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If you were injured on someone’s property in Chicago, Illinois, whether the property is owned by a business or private individual, you may qualify to file a premises liability claim. Several types of incidents fall under premises liability claims. It’s important to know whether your case falls under a premises liability category and the conditions you must meet to hold the landowner responsible.
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What Is Premises Liability in Chicago, Illinois?

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A gavel and premises liability written on a paper clipped on the board on a wooden background. What is premises liability.

What is premises liability? Premises liability is the responsibility that an owner or occupier of a building or property owes to entrants. If a permitted or invited entrant to a property suffered an injury due to a failure on the part of the owner, he or she may be eligible for compensation for subsequent costs.

A gavel and premises liability written on a paper clipped on the board on a wooden background. What is premises liability.

Illinois Premises Liability Laws

According to Illinois premises liability laws, both licensees and invitees are eligible for compensation under the Premises Liability Act without distinction. A licensee is someone who enters the premises for social purposes, such as a friend coming to hang out, drink some beers, and watch TV.

An invitee, on the other hand, is someone who received an explicit or implicit invitation to visit the premises for the benefit of the owner or for business. That may include customers or contractors.

In Illinois, there is no difference between the two types of visitors, but both are distinct from adult trespassers. If you trespass on a property, although the owner must refrain from actively trying to harm you, they don’t have any of the other duties they owe to invitees and licensees.

The duty falls on either the owner or occupier if the occupier is not the owner. Just because someone leased the premises, and doesn’t own it, doesn’t mean he or she is exempt from responsibility.

Although adult trespassers suffering an injury cannot hold the owner or occupier responsible, the same does not apply to child trespassers. If your child got injured on someone’s property, even if he or she trespassed, you may be able to file a claim based on the attractive nuisance doctrine.

Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, the owner or occupier of the premises may be held liable for injuries caused to child trespassers when there was a dangerous condition on the premises that is likely to attract children.

For example, if there is a violent dog that is chained to a tree on an open property with no enclosure, and a child steps onto the property to pet the dog, only to get bitten, there may be grounds for a case under the attractive nuisance doctrine.

Another example of an attractive nuisance could be a swimming pool that has no enclosure and no lifeguard present. A child may approach this pool and jump in. As in the case of a dog, the owner should know that a swimming pool both poses a risk and is attractive to children and take steps to prevent children from entering and getting injured, such as by putting up a fence.

A swing set or play area that is broken and not maintained could also be an attractive nuisance. For example, let’s say the play area has a slide that is not properly attached. The child climbs the ladder and goes on the slide, only to fall down and injure himself or herself. The same applies to a swing that is not properly tied or secured. If a child sits and plays on the swing and falls due to the rope getting untied, you may have a case under the attractive nuisance doctrine.

What Elements Must Be Proven in a Premises Liability Case?

In a premises liability case, which involves holding a property owner responsible for injuries sustained on his or her premises, there are four essential elements of negligence that must be proven. These elements serve as the foundation for establishing liability and determining the outcome of such cases.

  • Duty of Care: The first element involves establishing that the property owner owed a duty of care to the injured party. Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain a reasonably safe environment for visitors. This duty of care varies depending on the status of the visitor, whether they are invitees, licensees, or trespassers. Invitees, such as customers or guests, are owed the highest duty of care, whereas trespassers are owed the least.
  • Breach of Duty: The second element requires demonstrating that the property owner breached the duty of care. This breach occurs when the owner fails to take reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable harm to visitors. For instance, if a property owner neglects to repair a hazardous condition, such as a wet floor or uneven surface, he or she may be considered to have breached the duty of care.
  • Causation: The third element involves establishing a causal link between the property owner’s breach of duty and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. This requires demonstrating that the hazardous condition on the premises directly led to the plaintiff’s injuries. If the hazardous condition did not cause the injuries, the property owner may not be held liable.
  • Damages: The fourth and final element requires proving that the plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the injuries sustained on the premises. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses incurred due to the accident. Without evidence of damages, there may be no basis for a premises liability claim.

Meeting each of these elements is essential for establishing negligence and holding the property owner accountable for the injuries suffered on the premises.

Types of Premises Liability Claims

There are several types of premises liabilities claims. Slip and fall claims tend to be among the most common, but other types of claims are possible as well.

Slip and Fall Claims

A slip and fall can result in broken limbs, sprained ankles, broken teeth, bruises, and abrasions. If the injured party hit his or her head, a concussion may occur, which can have lifelong implications.

