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Was Your Slip and Fall Caused by Negligence?

Understanding if Your Slip and Fall Case was Caused by Negligent Actions

While a slip and fall may sound like a slapstick routine, these accidents are often extremely serious and can lead to significant injuries. Illinois property owners owe their visitors a duty of care that amounts to affording those visitors safe passage through the property in question. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, it’s in your best interest to retain legal counsel – such claims are often complicated, but your rights and your rightful compensation matter.

What is a premises liability claim?

Slip and fall accidents come fall under an area of law known as premises liability, and every case is unique to its own set of circumstances. To bring a successful slip and fall claim, you must be able to prove negligence on the part of the property owner (or manager or occupant), like a store owner or the manager of a supermarket.

What is negligence in a slip and fall claim?

Slip and fall negligence consists of several distinct elements:

  • The property owner had a duty of care to you;
  • The property owner failed to live up to this duty of care;
  • You wouldn’t have sustained an injury if the property owner had lived up to this duty of care;
  • The property owner’s failure to live up to this duty of care – not something else – caused you to be injured; and
  • Your injuries have caused you to suffer actual damages (such as medical expenses and lost wages).

In other words, the property owner must have either created the dangerous condition or known about the dangerous condition that caused you to be injured but did not take the necessary steps to mitigate that danger or to warn you about that danger, or the property owner must not have exercised the reasonable amount of care it would have taken to know about the danger in the first place.

If you’ve been injured in a Chicago slip and fall accident, seek immediate medical attention and then consult with a slip and fall attorney. If someone else’s negligence has caused you to be injured, you’re entitled to just compensation. The slip and fall lawyers at the Law Firm of Abels and Annes are committed to fighting for your rights and for your rightful compensation, and we’re here to help.

How do slip and fall accidents occur?

When you enter a business or another property as a customer or welcome guest, you have the right to entertain a reasonable expectation that you won’t become injured by random hazards or dangerous conditions. There are, however, several property conditions that commonly contribute to slip and fall accidents:

  • Entryways, sidewalks, or walkways that are cracked, uneven, broken, slippery, or crooked;
  • Wet and slippery surfaces;
  • Common areas that incorporate hazardous or dangerous components;
  • Surfaces that are snow packed or icy;
  • Flooring or carpeting that is rough, torn, bunched, or loose;
  • Spills related to the business’s operation that go unchecked;
  • Unsafe merchandising displays; and
  • Insufficient lighting for allowing safe passage.

Any of these conditions can cause a slip and fall accident. If you’ve been injured under such circumstances, it’s very natural to want to blame your own clumsiness – out of misguided courtesy or embarrassment. Resist the urge to claim the blame. It’s your right to walk through a business or property unmolested by dangers that are attributable to negligence.

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident at a business or private property that was caused by the property owner’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for your losses. Slip and fall accidents can lead to serious injuries that have overarching negative health, financial, and emotional consequences. Your rights matter.

Common Slip and Fall Injuries

Every slip and fall accident is unique and can lead to any number of physical injuries. There are, however, certain injuries that are most closely associated with such accidents:

Such injuries can lead to long-lasting negative consequences and expenses, including initial and ongoing medical costs, lost wages and earning potential, and other financial damages.

What should I do after a slip and fall to strengthen my claim?

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, you are no doubt overwhelmed and possibly at a loss regarding what to do next. Your most important first step is to seek necessary medical attention – your health and safety should always be your top priority. While slip and fall accidents are often harrowing, there are steps you can take at the scene to strengthen your claim (enlist someone at the scene to carry these steps out for you if you are unable to complete them):

  • File an accident report with the property owner or manager where you were injured and/or file a police report (as appropriate). Don’t forget to retain copies of these reports for your slip and fall attorney.
  • Use your phone to take photos and/or videos of where the accident happened, of how the accident happened, and of any factors that co>ntributed to the accident. Now that virtually everyone is packing a smartphone, there’s no reason not to take plenty of evidentiary photos.
  • Gather eyewitness statements in corroboration of your claim, and don’t forget to get your eyewitnesses’ contact details. It’s also a good idea to ask eyewitnesses for any photos or videos they may have taken at the scene.
  • Compile a comprehensive collection of the medical expenses that emanate from your slip and fall accident.
  • Each of these will help to corroborate your slip and fall case and allow your attorney to better defend your claim.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident, Consult with a Chicago Slip and Fall Lawyer Today

Slip and falls are far more serious than their name would imply. If you’ve suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. At the Law Firm of Abels & Annes, we understand how difficult such accidents can be and we’ll aggressively fight for your just compensation. We’re here to help, so please contact or call our office at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation today.

