When an unforeseeable slip and fall accident occurs, some victims will not be left with any physical injuries stemming from the incident, while others will not be as fortunate. A select few may be left with debilitating impairments requiring a long hospital stay and significant days of missed work.
In injury cases, it can be overwhelming trying to juggle your recovery while trying to keep yourself financially afloat amidst all your missed time on the job. Seeking guidance from a Chicago slip and fall lawyer in situations like this can be beneficial.
What You Need To Know About Personal Injury Claims
In case you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, personal injury refers to the broader category into which premises liability incidents fall. Examples of the latter include dog bites, negligent security, failure to warn, and slip and fall incidents.
Illinois personal injury laws afford you the right to hold any party responsible for you getting hurt liable for your predicament. These laws generally allow you to hold the negligent party financially responsible for what you’ve been through so far and what lies ahead.
Our legal system allows you to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for both economic and non-economic losses if you were injured on someone’s private property by a dangerous condition.
We know that understanding the complexities of cases like these can be daunting. A Chicago slip and fall lawyer here at Thomas Law Offices can help you make sense of it all.
Conditions That Cause Slip and Fall Accidents
While a slip and fall accident can happen anywhere, studies show that some of the most serious injuries occur in similar settings or locations. When a property or business owner fails to maintain their space and conditions become dangerous, the public is put at risk.
Some of the most common situations in which someone else’s negligence is to blame for slip and fall accidents requiring emergency room visits and the filing of insurance company claims include the following:
Slick or Wet Floors
Individuals most often encounter slick or wet flooring at public establishments. Some of the more common locales where people may encounter dangerous floor conditions when out and about include:
- Grocery stores
- In restaurant kitchens and near their drink preparation stations
- Around bar tops
- In office building lobbies and hallways
In the case of grocery stores, for example, there may be several factors to blame for wet or otherwise slippery flooring, including:
- Recent mopping or waxing of tile floors
- Spilled drinks at self-serve beverage stations
- Defrosting upright freezers or leaking refrigerators
- Dropped or opened food, oil, soap, or beverage containers
In contrast, at office buildings, wet floors may be caused by leaky bathroom pipes, melted ice or tracked-in rainwater at entryways, or improperly cleaned-up solvents.
Business owners are responsible for training their staff on the dangers of wet and slippery floors. They also should instruct them to immediately warn visitors of potential slip and fall hazards by installing wet floor signs if they can’t clean them up immediately to ensure a serious personal injury doesn’t result. Cook County homeowners must be careful to keep their houses’ floors dry.
When staircases fall into a state of disrepair, it’s easy for boards to come out of place. Just one jagged stair can cause someone to slip and tumble back down to the ground floor.
Staircase slip and fall accidents often result in head and neck trauma. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the more serious adverse outcomes that law firms like ours see following slip and fall accidents.
Traumatic brain injuries can have many long-term consequences, including robbing victims of the life they once knew. Injuries like these can also result in significant medical bills.
Freshly installed carpet is usually tacked down properly, but as carpet ages, there’s a chance it could become torn. This most commonly happens in high-traffic areas or if pets pick at the carpeting’s corners.
In addition, our slip and fall attorneys often see where tripping and falling on carpet can result in victims hitting shelving or furniture on the way to the ground. In some instances, an individual will even first strike their head on a sturdy object like this and then once again on the floor.
As you might imagine, our heads don’t respond well to being subjected to blunt-force trauma. Trips and falls on worn, torn, or frayed carpets or mats can leave a victim with a serious injury and significant medical bills.
Handrails are there to assist people with ascending or descending stairs and inclines. Slip and fall accidents can quickly happen when a railing is loose or missing.
A property owner can largely prevent injuries that fall victims suffer by taking a few extra precautions to keep visitors safe, including:
- Regularly inspecting handrails to ensure all hardware is present
- Checking to see if there’s any corroding that could cause a handrail or guardrail to become loose, especially if it’s regularly exposed to moisture
Grocery stores and big-box retailers sell a variety of items. These retail establishments tend to start using aisle displays when shelves start to become too full of products. They also use such displays to promote new items.
Too many displays within an aisle puts shoppers at risk of colliding with objects or tripping over displays. The same logic applies if there are too many shopping carts, stocking trolleys, or pallets of inventory taking up floor space.
Fall cases like these can result in life-altering or life-threatening injuries, including head trauma and neck or back concerns.
Poorly Maintained Sidewalks
Chicago residents are well aware of how much snow winter can bring. If you own a property, you are responsible for ensuring sidewalks are cleared of snow and ice. It may even be a good idea to clear away leaves in the fall, as they can also become slippery under certain circumstances.
