About 30 miles southwest of Chicago is Joliet, the fourth-largest city in Illinois with a population nearing 150,000 people. Joliet is known for its cultural and economic diversity and strong Roman Catholic roots, and is also home to Joliet Junior College, the country’s very first public community college. Nearly one-third of the population is between 25 and 44 years of age, while another one-third (approximately) is under 18 years of age, ranking Joliet among the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest.
We at Agruss Law Firm are proud to serve the people of Joliet in personal injury cases, including when you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury or wrongful death in a slip and fall accident, and we are fully committed to protecting your rights and ensuring that the other party is held legally accountable when negligence occurs. We will fight until the very end to ensure that you receive full financial compensation for all injuries and losses resulting from the accident, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and you won’t owe us a dime for our services. Contact our Joliet personal injury lawyers for a free consultation today.
Slip and Falls
slip and fall accidents are among the most common causes of injuries in the United States, and the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that they lead to nearly 9 million emergency room visits per year. Common factors in slip and fall personal injury cases include the nature of the danger or hazard which caused the accident, whether the incident was indeed an accident (whether the victim contributed to his/her own fall), and whether the property owner knew, or should have known, of the condition or hazard which led to the accident.
While it may be easy to dismiss many slip and fall accidents as minor incidents which require no further action, these falls can cause devastating injuries, such as:
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Strains and sprains
Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
Soft tissue injuries
In the United States, falls are the leading cause of personal injury and range from minor (skinned hands and knees) to severe (traumatic injuries, broken bones, and even death). These falls also become more dangerous as individuals get older, which is why nursing homes and hazardous walking surfaces are among the leading contributors to injuries among senior citizens.
Many slip and falls result from negligence on behalf of a third-party, and these cases often result in personal injury lawsuits. Here are a few primary causes of these falls:
Slick or uneven surfaces
About half of all slip and fall accidents are caused by dangerous walking conditions, according to the National Floor Safety Institute. There is a wide range of culprits, including defective sidewalks, wet floors, torn or buckled carpeting, and broken steps and stairs.
Precipitation is inevitable throughout the year, and property owners have legal duties to keep their premises free of preventable hazards, such as those created by rain, ice, and snow. Pedestrians should be mindful of potholes which become filled with rainwater and nearly turn invisible, for example.
Construction sites often have a variety of slipping and tripping hazards, including loose cables and wires, unstable temporary walkways, and clutter and debris left in walkways.
Nursing home neglect
By and large, senior citizens have less physical balance than other age groups and are more likely to suffer a serious injury in a fall. Nursing homes which lack adequate supervision or safety measures are likely to be held legally responsible for an injury sustained within the home which could have been prevented.
The Federal Highway Administration (a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation) asserts that sidewalks are indeed prone to damage from environmental conditions, and maintaining their good condition is part of maintaining all public rights-of-way and their safe access. Sidewalks in poor condition can limit this access and even pose safety risks to pedestrians.
Here are three of the top ten most frequently cited maintenance issues for sidewalks, according to the Campaign to Make America Walkable:
Missing sections, particularly on “key walking routes;”
Severely cracked concrete, holes, rough spots, and indentations as wide as one inch;
Fragments of concrete or building materials and holes/depressions from lost concrete greater than 2 inches in diameter.
Under the Premises Liability Act (740 ILCS 130), Illinois property owners are responsible for maintaining their property to ensure that it is reasonably safe for [most] people who may come onto the premises, and knowledge of a particular hazard requires the property owner to address it and/or warn these invitees that it exists. When the property owner fails to repair a hazard or even warn those who may legally come onto the property, that property owner may be held negligent in a slip and fall claim and, in turn, liable for any accidents and injuries caused by this negligence. If you have suffered an injury caused by a property owner’s negligence, contact a Joliet, IL personal injury lawyer today.
However, there are exceptions in personal injury law. A property owner is not responsible for your injuries in situations such as when:
The victim was fully aware of the slip and fall danger;
The property owner was both unaware of the danger and not reasonably expected to foresee it;
The danger was open, obvious, and reasonably expected to be discovered by those who enter the premises;
The danger was created by the victim’s misuse of the premises.
