Construction is a dangerous occupation. Employees are required to work at extreme heights on ladders and scaffolding, operate power tools and heavy equipment, as well as perform other physically demanding and hazardous tasks on a daily basis.
Because construction work is one of the top jobs where accidents occur, it is important to understand the construction accident laws in Illinois. While the following touches on some of the important points of construction accident law in our state, it is not complete. An experienced personal injury lawyer can review your case and determine which laws may apply to your specific circumstances.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact Mike Agruss Law for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, Mike Agruss Law is not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.
Laws Regarding Statute of Limitations in Construction Accidents
Like most other types of personal injury accidents, construction accidents also have a statute of limitations on how long you have to file a claim. In Illinois, the following laws apply:
735 ILCS 5/13-202:
“Actions for damages for an injury to the person, or for false imprisonment, or malicious prosecution, or for a statutory penalty, or for abduction, or for seduction, or for criminal conversation that may proceed pursuant to subsection (a) of Section 7.1 of the Criminal Conversation Abolition Act, except damages resulting from first degree murder or the commission of a Class X felony and the perpetrator thereof is convicted of such crime, shall be commenced within 2 years next after the cause of action accrued…”
735 ILCS 5/13-205:
“Actions on unwritten contracts, expressed or implied, or on awards of arbitration, or to recover damages for an injury done to property, real or personal, or to recover the possession of personal property or damages for the detention or conversion thereof, and all civil actions not otherwise provided for, shall be commenced within 5 years next after the cause of action accrued…”
In regard to construction accidents the following applies:
“(a) Actions based upon tort, contract or otherwise against any person for an act or omission of such person in the design, planning, supervision, observation or management of construction, or construction of an improvement to real property shall be commenced within 4 years from the time the person bringing an action, or his or her privity, knew or should reasonably have known of such act or omission. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, contract actions against a surety on a payment or performance bond shall be commenced, if at all, within the same time limitation applicable to the bond principal.”
Filing a Complaint
When filing a complaint for a construction accident, Illinois law states:
735 ILCS 5/2-603:
“(a) All pleadings shall contain a plain and concise statement of the pleader’s cause of action, counterclaim, defense, or reply.
(b) Each separate cause of action upon which a separate recovery might be had shall be stated in a separate count or counterclaim, as the case may be and each count, counterclaim, defense or reply, shall be separately pleaded, designated and numbered, and each shall be divided into paragraphs numbered consecutively, each paragraph containing, as nearly as may be, a separate allegation.
(c) Pleadings shall be liberally construed with a view to doing substantial justice between the parties.”
Dismissal of Complaint
A defendant will almost always attempt to have a case thrown out of court. There are two main methods they may go about this, which include:
735 ILCS 5/2-615:
“Motions with respect to pleadings. (a) All objections to pleadings shall be raised by motion. The motion shall point out specifically the defects complained of, and shall ask for appropriate relief, such as: that a pleading or portion thereof be stricken because substantially insufficient in law, or that the action be dismissed, or that a pleading be made more definite and certain in a specified particular, or that designated immaterial matter be stricken out, or that necessary parties be added, or that designated misjoined parties be dismissed, and so forth.”
735 ILCS 5/2-619
“Involuntary dismissal based upon certain defects or defenses. (a) Defendant may, within the time for pleading, file a motion for dismissal of the action or for other appropriate relief upon any of the following grounds. If the grounds do not appear on the face of the pleading attacked the motion shall be supported by affidavit.”
Fault is important in negligence cases. Illinois defines fault as the following:
735 ILCS 5/2-1116(b):
“Fault means 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.”
Under Illinois law, a plaintiff is only able to recover for damages if their contributory fault is below 51%. This limits the amount they can recover by the amount of their own misconduct in the case as stated here:
735 ILCS 5/2-1116:
“In all actions on account of bodily injury or death or physical damage to property, based on negligence, or product liability based on strict tort liability, the plaintiff shall be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought. The plaintiff shall not be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is not more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought, but any damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion to the amount of fault attributable to the plaintiff.”
