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How Businesses Can Be Liable for Personal InjuriesFiling a personal injury lawsuit against a large business can be more challenging than when an individual is a defendant. Corporations are often familiar with being the subject of lawsuits and have attorneys who are prepared to respond to litigation. The corporation has the resources to afford a protracted legal battle if it believes it is in the right or that its reputation is at risk. On the other hand, a corporation may be more willing than an individual to offer you a settlement if it believes a court battle is not worth the expense. A personal injury attorney can review your case to determine the benefits and risks of filing a lawsuit against a corporation.

Premises Liability

Businesses can be liable for the safety of guests on their properties. Stores are the most common example of these properties, though the public could also visit an office location. To prove a premises liability case, you must show that:

  • A condition on the business premises caused your injury;
  • The business failed to identify the dangerous condition in a timely manner or did not properly warn you of the danger; and
  • You could not have reasonably foreseen or avoided the injury.

It is more difficult to prove that a business is liable for a dangerous condition that suddenly developed than a condition that is the result of a lack of maintenance. For instance, you could slip and fall after someone spilled a drink on a tile floor. Depending on how recently the spill occurred, employees may not have had a chance to clean it up and put out a “wet floor” sign. If an automatic door malfunctions and crushes your arm, the business would be liable if it was aware of the danger and had done nothing to fix it or warn you.

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Strict Interpretation of Snow Removal Law Benefits Injury PlaintiffsThe legal distinction between a sidewalk and other walking surfaces may determine the success of your personal injury case. The Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act states that property owners who remove snow from sidewalks abutting their properties are not liable if someone is injured because of icy conditions created by the snow removal. This legal immunity makes it difficult for people to receive personal injury compensation when they slip and fall because of an untreated accumulation of ice. However, some Illinois courts strictly interpret the law as applying only to sidewalks and not other paved surfaces.

Liability Standard

Illinois law does not require property owners to clear the snow off of their walkways or hold them liable for personal injuries on their property caused by a natural accumulation of snow or ice. Before the Snow and Ice Removal Act, personal injury victims could claim that property owners who cleared snow from their sidewalks created an unnatural accumulation of snow. The melting snow piles caused icy conditions on sidewalks. The Snow and Ice Removal Act changed the liability standard, and property owners are now liable only if:

  • They willfully or wantonly created the hazardous condition; or
  • Negligence in the condition of the property caused an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice.

Thus, property owners are not liable for the melt off from a pile of snow they have created, but they may be liable if a malfunctioning gutter system caused the ice accumulation.

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Determining Injury Liability at Amusement ParksAmusement parks and carnivals can be full of excitement for attendees but also rife with dangers. Accidents that occur on the large rides can cause serious and deadly injuries. There is also a possibility of injury at smaller attractions, where attendees can slip or bump into objects. Amusement park injuries often fall under the premises liability section of personal injury law. Illinois law requires ride operators to have liability insurance in case of injuries. Identifying which party is liable for your injuries depends on the cause of the accident.

Owners and Operators

The people who own and run an amusement venue are often most directly liable for any injuries that occur on their premises. Examples of negligence include:

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Check Lease When Claiming Landlord Premises LiabilityThere are three factors that a personal injury claimant must prove in a case of premises liability:

  • The defendant owed a duty to maintain the safety of the property;
  • The defendant neglected its duty in the upkeep of the property; and
  • The negligence is responsible for the injury that the plaintiff suffered.

In a landlord-tenant relationship, the lease will often spell out each party’s responsibility for upkeep and safety. If a tenant is injured due to unsafe conditions on the rental property, he or she should examine the terms of the lease to understand whether the landlord can be held liable for the injury.

Duty Owed

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Governments Not Liable for Injuries on Nature TrailsGovernment entities and employees in Illinois have greater than normal protection from personal injury lawsuits in cases of premises liability. In most cases, the plaintiff will need to prove willful and wanton conduct by the government entity in order to receive damages. However, local governments are immune from all liability when an injury occurs on a natural trail, even if willful and wanton conduct is involved. Thus, it is crucial to differentiate between nature trails and other recreational trails in personal injury cases.

Understanding the Law

Illinois’ Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act defines what liability local governments hold when injuries occur on public property. The law provides immunity to local governments for injuries caused by the condition of any natural hiking or riding trails used to reach areas for:

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