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Will County personal injury attorneysIntense winter weather is just around the corner in Illinois and that means that the potential for snow and ice-related injuries will be increasing significantly. If you or a loved one are injured in a slip and fall accident caused by snow or ice, you may wonder what the laws are regarding liability for snow and ice injuries. Are property owners legally required to remove snow and ice from their walkways and parking lots? Can residential property owners be held liable for failure to remove snow and ice? Understanding Illinois laws regarding liability for snow and ice injuries is key to knowing your rights after an injury caused by ice or snow.

Unnatural Accumulation of Snow and Ice

Illinois property owners cannot be expected to keep their properties completely free of snow and ice. It is simply impossible to keep up with harsh Illinois winters in this way. However, property owners are responsible for preventing avoidable injuries caused by “unnatural accumulation” of snow or ice. Put another way, property owners are not automatically liable for every injury caused by the accumulation of snow or ice. If a person’s injury is caused by snow or ice that naturally accumulated in an area because of the weather, the property may avoid liability. However, if the snow or ice accumulates unnaturally, the property owner may be liable for injuries caused by the unnatural accumulation. For example, a property owner may be liable for injuries caused by:

  • Snow that was moved by snow shovels, snow plows, or snow blowers
  • Melted snow that causes icy patches in places that ice would not naturally accumulate
  • Ice created by water from roof edges, downspouts, or drainage systems
  • Accumulation of ice in potholes or other parking lot defects

There is a fair amount of confusion and controversy about the duty of property owners to prevent injuries caused by snow and ice removal. Classifying snow and ice as either unnatural or natural accumulation and determining whether or not an injury was the result of the property owner’s negligence is challenging. This is one reason that it is crucial to work with a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with Illinois laws regarding snow and ice removal and property owner liability for snow and ice injuries.

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What Is Needed for a Successful Slip and Fall Injury Claim?A slip and fall accident or trip and fall accident can cause painful injuries that require considerable medical treatment. Head injuries including traumatic brain injuries, back and spine injuries, broken bones, and other injuries caused in a fall may result in thousands of dollars of medical expenses and lost income. If you or a loved one were hurt in a fall accident caused by the negligent actions of a property owner or occupier, you may be interested in pursuing compensation through a premises liability claim. To successfully obtain compensation, you and your attorney will need to prove several facts.  

Establishing The Defendant’s Negligence

The party who brings an injury claim is the plaintiff or claimant, and the party who the claim is brought against is the defendant. The defendant in a slip and fall case may be the property owner or the party who managed or occupied the property on which the injury occurred. Most slip and fall injury claims are based on the assertion that the defendant did not keep the property reasonably safe for individuals who were lawfully on the property. Spilled liquids, fractured concrete, broken stairs, and faulty handrails are all examples of hazards that may lead to a slip and fall accident.

The presence of a potential injury-causing hazard on the property is typically not enough to prove that the defendant was negligent. You will also need to show that the defendant knew or should have known about the unsafe condition. The question of foreseeability often plays a major role in premises liability claims.

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Orland Park personal injury attorneyWhen you are a visitor or guest on someone else’s property, the property own has a responsibility to ensure that you are safe. He or she is not necessarily responsible for stopping you from making poor decisions while on the property, but the owner must take steps to keep the premises free of potential hazards that could cause you to slip and fall or trip and fall. If the property owner does not keep the property safe and you suffer injuries as a result of his or negligence, you could be entitled to collect compensation through a premises liability claim.

Recovering compensation for slip-and-fall injuries requires the plaintiff—that is you—to show four primary things:

  1. The property owner owed you a duty of care. Proving a duty of care includes several elements. You will need to show that the defendant owns or occupies the premises where your injury occurred and that he or she is responsible for keeping the property safe. You must also show that you were permitted to be on the property, as trespassers are not owed the same duty of care as invited guests or visitors.
  2. A hazard existed on the property. The second thing you need to prove is that a dangerous condition existed on the premises. This could include a slippery floor with no warning signs, broken floor tiles, poorly lit areas, or merchandised that is unsafely stacked. Keep in mind that a hazardous condition must be capable of causing injuries.
  3. The owner knew or should have known about the problem and did not address it. A property owner can only be held liable for your injuries if he or she was aware (or should have been aware) that there was a hazardous condition on the property. Proving this element may depend on how long the condition existed. For example, an owner should know that a railing on a commonly-used staircase was broker, but he or she may not yet have known about a spill that happened just moments before your accident.
  4. You suffered harm as a result. Lastly, your right to collect damages will hinge on your ability to prove that the hazardous condition is what caused your injuries. Any action that the property owner took to mitigate the danger will be considered at this stage as well. For example, if the owner placed signs warning visitors of the broken railing and you used the staircase anyway, the owner’s liability could be reduced.

Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer

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