In the event that a construction accident was caused by a defective product, Illinois has the following laws in place:
735 ILCS 5/13-213(3):
“Product liability action means any action based on any theory or doctrine brought against the seller of a product on account of personal injury, (including illness, disease, disability and death) or property, economic or other damage allegedly caused by or resulting from the manufacture, construction, preparation, assembly, installation, testing, makeup, characteristics, functions, design, formula, plan, recommendation, specification, prescription, advertising, sale, marketing, packaging, labeling, repair, maintenance or disposal of, or warning or instruction regarding any product. This definition excludes actions brought by State or federal regulatory agencies pursuant to statute.”
735 ILCS 5/13-213(4)(b):
“(b) Subject to the provisions of subsections (c) and (d) no product liability action based on any theory or doctrine shall be commenced except within the applicable limitations period and, in any event, within 12 years from the date of first sale, lease or delivery of possession by a seller or 10 years from the date of first sale, lease or delivery of possession to its initial user, consumer, or other non-seller, whichever period expires earlier, of any product unit that is claimed to have injured or damaged the plaintiff, unless the defendant expressly has warranted or promised the product for a longer period and the action is brought within that period…the action commenced within the applicable limitation period and, in any event, within 10 years from the date such alteration, modification or change was made, unless defendant expressly has warranted or promised the product for a longer period and the action is brought within that period…”
Under Illinois law, a product is defined as:
735 ILCS 5/13-213(2):
“(2) product means any tangible object or goods distributed in commerce, including any service provided in connection with the product. Where the term product unit is used, it refers to a single item or unit of a product.”
Under Illinois law, a seller is defined as:
735 ILCS 5/13-213(4):
“(4) seller means one who, in the course of a business conducted for the purpose, sells, distributes, leases, assembles, installs, produces, manufactures, fabricates, prepares, constructs, packages, labels, markets, repairs, maintains, or otherwise is involved in placing a product in the stream of commerce.”
Joint and Several Liability
735 ILCS 5/2-1117:
“Joint liability. Except as provided in Section 2-1118, in actions on account of bodily injury or death or physical damage to property, based on negligence, or product liability based on strict tort liability, all defendants found liable are jointly and severally liable for plaintiff’s past and future medical and medically related expenses. Any defendant whose fault, as determined by the trier of fact, is less than 25% of the total fault attributable to the plaintiff, the defendants sued by the plaintiff, and any third party defendant except the plaintiff’s employer, shall be severally liable for all other damages. Any defendant whose fault, as determined by the trier of fact, is 25% or greater of the total fault attributable to the plaintiff, the defendants sued by the plaintiff, and any third party defendants except the plaintiff’s employer, shall be jointly and severally liable for all other damages.”
In the event that two (2) or more defendants were responsible for an accident, Illinois law states:
740 ILCS 100/2:
“Right of Contribution. (a) Except as otherwise provided in this Act, where 2 or more persons are subject to liability in tort arising out of the same injury to person or property, or the same wrongful death, there is a right of contribution among them, even though judgment has not been entered against any or all of them. (b) The right of contribution exists only in favor of a tortfeasor who has paid more than his pro rata share of the common liability, and his total recovery is limited to the amount paid by him in excess of his pro rata share. No tortfeasor is liable to make contribution beyond his own pro rata share of the common liability.”
The language of law can be confusing. Fortunately, the lawyers at Mike Agruss Law can wade through the complexities of the law and advise you on your best course of action regarding your specific construction accident.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to negligence on the job site or a defective product, an experienced personal injury lawyer can review your claim and determine if there were unsafe working conditions, potential OSHA violations, and other hazards that may have existed at the time of your accident. They will also determine who may be liable for your injuries and damages and what compensation you may be entitled to.
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