When visiting someone else’s property, including businesses, stores, or other people’s homes, you should be able to expect that the property owner has taken the proper precautions to ensure the safety and security of anyone who enters. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Even though it is the legal responsibility of the property owner to keep any guests safe, some negligent owners or management ignore common safety standards and endanger the lives of those who enter the property.
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, your injuries could be the fault of the property owner. The Champaign premises liability attorneys of Spiros Law, P.C. are dedicated to defending the rights and security of all people. Contact our offices today at (217) 328-2828 to discuss your situation with a qualified attorney.
Examples of Premises Liability Cases
Our premises liability lawyers are prepared to handle cases that fall into a wide range of categories, as outlined below.
Slip and Falls
A slip and fall is a type of personal injury claim that usually occurs because a property owner or manager was negligent in maintaining the property. A slip and fall could be the result of a spilled liquid on a grocery store floor, or perhaps a crack in a walkway to the store. When someone visits another individual’s property and suffers severe injuries in a slip and fall, the property owner could be held responsible for a slip and fall claim. To win a slip and fall claim, you must prove that the manager or property owner’s negligence led to your injury.
What Do I Have to Prove in a Slip and Fall Case?
In slip and fall accident cases, you must prove that either:
- The owners failed to maintain their property
- The property owners created unsafe conditions which resulted in your injury
- The owners were aware of the hazards on the property but did not alert you to this fact
It is essential to prove whether the dangerous condition was temporary or permanent. In cases where the hazard was temporary, the duration in which it was there might make it harder to prove your case. If you can’t determine what caused you to fall, it will be difficult to prove liability. An experienced premises liability lawyer working on your behalf can help you prove that the property owner should have known the hazardous condition existed for more than a reasonable length of time but did nothing about the danger.
Natural and Unnatural Accumulation
Illinois courts use the “natural accumulation rule.” This states that an owner has no duty to remove natural accumulations of snow, ice, or water on their property. This is true regardless of how long the natural accumulation has existed on the property, or how long the inclement weather has lasted.
Examples of natural accumulation include:
- Untouched snow that has fallen
- Drifting of snow caused by melting or wind
- Ice resulting from snow melting then freezing again
- Snow that falls off of vehicles
- Tracks in the snow caused by traffic
If there is an unnatural accumulation of snow, such as a large mound of shoveled snow, that causes your slip and fall, the property owner or manager may be held legally liable. How a property owner removes snow and ice can create premises liability. Commercial property owners, who are often the most vulnerable to slip and fall claims, will usually attempt to clear walkways for customers but can be liable for injuries in the case of unnatural accumulation, such as:
- They are negligent in removing snow and ice from areas they are trying to clear
- They create unnatural piles of snow in areas where they ought to know runoff could cause ice accumulation
- They have a snow removal contract in place that creates a duty to remove snow
- The property has a design flaw that causes unnatural accumulations of snow and ice
A property owner may not be liable for your injury, even if you believe they could have done more to remove snow and ice from the walkway. Your injury claim depends upon the owner creating the conditions that caused your slip and fall. An attorney can help you determine liability and whether natural or unnatural accumulation was involved in your slip and fall.
They are encountered so frequently and in so many different locations that it would be easy to assume that escalators and elevators are harmless. Unfortunately, the reality is that these devices can pose a severe threat to the welfare of those who ride them, whether because of an accident, defect, or malfunction. These traumatic incidents occur without advance warning and can leave a victim to cope with substantial physical pain, emotional anguish, and also extraordinary financial burdens.
Property owners or their authorized agents may be liable for injuries suffered by guests under premises liability law. They are responsible for ensuring that elevators and escalators are properly maintained and that warnings of dangers are prominently displayed when necessary. In the most drastic and tragic cases, a person injured by a substantial fall or collapse may be killed in the accident. Our Champaign elevator and escalator injury attorneys know how to hold negligent property owners accountable.
A property owner may choose to add a porch to a structure in order to create usable space outdoors. This may be on the ground floor, using a porch as a slightly raised area for lounging furniture or meeting space. These porches can also be built on higher levels on a building to allow an elevated vantage point for guests. However, if these are not properly built or maintained, or if a property owner willfully violates load restrictions, a porch may collapse, endangering the safety of all persons on or underneath the porch.
