord knows an unsafe condition exists, they can be held responsible for damages if they did not take actions to fix the problem. There are also certain situations where a landlord can be held accountable for injuries occurring within a tenant’s apartment. If, for example, a property owner does not disclose defects on the premises and the tenant is injured, legal action may be available.
Common concert accidents involve defective escalators, falling down stairs, pyrotechnic accidents, seats and stages collapsing, and being hit by a projectile. If you can prove your injury was foreseeable and therefore preventable, you may be able to hold the venue owner or the performer, management company, or another third-party accountable.
How to Document a Premises Liability Accident
Proving fault in a premises liability case can be difficult. If you were injured on someone else’s property, fighting to prove liability will benefit you in the long run. This is not a battle you have to shoulder all on your own, though.
When you work with an attorney who is experienced in premises liability and personal injury lawsuits, you’ll have someone on your side who will continually advocate for your rights. The following are a few things you can do to help your lawyer prove that the negligent parties were at fault.
Taking pictures of where premises liability accidents took place can be crucial for the success of your claim. If a specific condition caused your accident, such as loose flooring or uneven stairs, make sure you snap multiple photos from different angles.
Ask for Security Footage
Security footage can be very valuable to your case. While you can directly ask a property owner for access to the footage, many will be resistant to this request. Your Chicago premises liability attorney will be better positioned to secure this footage on your behalf. Keep in mind that many homeowners now use doorbell cameras, outdoor security cameras, and indoor cameras.
Get Witness Contact Information
If anyone was present during your accident, their eyewitness statements could provide strong support in a premises liability lawsuit. Don’t be shy about asking for a witness’s phone number or email address. When compensation for the medical costs and emotional distress associated with your serious injury are on the line, your liability attorneys can advise you of how valuable witness statements can be.
Keep All Medical Records
Become a meticulous note taker when it comes to your health. Document all appointments, prescription medications, and treatment plans. Keep copies of all of your medical bills and any test results. This information helps premises liability attorneys correctly value the worth of their clients’ claims.
Recovering After a Hazardous Premises Accident
If you’ve been injured on someone’s property, it’s essential to understand what actions to take following the event, so you can improve your chances of making a full recovery and maximizing your personal injury compensation.
Immediately following the accident, whether you slipped and fell or experienced a different accident, do what you can to remain calm. Next, evaluate yourself for injuries and determine if you’re experiencing any pain. If you’re not, you could still be injured, as your body’s chemical reactions to the accident could be preventing you from feeling any pain. Either way, it’s important to seek medical attention to determine the extent of your injuries and get an idea of what your physical recovery will look like. Common premises liability injuries include the following:
- Neck, back, or spine trauma
- Head and face damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Lacerations and contusions
- Emotional trauma
Document what you can remember from the accident, including any hazards you recall contributing to your accident. When you contact a lawyer, they will use your testimony in conjunction with their own investigation to determine what happened and why. Then, they’ll be able to start building your case on the concept of negligence.
Remember to follow your physician’s guidance regarding the steps you need to take to get your physical and mental health back to its previous status. It’s understandable to be frustrated, especially if you’re dealing with lost wages from time off of work.
However, it’s important to remember that you’ll only be able to return to work in full capacity if you heal. In the event you disregard your doctor’s advice, you’ll not only be hurting your chances of recovery completely, but you’ll also be jeopardizing your chances for full and fair compensation.
Sometimes fatal injuries occur as the result of a negligent property owner’s action. The loss of a loved one is never easy, and we understand how difficult it can be to navigate the grieving process when you are also burdened with related financial damages, like lost income. In premises liability law, when someone is fatally injured on another person’s property, family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
To preserve the memory and dignity of your lost loved one, you should be sure to work with a law firm that has experience dealing with this nuanced aspect of premises liability law.
How Lawyers Help With Premises Liability Claims
Premises liability claims often require the services of a lawyer because of the knowledge needed to support the claim, gather evidence, and present a valid argument against the allegedly negligent party. As an injured party who has been hurt on someone’s property, you’ll want to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Doing so will improve your chances of recovering the compensation you need and deserve.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you could be incapacitated for some time after your accident. If that’s the case and you don’t have a lawyer working on your claim, you could be jeopardizing your chances of holding the at-fault property owner accountable. Your attorney will be able to work on your case while keeping you updated and letting you make all the decisions so that you can focus on healing.
The more detailed of a case your attorney presents, the more likely things will resolve in your favor. Depending on the situation that caused your accident, your lawyer may need to call on an expert witness to explain what happened and why. This has the potential to strengthen your case, and it’s a resource you would not have access to without an attorney.
Before you commit to working with an Illinois premises liability attorney, they should inform you of how they will be paid. Many lawyers work on a contingency fee basis for personal injury cases, which means they won’t earn anything until they help you secure your financial recovery.
You’ll want to be sure to work with an attorney who understands the nuance of premises liability cases, including how to show that a negligent property owner was at fault for your injury. Whichever Chicago premises liability attorney you choose to work with should set clear expectations for recovering compensation for things like medical expenses, as well as how their legal fees work. This information should be laid out clearly during your free consultation.
Determining Fault for a Premises Liability Claim in Chicago
To prove negligence on the part of a property owner, there are typically four elements that a claim needs to be based on. Those elements include the following:
- When you are an invitee or a licensee, property owners owe you a duty of care. This means that they have to make sure the property is safe for you. In the event of an accident, you’ll have to prove the owner knew or should have known about the hazard that caused your injuries.
- To prove the property owner breached their duty, you’ll need to show how they failed to fix the dangerous condition in a reasonable, timely manner. Explaining that you were not warned about the hazard can also support your case.
- Causation refers to how the breach of duty resulted in the accident that caused your injuries. Again, your lawyer will help you delineate a clear path.
- Damages are what you’ve suffered as a result of your accident. These commonly include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
A lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help you build a case that proves you’re owed compensation for the injuries you sustained because of someone else’s negligence. When you work with one of the Chicago premises liability attorneys from our firm, you’ll have the backing and support you need to secure maximum compensation for your personal injuries.
Compensation for a Premises Liability Case
To determine the value of your claim, your attorney will consider a number of factors, including economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses are directly calculable, like medical expenses, lost income, and property damage. Hospital statements, pay stubs, and receipts can be used to total up those expenses.
Non-economic losses are harder to calculate as they’re based on more subjective losses like the pain you’ve suffered and how your life has changed. Your lawyer will look at the severity of your injuries, how your future will be impacted, and similar claims to determine a fair amount for your non-economic damages.
It’s important to understand that most personal injury claims are resolved in a settlement through negotiations. If, however, that does not happen for you, our lawyers can help you file a lawsuit to take your case to court. While this does extend how long the process will take for you to receive your award and move forward, it may be the only way to achieve full and fair compensation. You can learn more about your options for resolving this type of legal issue when you schedule your free consultation with Thomas Law Offices.
Contact the Chicago Premises Liability Lawyers at Thomas Law Offices
If a property owner’s negligence caused your injuries and you are now dealing with the physical, emotional, and financial consequences, you don’t have to handle everything yourself. When you work with one of the Chicago premises liability lawyers from Thomas Law Offices, we can provide you with the legal guidance you need to recover compensation for your losses and put your accident behind you. We never let the insurance company bully our clients into accepting less than what they are owed.
Depending on the accident you’re in, you could be looking at a complex personal injury claim. If that’s the case, you’ll benefit from getting in touch with our law firm as soon as possible. This way, we’ll have the time we need to collect the proper evidence, analyze the applicable laws, and build a case that proves you were wronged and deserve a proper chance at recovery.
To get started, contact our firm today. We’ll schedule a free case evaluation to go over the merits of your case and discuss how to proceed based on your unique circumstances. Then, if you choose to file a premises liability claim, we’ll be with you every step of the way and do what it takes to secure your financial future.