Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere—both indoors and outdoors—and on private property or business premises. When an accident victim’s body strikes the ground hard, they may suffer debilitating injuries, which can leave them incapacitated for a significant amount of time. In addition, accident victims stand to lose a lot of money in medical bills and lost earnings following their accident.
Fortunately, accident victims who suffer injuries due to a property owner’s negligence may be eligible to seek monetary compensation via a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Therefore, in addition to seeking prompt medical treatment after your accident, you should follow up with an experienced slip and fall attorney as quickly as possible.
First, your lawyer can meet with you to discuss your slip and fall accident, the surrounding circumstances, and how the accident occurred. Your attorney can also retain an expert and gather evidence in support of your claim. Finally, your attorney can assist you during all settlement negotiations with the insurance company and work to maximize your total recovery via settlement or litigation.
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The Illinois Premises Liability Act
Slip and falls fall into a category of personal injury the law refers to as premises liability.
The Illinois Premises Liability Act abolished the common law legal distinction between different types of visitors, such as invitees and licensees, and the duty owed by property owners or occupiers to them. Instead, property owners or occupiers now must exercise reasonable care towards all visitors based on the circumstances, including the condition of the premises or any actions or omissions on the premises.
However, this duty of reasonable care does not include the obligation to warn or protect visitors from conditions on the premises that:
It also does not include the obligation to warn visitors of hidden defects or dangers that are unknown to the owner or occupier of the premises.
Additionally, property owners or occupiers do not have to warn visitors of dangers that may arise from the visitor’s misuse of the premises or anything affixed to or on the premises.
The responsibility of property owners or occupiers depends on what a reasonable person should do in similar circumstances, considering the condition of the premises and any actions the owner or occupier took or did not take.
The Illinois Premises Liability Act changes the legal standards for property owners or occupiers in Illinois when it comes to the duty owed to visitors. It emphasizes the importance of exercising reasonable care while also clarifying the limitations of that duty, particularly in relation to obvious dangers, unknown defects, and dangers arising from the visitor’s own actions.
Duty to Trespassers
Owners have no duty of care to adult trespassers. However, Illinois also has unique laws regarding a duty to trespassing children.
Most states hold property owners strictly liable for injuries to children under the attractive nuisance doctrine. However, Illinois strayed from this standard. Instead, the law focuses on the owner’s negligence. Property owners can be liable for injuries due to foreseeable risks they might have addressed at a minor expense. They are not liable for hazards that a child should see and appreciate.
Overall, Illinois has different premises liability laws than many states that apply to slip and fall cases. If you have questions or concerns about a possible claim in Illinois, it’s best to seek legal advice to understand your rights and obligations under the law.
How Do Property Owners Violate Their Legal Duty of Care to Property Visitors?
Premises owners can violate their legal duty of care to a property visitor in several ways. In some cases, the property owner might fail to clean up a spill at a restaurant or grocery store within a reasonable amount of time. Consequently, the property visitor might slip, fall, and injure themselves while on the premises. In addition, a property owner might fail to repair defective carpeting or flooring materials, or they may fail to remove snow or ice from outdoor sidewalks within a reasonable amount of time.
In addition to establishing that a property owner violated their legal duty, an accident victim must satisfy other legal elements to prevail in their case and recover monetary damages for their injuries. Specifically, they must show that the slip and fall accident was a direct result—as well as a foreseeable result—of the property owner’s negligence. In other words, a cause-and-effect relationship must exist between the two.
Finally, the property visitor must establish that they suffered at least one physical injury in their slip and fall accident—and that their injury directly resulted from the accident.
To establish medical causation in a slip and fall accident case, the accident victim might need to introduce medical testimony from a doctor or other healthcare provider.
A doctor can causally connect an accident victim’s injury to their slip and fall accident or establish that their injury is permanent in nature. While most injuries recover at some point in time, a permanent injury is likely to affect the accident victim for the rest of their life.
A skilled slip and fall attorney in your area can help you prove the legal elements of your claim or lawsuit, enabling you to recover the monetary compensation you deserve. If one or more experts become necessary in your case, your attorney can retain those experts to testify at a deposition or civil jury trial in support of your case.
What Are Some Common Injuries in Slip and Fall Accidents?
Victims of slip and fall accidents may suffer severe injuries, especially if they hit the ground with a significant amount of force. Accident victims may also experience severe medical complications if they land on their head, neck, back, hip, shoulder, or knee.
The injuries that an accident victim may suffer in a slip and fall depend primarily on how they land on the ground, the body part or parts which they strike, and the amount of force involved.
