How does Illinois’ negligence law relate to slip-and-fall injuries?

28 May, 2015
By: Donald W Fohrman

Slipand-fall accidents are not an uncommon occurrence in the U.S. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls are the most common reason for emergency room visits. More than eight million people go to the ER from fall related injuries; over one million of those involve slip-and-fall injuries. Furthermore, women are more likely than men to experience a slip-and-fall incident while going about their normal daily activities.

What is negligence?

According to Illinois statute, fault is defined as, “any act or omission that (i) is negligent, willful and wanton, or reckless, is a breach of an express or implied warranty, gives rise to strict liability in tort, or gives rise to liability under the provisions of any state statute, rule, or local ordinance and (ii) is a proximate cause of death, bodily injury to person, or physical damage to property for which recovery is sought.”

For example, one might claim that a property owner is negligent if his or her roof collapsed and injured another person. However, if the property owner was not aware that the roof was slowly rotting, he or she may not be held completely responsible for the incident. Similarly, business owners who are unaware that something has spilled on the floor may be found only partially negligent for a slip-and-fall injury.

In Illinois, there are several types of negligence that may be involved in a slip-and-fall personal injury case. The type of negligence used depends on how much involvement the injured victim had with the actual incident.

Comparative negligence

Comparative negligence may be considered in a case if the injured person was partially responsible for the accident. Whether the person was careless or had a part in creating the dangerous situation that caused the fall, their amount of fault in a comparative negligence case must be less than 50 percent. Compensation is then calculated based off of the percentage of fault.

A woman in another state is suing a grocery store after she suffered injuries from a slip-and-fall accident, according to the Pennsylvania Record. She claims that grocery store management failed to warn customers about a water puddle that had accumulated near an ice-making machine. Although the woman is partially to blame for not noticing the puddle in the first place, the store is mostly at fault for not posting the proper signage alerting customers to the possibility of a leaky ice machine.

Comparative negligence may also be involved in a case where someone is wearing improper clothing, such as high heel shoes, or using equipment that may contribute to the accident.

Contributory negligence

Contributory negligence occurs when the injured victim is more than 50 percent at fault for the slip-and-fall accident. A Chicago slip-and-fall lawyer knows that in these types of cases, people are often unable to collect any compensation for their injuries.

A 21-year-old woman who fell 21 feet while climbing may not be eligible for compensation because she was hiking in a restricted area. The incident took place near Starved Rock State Park. According to the Chicago Tribune, several other hikers had fallen from restricted areas in the past three months. Since LaSalle County officials had restricted the area and warned climbers of the potential danger, the chance that the county could be held liable for the fall injuries that occurred is slim.

Workers’ compensation

Not only do falling incidents happen to people while they are performing everyday tasks, slip-and-fall injuries are the leading cause of lost days from work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that men are more likely than women to suffer from on-the-job falls. This may stem from the fact that men are often employed in industries, such as construction or warehouses, where slip-and-fall accidents are more likely to occur.

For people over the age of 55, slip-and-falls are the number one cause of occupational injuries and the primary cause of workers’ compensation claims. Employers can help to minimize the number of workers’ compensation claims by providing adequate training and an overall safe work environment.

Pre-existing conditions

A slip-and-fall accident may aggravate a condition that the victim had prior to the incident. For example, victims who suffer from arthritis may find that the fall has aggravated their arthritic condition. In some situations, people may be compensated for the aggravation of their pre-existing conditions depending on the circumstances of the particular situation.

Statute of limitations                                                                                                                                               

People who suffer from injuries they obtained in a slip-and-fall accident several months or even a year ago may still be able to file a claim for compensation in Illinois. A victim has exactly two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury claim, and five years to file a claim for property damage. For some victims, chronic injuries may not appear immediately after the fall takes place. The statute of limitations gives people time to recognize their injuries, have them properly diagnosed and file a claim.

Slip-and-fall injuries can vary in severity, from relatively minor abrasions to severe broken bones or traumatic brain injury. Some injuries may be permanent, requiring victims to transform their lives in order to adapt. Injured victims may choose to seek legal assistance from a Chicago slip-and-fall lawyer when organizing a personal injury case.

Category: Personal Injury

About The Author

Photo of Donald W Fohrman
After completing law school Donald became an assistant Attorney General for 7 years and was assigned to the Industrial Commission Division. During that time he spent evenings establishing his own firm. Donald became a founding partner of a large workers’ compensation/personal injury firm but decided to leave the firm in 1990 to start a smaller “boutique” firm with the belief that bigger isn’t always better!
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