Premises liability incidents encompass many different injuries on private properties or in public establishments such as stores or event venues. These unfortunate situations involve people who are injured on someone else’s premises due to the property owner’s negligence.
Frequently, the injured party might be unaware of the owner’s negligence or the preventable nature of their injuries. For this reason, seeking advice from an Illinois premises liability attorney is highly advisable, as it can help you understand the available options.
What Can a Premises Liability Attorney Do For You?
A premises liability attorney can help with the complicated issues and difficulties that sometimes follow an injury on someone else’s property. Imagine that, through no fault of your own, you suffer an injury at a friend’s house or when shopping in a store.
Your injury requires medical care, not all of which is covered by health insurance. After receiving several bills and missing a few weeks of work, you begin feeling the financial strain.
You ask the property owner or manager (the person in control of the property) for help with your expenses, but they say the injury was your fault and they don’t owe you anything.
A large number of premises liability cases begin this way. Sometimes, people think that the injury was their fault and decide to absorb the costs on their own.
But this can be expensive – especially if your injuries are serious and need continued care or result in a permanent disability. You should not have to pay for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence.
Fortunately, a premises liability lawyer can help. We’ll review your case, identify any relevant insurance policies, and seek compensation from the responsible party or their insurance carrier
Does Your Situation Qualify As a Premises Liability Case?
To find out for sure, you should speak with a premises liability lawyer. In general, if you were injured on someone else’s property because they were negligent, you may have a case.
Here are some common types of premises liability claims handled by personal injury lawyers in Illinois:
Slip/Trip and Fall Cases
Falls are among the most common causes of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can also lead to broken bones, back and neck injuries, soft tissue strain or injuries, and other issues. Many falls happen due to either tripping on an object or slipping on a wet or slick surface.
These hazards are often behind slip/trip and fall injuries
- Spilled drinks, puddles from leaks, and other liquids. These situations happen, and a person isn’t necessarily negligent because they spilled a cup of coffee. Negligence occurs when the property owner or manager fails to clean up the spill promptly after knowing about it, leaving a risk to others.
- Torn or bunched carpets or rugs. These can be hard to see if you aren’t looking directly at the floor as you walk – and most people aren’t. Even a small snag or hole in the carpet can be a hazard if your shoe catches on it. Floor mats are also potential hazards if they’re flipped over. The property owner has a responsibility to fix these issues, and if the problem can’t be fixed right away, the owner should warn guests to watch their step in this area.
- Loose, damaged, or missing floor tiles. This is similar to the problem with bunched or damaged carpets – the floor may look normal to a casual observer but still poses a threat.
- Uneven floors. A slight change in the height of the floor can cause a person to trip and fall. If fixing or replacing the floor isn’t a good option, the owner should post a sign to warn guests.
- Staircase issues. Staircases can also have worn carpeting or tile problems, often in the center of the stairs where the most foot traffic occurs. The property owner should take care to address these. Another potential problem is poor lighting in the stairwell, making it hard for people to see the steps. Additionally, some staircases require handrails; if a qualifying staircase lacks these and you get hurt in a fall, the owner could be negligent.
- Debris left on the floor or ground. Debris can be any object that isn’t a permanent part of the floor, but most commonly, we see cases where small items cause a fall because they are hard to see. Items on the grass or ground are also problematic. For example, if your neighbor leaves a shovel lying across the walkway, you could trip and fall on your way to their front door.
- Snow and ice. It’s important to understand that Illinois law on slip-and-fall accidents from ice/snow accumulation favors the property owner. If the ice or snow “accumulated naturally,” the property owner is not considered liable. However, if the precipitation accumulated “unnaturally” or the property owner aggravated the natural accumulation, you may have a claim. An example would be if the property owner shovels snow out of the way, then it melts and causes a slick spot that leads to a fall. This would be “unnatural” because the snow was moved. A premises liability lawyer can help you determine if there was an unnatural precipitation accumulation in your case.
In general, property owners have a duty of care to create a reasonably safe environment for guests who are legally on their property, but they do not owe any duty of care to trespassers. If someone breaks into your home and trips on a loose floorboard, you shouldn’t be found liable in most situations.
However, there are a few exceptions, including the attractive nuisance doctrine. “Attractive nuisances” are unenclosed objects or areas that could attract the interest of curious children.
Kids are usually excluded from exceptions about trespassing because they are young and may not understand the danger or consequences of their actions. If you have an “attractive nuisance” like playground equipment, a pool, or even old appliances on your property, you could be liable if a child easily accesses this nuisance and suffers an injury.