Slip & Fall Accident

Slips and Falls Are Common at Busy Stores

Millions of people slip and fall down each year in the United States. Slips and falls can happen anywhere and anytime, but retail stores are common locations for these types of accidents. Stores come in all shapes and sizes—from small boutiques to designer stores on Michigan Avenue to large “big box” stores such as Walmart or Target. No matter what the size or type of store, owners and management have the duty to keep the premises safe for their customers.

Store employees or managers can easily neglect their duties and forget to fully inspect their premises for hazards or address any dangerous conditions in timely ways. Unfortunately, this can lead unsuspecting customers to encounter a hazard and slip and fall down. In such cases, victims should hold the store fully liable for any losses and injuries stemming from the fall.

How the Holiday Rush Leads to Slips and Falls

With the holiday season upon us, many people will go shopping. Whether you are shopping for groceries to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving feast for your family or checking off your holiday gift list, the holidays can involve numerous trips to various stores. The crowds increase in almost every store, which can often cause busy and almost chaotic conditions.

Stores often increase their inventories for the holidays, which requires employees to focus on constantly stocking and restocking shelves. Lines are much longer, which means stores need more cashiers to decrease wait times. In the meantime, other duties—such as ensuring that stores are in neat and safe conditions—may fall by the wayside.

When crowds increase in stores, things can get messy. This is especially true on peak shopping days such as Black Friday. Customers may act in horrible ways in stores just to get good sale prices—and merchandise is often left strewn about throughout the day. With larger crowds and preoccupied employees, common hazards may develop.

Conditions that may cause slips and falls in stores include:

  • Items out of place and on the floor
  • Debris left on the floor
  • Floor mats, runners, or carpets left askew
  • Dirt or oily substances on the floor
  • Liquid spills
  • Wet floors with no warning signs
  • Obstacles in walkways

For example, imagine a customer goes to put back a shirt at Target. The shirt falls off the hanger and onto the floor and the customer leaves it there. No store employee comes by that area of the store for quite some time, so the shirt remains on the floor. Later, a customer walks by—not looking at the floor—and slips on the material of the shirt. The customer falls backward, cracking a tailbone and incurring a back injury.

In the above example, the store should have regularly inspected the premises for potential hazards to customers and eliminated them. Because someone should have noticed the shirt and picked it up, a slip and fall accident victim can hold the store liable for negligence and all of the losses incurred as a result. The combination of bustling crowds and distracted employees during the holidays commonly results in such negligence cases.

How a Slip and Fall Injury Can Hurt You

Some people slip and fall, laugh about it, get up, and continue shopping. However, many slip and fall victims are not so fortunate. Instead, they suffer injuries that can significantly damage their lives. Common slip and fall injuries can have the following impacts:

  • Neck and back injuries – When people fall, they often twist or wrench their backs or necks. The neck and back are both integral to movement, and injuries can make any movement extremely painful. Many people with back or neck injuries experienced severe pain and restrictions on lifting items or even getting up and walking.
  • Concussion and TBI – Fall victims can easily hit their heads on floors, shelves, or other items. Any bump to the head can result in a concussion, and a serious blow can cause a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Concussions and TBIs can cause many physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems and may prevent you from working or attending school.
  • Broken bones – While a broken bone may seem like a run-of-the-mill injury to some, it can keep you from participating regular activities for some time and requires medical care. Compound fractures can also require surgeries and can take as long as a year to finally heal. Some patients never fully regain their movement abilities.
  • Soft tissue injuries – Even if you do not fracture a bone, your muscles, ligaments, or tendons can stretch or twist, resulting in strains, sprains, or even tears. These extremely painful injuries may require a long course of physical therapy to regain movement. Tears may need surgical repairs.

