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Who is Responsible for Premises Liability?

Legal Guidance from a Chicago Premises Liability Lawyer

The term “premises liability” refers to a legal responsibility that property owners owe visitors. For example, a retail store might be liable for injuries caused by a slippery floor or stairway. In this situation, the victim of a slip and fall accident could argue that this was preventable; if the store owner cleaned the spill, the visitor would be safe. This obligation is called premises liability. Other forms of premises liability include negligent security, which involves criminal acts of violence that could be prevented through adequate security measures.

Determining liability in a premises liability claim isn’t easy. If you suspect that your injury was caused by a careless or irresponsible property owner, you probably asked the following question: who is responsible for premises liability? First, you must understand the legal status of the visitor, Illinois liability laws, and the unique circumstances surrounding your case. At Duncan Law Group, Chicago premises liability attorney Bob Duncan can help you establish a strong case for liability so that you can recover damages for your avoidable injury.

Get started with a free consultation to learn about your rights under the law.

Can I sue if I was a visitor on the property?

In a premises liability claim or lawsuit, visitors fall into one of three categories: invitee, licensee, or trespasser. The Civil Liabilities Premises Liability Act identifies these visitor types. According to the act, premises liability obligates property owners and building occupiers to warn visitors (also called “entrants”) of potential threats. First, property owners are obligated to warn visitors of any known danger on the premises. Secondly, inhabitants should take reasonable care to keep the premises safe.

Simply put, an invitee enters the premises because he / she was invited by the owner. For example, a customer in a store is considered an invitee because the store encouraged the visitor to enter the premises and shop. In this scenario, the visitor will assume that the store owner has taken reasonable steps to protect him / her from foreseeable harm. This might include slippery puddles, unguarded staircases, and dangerously uneven walkways. Similarly, a licensee enters the property for his / her own purposes and with the express permission of the property owner. A party guest is one example of a licensee.

According to the Premises Liability Act, licenses and invitees are afforded the same rights as visitors. On the other hand, a property owner is not obligated to offer the same “reasonable care” to the third type of visitor: trespassers. Trespassers do not have any right to enter the property. For example, a trespasser could be someone who entered the premises with the intention of committing a crime.

According to the act, property owners are not obligated to protect trespassers in any way. It says:

“An owner or occupier of land owes no duty of care to an adult trespasser other than to refrain from willful and wanton conduct  that would endanger the safety of a known trespasser on the property from a condition of the property or an activity conducted by the owner or occupier on the property.”

In other words, the property owner is not obligated to protect an uninvited trespasser from harm on the property, except from a purposeful injury committed by the property owner. However, property owners are obligated to protect child trespassers with the same reasonable care afforded invitees and licensees.

In other words, a property owner can still owe a duty of care to an uninvited child visitor. For instance, a property owner could be held responsible for the death of a child who falls into an unguarded swimming pool – even if the child entered the property without permission.

Actions of the Visitor

The actions of the visitor can change the outcome of a premises liability case. According to the Premises Liability Act, the owner should take reasonable care to protect visitors from harm, but the owner is not responsible for the visitor’s actions. A visitor could be held accountable for his / her own injuries if they were the result of an irresponsible decision.

For example, a visitor could use an unstable staircase even though the owner warned him / her that it was dangerous. If the visitor suffers an injury, he /she may not be able to file a successful lawsuit against the property owner. Similarly, a property owner could be released from injury liability if he / she verbally warns visitors that there is a dangerous dog on the property. If the visitor provokes the animal to attack, the owner may not be responsible for the injury.

What is comparative fault?

The term “comparative fault” applies to injuries caused by the visitor and the occupant or property owner. If the property owner is only 70% responsible for the visitor’s injury, he / she will not have to pay full compensation for the incident. According to the Illinois Department of Insurance, comparative negligence laws allow liability to be divided between two parties. Generally speaking, you can only collect compensation for an injury that was less than 50% caused by your own actions. If you were 51% responsible for the injury, you may not be eligible to receive compensation. According to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, § 735, “fault” refers to:

“…any act or omission that is negligent, willful and wanton, or reckless…and is a proximate cause of death, bodily injury to person, or physical damage to property for which recovery is sought.”

Similarly, the term “contributory fault” refers to any action committed by the plaintiff that led to the same injury or damage.

Call a Chicago Premises Liability Attorney

If you need a personal injury lawyer in Chicago, IL, Attorney Bob Duncan can help you file a successful claim or lawsuit. When you work with Duncan Law Group, you can have peace of mind knowing that your case is in good hands. Over the years, Bob Duncan has recovered tens of millions of dollars for victims of negligence. Today, he is ready to fight for your rights using this experience. When you suffered a slip and fall injury or dog bite injury, Duncan Law Group can help you seek the compensation that you need.

Contact Duncan Law Group today at (312) 202-3283 for a free case consultation to see what a Chicago accident attorney from our firm can do for your premises liability claim or lawsuit.