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Chicago Premises Liability Attorney

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If you were injured on another party’s property, you may have a premises liability case. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their property does not present hazards or dangers to people. In general, if a property owner knew or should have known that the danger was present, they should have taken steps to warn of the danger or fix the problem.

Why Choose A Chicago Slip And Fall Accident Lawyer From Us?

At Smith LaCien LLP, our personal injury lawyers in Chicago have decades of experience helping injury victims and their families recover financial compensation for injuries and wrongful death cases. Illinois premises liability cases are rarely straightforward; you do not want to attempt to fight the insurance company on your own. Our experienced lawyers know how to obtain the compensation you need for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Learn more today with a free consultation.

Slip-and-Fall Accidents In Chicago

Chicago slip and fall accident attorneys

Although falling down doesn’t necessarily sound dangerous, it often causes serious injuries, especially if a person hits their head and suffers a traumatic brain injury. Even a mild concussion can affect people for months or years and a severe traumatic brain injury can be fatal. In addition, people can injure their back and spine, and suffer broken bones. Consulting a doctor first and then a brain injury attorney in Chicago will help you build your case and ensure you are compensated for your injuries.

Falls can happen anywhere, of course, but some of the most common places are grocery stores, discount stores, big-box stores, icy sidewalks, slick steps, pools, and at shopping malls. Any wet or slick surface can be dangerous, as can crack or broken flooring, bunched-up carpeting or floor mats, and other objects such as cords or wires on the floor. Speak to a Chicago slip and fall lawyer to learn more.

Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents In Chicago

Slip and fall or trip and fall injuries are the most common premises liability claims in Chicago. While it’s possible to fall at any time, there are occasions when a fall was preventable and wouldn’t have happened if a property owner or manager had taken reasonable measures to prevent an injury. Jurys in premises liability claims must ask themselves if a reasonable person in the same circumstances would have recognized and addressed the hazard to prevent injuries. Common causes of slip and fall accidents in Chicago include:

  • Uneven, cracked, or icy sidewalks and walkways
  • Insufficient lighting
  • Loose or wrinkled carpets and mats
  • Dangling electrical cords
  • Missing or loose handrails on stairways
  • Uneven stair risers
  • Unmarked level changes in flooring
  • Clutter or debris
  • Spills and leaks
  • Improper cleaning products that leave a slick or oily surface

Falls can cause serious injuries, especially to the elderly. A hip injury can have life-altering consequences for elderly fall victims, but people of any age can experience serious injuries from a fall. In the unfortunate event of a loss of life due to a premises liability issue, please contact our wrongful death attorneys in Chicago today. 

What to Do After A Chicago Premises Liability Incident

Falls can be painful and embarrassing when they occur in a public place. If you’ve struck your head or been very seriously injured, you may be able to do nothing except wait for emergency services to arrive to help you. However, if you are able to use your cell phone or hand it to someone else to use for you, it becomes the perfect tool to protect your physical and financial future. Use your phone to do the following:

  • Call 911 to ask for ambulance service
  • Snap photos of the hazard that caused your fall
  • Take photos of any visible injuries
  • Collect the contact information of the property owner or manager
  • Collect the contact information of any eyewitnesses to your fall

Be sure to ask the property owner to write out an accident report detailing your injury on their property and the date and time of your accident.

At the hospital, ask for a complete medical evaluation, and be sure to tell the doctor about all of your symptoms, even if they seem minor. Ask for a detailed medical report with your prognosis and treatment recommendations. Be sure to call the Chicago premises liability attorneys at Smith LaCien before speaking to anyone from the insurance company.

Premises Liability Is More Than Just Falls

In addition to slip-and-fall accidents, we represent people who have suffered premises liability injuries due to:

  • Negligent security: Hotels, apartment complexes, workplaces and gas stations can result in assault or robbery if they do not have sufficient security measures in place.
  • Stairway accidents: Broken steps, lack of handrails and poor lighting can make steps and stairwells dangerous.
  • Pool accidents and drowning: An open hazard such as a swimming pool can lead to falls and head injuries or oxygen deprivation and drowning. Gates or lifeguards can make pools safer.
  • Elevator and escalator accidents: Tripping and falling or getting caught in the escalator steps can cause serious injuries. An elevator accident can result in broken bones, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries.

These are just a few examples of premises liability cases. If you were injured on another party’s property, speak with our Chicago slip and fall attorneys and find out how we may be able to assist you.

Proving Premises Liability In Chicago 

When a person is seriously injured on private or commercial property, a premises liability attorney must investigate the circumstances of the accident and demonstrate that the property owner or manager meets the legal points of liability. This requires showing the following:

  • That the property owner had a reasonable duty of care to prevent injuries on their property
  • That they breached this duty through an act of negligence
  • That the negligent breach of duty directly caused your injury
  • That you’ve suffered significant damages from the injury

Once your attorney compiles evidence of liability and calculates your damages, they’ll send a strongly-worded demand letter to the appropriate insurance company to cover your damages. Typically, some back-and-forth negotiation takes place, but a seasoned attorney representing your best interests helps to maximize your chances of the insurance company offering an ample settlement for your damages. Fewer than 5% of cases are not settled out of court and proceed to courtroom litigation, but your Chicago premises liability attorney is more than ready to defend your rights in court if required.