No matter what type of injury you suffer in a slip and fall, always report the fall to the store and go to the emergency department or doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis. If you incur any bills or losses due to your injury, discuss what happened with an attorney who has experience handling premises liability claims against stores. A lawyer can file a claim with the store’s insurance company or can file a personal injury lawsuit against the company if necessary.

Discuss a Possible Claim With Our Chicago Slip and Fall Attorneys

The legal team at Abels & Annes hopes you have a safe and injury-free holiday season. However, if you are involved in any type of accident, discuss your injuries and your rights with one of our lawyers as soon as possible. We will evaluate your case for free, so please call our Chicago office at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for more information today.

Did You Fall Down Dangerous Stairs?

Slips and falls are consistently among the most common causes of injuries in the Chicago area. When serious, the injuries caused by falls can often require emergency medical treatment. The injuries may even leave victims with long-term medical problems and life-altering disabilities. When injury-causing falls occur on dangerous stairs, victims may recover compensation for any losses they sustain as a result of their accidents.

At Abels & Annes, P.C., we understand how profoundly a serious fall down the stairs can damage a person’s life, and we are committed to helping victims obtain the compensation to which Illinois law entitles them. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our Chicago personal injury attorneys, contact us online or call our office at (312) 924-7575.

When Can People Recover Compensation for Falls on Stairs?

Just as with other accidents, you are entitled to compensation for a fall on dangerous stairs. However, you must establish that your accident was the result of someone else’s negligence.

Property owners have duties to take reasonable steps to keep their properties in a safe conditions. This is especially pertinent when they have invited the general public to it. For instance, with places where people shop, eat, drink, or otherwise engage in commercial activity.

What Do I Have to Prove If I Fall Down Stairs?

Property owners have a duty of care to take reasonable care to ensure their property is safe, as stated under Illinois’ Premises Liability Act.

Property owners and anyone in charge of their property must ensure that it is safe for individuals who live there and who visit. This extends to areas that people frequent, such as entrances, bathrooms, and stairwells.

If you were injured while on another person’s property and you believe that their negligence caused your injuries, you may be able to seek compensation for your damages. In order to do this, you must be able to prove that:

  1. A condition on the property presented an unreasonable risk of harm to those living at or visiting the property.
  2. The property owner was aware, or should have been aware, that the condition existed and that it was a hazard.
  3. The property owner was negligent because of something they did or did not do.
  4. The incident you were involved in resulted in an injury or injuries.
  5. The property owner’s negligence was the leading cause of your injury.

Hazards that Cause Falls Down Stairs

Dangerous conditions, with respect to stairwells, that could indicate negligence on the part of a property owner or leaseholder include:

Missing or broken handrails

Staircases having more than four steps (or risers) are typically legally required to have something to hold onto while you go up and down. If legally required handrails are missing, broken, or damaged, it prevents a serious risk of falling.

Inadequate lighting

Some stairwells have no lighting at all. Others have dim lighting or broken/burnt-out lightbulbs. Or perhaps a light switch that isn’t present at both the top and bottom of the staircase. All of these poor lighting conditions could cause a person to fall on a staircase due to decreased visibility.

Uneven stairs

Crooked steps or uneven stairs can cause a person to miss their next step or to trip in a way that results in a dangerous fall.

Liquid spills

There are a few different types of spills on stairs that can cause a hazard. This may include a spill caused by a customer or employee or something from a maintenance issue. Depending on the specific circumstances, you may be able to hold the property owner responsible in these situations.

Accumulations of snow or ice

Uncleared ice or snow on exterior stairs can be hazardous since it makes the walking surface slippery and can cause a slip and fall. In some cases, unremoved snow or ice could be the responsibility of the property owner or caretaker. Snow removal cases have become much more difficult to prove under Illinois law. So it is best to speak to a lawyer as soon as practicable.

Torn carpets

Carpets naturally break down over time because of high traffic. If carpets aren’t well maintained and replaced when necessary, it can present a hazard that could cause a fall down a flight of stairs.