Illinois also has the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (745 ILS 10), a statute which offers protection against lawsuits for municipal governments and their employees, such as personal injury claims for accidents caused by defects in public sidewalks. For a successful personal injury claim against a city government for such an accident, it must be proven that the city had prior notice of the defect or hazard; notice may be “actual,” meaning complaints were made to the city by citizens regarding the hazard, or “constructive,” meaning that the hazard existed long enough that the city should have been aware of its potential to cause personal injury.
Public places of business, such as retailers and grocery stores, must take certain legal steps to keep their customers out of harm’s way, whether they are nationwide chains, subsidiaries, or locally-owned businesses, and they may be legally responsible when a personal injury was directly caused by an unreasonably safe condition.
Slip and falls in stores have a variety of causes: a customer could fall in the store’s entry way where no “wet floor” sign was present; poorly-placed items may fall into an aisle and cause customers to slip or trip; poor lighting in a section of a store may result in poor visibility. While there are countless situations such as these, the store’s legal responsibility (if applicable) often depends on whether the store had, or “reasonably” should have had, knowledge of the unsafe condition and failed to resolve it in a timely manner.
If you’ve been hurt in a slip and fall in a store, do your best to record all details while they are fresh in your mind, in addition to seeking immediate medical attention, if necessary:
Take pictures of where the accident happened, if possible;
Note any factors which contributed to your accident, such as debris, wet floors, or warning signs (or lack thereof);
Get the names of any witnesses of the accident and employees who spoke with you.
The store will not assist with these matters and you will be responsible for the necessary evidence to prove that it is legally at-fault for your accident, which is why it’s essential to consult with a slip and fall attorney who will ensure that this evidence is gathered and compensation may be earned.
Chain of Causation
While some victims of slip and fall accidents may be tricked into thinking that immediate compensation can be received with minimal effort, there are multiple burdens for slip and fall lawyers to meet for a successful personal injury case. This is commonly known as a “chain of causation,” made up of four steps which demonstrate that the defendant was indeed responsible for the plaintiff’s accident. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall due to another’s negligence, speak with a Joliet slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible; our law offices will establish these links and fight for full and fair compensation.
Here are the four links which should be established under personal injury law:
1) Breach & Hazard
This link can be established by a personal injury lawyer in a number of ways and is often the primary focus of a slip and fall injury claim. Was the property inadequately inspected or maintained? Did the property owner fail to warn the occupants of a danger or potential hazard? Was there a hazard which the owner failed to identify or resolve in a timely manner? The property owner’s duty of care, as a legal matter, refers to is his/her legal duty to ensure the safety of guests on the property (assuming they are not trespassing or otherwise legally prohibited from being on the property) and requires them to not only identify and repair unreasonable hazards on the property, but also inform guests that such hazards exist.
2) Hazard & Accident
Expert testimony is sometimes necessary to establish the direct link between the hazard on the property and the plaintiff’s accident, such as a defective handrail, inadequate lighting, lack of a “wet floor” sign, or a similar danger. Witness testimony is also highly beneficial to establish this link.
3) Accident & Injury
For this link, personal testimony and medical documentation are necessary to demonstrate that the plaintiff’s current injuries resulted directly from the accident in question rather than a previous accident, illness, or medical condition. When the connection is not clear and obvious beyond a reasonable doubt, expert medical testimony may be necessary to correlate the injuries to the recent slip and fall accident.
4) Injury & Damages
To connect injury and damages, “special damages” such as medical expenses and lost wages may be proven with documentation such as pay stubs and bills, while “general damages” are sometimes more difficult to prove. General damages are often subjective but can be demonstrated with photographs, videos, and personal journals which document the plaintiff’s injuries and lost quality of life during their recovery, and witness testimony – especially from close relatives and friends – is also beneficial for establishing this link in your personal injury claim.
Contact us Today!
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury or wrongful death in a slip and fall accident in the Joliet area, you need the best legal representation. Contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation. Helping our clients is about counseling, advocating, and ultimately solving problems. With years of experience successfully representing the people and not the powerful, we will take care of the insurance company, your medical bills, your property damage, and your lost wages, and monitor your treatment so you can focus on healing and getting your life back to normal. 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, Agruss Law Firm, LLC works on a contingency fee basis and 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.