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Chicago Slip & Fall Attorneys

slip and fallHave You Been Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident in Illinois?Slip and fall accidents are fairly common in Chicago and across Illinois. Some times the injuries are minor, a few bruises perhaps. But other times the injuries from a slip and fall can be serious. It is common for fall victims to suffer traumatic brain injuries, broken bones that require surgical repair, or severe spinal cord injuries, or neck and back injuries. Serious slip and fall injuries create costly medical bills, force you to take time off from work, often make it harder to take care of your family, and can cause pain and suffering. When a costly injury occurs as a result of an unsafe condition on someone else’s property, you may have a valid damage claim for negligence. The Chicago slip and fall lawyers at Abels & Annes can help you understand your rights and options. You can contact us online or by calling us at (312) 924-7575.
Conditions that Cause Slip and Falls
Slip and fall injuries can be caused by many different situations. Sometimes they are caused by a natural condition, such as an icy sidewalk during winter. But at other times, the injury may actually be caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence. Situations that can cause trips and falls and slip and falls include:
  • Poorly lit stairwells;
  • Rugs or mats that get folded, bunched up, torn, worn out, or that slip;
  • Uneven patches of ground, floor, or sidewalk;
  • Hazards created by negligent snow or ice removal;
  • Broken or defective porches;
  • Broken, defective, or poorly designed stairs or stair rails;
  • Broken up or uneven pavement;
  • Oily or wet spots from spilled or leaked materials;
  • A freshly mopped floor; or
  • Other conditions.

While these may all seem like serious maintenance deficiencies, not every accident that occurs on another person’s property from these sorts of conditions create liability for the property owner. Whether the owner is liable depends upon the specific circumstances.

The Duty of Chicago Property Owners to Prevent Slip and Falls

As a general rule, a property owner has a duty (knowns as a duty of care) to keep his or her property in good repair, and to warn or protect against unsafe conditions. If the property owner fails to uphold this duty, and the failure results in causing harm to another person, he may be liable to the injured party in a personal injury claim for any damages. 

The damages from a slip and fall, can include medical costs, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and so on.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that even if you have been injured as a result of an unsafe condition such as those outlined above, a property owner may still not be liable. A property owner is not the insurer of everyone who steps upon his or her premises. Instead, he or she is held to a standard of “reasonableness.” Accordingly, if a reasonable property owner would have known of the condition, and a reasonable owner would have been able to take steps to render the condition safe but failed to, then the owner may be said to be negligent.

Proving Reasonableness in a Slip and Fall Case

This standard of reasonableness—or unreasonableness, as the case may be—may be proven in different ways. For instance, if the property owner has a record of being diligent or meticulous about maintenance—he conducts regular inspections; immediately addresses or fixes problems, faults, or defects; keeps the public areas cleaned regularly and frequently; has a repair person on staff; and so on—it may be difficult to show that the property owner has been negligent in a given case, if his standard procedures were followed. 

However, if the owner has a history of problems that have not been addressed promptly—for example, burned out light bulbs are not replaced within a reasonable period, or a wobbly step is not repaired until it actually breaks—then it may be easier for a slip and fall attorney in Chicago to demonstrate that the owner has not been reasonable, and is therefore negligent. 

Despite these general observations, whether a property owner may be found negligent depends upon the specific facts of a given case.

Reasonableness Can Also Apply to Slip and Fall Victim

It is also important to remember that the standard of reasonableness also applies to the injury victim. Individuals are generally expected to exercise ordinary care to avoid accidents that, under normal circumstances, can be avoided with relative ease. If an individual bears responsibility for the injury he suffers, then he may not be able to recover any damages, even if the injury is serious, or may only be able to recover a small portion.

Consequently, despite the seemingly common—and sometimes clichéd—assumption that an injured party may always make a claim for damages when they slip and fall on someone else’s property, slip and fall cases are far from simple. Accordingly, if you have been seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, you should consult a qualified slip and fall attorney before proceeding with any claim. 

The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes provide slip and fall victims free consultations. If we mutually agree to pursue a case, you can rest easy knowing that you will not pay any legal fees until a satisfactory settlement is reached, or damages are obtained pursuant to a lawsuit.

When Should I Make a Claim for My Slip and Fall Injury?

slip and fall injury - Chicago slip and fall attorneys - Abels and AnnesAs a general rule, if you believe that the injury you have suffered from a slip and fall is the result of someone else’s negligence, the sooner you file a claim, the better. Under Illinois law, a negligence lawsuit must usually be brought within two years of the actual incident in order to fit within the statute of limitations. However there are some exceptions. (If the claim is against a state or local government entity the time frame is shortened, so it is especially important to consult a slip and fall lawyer in Chicago as soon as possible.)

Other than the statute of limitations, there is no specific time table within which to file your claim or retain counsel, although the older a claim is, the harder it may be to reach a satisfactory agreement with the insurer as evidence becomes cold, damaged, or lost. Further, since the statute of limitations is typically two years for bringing a lawsuit, it is better to file an insurance claim as soon as possible after an accident; in the event that you are unable to reach a satisfactory settlement with an insurer, you do not want to find yourself unable to bring a lawsuit because you have missed the two year window for filing suit. Further, lawyers are very reluctant to take slip & fall cases close to the statute of limitations date.

Modified Comparative Fault applied to Illinois Slip and Fall Claims

In Illinois, even if you are partly at fault for the injury, you may still be able to recover. Under a theory of liability called the “modified comparative fault” rule, an injured party may still be able to recover if the property owner bears some degree of fault for the injury. 

Under this rule, for example, if a jury deems that you are 40% responsible for the accident, but the property owner is 60% responsible, you may still be able to recover an amount equal to 60% of the proven damages. However, if a judge or jury finds that you are more than 50% at fault, the defendant will be found not guilty. 

