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Each year, thousands of people in Lake County and throughout Illinois suffer injury because businesses, shopping malls, hotels and other property owners and occupants fail to assure the safety of their premises. Although loose banisters, cracked sidewalks and damaged parking lot lighting may seem like innocuous problems, they can lead to serious and debilitating injuries. In some cases, a simple fall down a stairway may lead to thousands of dollars in medical bills, not to mention weeks of missed work.

Illinois law allows those who suffer injury because of the condition of another person's business or home to bring what is known as a premises liability claim. These suits allow injured parties to collect damages against property owners and occupants who have been negligent in keeping up their property. When accidents happen, negligent property owners and occupants may be liable for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.

Who Is Responsible?

Determining who is responsible for the injuries of a guest or visitor is not as easy as determining the owner of a piece of property. The duty to keep guests and visitors safe falls upon the party in actual possession or control of the property. Often times - particularly in cases where a person is injured in a business - the property owner is not the party in possession and control.

Under Illinois law, the party in possession or control of a premises is the party who currently occupies and controls access to the premises. This means that parties like construction contractors and lessees - provided they are currently occupying the property and control access to it - may be liable for an injury to a guest or visitor, not the party who actually owns the property. Of course, any determination of which parties may be liable for an injury may be difficult and requires a thorough examination of Illinois law.

What Duties Are Owed to Guests and Visitors?

Illinois law imposes a duty upon property owners and occupiers to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances to prevent guests from suffering foreseeable injuries and to maintain their properties in reasonably safe condition. This means that those in possession or control of a premises must:

  • Use reasonable care to detect and repair dangers on the premises

Or

  • Provide guests and visitors warning of known dangers, provided that guests and visitors will not discover or realize the dangers or will somehow fail to protect themselves against them.

What Must an Injured Guest or Visitor Prove?

In the event that a guest or visitor is injured on the property of another, he or she must prove:

  • Some sort of dangerous condition existed on the premises
  • The party in possession or control of the premises knew or should have known of its existence
  • The party in possession or control of the premises failed to use reasonable care to discover, remedy or warn of the danger
  • And, as a result, the guest or visitor suffered an injury

What Is a Dangerous Condition?

Dangerous conditions are usually fairly clear. Stairways with a broken step or loose railings, slippery floors and poorly maintained walkways are all common causes of injuries.

Sometimes, however, dangerous conditions can be less obvious and only become clear after thorough investigation. A business may know, for example, that a dark parking lot has allowed criminals an opportunity to harm patrons in the past, and yet it does nothing to remedy the situation.

What Damages Are Available?

Under Illinois law, a successful plaintiff may be able to recover compensation for damages caused by the culpable party's negligence. Among other things, this may include money for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

An Attorney Can Help

If you or someone you love has suffered injury because of a slip-and-fall accident at a shopping mall, hotel or other business, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer with experience in handling premises liability cases can help you understand your rights and collect the compensation you deserve. For more information, contact an attorney today.

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