Why Building Code Violations Can Be Crucial in a Chicago Slip-and-Fall Case

July 17, 2019 | David Abels
Why Building Code Violations Can Be Crucial in a Chicago Slip-and-Fall Case Under Illinois premises liability law, landowners owe a general duty of care to those whom they invite onto their property. Illinois has abolished the common-law distinction between invitees and licensees, and as a result, regardless of the purpose of an invited guest’s visit, a landowner must “exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.” To establish that a landowner is legally responsible in a Chicago slip-and-fall accident Case, the accident victim must show that the defendant landowner breached this duty and that the defendant’s breach resulted in the victim’s injuries. Building codes can help a plaintiff prove that a defendant landowner was negligent. Chicago building codes are enacted to ensure the safety of all residents, not just those who live in or frequent the area in question. Deficiencies in a building’s stairs and staircases are some of the most common violations of the municipal building codes. The specific requirements for a staircase can depend on several factors, most importantly, whether the building is used for institutional or residential use. The following are some of the municipal code requirements for Chicago staircases:
  • The maximum height of each stair, or riser, in institutional settings is 7.5 inches, with the minimum width of a staircase being 10 inches
  • The maximum height of each stair in other settings (including residential homes), is 7.5 inches
  • Winding staircases cannot be used for building exits except in residential homes
  • The maximum height of a flight of stairs in an institutional setting is nine feet
  • All staircases greater than 44 inches long must have handrails on both sides (and others must have a handrail on both sides)
  • Staircases must offer at least 6’8” in clearance
  • All staircases must be lighted
By establishing that a building code violation exists and was responsible for their accident, Chicago slip-and-fall victims can more easily prove that a landowner is legally responsible for their injuries through the doctrine of negligence per se. Negligence per se is a legal principle in which the defendant’s violation of a law, code, or regulation can be taken as evidence that the defendant was legally negligent. This prevents the need for the plaintiff to prove the “duty” and “breach” elements of a negligence claim. Thus, when negligence per se applies, a plaintiff must only prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of their injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a Chicago Staircase Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently fallen down the stairs or suffered another injury related to the use of a staircase or wheelchair ramp, the dedicated Chicago premise liability attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. can help. At Abels & Annes, we represent Illinois slip-and-fall victims in claims against negligent property owners, seeking full compensation for all of our clients’ injuries. We have decades of collective experience helping accident victims pursue claims for compensation and look forward to meeting with you to discuss your case. Call us at 312-924-7575, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Because we work on a contingency basis, we will not get paid unless we can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.
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David Abels


David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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