Have 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 FallsAs 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?
As 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.
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.