Property owners or renters have a duty to take reasonable actions to make these attractive nuisances safe for children. This does not necessarily mean that the owner has to fix or remove the hazard, but they should make it difficult for children to access it.
For instance, erecting a tall fence with a locked gate around a pool or a rusted swingset is usually sufficient to reduce the danger. If you have old appliances like washers and dryers in your unfenced backyard, you can remove the doors so they won’t pose a danger to kids who could otherwise get trapped inside.
If your child suffered an injury on a neighbor’s property caused by an unsecured “attractive nuisance,” the property owner may be liable. Please contact an Illinois premises liability lawyer to find out more.
Assaults or Crime in Public Places
Most people don’t think about a premises liability case if they are the victim of a crime. They might express a desire to sue the perpetrator (if police apprehend the person), but this isn’t an ideal option in most cases, mainly because there is no liability insurance for these situations.
Unless the perpetrator has enough assets to cover your damages, you might be unable to collect a judgment even if you win.
So what can you do if you’re left with medical bills, lost income from missing work, chronic pain, permanent disability, or other damages? In some cases, there may be other options for recovering compensation.
A premises liability claim against the property owner or manager may be possible if they were negligent.
Sometimes, people ask how negligence leads to another party committing a crime. Remember that property owners have a duty of care to provide a reasonably safe environment for guests, including reducing the risk of crime.
While it’s not possible to prevent every crime, there are steps a business owner can take to make their business less attractive to criminals. If the owner or manager did not ensure a reasonably safe experience for guests or customers, they might have been negligent.
Here are some examples of negligence in relation to criminal activity:
- Lack of security systems or electronic surveillance. Easily visible video cameras and signs warning about silent alarms or other security measures go a long way toward discouraging robbers and other criminals. If nothing else, they can provide evidence to help the police catch a perpetrator who does target the business. If a business owner keeps a safe with cash on the premises but has no real electronic surveillance or security system, they could be putting not only their employees but also their customers in danger.
- Lack of response to previous crimes. In some cases, we look at police reports on the location where our client was assaulted or otherwise harmed due to a crime. We may find that this location had several previous police visits for robberies, vandalism, or other crimes. If it turns out that the owner or manager didn’t make security improvements after these crimes – such as upgrading to a better security system or adding cameras in blind spots – they may have been negligent.
- Lack of training for employees. Workers in high-risk businesses should be trained to handle potentially dangerous situations, and they should learn how to use the security system correctly. For example, everyone should know where the silent alarm button is located and the protocol for handling a robbery. If the manager leaves a new employee alone in the store without explaining these critical points, they could be negligent.
- Poor lighting in parking lots. Sometimes criminals decide that robbing a store with video cameras and a security system is too much trouble, but a customer walking to their car is an easier target. This is more likely to be the case if the parking lot is poorly lit, reducing the risk of the victim getting a good description of the attacker and preventing security cameras from capturing clear video. If you were mugged or assaulted in a poorly lit parking lot, the business could have been negligent.
- Lack of security in hotels and motels. So far, we’ve mostly talked about stores or other businesses that are generally open to the public. But hotels and motels can also have some unique security problems because they rent out rooms where patrons expect to have privacy and security. If the hotel fails to make these rooms reasonably secure, and a patron is assaulted or attacked in their room, then the hotel might be liable. For example, if the hotel room has poor-quality locks that are easily overcome, or the clerk gives out a new room key without checking the person’s ID, the hotel could be negligent.
Determining Who Is Liable in Premises Liability Cases
We’ve talked about property owners and managers because sometimes the owner is not in control of the property. For instance, many businesses rent their location from a commercial real estate company, as many people rent a place to live in an apartment complex.
If the tenant is controlling the location, they are usually considered to be liable, not the business owner.
However, there are some exceptions. Some parts of a building or apartment may not be under the renter’s control, or the renter might not have the legal authority to make changes.
For example, if your rental contract states that the landlord is responsible for repairs, and you notice a loose floor tile, you will have to contact the landlord and wait for them to fix it. Your premises liability lawyer can help by determining who was in control of the premises in question and if they were negligent in your situation.
Contact an Illinois Premises Liability Attorney Today
When you or a loved one are injured on another party’s property, you could suffer severe injuries and financial difficulties from medical expenses, lost income, and other damages. It can be challenging to discern if the property owner or manager negligently caused your injuries, but an Illinois premises liability lawyer can help you figure it out.
Please contact The Fakhouri Firm Accident and Injury Lawyers at (312) 999-9990 for a free, confidential consultation to learn the options in your case.
Founder and lead attorney Robert S. Fakhouri founded The Fakhouri Firm to help injured people seek justice and recover compensation for their losses. In his spare time, he posts about legal topics for his many followers on social media.