"Slip and Fall" is a general term used to describe an incident where someone falls as a result of a defective condition on someone else's property. These cases are more appropriately classified as premises liability cases. Whether a fall is the result of water in the aisle of a grocery store, ice in the parking lot of a restaurant or cracks in the pavement of a sidewalk, the failure of a landowner to properly maintain his premises can cause devastating injuries. If you or a loved one were injured as the result of a slip and fall, call our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation.
As with all of our injury cases, there is no fee unless we recover money for you!
Sorting through the mess following a slip and fall can be complicated and overwhelming. Here are a few answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:
A FREE Consultation Means You Have Nothing to Lose!
There is no fee unless we recover money for you. Even if you're not sure if you have a case, call us for free legal advice - we offer a free legal consultation by phone or in person.
Don't hesitate to call us. We enjoy meeting people from our community and learning about the facts of their case so that we can develop a plan that works for that individual. It is never a waste of our time and you are likely to walk away with a better understanding of the process, if nothing else.
To get you started, we have answered some of the questions that prospective clients ask most during initial consultations. Keep in mind that every case is different - the only way to make sure you are relying on qualified information about your case is to call us.
In most cases in Illinois, the statute of limitations for a slip and fall is 2 years from the date of the fall. Where the injured party is under the age of 18 at the time of the fall a lawsuit may be filed within 2 years of the minor's 18th birthday. Government landowners receive special protection under various statutes - if your fall occurred on the premises of land owned by a federal, state or local government a lawsuit will likely need to be filed within 1 year of the fall.
You should contact our office as soon as possible so that we can begin our investigation as close to the date of the fall as possible. Waiting too long before contacting an attorney can be detrimental to your case or even bar you from recovery altogether. Often times a landowner will correct the defective condition in the property so that no one else gets injured; we need to conduct an investigation before any alterations are made to the scene of your fall. Prompt involvement of our attorneys will also provide a better opportunity to track down any witnesses and preserve any evidence needed to prove your case. Contact our office to discuss your case as soon as possible after the injury occurs.
A landowner owes a duty of "reasonable care under the circumstances regarding the state of the premises or acts done or omitted on them" to people lawfully on the premises. Generally, if a landowner allows an unreasonably dangerous condition to exist on its premises and that dangerous condition causes someone other than a trespasser to be injured, then the landowner is liable for the injuries. It used to be that an invitee would be owed a higher duty than a licensee, but the Illinois Premises Liability Act (740 ILCS 130) abolished that distinction when it was enacted in 1984. The duty of reasonable care now applies to every entrant except trespassers. The following are some notable nuances that apply to premises liability cases:
-Open and Obvious Exception
A landowner owes no duty to protect an entrant from dangerous conditions that are known to the entrant, are open and obvious, or could be reasonably expected to be discovered by the entrant. Where the entrant could reasonably be expected to be distracted so as to not perceive the danger, this exception does not apply. For instance, if there is a display at knee level on the way out of a grocery store in the middle of the exit path and someone carrying bags of groceries trips and falls over the display - the store would be liable because it is reasonable to think someone would be distracted from perceiving the danger while carrying groceries.
-Natural vs. Unnatural Accumulation
A landowner owes no duty to protect entrants from natural accumulations of ice, snow and/or water. If an entrant is walking across a parking lot after a snowstorm and slips on the snow, the landowner is not liable. However, if the parking lot had a pothole that allowed water to collect and freeze in it and the entrant slipped on that, the accumulation of ice caused by the defect could be considered unnatural and the store would be liable for the entrant's injuries. Similarly, if the building had defective drainage that diverted water to the area of the fall, the landowner could be liable. The bottom line is that the distinction between "natural" and "unnatural" accumulations of snow, ice and rain has become incredibly complicated. Our attorneys will visit the scene of your fall, hire an investigator, or review photographs you have taken of the premises to evaluate the facts of your specific case.
-Latent Defects Unknown to the Owner
A landowner owes no duty to warn of latent defects or dangers unknown to the owner. If a customer spills water on the floor of a store, doesn't tell anyone about the spill, and seconds later someone slips on the water and injures himself, the store will claim that the defect was unknown to it and therefore the store is not liable for the injuries.
-Voluntary Assumption of a Duty
A duty voluntarily assumed by a landowner can be reasonably relied on by an entrant. For instance, if a landowner undertakes a duty to shovel a walkway every time it snows and then one snowy day fails to shovel the walkway and someone slips and falls the landowner could be held liable for breaching the duty he voluntarily assumed.
The Illinois Premises Liability Act (740 ILCS 130) is a complex statute which attempts to govern the rights and responsibilities as between a landowner and an entrant who is injured on the premises. The case law on premises liability cases is no less complex and often seems at odds with itself or the statute. The complex nature of this area of law makes it incredibly important for you to obtain the help of an attorney experienced in premises liability cases.
Medical bills stemming from injuries resulting from a fall can be paid in a variety of ways. Insurance companies settle cases in one lump sum and only after obtaining and reviewing the related medical records and bills. In the meantime, your medical bills might start piling up and you might start getting calls from collection agencies. Our attorneys typically recommend the following with regard to medical bills prior to settlement/verdict:
-Group Health Insurance
If you have health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare you should bill all of your medical treatment through your health insurance policy. Your health insurance company is entitled to be reimbursed for these payments out of any settlement or verdict obtained on your behalf, but insurance companies often pay for medical treatment at a discounted rate.
-Medical Payment Coverage
If the landowner's insurance policy includes medical payment coverage, you may be able to have some or all of your bills paid through the landowner's insurance company. Many policies will include $5,000, $10,000 or more in medical coverage for premises-related injuries. The landowner's insurance company is entitled to be reimbursed for these payments out of any settlement or verdict obtained on your behalf.
-Health Care Liens
If the first two options are unavailable or exhausted, many providers will agree to place a lien on your personal injury file if you are represented by an attorney. If the physician agrees to place a lien on your file you will be able to receive medical treatment from that provider without having to pay for the charges as they are incurred. Instead, the provider's lien entitles them to be paid out of any settlement or verdict amount obtained on your behalf. In the event that you don't recover for your injuries you will be responsible for paying the balance owed to the physician. If you can't afford medical treatment and have no health insurance, this may be the best way to get you the care that you need. We can help you find a doctor who will wait to be paid until the end of your case.
Lost wages should be included in any insurance claim where injuries sustained in a premises-related injury prevent you from working. Always get a doctor's note for the days of work missed. If you think it will be difficult, dangerous, or impossible to do your job as a result of your injuries, make sure to tell your doctor what you do for a living and express your concerns. Any days you miss that aren't missed at the direction of a physician are unlikely to be reimbursed.
Insurance companies very rarely offer a fair settlement to an unrepresented person early on in a case. Adjusters are paid to save the insurance company money and they are looking out for their best interest...not yours. Even an adjuster who seems "nice" and "friendly" is recording your conversations and asking questions in the hopes that you will make a mistake so they don't have to pay. Our attorneys negotiate injury settlements every day and have the experience necessary to evaluate the value of your case. Do not accept a settlement offer without discussing your case with one of our experienced attorneys first.
The insurance company will attempt to investigate the circumstances surrounding the injury to determine whether their insured was at fault and they will need to know your version of the facts before that determination can be made. You should speak to an attorney before giving a statement to anyone about your case.
Only a thorough review of all of the evidence in your case including your medical records, bills, property damage, photographs, traffic crash report, etc. will allow our attorneys to estimate the value of your case. Call us today for a free consultation.