Illinois Slip and Fall Attorneys
What is a slip and fall?
Slip and fall cases are exactly that - when someone slips and falls on the property of another and is hurt because of the fall. A common example would be slipping and falling on a wet floor.
Is the homeowner or business automatically responsible?
A slip and fall lawsuit in Illinois can result from a fall on the property of either a business or homeowner but, in Illinois, liability depends on the case. Our courts have held that the property owner is not liable for some of these accidents and is liable for others. Speaking to an experienced Illinois slip and fall attorney will clarify whether you have a case or not. We give some examples in the questions below.
When might the business owner be responsible for a slip and fall on snow or ice outside the door?
The business owner generally does not have a duty to remove snow and ice that accumulates naturally outside the door. So if someone slips and falls on this snow and ice, there would likely not be any liability for that injury, unless the condition was created or aggravated by the business owner. To be able to have a case for your slip and fall in this situation, you would generally have to be able to show that the snow and ice was not in its natural state, but was affected in some way by the property owner. For example, if the owner does remove the snow, it must be done properly, so that there are not any unnatural patches where it melted and refroze, or some other unnatural condition.
What about a slip and fall inside a store or other business?
Illinois law treats slip and falls inside a business similar to outside the door, when the cause is water that has been tracked in on a wet day. If the water that caused the slip has accumulated naturally and is located close to the entrance, the business owner will likely not be responsible for the accident. As with snow removal, there is no general duty to continuously remove the water as it accumulates naturally. However, there could be responsibility where the owner did something or created a condition that made the situation worse. Also, if the water has been sitting for a long time, it may be found that the business owner should have known about the slippery condition.
Where the fall inside a store or business is from something other than water that was tracked in, Illinois law would look to whether the business owner was negligent in creating the condition or whether the owner knew or should have known of its existence. These conditions can be things such as crumpled up floor mats, or other spilled substances. To show that the business owner was involved in creating the condition, if there is no direct evidence showing this, Illinois courts may infer it, if the condition is something related to the business. If the business owner was not directly involved, but nonetheless had notice of the condition and may therefore be responsible, you may also need to rely on inferences from other conditions that existed, in order to prove your case. For example, is there something to show that the condition or substance was there for a considerable time, such that that it should have been discovered?
These cases are often difficult to prove, because of the lack of direct evidence. Therefore preserving any evidence that could exist may be critical, and is what an expert slip and fall lawyer will do. For example, there may be video cameras that have recorded the accident or the conditions, and they need to be properly preserved. Failure to have an accident site properly inspected can kill a case of this type.
Other things to know:
Local ordinances may come in to play in some of these cases, and familiarity with them can make or break a case. There may be codes and other local laws which could govern elements of your case relating to the property. And, for example, if your case involves slipping on an icy staircase that did not have a railing to grab on to, a local ordinance may be the reason you win.
Should I talk to a lawyer if I was injured?
Absolutely. While there are thousands of personal injury attorneys in Illinois, it can be a challenge to find an Illinois slip and fall lawyer. The reason this is true is because unlike getting rear-ended in a car, these matters are often fought by insurance companies. Because of the potential defenses we talked about earlier, these claims can be difficult to win.
If you slip and fall on someone else's property in Illinois, the first and most important thing you can do is seek medical attention if you are injured. The second most important thing that you can do is take pictures, identify possible witnesses and determine if the property owner had prior knowledge of the condition that caused you to fall. You should then find a reputable attorney to be in your corner. Often having the right lawyer investigate a case like this early on is the difference between winning and losing. In one case we were involved with, a Chicago slip and fall lawyer was able to secure video tape of an accident at a store before it got erased. As a result he was able to prove his client wasn't at fault and obtained a high six figure settlement for the client who had broken her leg.
If you have questions about an accident or just want our suggestion as to who is the right lawyer for you, please contact us at any time. All calls are free and confidential.