The persons who tread or sit on porches only encounter the surface and may not have reason to imagine that the structures are any more complicated. The reality, however, is that they depend upon structural support underneath the surface or in the form of a strong and secure attachment to the building. The following are some potential causes of porch collapse:
- Rotted wood or the use of substandard materials
- Broken or loose bolts and screws
- Excessive weight or improper distribution of weight on a porch
- Negligent maintenance
We expect stairs and staircases to withstand years of use. They should be constructed to sustain the weight of many people for long periods of time, but sometimes they prove inadequate. On the large scale, collapsed staircases can easily cause serious injuries or even death for dozens of people. The vast majority of stair collapse injuries are preventable, however, by taking simple steps to notice and repair damage.
Stair collapse injuries are almost always preventable. By examining staircases for structural defects and taking the necessary steps to warn visitors and repair the damage, property owners can prevent serious and potentially life-threatening injuries. Depending on the construction of the stairs in question, causes of collapse can include:
- Over-burdened staircases
- Weakened metal or concrete reinforcement
- Termite damage to wooden staircases
- Faulty joints or welds
- Extensive rusting
- Water damage
Every property owner is responsible for ensuring their property does not pose undue risks to the public. If you have been harmed by a property owner who failed to meet this responsibility, our Champaign stair collapse attorneys can help you pursue justice.
A property manager or owner is responsible for keeping a building up to the current fire codes. These are basic safety requirements that help to prevent fires as well as injuries due to fires. Should a premises owner fail to follow these important safety standards, it can result in destructive and deadly blazes that can seriously injure you and those you love.
Fires can be catastrophic, but fortunately they are often preventable if the proper fire codes are strictly followed. If a property manager fails in this duty to you, resulting in a fire, you may be entitled to financial compensation to help with your damages. Contact the tenacious Champaign fire attorneys of Spiros Law, P.C., at (217) 328-2828 for more information regarding your legal rights and options if you have suffered in a fire.
Lead Paint Poisoning
Lead is a toxic heavy metal that was used extensively in the production of paint in the past. Although it can improve the durability and freshness of paint, exposure to lead over time can cause permanent neurological damage. By the time symptoms of lead poisoning become noticeable, the damage may already be extensive. Even worse, the risks are especially great for children and their growing bodies.
The most common cause of lead poisoning among children is exposure to lead paint. As the paint ages and begins to flake away, children who do not know better may be tempted to eat the flakes. Since any exposure to lead is toxic, and since heavy metals like lead never leave the body, the effects tend to accumulate over time. Sources of lead paint can include:
- Buildings that were last painted before restrictions on lead paint were put in place
- Goods, even including toys, produced in countries where lead paint is still permitted
- Older school buses painted with the pigment chrome yellow
- Older oil paintings
Due to the number of uses for paint of various kinds, these are only a few of the circumstances where lead paint may occur. People whose property contains lead paint are expected to notify anyone nearby and take whatever steps necessary to prevent harm. If your child has been harmed by a property owner’s failures to take such steps, our Champaign lead paint exposure attorneys may be able to help.
Mercury is the only heavy metal that is naturally liquid at room temperature. Nearly as dense as lead and at least as toxic, it cannot be removed from the body once it enters. Mercury poisoning can cause permanent irreversible damage to the brain, kidney, and lungs. Exposure to mercury can result in numerous life-threatening diseases. Children who encounter mercury are tempted to play with it and many accidentally ingest it. Anyone whose property contains accessible sources of mercury has an obligation to ensure their property does not put children and others at risk.
If you or someone you love has developed a serious medical condition because of someone’s failure to properly handle mercury, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and suffering.
Despite the serious danger it poses to human health, mercury has many uses in the home and elsewhere. It is commonly used in thermostats to judge the temperature of a room. As a room heats up, the mercury in the thermostat expands and causes the air conditioner to activate. This same property also makes mercury useful in thermometers.
Broken thermometers may be the most common day-to-day source of mercury. For that reason, children should never be allowed to play with mercury thermometers. Mercury that has spilled from a thermometer can be extremely difficult to isolate and dispose of safely. It is so toxic that children should be kept away from anything that may have been exposed to mercury.
If someone else’s failure to properly isolate or dispose of mercury has lead to the suffering of you or someone you love, you shouldn’t have to bear the costs alone.
Property owners have a basic moral and legal responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of anyone who enters their property. Irresponsible property owners can be held at fault for neglecting to exercise a proper level of care for others on their property.
If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s property, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries and losses. Contact the Champaign personal injury lawyers of Spiros Law, P.C. can fight to help preserve your rights and dignity in the face of an accident. Contact us today at (217) 328-2828 to discuss your case with a qualified attorney.