Slip and fall accidents are common, and can result in serious injuries. In fact, these slip and fall accidents currently account for over 1 million hospital visits every year. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident in Illinois, there are some things you should know about the state’s slip and fall laws before you decide whether or not to file a personal injury claim.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is a legal concept, based in personal injury law, which alleges that an injury a person sustained resulted from a defective condition on the premises of another (for example, a store owner, landlord, etc.). Regarding slip and fall accidents, the person injured is alleging that she slipped and fell and suffered resulting injuries due to a defective condition (such as wet floors, unsecured rugs, or loose steps).
What Kind of Injuries Typically Result From a Slip and Fall Accident?
The following types of injuries typically occur from slip and fall accidents:
- Broken bones: When a slip and fall accident occurs, it can cause hip, wrist, and ankle fractures. Furthermore, the older a person is, the more susceptible they are to have their bones broken during a slip and fall accident.
- Soft tissue injuries: Soft tissue injuries are internal, which means that you might not even realize that you have such an injury until days, or even weeks, after the initial fall. Soft tissue injuries can range from minor ankle and wrist sprains to devastating tears in tendons and ligaments. Furthermore, if these injuries are left untreated, they can cause chronic pain, and may also make you more vulnerable to subsequent injuries. Because these types of injuries do not often result in immediate symptoms, it is advised that you seek prompt medical care after a slip and fall accident.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur when a person hits their head on the ground or another object or surface when they fall. TBIs can range from minor injuries like small concussions, bumps, and bruises to major injuries such as skull fractures, hematomas, and subarachnoid hemorrhage. Furthermore, severe TBIs can impact brain function, cause seizures, and loss of bodily control.
- Hip fractures: CDC has stated that over 95% of broken hips occur from falls. Hip fractures typically require surgery and hospitalization for about a week. For elderly individuals, this hospitalization may be followed by admission to a nursing home for extensive rehabilitation. Additionally, this kind of injury may require the implantation of an artificial hip.
- Sprained ankles/wrists: If the ligaments in your wrist or ankles tear during a fall, you are likely to receive a sprain or a strain. Because ligaments do not receive a lot of blood, sprains and strains can take a long time to heal. A wrist injury can interfere with your quality of life in a significant way; you may not be able to type, cook, or button a shirt. Similarly, if you have an ankle sprain, you may not be able to walk.
- Cuts and abrasions: Leg and arm abrasions are common injuries stemming from slip and fall accidents, as are wounds to the head and hips. More often than not, these injuries only require superficial treatment, and maybe some stitches.
- Back and spinal cord injuries: The impact on the body in a slip-and-fall accident can fracture vertebrae or cause slipped or herniated discs, which in turn can result in significant pain and limited mobility. A spinal cord injury can lead to temporary paralysis, permanent paralysis, other neurologic and sensory impairments, and even death.
- Shoulder or neck injury: Shoulder and neck injuries result from landing on your shoulder or neck from a fall. They can also happen from overexertion while trying to catch yourself during the fall. Neck injuries can range from muscle sprains to spinal injuries to paralysis. Shoulder injuries from falls typically result in shoulder dislocation, torn nerves, or collarbone breaks.
- Knee damages: Knee damage can result from a slip and fall accident if your knee twists as you fall. Knee injuries can take a long time to heal and you may require knee reconstruction immediately or in the future.
What Do I Need to Prove in a Premises Liability Case Based on a Slip and Fall Accident?
In order to make a successful premises liability claim based on a slip and fall accident, the injured person will need to show proof of the following elements:
- A dangerous condition existed on the premises at the time of the accident. It is important to show that there was a defective or dangerous condition somewhere on the premises at the time that you were injured. As previously mentioned, this could be evidence of a wet floor, a loose floorboard, or some other defective condition on the premises. If possible, you should take pictures or otherwise document the defective or hazardous condition immediately after the accident to prove the existence of this condition at the time the accident occurred.
- The property owner knew (or should have known) of the dangerous condition. This element can be proven by providing some type of evidence that the owner had reason to know of the existence of the dangerous condition. For example, if an employee reported a large spill to the owner, this is likely sufficient to show that the business owner had proper notice of the unsafe condition.
- The property owner failed to take reasonable care to protect people from the dangerous condition on the premises. If the owner becomes aware of a defective condition on his premises but fails to take the proper actions to rectify or warn others of the defective condition, he will be liable for a person’s resulting injuries. Using the previous example, if the owner knew of the spill but took no action and subsequently someone slipped in the spill and fell, the owner would be liable for that person’s resulting injuries.
- As of a result of this failure, someone on the premises was injured (via slip and fall) by the defective condition. If an owner fails to take reasonable care to protect people from a dangerous condition on his premises that he was aware of (or reasonably should have been aware of) and someone suffers a slip and fall injury, this element is satisfied.
What Do I Need to Know About Illinois’ Slip and Fall Laws?
The following are the essential facts about Illinois’ slip and fall laws you should be aware of if you are considering filing a claim:
- You must file a claim within two years of the incident. When it comes to slip and fall cases, you must ensure that you file a claim within the applicable deadlines. Illinois law requires that a personal injury claim based on a slip and fall accident must be brought within two years of the date of the accident. This statute applies to all personal injury claims in the state of Illinois and also specifically applies to any property damage resulting from the slip and fall accident (for example, if you fell on a slippery store floor and broke your laptop as a result).
- You may not be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries if you are at least 50% responsible for your own injuries. You must also be aware that your award amount can be reduced if the slip and fall was your fault. Illinois slip and fall claims are based on the concept of modified comparative negligence. Essentially, if the court finds that your own actions contributed to your fall by at least 50%, you will not be entitled to receive any damages from the other party. For example, if you slip in a grocery store because you weren’t paying attention as you were walking and didn’t notice the “wet floor” sign, and the court finds that you are at least 50% at fault for your resulting injuries, you will not be entitled to receive compensation from the other party for your injuries.
- Even if you decide not to file a lawsuit, your damage award amount might be reduced if you were at fault. Because Illinois’ modified comparative negligence rule governs the state’s personal injury law, even if you decide not to file suit and instead choose to go through the property’s insurance company, you might still find that your recovery amount has been reduced if the evidence shows you were at fault. This is because during settlement negotiations, there is always a chance that the case could end up in court. As such, insurance companies will want to ensure that they determine whether or not you contributed to your accident, and if you are offered a settlement, the settlement amount will likely reflect that fact.
Were You Recently Injured While on Someone Else’s Property? Contact an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney
If you are a recent slip and fall victim who was injured while on the property of another and need to understand what the next steps you should take are, the law firm of Palermo Law Group can help. Our experienced slip and fall attorney can help you understand Illinois slip and fall laws and build a strong personal injury case to ensure that you receive compensation for your injuries. Please call us at (630)-684-2332 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim.