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How does Illinois handle slip-and-fall accidents?

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People injured in slip-and-fall accidents might be entitled to recover their damages if the property owner was negligent.

Although it can happen year-round, the risk of slipping and falling increases during the colder and wetter winter months. A slip-and-fall accident that is caused by the fault of another is considered a personal injury in Illinois, and those who are the victims of a tumble likely have questions about their incident and the chances of recovering their damages.

What is a slip-and-fall accident?

A slip-and-fall accident is literally when someone slips or trips and falls on someone else's property. Generally speaking, the person who fell will have sustained injuries from the fall, and the fall itself will have been due to the negligence of the property's owner.

How does negligence factor into the accident?

Under Illinois statute, liability in a slip-and-fall case is determined by the state's negligence laws. This means that to prove the incident was the fault of the property owner, the victim must show that the owner failed in his or her obligation to prevent injury, and the failure to meet that obligation caused the injury, i.e., the property owner was negligent and the victim sustained harm due to that negligence.

What does Illinois consider negligent?

Some instances where Illinois might consider a property owner negligent include:

  • Failure to keep flooring, walkways, parking lots or roads dry and slick-free
  • Failure to maintain elevators, escalators or stairways
  • Poorly lit areas where victims cannot see the potential for injury
  • Pavement that is not properly maintained and has buckled or gapped
  • Debris in thruways
  • Workplace dangers posing injury threats to employees

If negligence is found, it will fall under one of two different classifications: contributory or comparative. Contributory negligence means that a person is at least 50-percent at-fault for his or her trip or fall. Comparative negligence means that a person is less than 50-percent responsible for his or her fall.

Naturally, if the cause of the accident is considered contributory, the accident victim may find it difficult to recover damages sustained from the slip and fall; if the cause is comparative, the victim may be able to recover damages, but the total amount will be reduced in proportion to the victim's own carelessness.

Is it hard to recover damages for a slip-and-fall?

Not necessarily. Illinois recognizes a victim's right to sue any and all parties involved in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. They just have to file the lawsuit within two years of the incident.

An attorney can help assess responsibility

There are many factors that go into determining fault and related responsibility in Illinois slip-and-fall cases. As such, one who has been injured on someone else's property may find it helpful to seek legal counsel immediately. As time goes by, being able to prove the injury becomes more difficult.

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