Uneven risers

A fall can occur if the spaces between the steps are uneven. This can cause someone to over- or underestimate the distance to the next step. This a fundamental design problem that may pose a safety hazard.

Inadequate non-slip tread

Rubber treading helps to prevent slip and falls from occurring by providing extra traction. However, these treads are only helpful when they’re present and in good condition. Torn up tread can all prevent a fall hazard.

No stair markings

Some stairs require hazard markings to ensure that they’re safe. For example, if the top of a staircase is around the corner or hidden in some way, it is the property owner’s responsibility to inform people on their property.

Damaged stairs

Stairs that are damaged can obviously create a tripping hazard. Some of the most common types of damage include chipped concrete, broken tiles, and rotted wood.

Code violation

If the condition or construction of the stairs violates local or state building codes, it could be noncompliant with safety regulations that prevent dangerous hazards leading to a fall. Depending on what code was violated and how, it may be the owner, designer, construction company, or installer, that is responsible for the damages.

How Design Can Make Stairs Dangerous

It’s not just the condition of the stairs that create slip and fall problems. The way that a stairwell was designed possibly makes it inherently dangerous for everyone who uses it. In such a case, you could possibly hold the person or party who designed the stairs liable for any resulting injuries.

Similarly, if stairs were poorly manufactured or made with substandard materials, accident victims may initiate legal action against the party responsible for the construction of the stairs or the manufacturing of the materials.

Falls on Dangerous Stairs Can Cause Extremely Serious Injuries

Stairs are a particularly dangerous place to lose your footing. The force of gravity can cause you to fall down multiple stairs, potentially causing injuries with each impact. As a result, many people who fall on dangerous stairs sustain injuries that require medical treatment. They can cause issues for significant periods of time after their accidents actually took place. Serious injuries that people can sustain in stairwell falls include:

Traumatic brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries, which are sometimes referred to simply as “TBIs,” can occur during stairwell falls if a person’s head hits a stair, the wall, a handrail, or another object with sufficient force. Mild TBIs such as concussions can leave victims with headaches, dizziness, and sensitivity to light or sounds that can last for months. More serious brain injuries have the potential to result in long-term disabilities that can destroy a person’s ability to earn a living or perform daily tasks without significant assistance.

Broken bones

Many victims of falls on stairs suffer broken bones that are extremely painful and even disfiguring. In many cases, broken bones require weeks or months to heal and can result in victims requiring surgeries and rehabilitative treatments.

Spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries can cause muscle weakness, numbness, loss of range of motion, and even paralysis below the site of the injury. These injuries can dramatically affect a person’s life and create lasting problems and financial strain.

Neck and back Injuries

Another common injury that occurs when a person falls down a set of stairs is a neck or back injury. This refers to injuries that do not directly affect the spinal cord. For example, this grouping of injuries can include a herniated disc, fracture, or muscle sprain. Neck and back injuries can require surgery, physical therapy, expensive medications, and other expenses that can put a financial strain on an individual and their family. Additionally, you may also be left without a paycheck while you recover or attend necessary medical appointments.

Soft tissue injuries

Soft tissue injuries include bruises, torn muscle fibers (contusions), and torn ligaments (strains). A person can usually fully recover from a soft tissue injury. However, the injury can still cause damages related to medical bills, medication costs, rehabilitation fees, and pain and suffering.

Facial and dental injuries

Slip and falls that occur on stairs have a greater chance of causing facial and dental injuries. This is especially true when the fall occurs as a person goes down the stairs. Facial and dental injuries include a broken nose, fractured or dislocated jaw, broken cheekbone, and broken teeth. These injuries are extremely painful. But they can create lasting scars and cause impairments like blindness. Additionally, they can leave a person with substantial financial damages.

Paralysis

Paralysis is caused by damage to the spinal cord. When the spinal cord is torn or damaged (either partially or completely), it impacts how the brain communicates with the rest of the body. This damage can result in a victim losing certain abilities. For example, the ability to control their arm(s), their ability to walk, or both. Obviously, paralysis is a serious, catastrophic injury that causes a victim to suffer severe pain, financial strain, and life-changing challenges. When a person is paralyzed because of a negligent property owner, they have the right to seek compensation from the individual or company who caused or contributed to their injuries.

