Fall Down Injury / Premises Liability Cases : Advice From Experts

For any fall down injury/premises liability case you need to know and document the exact location, date and time of the fall. It is important that the premises owner or manager is immediately made of aware of the incident so that their insurance company cannot claim it did not happen. It is NOT recommended that you give them or their insurance representative a recorded statement, but it is best to refer them to your attorney for further information. Any recorded statement can later be used against you to try to defeat your case.

Keep in mind if you are injured in a fall down/premises liability case, the law does not place automatic blame and responsibility on the premises owner or manager. The burden is on you to prove that their negligence caused your injury. You may need to prove that they knew or should have known of unreasonable dangers, hazards and/or defects on the premises. It may be important to show the defect/danger existed for a long enough period of time that the premises owner should have known about it and had time to remedy the condition.

For example, if someone falls at a grocery store on grapes on the floor the store may not be responsible unless it can be shown that the store employees were responsible for the grapes being on the floor, such as over stacking the fruit display. They might also be responsible if the grapes were on the floor for a long period of time and they should have been able to clean it up before the fall, which may be evidence by the grapes being brown, or old in appearance or signs of dirty footprints through the grapes in the general area.

If the premises injury was caused directly by the exclusive control of an instrumentality of the company the store owner may be responsible. An example of this can be seen when a store employee uses a ladder to stack items and allows ladder to fall onto patron.

City municipalities generally have a duty to maintain its sidewalks, parkways and streets in a reasonably safe condition but are not required to keep same in perfect condition. Any cracks, defects of depressions on city property must be more than slight or small defects and must be shown to be unreasonably dangerous to intended users. Each case will of course depend on its own set of facts. the City of Chicago may be responsible for defects in streets only if the pedestrian was injured in a crosswalk or was entering or exiting their legally parked vehicle.

Landowners in Chicago, Illinois are generally not responsible for falls and injuries from natural accumulations of snow and ice. There is only a duty to not create an unnatural and dangerous accumulation of snow and ice. An exception may be found in Condominium Association agreements where the association agrees in writing to keep the sidewalks free from snow and ice. in that case they may be responsible for a fall on the mere snow and ice. Another way a landowner/premise owner may be responsible is if there is a defect in the pavement such as a crack or depression that is filled in with snow and ice and is covered up by the snow and not visible to the pedestrian or patron. If the property has broken/defective gutters that create an unnatural accumulation of water or ice that causes a fall the property owner may be responsible.

If a fall occurs inside of the premises due to a defect or danger the case can be won with only slight evidence of the defect. For example, if a fall occurs due to a slightly frayed carpet that may be enough to win the case.

Store owners do not generally have a duty to remove water tracked into the store from the wet conditions outside. However, if the store does voluntarily provide mats to soak up the water the mats cannot be defective, torn, frayed or in poor condition. The injured party must still show that the defective mat was one of the causes for the fall.

Annette E. Pinhask | Civil Law Attorney | 180 W Washington St 4th Floor | Chicago