Slip and Fall Accident FAQ

If you were injured as a result of a fall in a public place or on someone else’s property, you may have the right to take legal action for monetary damages. Below we answer some of the most common questions that arise when clients come to us after sustaining harm in a slip and fall.

Is there a time limit for me to file my case?

Under Illinois law, you must file your slip and fall lawsuit within two years of the date of your accident in most circumstances. This is known as thestatute of limitations. But some exceptions to this rule exist, and you should never assume that your case falls within the two-year statute of limitations. Talk to an attorney.

And don't wait two years to call a slip and fall lawyer. Get in touch with an attorney immediately, so your legal counsel has time to gather evidence and build your case before the statute of limitations expires.

What duties does a property owner or operator owe to visitors?

Generally, a property owner (or occupier such as a tenant) has a duty to keep his premises free of conditions that could cause a slip and fall accident. Under Illinois law, any person in possession and control of property must exercise reasonable care to ensure the safety of visitors to the property. What constitutes reasonable care in preventing slip and fall accidents can vary with the circumstances. In some cases, it will mean giving adequate warnings of an unsafe feature of the property. In others, it will mean discovering and taking active measures to fix an unsafe condition, such as a faulty railing on a staircase leading up to the El. Sometimes it might mean doing both.

This general rule applies to virtually any feature of a property where visitors are reasonably expected to set foot. It includes correcting conditions like crumbling stairs, broken sidewalks, loose railings, and wet floors. It may include removing an unnatural accumulation of ice from a sidewalk.

The only time a property possessor does not owe that duty of reasonable care is when an adult “visitor” to a property is trespassing. In that case, the property owner only has a duty not to willfully or wantonly injure the trespasser. Property owners must still exercise reasonable care to keep child trespassers safe from danger, however.

If you have slipped (or tripped) and fallen on someone else’s property, consult an experienced Illinois premises liability (or slip and fall) attorney as soon as possible to learn about whether you may have the right to take legal action for damages.

What damages might I recover?

Depending on the facts of your case, you might be entitled to recover a variety of damages related to your slip and fall accident. These could include:

  • Medical costs: Even if you carry health insurance, you will likely incur medical costs after slipping and falling on someone else’s property, including for initial treatment and follow-up care. Document these costs—keep all bills and other records you receive from your doctor and/or insurance company.

  • Damages forpain and suffering: These damages can include physical pain and suffering or mental pain, including anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, fear, shock, and loss of enjoyment of life.

  • Lost wages: A slip and fall accident can often leave an accident victim like you unable to work, either for a finite period of time or permanently. Maybe you can work, but not in the same field or for the same amount of earnings. In a premises liability lawsuit, you may have the right to seek compensation for those lost wages. As with medical costs, document any wages lost during a hospital stay or for time you have to take off work for ongoing treatment. You will also want to keep proof of any change in salary or occupation that results from your injury. Hang on to any documentation from your doctors or therapists who diagnose you with any condition that prevents you from working in your former capacity.

  • Loss of consortium: You may have the right to recover loss of consortium damages - those related to the loss of a family relationship. This most often applies to the spousal relationship, but may also apply to that between a parent and his or her children. If you’ve been injured severely enough to lose your ability to engage in the activities you once enjoyed or performed around the house, such as leisure activities, or have lost the ability to engage in sexual relations, you might have a loss of consortium claim. You might also recover these damages if you are unable to interact with your children as you once did.

Whom can I hold legally liable for my injuries?

Depending upon the circumstances in which you slipped, tripped, or fell, you may have the right to take legal action against the owner of the property, the occupying tenant, or the company that manages the property. Determining who may have legal liability to you is a fact-specific exercise for an experienced premises liability lawyer. The identity of the legally liable party can vary widely from case-to-case.

Why should I hire a slip and fall attorney?

Personal injury cases can be complicated and preparing them for litigation takes a significant amount of time and effort. In addition, if your slip and fall case goes to trial, it will be in front of a jury. Juries can be fickle because they comprise fallible human beings who bring their different life experiences into the courtroom. The jury will decide both fault and any monetary award you are entitled to. Selecting a potentially favorable jury requires skill and expertise that only comes from training and courtroom experience. Don’t go it alone.

You need an experienced and compassionate slip and fall attorney in your corner. In many cases, a settlement can be reached before a trial is necessary, but to get the best outcome you will want a lawyer with experience negotiating complex cases involving potentially large sums of money.

The Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys at Abels & Annes Can Help You with Your Slip and Fall Case

Abels & Annes, P.C., has represented numerous clients in the Chicago area who have been injured in slip and fall or premises liability accidents. In the Chicago area, we know that many property owners fail to comply with local building codes and other safety standards, and a number of slip and fall injuries are caused by defective property conditions. In serious injury cases, our Chicago slip and fall attorneys have even retained architects and other building professionals who have examined properties and identified serious deficiencies.

Whether your injury is minor or major, we know that medical bills and other impacts can quickly amount to substantial sums, particularly when an injury involves an extended recovery period or impacts your ability to perform your job.

If you are faced with a serious injury, do not try to pursue your slip and fall case without an experienced and qualified attorney. Many times, slip and fall cases are not easy to settle, and the mere fact of injury is not enough to prove liability. At the Law Office of Abels & Annes, P.C., you can be confident that our Chicago personal injury lawyers will give you an honest assessment of the viability of your claim and, if we agree to pursue the case on your behalf, we will aggressively pursue damages resulting from your slip and fall accident. Contact Abels & Annes P.C. at (312) 924-7575, or use our online contact form here.

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