Chicago Porches and Premises Liability: Landlords Heed the City!

The Chicago and Oak Lawn Premises Liability Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe are sorry to report another instance of premises liability against a property management company yields a large verdict of $975,000.00 – certainly not compensation to a mother for the wrongful death of her 24 year old son.

Sean Helfin was 24 when he fell from a second-floor porch railing at his girlfriend’s apartment on North Bissell in Chicago in July of 2007. He suffered a serious brain injury and died a little more than six months later.

Sean’s mother alleged in her lawsuit that the porch railings were about 10 inches lower than the 42 inches required by the Chicago Building Code. The property management company which also owned the building settled.

We applaud Sean’s mother for weathering her grief to bring this suit and focus attention on premises liability and porch safety. This case differed from the previous Lincoln Park accidents which involved porch collapses. Citizens look to enforcement of the Chicago Building Code for protection against all porch tragedies. However, the reality is that enforcement is spotty. We hope that this particular verdict serves as notice to property managers and landlords that they bear the ultimate responsibility for compliance and should not be complacent simply because they have not been inspected or have not received a building code violation. In addition, we hope insurance companies take note and become more stringent in advising their insured of safety compliance issues and demanding adherence to building code requirements.

Chicago porches on walk-up buildings are small and generally not suitable for large gatherings of people. Coupled with their age and state of repair, it is best that tenants and their guests avoid overloading the platforms. Tenants should report their concerns involving the suitability, stability and strength of the porches and railings and endeavor to avoid any suspect porches. It is always better to stay safe but if you can’t-stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicago and South Chicago Premise Liability Lawyers for over 25 years.

Grazian & Volpe, Part of the Lloyd Miller Law Group