Property owners and occupants have a legal obligation to keep their premises safe for visitors. If hazards on their land injure someone, they could be held liable for medical bills, lost wages, and any expenses the victim incurs as a result.
If you were hurt on someone else’s property, discuss your situation with an Arlington Heights premises liability lawyer to learn if you have a viable claim. A skilled personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. could assess your case and help you pursue any compensation you are entitled to.
Establishing Liability for Property Accidents
In premises liability cases, an injured person (plaintiff) must prove that the owner or occupant of the property (defendant) was negligent. The skilled attorneys at our Arlington Heights office could prove negligence by demonstrating that the defendant did not meet their required duty of care, resulting in the plaintiff’s injury.
In many states, businesses have a greater duty of care toward their customers than homeowners have toward their social guests. However, Illinois does not make such a distinction. 740 Illinois Compiled Statutes §130/2 sets forth the requirement that all property owners and occupants use reasonable care to protect any visitors. This means repairing hazards they are aware of within a reasonable time and providing warnings about unrepaired conditions.
Importantly, the only people who can claim protection under premises liability statutes are legal visitors to a property. If an adult trespasser is on someone else’s property without permission, they have no right to make a claim for any injuries they sustain due to hazards.
Property Liability Laws for Trespassing Children
Although adult trespassers cannot seek damages for premises liability claims, landowners could be liable for injuries a child suffers on their property, even if the child was trespassing. When a property contains a hazardous feature that is attractive to children, the owner must take steps to prevent children from entering.
In general, the feature must be manmade to implicate an owner’s liability. Examples of attractive nuisances include:
- Swimming pools
- Construction sites
- Swing sets
The property accident attorneys at our firm could review the circumstances of a child’s injury to determine whether the attractive nuisance doctrine might apply.
Common Hazards in Premises Liability Cases
Many dangerous conditions could be covered under premises liability laws. In Illinois, a landowner could be responsible for damages if the hazard was not open and obvious to the visitor. Common hazards in these types of claims include:
- Loose railings or damaged steps in stairways
- Merchandise or equipment that falls on a visitor
- Fires, airborne toxins, or smoke
- Defective elevator
- Wet floors or similarly dangerous conditions that are not marked or roped off
- Collapsing roof, wall, or balconies
Importantly, a visitor is responsible for noticing and avoiding apparent hazards, and an owner has no duty to warn about obvious dangers. For example, someone who trips and seriously injures themselves on a curb while texting and walking likely does not have a valid claim. A curb is an obvious and expected obstruction, and the visitor created a distraction that led them to overlook the hazard.
Partial Responsibility for Arlington Heights Property Accidents
Even if a property owner was negligent, a plaintiff could still be found partially responsible for their injuries, depending on how their behavior contributed to the accident. Once a plaintiff has established the defendant’s negligence in a trial, the judge will apportion fault between the parties.
A plaintiff cannot collect damages if they are more than 50 percent responsible for an accident. If a plaintiff is not primarily responsible, they could collect reduced damages that reflect their degree of responsibility.
Defendants and their insurers often attempt to shift responsibility onto a plaintiff in an attempt to minimize or avoid paying damages. As such, injured victims should work with the premises liability lawyers at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. to fight for a fair amount of compensation. Our local attorneys formerly worked for insurance companies and understand how to successfully contest the defense’s case.
Consult an Arlington Heights Premises Liability Attorney
The laws regarding premises liability are complex, so it is important to consult a knowledgeable attorney before trying to bring this type of claim on your own. At the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd., our lawyers could provide the legal knowledge and dedicated support that you need to move forward with your case.
Let an Arlington Heights premises liability lawyer work toward a fair settlement or damages award on your behalf. You have a limited amount of time to bring a claim, so call and schedule a case review today.