Damages Available in Common Premises Liability Claims

Injuries can very quickly become costly. If you’ve had a preventable accident on someone else’s property and suffered serious injuries it’s likely that the medical bills are piling up at the same time that your injuries prevent you from returning to work at your previous capacity or at all. It can be difficult to focus on healing when you’re also facing financial impacts from your injury. A successful premises liability claim can help you recover damages such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses related to the injury
  • Lost wages
  • Future lost wages
  • Lowered capacity for earning if you’ve been left with a partial or total disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other appropriate non-economic damages like disfigurement, emotional trauma, or PTSD

It’s true that financial compensation for intangible damages like pain and suffering doesn’t cure pain or erase an injury, but it does help injury victims achieve a sense of justice and closure. It also adds to the overall compensation you receive to help relieve financial worries after an accident.

What Are The Different Categories of Persons on a Property?

Although every property owner has a duty to keep their property safe, that duty applies differently depending on the reason for the person’s visit. A person’s presence on a property can either be lawful or unlawful and as such, the responsibility of the property owner to keep them safe is different. Premises liability refers to a set of laws that make an owner or possessor of the land or premises responsible for certain injuries sustained by persons who are on the premises.

There are three different categories of people who a property owner must prepare for: invitees and licensees who are lawfully on the property and trespassers who are unlawfully on the property. Under Illinois premises liability law, the duty to invitees and licensees is the same.

Although the distinction no longer matters under Illinois law, the difference between whether a person is an invitee or a licensee to a property depends on the reason why they are on the property. A person who visits a property owner’s premises with no business purpose is a licensee. And a person who visits a property owner’s premises for a business or commercial purpose is an invitee. When you go to the grocery store or pay an entrance fee to a bar or restaurant, your purpose on the premises gives the property owner or manager a material or commercial benefit.

A trespasser, on the other hand, is a person who enters or is on another person’s property unlawfully. A trespasser is on the property for their own purpose with no right to be there and without the permission or invitation of the property owner.

Property Owner’s Duty to Persons on their Property

Generally, under Illinois law, a property owner does not owe a duty of care to a trespassing adult. However, they must not willfully and wantonly injure a trespasser.

The property owner’s duty to invitees and licensees requires more. Property owners must exercise ordinary care by maintaining their properties in a reasonably safe condition for invitees and licensees who are lawfully on their property. They must avoid creating or allowing dangerous conditions to exist on the property. And, they have a duty to warn lawful visitors to the property of any dangerous condition that the visitor may not discover on their own.

Children and the “Attractive Nuisance” Doctrine in Illinois

In many states, children are the exception to the trespassing exemptions for premises liability. Young children are not considered trespassers if they enter a property uninvited because children don’t have the capacity to understand boundaries and consequences, nor do young children always recognize obvious hazards. In many instances, the hazards themselves present an attraction to children—pools, ponds, trampolines, sand piles, and construction equipment, for example. The court may consider property owners negligent if they should reasonably have known that there was a danger to children on their property and they failed to address it.

Illinois jury instructions state that a jury deciding these cases must decide if the owner’s cost to correct the hazard or prevent entry was minimal compared to the obvious risk, in which case they bear liability. In essence, a jury must weigh the risk the hazard posed to the child with the expense and inconvenience of addressing the problem to prevent injury.

Responsibility of Visitors on a Premises

Lawful visitors on the premises must also take some responsibility for their own safety. Under Illinois law, property owners are generally under no duty to protect adult visitors from open and obvious dangers on the property. There are conditions such as heights and bodies of water that are considered common and obvious, and the law assumes that persons who encounter these conditions are well aware of the inherent dangers in such conditions and will take the necessary precautions to avoid the risk of harm.

A property owner may avoid legal responsibility for injuries suffered by a person who fails to appreciate and avoid obvious risks of harmful conditions on their property. Whatever the circumstances surrounding your injury, you lose nothing when you contact the experienced Chicago premises liability lawyers at Smith LaCien LLP because we offer free, no-obligation consultations.

What’s The Connection To Premises Liability and Dog Bites In Chicago?

Illinois has a strict liability law for dog bites that states that even if a dog bites someone on their owner’s property, the property owner is responsible for damages through their property insurance. This law is in effect even if the dog has no previous history of biting. Some exceptions to the premises liability law for dog bites include:

  • When a dog bites an adult who is trespassing on private property
  • A police dog who bites while performing their duty
  • A guard dog that bites an intruder on commercial property 

Dog owners are responsible for their pets and must take reasonable care to prevent harm to those legally visiting their property. This includes the area around the front of a home and approaching the front door. This area is referred to in legal terms as the home’s curtilage. Property owners must reasonably expect that uninvited persons may approach this area, including:

  • Delivery people
  • Postal workers
  • Salespeople
  • Religious solicitors
  • Neighbors

Both private and commercial property owners have a duty of care to prevent harm to those on a property for valid reasons and protect them from harm, including from dog attacks.

Contact A Chicago Premises Liability Lawyer Today

Our experienced, dedicated attorneys promptly and thoroughly investigate our cases to preserve evidence, determine fault, and assess liability on behalf of injured individuals and the families of those killed in trucking crashes. Smith LaCien’s lengthy history of representing victims of personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death has resulted in more than $2.5 billion in verdicts and settlements and over 100 cases of results of at least $1 million.

Smith LaCien offers free, no-obligation consultations to accident victims and their families. We also handle cases on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay us anything unless we obtain results. To learn more about how we can help, call us at (312) 509-8900 or contact us using our online form.

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