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Who is liable in slip-and-fall accidents?

As many Illinois residents may already know, it is often more than a person's pride that is wounded when they take a fall in a public place. Serious injuries can lead to long recoveries or even permanent injuries. As the medical bills and lost income add up, who is at fault for slip-and-fall accidents can become important.

The primary question in these types of lawsuits is whether the owner could have done something to prevent the fall. Of course, everyone needs to pay attention to where he or she is walking, but that does not always mean that the owner should not have made sure the area was free of hazards. It may be possible to seek damages when the owner or employees of a property should have reasonably known a condition was dangerous, caused the problem by not maintaining the area or knew there was a problem, but did not address it.

It is the term "reasonable" that often becomes the hurdle in a personal injury claim based on a fall. You will need to show that the owner and/or manager of the property did not act in a reasonable manner in making sure the property was in good repair and free from obstacles that do not belong in an area. Even if negligence is proved, an Illinois court may determine that you were partly at fault as well.

Fortunately, Illinois is a comparative negligence state, which means that so long as the court does not find that you are less than 50 percent liable for a fall, you will recover. However, you will only recover the percentage of an award assigned to the property owner. For instance, if you are found to be 40 percent liable, you will be awarded 60 percent of the damages award. Slip-and-fall accidents are all different, and therefore, if you fell on someone's property, you may benefit from seeking the advice and assistance of someone familiar with such cases.

Source: FindLaw, "Proving Fault in Slip and Fall Accidents", , Sept. 5, 2014

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