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Woman Awarded Record Damages in Premises Liability Case

Posted on in Personal Injury

Woman Awarded Record Damages in Premises Liability CaseA Cook County jury recently decided that the city of Chicago must pay $148 million to a woman who suffered partial paralysis after a bus shelter collapsed outside of O’Hare International Airport. The award is reportedly the largest ever given to a plaintiff who filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city. According to testimony during the trial, the plaintiff was waiting for a ride under the bus shelter when a storm passed through. The shelter came loose and fell on the woman, severing her spine and leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. An investigation determined that the shelter was missing bolts and other shelters at the airport were in similarly poor condition. The city of Chicago accepted liability for the incident but argued that the plaintiff was entitled to $34 million. The plaintiff countered in court by requesting $174 million. The case is an example of how both premises liability and catastrophic injuries factor into personal injury lawsuits.

Premises Liability

Illinois law holds the owner of a property responsible for making reasonable efforts to protect its guests. However, there are circumstances that can absolve a property owner from liability when a person is injured on its property, such as if:

  • The owner warned the guest of the danger;
  • The danger should have been apparent to the guest;
  • The owner could not be expected to know of the danger;
  • The guest’s reckless actions caused the danger; or
  • The guest was trespassing on the property.

The plaintiff’s burden to prove negligence is stricter when filing a personal injury lawsuit against a municipality. The fact that the city of Chicago did not dispute its premises liability in the recent case suggests that it knows it was negligent in maintaining the bus shelters.

Catastrophic Injury

Victims who suffer catastrophic injuries may have the greatest needs of any plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits. In this case, the woman’s injuries have left her permanently disabled. Her immediate medical expenses to treat her severe injuries were likely high. However, her future expenses will be greater:

  • She may need continuous physical therapy and future medical operations related to her injuries;
  • She will require assisted living services and accomodations in order to function in her daily life;
  • She will be limited in her ability to obtain employment or need training to learn new job skills;
  • Her quality of life has diminished, as she has been forced to move in with her parents and may struggle to become independent; and
  • The experience likely caused mental trauma that may continue for the rest of her life.

Seeking Damages

Someone who is injured due to another party’s negligence deserves compensation for the resulting expenses. A McHenry County personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can determine how much money you need for your injuries and suffering. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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