In the case of snow, a property owner can be held liable for damages if someone has a slip and fall accident on their uncleared sidewalk. It may even be possible for Chicago property owners to be held financially responsible for someone’s injuries if uneven or cracked pavement results in someone getting hurt.
Poorly Functioning or Unclean Escalators
While escalators are a fast alternative to stairs and elevators, they need to be kept clean, free of trash, cleaning solvents, and spills, to be safe. If an escalator is slippery, someone could fall, break a bone or suffer a head or spinal cord injury.
It’s even possible for a malfunctioning or improperly maintained escalator to cause a person’s purse straps, clothing, shopping bags, shoes, or other objects to become stuck in the stairs or gears, resulting in a serious injury.
Inadequately Lit Hallways or Parking Lots
Business owners and landlords should ensure that hallways and parking lots are adequately lit. Doing so ensures that visitors or residents can see where they’re going so that no one trips and falls on potholes, uneven pavement, and other hazards in the dark. Proper lighting is also critical in stairwells so that users can see how many steps lie ahead.
Adequate lighting also serves an additional purpose: discouraging would-be criminals from lurking in bushes, around cars, off to the sides of buildings, and in other dark and shadowy places.
Proper lighting can render slip and fall cases largely preventable.
If you’ve been injured due to one of the above slip and fall situations, we can help. However, if you don’t see the cause of your Illinois slip and fall accident listed, we’re still here for you. We can evaluate the details surrounding your slip and fall incident and how the accident affected you and determine if it merits a premises liability claim.
Hazardous Properties and Victims’ Rights in Illinois
As a legal visitor on a property, you have the right to encounter only safe premises. Owners are responsible for ensuring that the inside and outside of their homes or businesses are well maintained and secure so that a slip and fall injury accident doesn’t occur.
If a hazardous condition presents itself, the property owner is responsible for fixing the issue as quickly as possible and posting an actual notice informing visitors of the potential danger. Legal options are available when someone gets injured because property owners fail to adequately warn of hazards or don’t fix dangerous situations.
Many property owners may hire private companies to help them uphold their responsibilities. It may be possible to hold the owner and the entity the property owner hired liable if a preventable accident occurs. Your attorney will explore this with you during your free case evaluation with them.
Illinois Laws That Apply in Slip and Fall Cases
It’s important to note that two laws in Illinois could significantly impact your ability to seek compensation after a slip and fall, including:
Statutes of Limitations
A statute of limitations is how long state statutes give you to file an injury claim after you’re hurt in certain situations. Here in Illinois, you have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit.
The filing of a claim and notification requirements you must follow can sometimes vary depending on who the defendant is. For example, if it’s a government agency, you may have to first notify them within a very short period to warn them of your intention to file suit before doing so.
If you miss the deadline, you will likely be ineligible to seek compensation for your slip and fall.
You’ll also need to familiarize yourself with Illinois’ comparative negligence law. The opposing party may attempt to pin some degree of fault or liability on you for your slip and fall accident. If the defendant is successful in at least partially shifting some of the blame for the slip and fall onto you, then the fair settlement award that you were expecting to receive would be decreased by your percentage of fault for the incident.
Fortunately, our slip and fall attorneys will construct a strong claim against the at-fault party on your behalf to avoid jeopardizing your chance for total and fair compensation.
Where Does a Slip and Fall Accident Commonly Occur?
The location of the premises where you fell can also impact the slip and fall claim. Some common places where falls happen include:
Falls in Nursing Homes
The elderly population is at a high risk of falling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3 million adults over age 65 are treated for serious fall injuries in emergency departments yearly.
Older people are more likely to fall because of lower body weakness, vitamin D deficiency, difficulties with balance, and vision problems. When a nursing home resident falls, the facility could be held accountable if staff members were not monitoring residents properly, adequate care wasn’t being provided, or the incident occurred because the facility was in disrepair.
Falls in Workplaces
If you work a job that requires you to travel to other properties to do work, you may be able to take legal action against the home or property owner if you fall while you’re on the job.
You may be eligible to file a third-party claim because you are considered an invitee in a situation like this since you were performing your work duties when the incident occurred. This means that you have been invited onto the property to conduct work.
A situation like this may warrant you filing a workers’ compensation claim, and if that does not pay enough, then potentially a third-party premises liability one.
Falls Outside on Icy Surfaces Such as Sidewalks or Parking Lots
Chicago winters bring cold, slippery conditions. A private property owner may be required to maintain sidewalks, stairs, and driveways to ensure visitors do not fall. If proper precautions aren’t taken, and someone slips on a patch of ice, the property owner could be held liable for any related fall injuries.
