The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that slip and fall accidents lead to as many as 9 million emergency room visits per year, and falls are the leading cause of personal injury in the United States. Injuries range from minor, such as skinned hands and knees, to severe, such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), 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.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident due to negligence, we at Agruss Law Firm are here for you every step of the way to ensure that your rights are protected and you are fully compensated for your injuries and losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation.
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. These commonly occur in stores, restaurants, and other places of business where walking areas may become slippery, and there is a wide range of culprits, such as defective sidewalks, wet floors, torn or buckled carpeting, and broken steps and stairs.
Weather – 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. In some cases, a property owner may be legally liable for a slip and fall accident caused directly by their poor or improper maintenance of the property.
Work-related falls – 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. If you were injured on the job and plan to file a worker’s compensation claim, remember that under Illinois law, you must notify your employer of the injury within forty-five (45) days of the date of the accident, either verbally or in writing, and you will generally have three (3) years from the date of the accident to file the worker’s compensation claim.
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.
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 and, in turn, liable for any accidents and injuries caused by this negligence.
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; and/or 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 for municipal governments and their employees against lawsuits, such as personal injury claims for accidents caused by defects in public sidewalks. For a successful 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.
Remember: under Illinois law, you have two (2) years from the date of the accident – the same time limit as for an auto accident – to file a personal injury claim.