Unsafe conditions on any property have the potential to result in serious harm to a visitor. 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. In order to build a strong case, you’ll first want to have an understanding of the applicable laws in Illinois.
Premises Liability Laws in Illinois
States establish their own premises liability laws. In Illinois, 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 benefits of the property owner, while a licensee is a guest who is there for their own amusement. Regardless of the category a visitor falls into, the property owner needs to ensure their location has been properly maintained and rid of hazards.
The act also established the duty property owners have 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 in the event a licensee engages in willful and wanton conduct outside the normal use of the facility.
Property owners in Illinois do not owe any duty to adult trespassers, aside from willful or wanton conduct that would compromise the wellbeing of a trespasser.
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.
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 percent of all accidental deaths in the United States—placing them just behind car accidents.
Falling often leads to serious injuries—especially for the elderly. Broken bones, back injuries, and head trauma are just some of the common injuries slip and fall victims are left to deal with. When those injuries are fatal, the surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim 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 serious 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 you were wrongfully injured by a dog, 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 you’ve been bitten by a dog, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Even minor wounds can result in serious infections if not treated properly. Document the experience and file a police report. Once you’ve been treated by a doctor, it’s time to reach out to an attorney.
Negligent or Inadequate Security
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, convenience stores, movie theaters, parking garages, schools, and shopping malls.
Both 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 duty to protect those that shop in the business from foreseeable criminal attacks. A residential tenant, however, may only be able to control what happens to guests inside their apartment, not in the complex’s parking lot.
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. In the event 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 properly, the drain is defective, 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 a number of 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. 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.
It’s important to note, however, 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 as to 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.
In the event 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.
Recovering After a Hazardous Premises Accident
If you’ve been injured on someone’s property, it’s important 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. 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 get in touch with 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 their previous status. It’s understandable to be frustrated, especially if you’re dealing with lost wages from time off of work. It’s important to remember, however, 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.
The Importance of Working With an Attorney After an Accident
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. If you’ve been injured 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 you can focus on healing.
The more detailed of a case your attorney presents, the more likely it is that 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.
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:
- Duty. 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.
- Breach. 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. Causation refers to how the breach of duty resulted in the accident that caused your injuries. Your lawyer will help you delineate a clear path.
- Damages. 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.
Compensation for a Premises Liability Accident
To determine the value of your claim, your attorney will take a number of factors into consideration, including economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses are those that 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. Noneconomic 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 noneconomic damages.
It’s important to understand that the majority of personal injury claims do resolve 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.
Contact Thomas Law Offices
If you’ve been injured on someone’s property and are now dealing with the physical, emotional, and financial consequences, you don’t have to handle everything on your own. When you work with a Chicago premises liability lawyer 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.
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 claim evaluation to go over the merits of your case and discuss how to proceed based on your unique circumstances. 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.