What is the Illinois Premises Liability Act?
It is crucial for property owners to ensure the safety of their premises for those who have a right to be there. This includes those who own private residences as well as business owners and government property operators. The Illinois Premises Liability Act seeks to ensure that property owners take the steps necessary to maintain safe premises for licensees and invitees. Here, we want to discuss the Illinois Premises Liability Act as well as what it takes to hold property owners accountable when an injury occurs.
Understanding the Responsibility of Property Owners
If we look at the Illinois Premises Liability Act, we see that the law states property owners and operators have a duty to both licensees and invitees. This duty extends to ensuring that these individuals are safe from any foreseeable hazards. Property owners are responsible for maintaining their premises in a reasonably safe condition.
Most individuals who have a right to be on a particular property should be afforded the same standard of care, regardless of whether or not a person is an invited guest or any other individual who has the right to be on the property, including patrons in a store or bank customers.
All guests and visitors to a property should be able to enjoy the time on play premises that has been properly maintained and is free from known hazards. If there is a known hazard present on the premises, guests and visitors should be provided a warning that there may be situations that could cause them harm.
There may be various parties that could be held liable in the aftermath of a premises liability injury in Illinois. This includes those who own private residences, business owners, landlords, leaseholders, government property operators, and more. Liability can get muddied, particularly if the person responsible for the property is a leaseholder, but someone else actually owns the property. It will be important to examine what a contract states about who is responsible for maintaining the premises.
Who is Considered a Licensee or Invitee?
When it comes to premises liability law, a few terms will come up that you may not be familiar with, at least in the context of personal injury cases. These terms are “licensee” and “invitee.”
In Illinois premises liability law, a “licensee” refers to a person who enters another individual’s property with their consent or permission, but not necessarily for the benefit of the property owner. Licensees could include social guests or individuals on the property for their own purposes, such as friends or neighbors who have received an invitation to visit.
Property owners owe a duty to licensees to warn them of any concealed, dangerous conditions or activities on the premises that the licensee is unlikely to discover. This means that property owners should make reasonable efforts to inform licensees of any known risks that may not be obvious.
An “invitee” in Illinois premises liability law is a person who enters another person’s property with the invitation (explicit or implied) of the property owner, usually for the benefit of both parties. Examples of invitees may include customers in a retail store or clients in a business office.
Property owners owe an enhanced duty of care to invitees compared to licensees. They are required to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and take steps to address and prevent any known hazards. If a property owner is aware of potential dangers, they must either fix the issue or provide adequate warnings to protect invitees.
Common Injury Claims That Fall Under the Illinois Premises Liability Act
There is a wide range of injuries individuals can sustain as a result of a premises liability incident in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Individuals can sustain relatively minor injuries or incredibly severe injuries, but either way, victims deserve the right to recover compensation. Some of the most common premises liability injuries we assist clients with include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord trauma
- Complete or partial paralysis
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- Fractured bones
- Bone dislocations
- Severe lacerations and puncture wounds
- Crush injuries
In addition to these acute traumatic injuries that can occur as a result of property owner negligence, we must also take into account the longer-term effects of these incidents and the recovery process on the victim. This can include a victim’s physical and emotional pain and suffering as well as a loss of enjoyment of life caused by any disability.
Damages Available for a Premises Liability Claim
There may be various types of damages available to individuals injured as a result of the negligence of a property owner. This can include both economic and non-economic losses, such as:
- Compensation for all medical expenses associated with the injury
- Lost income if an individual cannot work
- Property damage expenses
- Physical pain and suffering damages
- Emotional and psychological pain and suffering losses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Possible punitive damages if the property owner was grossly negligent
How Long Do Injury Victims Have to File a Chicago Premises Liability Lawsuit?
Those who sustain injuries caused by the actions of others in Illinois have a limited amount of time to file their claims in civil court. The Illinois personal injury statute of limitations for the state stipulates that injury victims have two years from the date the injury happens to file their lawsuit. If injury victims fail to file their lawsuit against the alleged negligent party within this amount of time, the case will almost certainly be dismissed, leading to the injury victim recovering no compensation.
Working With a Lawyer
A skilled premises liability lawyer in Chicago will be able to handle these claims on your behalf. It is crucial that an attorney works to prove that a dangerous condition existed on the premises. However, an attorney will also need to show that the owner of the premises knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and failed to take steps to remedy the situation or warn patrons about the danger.
An attorney will use their resources to conduct a complete investigation into the incident, so you will only have to focus on recovering from your injuries. Most lawyers will take these claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not have to pay any legal fees until after the attorney successfully recovers the compensation you need.