It’s important to know the difference between indoor vs. outdoor slip and fall claims. An outdoor slip and fall that is caused by natural causes over which the owner had no control over may not be a factor for a premises liability case.

For example, a natural accumulation of ice does not create a condition for which there is premises liability. However, if a leaky gutter caused liquid accumulation on the floor, and this caused a visitor to slip and fall, there may be grounds for a premises liability case.

Negligent Security Claims

Another type of claim you may file against a property owner is a negligent security claim. If you were the victim of a violent crime on someone’s premises resulting from a lack of adequate security measures, you can file a negligent security case against the owner.

It’s standard practice in the nightlife industry for bars to employ bouncers who help regulate entry and maintain order. If you visited a bar or nightclub and a drunk belligerent picked a fight with you, or a fight broke out, and you got injured in the chaos, you may have grounds for a negligent security claim if the bar cut corners and didn’t hire any bouncers. Bouncers may have prevented the drunk individual from entering or could have broken up the fight immediately, before it turned into a large brawl.

Negligent security claims can be filed even if the injury occurred outdoors, as long as it was on the premises. For example, if you visited a grocery store at night and were mugged in the parking lot, you could argue the case that the mugging could have been prevented if the business owner had installed sufficient lighting and security cameras that would deter thieves.

You can file a negligent security claim even if the attacker was found and a criminal case has been filed against him or her. A criminal case against the attacker will administer justice, but it won’t help you recover financial losses. A negligent security case can help you recover not only the money you lost due to the theft (if the assault involved theft), but also damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Steps to Take in a Premises Liability Claim in Illinois

The first step after getting injured is to seek medical attention. Prompt medical care is critical. Once you are able, document your injuries, the accident scene, and any witnesses. Then, get an attorney.

Documentation and Evidence

Document evidence related to your injury. A premises liability attorney in Chicago can help you with this process.

A medical report can serve as evidence of your injuries, as well as the cause of the injury. You may take pictures of your injuries and save copies of your medical bills, detailing the extent of your financial losses.

Take pictures of the scene, if possible, as well. For example, if you slipped on spilled liquid, take pictures of it. If your child got injured on a broken swing, take pictures of the broken swing set.

In a negligent security case, you might also obtain a copy of the Chicago police department report. The police report can prove the nature of the crime and serve as evidence of the lack of adequate security measures.

Retain a Premises Liability Lawyer

The best way to file a premises liability case is to get a premises liability attorney. Premise liability cases can be complex. You have to prove several elements, including that the dangerous condition qualifies for a premises liability case. You also have to prove the value of your claim.

For example, if your injury resulted in pain and suffering, and you are seeking compensation for emotional suffering in addition to your medical bills, an attorney can help prove the value of your claim. In some cases, your attorney can bring on experts who can prove that your injury was caused by the homeowner’s negligence in not addressing the dangerous condition, and that without the dangerous condition, you would not have suffered the injuries.

Typically, having an attorney by your side can accelerate the claims process and help you reach a settlement quicker. A settlement is often the best way for both sides to resolve the case out of court. You can get an amount that suits your demands without compromising, while avoiding a lengthy court case.

However, if the case does end up going to court, your attorney will represent you. He or she can argue before a judge or jury, if necessary, to prove your case and help you win. In some cases, going to court may be preferable. 

About the Author

Kurt D. Lloyd is a plaintiff’s trial lawyer who focuses on medical malpractice and other catastrophic injury cases. He lives in Chicago and represents injured clients throughout Illinois. He is also the founder of Lloyd Miller Law, Ltd.

Years of Experience: Over 35 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions: Illinois State Bar

Kurt D. Lloyd is a plaintiff’s trial lawyer who focuses on medical malpractice and other catastrophic injury cases. He lives in Chicago and represents injured clients throughout Illinois. He is also the founder of Lloyd Miller Law, Ltd.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

Kurt D. Lloyd is a plaintiff’s trial lawyer who focuses on medical malpractice and other catastrophic injury cases. He lives in Chicago and represents injured clients throughout Illinois. He is also the founder of Lloyd Miller Law, Ltd.

Years of Experience: Over 35 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions: Illinois State Bar

Kurt D. Lloyd is a plaintiff’s trial lawyer who focuses on medical malpractice and other catastrophic injury cases. He lives in Chicago and represents injured clients throughout Illinois. He is also the founder of Lloyd Miller Law, Ltd.

Years of Experience: Over 35 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions: Illinois State Bar