Your injuries do not have to be as severe as the ones listed above to entitle you to compensation. People who sustain injuries like bruises, dislocations, sprains, cuts, or strains are often able to obtain a significant settlement or award. So don’t make the mistake of thinking that your injuries are too minor to warrant speaking to an attorney.

Protect Your Rights After a Fall Down the Stairs

Unfortunately for victims, compensation after serious accidents does not happen automatically, and you should take steps to protect your rights after you fall down dangerous stairs. These include:

  • Make note of the hazardous condition that caused your fall and take pictures of it if possible
  • Try and get contact information from anyone who may have seen your accident
  • If your accident occurred on commercial property, notify management and make sure that someone creates an official incident report
  • Refrain from posting about your accident on social media
  • Do not provide someone else’s insurance company with a written or recorded statement
  • Undergo a thorough medical evaluation and do everything your doctor recommends
  • Contact an experienced slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible.

In addition, keep in mind that all personal injury claims in Illinois are subject to a statute of limitations, which means that waiting too long to file a claim could result in an inability to recover compensation at all.

How an Attorney Can Help Your Slip and Fall Injury Case

An attorney who has experience with slip and fall cases involving stairs will be able to help you build a strong case so that you can recover compensation for the various damages you have suffered. Hiring an attorney will give you access to their experience, knowledge, and resources.

Slip and fall attorneys can send out investigators, hire architects and structural engineers, contact medical experts, and gather other important evidence like video in order to create a full picture of what happened and who was responsible. Most people have never handled anything like this on their own before. That is okay, since no one wants to be in this situation. So hiring an attorney gives you the best possible chance of recovering compensation by using their experience and resources to advocate for compensation for your injuries.

[Read: Timeline of a Personal Injury Case]

Call Abels & Annes Today to Speak With a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were injured in a serious accident involving dangerous or defective stairs, contact a lawyer as soon as you can. The lawyers of Abels & Annes, P.C., will review the facts of your case at no cost to you and let you know whether we believe you have a claim. Furthermore, we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingent-fee basis. This means you won’t owe us anything for legal representation unless we recover compensation on your behalf. To schedule your free consultation with one of our Chicago personal injury attorneys, call our office today at (312) 924-7575 or send us an email through our online contact form.

Slip and Falls Can Happen Anywhere

When you think of a slip and fall accident, you may think of a person at a grocery store slipping on some type of liquid or food that spilled on the ground. While grocery stores are a hotbed for slip and fall accidents, this type of accident can happen anywhere and cause serious injury when you least expect it. The following are some examples of common locations for slip and falls.

  • Retail stores – Any type of retail store can be a prime location for a slip and fall, especially big box stores. These stores can have clothes or other merchandise that may have fallen onto the floor, as well as debris from customers that may go unnoticed for an unacceptable period of time. In addition, employees may commonly forget to put out warning signs for wet floors or other potentially hazardous conditions.
  • Hotels and resorts – These facilities are often large structures, making it easier for slip and fall hazards to go unnoticed and unaddressed. In addition, guests using pools or hot tubs may leave trails of water on the floor, hotels may fail to replace damaged carpets or flooring, and stairwells may have inadequate lighting—all of which can lead to slip and falls.
  • Restaurants – Restaurants are another common location for slip and falls, as food and drink is regularly spilled and not cleaned up in a timely fashion. Also, restaurants may try to crowd tables or may have other hazards that can cause patrons to trip or slip and fall down.
  • At work – Almost any type of workplace can have hazards that may cause someone to slip and fall. There may be tools, sawdust, debris, or other materials lying around on the floor that can lead to accidents. Hospitals are especially dangerous workplaces that present a significant risk of slip and falls for healthcare workers. Even office buildings may have wet floors in bathrooms or kitchen areas that may cause people to fall and be injured.

Discuss Your Situation with a Chicago Slip and Fall Attorney

Each slip and fall case is different depending on where the accident happened and what caused the fall. The Chicago slip and fall lawyers at Abels & Annes will work closely with you to identify any liable parties and help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Please call today at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation.