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Phone: 630-932-9100

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IL accidnet lawyerAs winter approaches, and the precipitation changes from liquid to frozen with the dropping temperatures, the risk of falling and sustaining an injury greatly increases. The seasonal dangers caused by the presence of ice and snow are well known to those who live in northern climates, but this fact does not mean all snow and ice-related injuries are mere accidents with no responsible party to place blame. The injuries resulting from these falls can be significant, some requiring surgery, and a personal injury attorney should be contacted if a fall that requires medical treatment occurs. Property owners do have an obligation to keep the premises safe for others, but the law on recovery for injuries related to snow and ice falls in Illinois is complex, and blocks many cases from proceeding.

An example of how serious these falls can be is illustrated in the case of a Greenwich, Connecticut, woman who sustained permanent injuries, including memory loss and a concussion, after falling on snow and ice in the town square. This type of dangerous accumulation is seen in numerous places over the course of a winter season, and understanding what property owners are generally obligated to do to protect third parties on the premises, as well as how courts view liability for falls from snow and ice, is essential information for slip and fall victims.

Duty of Property Owners Generally

Visitors and guests on another person’s or entity’s property are expected to be kept free from foreseeable danger and unreasonable harm. The person or business in actual possession and control of the premises is obligated under the law to exercise reasonable care to maintain the property in a safe condition or face liability if that duty is breached and someone is injured.

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 IL injury lawyerAnyone who has spent time in retail stores has seen the telltale signs that an accident happened, which is usually identified by the presence of a warning sign, orange cones, and/or ropes to cordon off an area. Often, these accidents are the result of some liquid spilling onto the floor, creating a slip and fall hazard that could endanger the safety of customers. By marking the area off, and taking steps to clean up the spill, the operators are acting responsibly and fulfilling their duty of care to keep the area open to the public free from dangerous hazards. Unfortunately, this level of attention and precaution is not employed at every store, and the result can be injured customers who slip and fall on substances present on the floor.

A woman recently sued Dollar Tree Stores Inc. after slipping and falling on a liquid substance left on the floor of an aisle during a visit to a Joliet location in April. Falling on a foreign substance while visiting a retail establishment is an all too familiar occurrence, and these companies need to be held accountable if negligence was involved. Premises liability law determines if a store owner/operator is responsible for an injury to a third party, and when it comes to a foreign substance on the floor, several factors influence whether a business may be found liable to pay compensation. An overview of how the law evaluates slip and fall cases involving foreign substances will follow below.

Premises Liability Law

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DuPage County slip and fall injury lawyerPeople are injured in slip and fall accidents on a daily basis, and depending upon the height of the fall, the type of surface, and the victim’s ability to react, these accidents can easily lead to serious injury. Slip and falls can happen anywhere, including at a store, a neighbor’s home, or a public sidewalk. All property owners, including the government, have a duty to keep their premises in a safe condition, and failure to do so can lead to legal liability if a person is injured as a result.

In Illinois, winter will be here soon enough, and everyone knows the dangers presented by the accumulation of snow and ice. A New Lenox man sued Lowe’s earlier this year after he fell on an uneven surface covered in water, ice, and snow. Given the fact that everyone faces this type of risk when they venture out of their homes, it is important to understand how the law addresses legal responsibility if a fall and injury do occur. In addition, people should understand how liability for the accumulation of snow and ice is handled under Illinois law.

General Rules for Slip and Fall Liability

Property owners have a duty of care to protect people visiting for business or social purposes from harm (trespassers receive no legal protection against injury, except for intentional reckless acts by the property owner). Specifically, all property owners, whether private or open to the public, have a duty of reasonable care to keep their premises safe by fixing problems or warning guests of dangerous conditions they would not otherwise reasonably understand exist. This includes a duty on the part of the owner to inspect for potential problems and remedy them within a reasonable time. For example, if a store employee sees a spill on the floor in an area used by customers, waiting four hours to clean it up is likely too long, and this delay can expose the business to liability if a customer slipped, fell, and was injured in the interim. 

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