Filing a Slip and Fall Accident Claim With a Chicago Lawyer’s Help
Your actions after a trip and fall accident will significantly impact your personal injury claim. The following can determine the outcome of your case:
Steps You Take at the Slip and Fall Accident Scene
It’s essential that you report the accident to the premise’s owner. You should also take photographs of the Chicago slip and fall accident scene and your serious injuries. It’s also important that you collect contact information from any witnesses.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away if You’ve Suffered Serious Injuries
Make sure to seek medical attention right away and follow your doctor’s recommendations. The responsible party could argue that your slip and fall injuries are not as severe as you originally claimed they were if you do not receive follow-up care and abide by your health care provider’s treatment plan.
Discuss Your Case With a Chicago Premises Liability Attorney
Once you’re ready to learn about your legal options, get in touch with an experienced Chicago slip and fall attorney. Our Thomas Law Offices attorneys will be able to explain the slip and fall claim process, including how to prove liability. They’ll then help you source any important evidence to prove who was at fault, which is necessary to show who was responsible for your accident and move forward with your claim.
What To Expect at Your Personal Injury Attorney Consultation
At your free consultation, you will likely begin by retelling your slip and fall accident, and your lawyer will start an investigation to get to the bottom of what happened. Then, your fall attorney will use that evidence to determine how the property owner was negligent and what you’re owed as a result.
How Long the Slip and Fall Claims Process Takes
If you’re wondering how long your slip and fall case will last, the answer is it depends. Our fall lawyers know that’s probably not what you’d like to hear, but every fall case is unique. The severity of injuries and your future medical care needs are some circumstances surrounding slip and fall accidents that can affect how long it takes to reach a fair settlement.
If the property owner is willing to accept fault for your slip and fall injuries, your premises liability case will likely conclude sooner. If they try to blame you, you could be looking at a more prolonged legal battle. There’s also the matter of whether your fall claim will settle via negotiations or if you will need to go to trial. We’ll go over your options and help you make the decision that’s best for you.
Determining the Value of a Slip and Fall Case
The value of any given personal injury claim varies greatly depending on the extent of the injuries a fall victim suffers. Fall accidents can result in many injuries, from minor soft tissue injuries and fractures to severe spinal cord injuries or fatal traumatic brain injuries. Spinal cord injuries, for example, can cost millions of dollars to treat across a patient’s lifetime. Therefore, fall lawyers consider economic and non-economic losses when valuing claims levied against property owners.
The economic losses are calculable, as they’re based on damages like past and future medical care expenses, lost wages and future lost income, property damage, and diminished earning capacity associated with Chicago slip and fall accidents. Your fall accident lawyer will use applicable medical bills, health care records, physician statements, expert opinions, receipts, and more to value what you’ve lost in terms of economic damages from the incident on someone else’s property.
Your non-economic damages are more challenging to calculate, as they’re based on types of losses peripheral to any suffered injuries. They are considered more personal, like pain and suffering. Your damages for this category of losses are likely to be high in serious injury cases, such as if a more severe and life-altering fall injury occurred.
Why Should You Contact Thomas Law Offices if You Suffer Fall Injuries?
It only takes moments for Chicago slip and fall accidents to upend lives completely. However, recovery from fall accidents can take weeks, months, or longer. Victims may struggle to afford necessary medical care and food, especially if there are significant lost wages. To secure your family’s future and ensure you get what you need to reach your maximum medical improvement, you need an experienced Chicago slip and fall lawyer from Thomas Law Offices.
Our attorneys comprehensively understand how Chicago slip and fall personal injury cases work, and we’re prepared to take measures to ensure a property owner’s negligence that resulted in you getting hurt doesn’t go unpunished. When you contact our firm, we’ll schedule a free consultation to review your slip and fall case details.
We’ll determine who is responsible for the property where you suffered your serious injuries and determine what laws apply to your case. Once we have that information, we can proceed with a thorough investigation, including reviewing your medical bills. This will allow us to formulate a demand so that we can value your damages and losses.
It should be comforting to know that if you do hire legal representation, our fall accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that your legal counsel doesn’t earn anything unless they secure settlements in slip and fall accident cases like yours.
While your experienced slip and fall accident lawyer in Chicago will explain this entire process in more detail at your free consultation, negligible legal fees are all you will have to cover if an insurance company doesn’t ultimately pay full and fair compensation for your slip and fall accident claim. We serve clients in Cook and Lake County and anywhere else in the Chicago area where an accident occurred.
The sooner you schedule a free case evaluation with our fall accident lawyers, the better your chances are of pursuing a successful claim or personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault party or insurance company. Contact us to speak with a slip and fall attorney about the dangerous condition that caused you or a family member to suffer injuries today.