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McHenry County Personal Injury Lawyers

Along with building snowmen, dodging snowballs and relaxing with a warm mug of cocoa by the fire, sledding is a fond childhood memory for millions of Illinois residents. But in recent years, safety and liability concerns over the beloved winter pastime have prompted cities across the country to close hills to sledders.

Municipalities from Iowa to New Jersey have enacted sledding bans in an effort to keep children and parents safe, as well as to avoid costly personal injury payouts in the event of an accident. In Illinois, officials in Evanston banned sledding in James Park, previously a popular spot for the sport, while other cities have posted "sled at your own risk" signs in parks.

Sledding, like any other physical activity, can cause injuries. Talk to your child about ways to stay safe before he or she goes outside to ride a sled. If your child is involved in a sledding accident, you might be able to file a personal injury claim on his or her behalf. Additionally, understand your responsibilities as a property owner and how you may be held liable for any accidents that occur on your premises.

Liability Concerns in Illinois

As a property owner, you may be held liable for any injuries that occur on your property. Property owners' obligations to keep their property safe for others are written into the Premises Liability Act. Your level of obligation for an individual's safety depends on why he or she is on your property. This is known as duty of care, and is detailed below:

  • A property owner has the highest level of obligation for invitees. Invitees are customers and other patrons that enter the property to make use of goods or services provided by the owner.
  • A property owner has a slightly lesser obligation for the safety of licensees, which are individuals who enter the property socially, rather than for a specified commercial purpose. This can include guests and neighbors who stop by. Although a property owner is expected to keep his or her property free of safety hazards for these guests, licensees are also expected to exercise precautions for their own safety.
  • Generally, a property owner has no obligation to protect trespassers' safety. Trespassers are individuals who unlawfully enter a property.

In Illinois, fault for injuries is divided according to a modified comparative negligence model. This means that the damages a defendant is required to pay to the claimant may be reduced according to the percentage of the accident the claimant is found to be responsible for.

Personal Injury Claims for Children

Individuals under 18 years of age cannot file their own personal injury claims. This must be done on the child's behalf by his or her parent or guardian, known as his or her "next friend."

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the date of the accident. If the victim was a minor at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations does not close until his or her twentieth birthday. That means that even if an eight-year-old suffers from an injury, he or she may file a personal injury claim for it at 18 or 19 years old.

Sledding Safety Tips

Your child can significantly reduce his or her chances of being injured in a sledding accident by following these safety rules. Stress the importance of safety with your child and demonstrate them while out sledding with him or her.

  1. Never sled alone. Always have a friend available to seek help if necessary.
  2. Children should have adult supervision at all times.
  3. Do not sled at night. Even during the daytime, be sure that your chosen sledding hill has adequate lighting and visibility.
  4. Be aware of all obstacles in your path. This includes trees, rocks, frozen waterways and moving water. If you are unsure of whether a waterway is frozen solid, do not step or sled onto it.
  5. Choose hills that empty into long, flat areas that provide enough space to slow to a stop.
  6. Choose a sled that allows you to steer and stop it easily. Do not ride down snow-covered hills on lunch trays, trash can lids, or other devices not designed for riding in the snow.
  7. Avoid wearing untucked scarves or other articles of clothing that can catch onto obstacles and pose a strangulation hazard.
  8. Do not walk up a hill while others are riding down it.
  9. Do not sled on or near a street.
  10. Sit and face forward on a sled at all times. Do not take hills head first.

Crystal Lake Personal Injury Attorneys

A personal injury claim can devastate you and your family. If your child has been injured in a sledding accident or such an accident occurred on your property, you need high quality legal counsel and representation for your case. Contact the Crystal Lake personal injury attorneys at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, P.C. at 800-338-3833 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.

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