Some of the most common injuries that slip and fall accident victims sustain include:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Open lacerations and road rash injuries
- Traumatic head and brain injuries
- Rib fractures
- Bone fractures
- Spinal cord damage
- Complete or incomplete paralysis injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
If you suffered any of these injuries in a recent slip and fall, you should go to a hospital emergency room, follow up with your primary care doctor, and seek additional medical treatment for your injuries. Failing to seek the prompt medical treatment that you need after your accident may prevent your injuries from getting better. In addition, an insurance company may become skeptical about your injuries if you delay your medical treatment for too long.
Even while you continue your medical treatment, your slip and fall attorney can start advocating for you. First, your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your accident, obtain documents (including medical records and medical bills), and begin assembling a settlement demand package on your behalf.
What Monetary Damages Can I Recover for My Injuries?
Victims of Illinois slip and fall accidents are often left with severe injuries, as well as high medical bills. In addition, accident victims may be unable to work for a significant amount of time—and sometimes permanently—after their accident. Medical bills can pile up very quickly, leaving an accident victim financially underwater.
Every slip and fall accident case is different, as are the injuries an accident victim suffers. Therefore, the total monetary award an accident victim receives through settlement or litigation may vary from case to case. Generally speaking, the more serious an accident victim’s injuries and the more extensive their medical treatment, the higher the monetary damages they can receive through their personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Some of the most common monetary damages that accident victims can recover in a personal injury claim or lawsuit include compensation for:
- All accident-related medical expenses
- Recovery of anticipated medical costs, if a medical provider determines that a future surgery or other treatment may become necessary
- Mental anguish and emotional distress stemming from the accident victim’s injuries
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Loss of the ability to use a body part, such as when a fall victim sustains a permanent spinal cord or paralysis injury in their accident
- Loss of life enjoyment, when an accident victim is unable to partake in sports or recreational activities that they once enjoyed due to the severity of their accident-related injuries
Time Limits in Illinois Slip and Fall Cases
As with other types of personal injury claims and lawsuits in Illinois, various time limits apply to slip and fall legal matters. Specifically, accident victims only have two years from their accident date in which to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking the monetary recovery they deserve. In almost all situations, this statutory time limit is a hard-and-fast deadline.
Therefore, if the accident victim does not file a timely lawsuit for monetary damages, they waive their right to seek this compensation in the future.
To prevent the statute of limitations from running in your slip and fall accident case, you should speak with an Illinois personal injury attorney as quickly as possible after your accident. Your attorney can start investigating the circumstances of your accident right away and can determine your eligibility for filing a lawsuit.
If the statute of limitations is due to expire in your case, your attorney can promptly file a lawsuit in the court system on your behalf and begin taking the necessary legal steps necessary to recover the total monetary damages you deserve.
How an Illinois Slip and Fall Lawyer Can Help You
If you have suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident due to the negligence of another party, hiring a slip and fall accident lawyer can be a wise decision.
A skilled and experienced slip and fall accident lawyer can help you in various ways to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve.
- Legal knowledge: Slip and fall accident cases can be complex and require a thorough understanding of state laws. A slip and fall accident lawyer has the legal experience and knowledge to navigate the legal system on your behalf. They can analyze the circumstances of your case, assess the liability of the responsible party, and determine the legal options available to you.
- Evidence collection: Collecting evidence is crucial in slip and fall accident cases. A slip and fall accident lawyer can help gather and preserve evidence, such as surveillance footage, witness statements, accident reports, and medical records. This evidence can strengthen your case and help establish liability.
- Negotiation and settlement: Many slip and fall accident cases settle outside of court through negotiations with insurance companies or the responsible party’s legal representatives. A slip and fall accident lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and strive to obtain a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.
- Litigation representation: If your attorney cannot reach a fair settlement cannot through negotiation, they can represent you in court. They can prepare and present a compelling case on your behalf, advocate for your rights, and fight for fair compensation in front of a judge or jury.
Whether your slip and fall claim settles relatively quickly with an insurance company or you need to file a lawsuit, having the right attorney is key. An Illinois slip and fall lawyer will know how to hold businesses or property owners responsible for causing your accident, injuries, and losses.
Call an Experienced Slip and Fall Attorney in Your Area Today
Having experienced legal representation in a slip and fall case is extremely important when it comes to maximizing your total monetary recovery, especially in Illinois. This state has different premises liability laws than most.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area can help you take the necessary legal steps to maximize your financial recovery and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your accident-related losses.