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Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer | Panio Law Offices

Slip and Fall Injuries and Comparative Negligence

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Slipping and falling on something like an icy, wet entryway might appear to be the simplest of personal injury cases from which to recover damages. Proving fault seems rather cut and dry, right?  Wrong. Most often, slip and fall cases are anything but cut and dry. Plaintiffs must go beyond proving that prevailing conditions of the premises in question caused their injuries; they must prove that the property owner 1) caused the dangerous condition  or, if not, 2) was aware of the dangerous condition or 3) should have been aware of the dangerous and took no reasonable steps to address or correct it.

Proving that someone knew of a dangerous can be difficult without an admission by the party or parties.  Proving they should have known about specific conditions may also be equally difficult, because you typically must show that the danger was present for an unreasonable amount of time.

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Slip and Fall: Comparative Negligence

We’ve discussed the various scenarios under which a property owner may be liable for damages in a typical slip and fall case. Basic rule of thumb is that a plaintiff must show that a property owner knew or should have known that their property was unsafe and that they neglected to take reasonable measures to make the property safe. But things are not always so cut and dry in the world of personal injury law.

Often times, a defendant may demonstrate that the plaintiff in their case bore some responsibility for their own injuries. After all, pedestrians have a responsibility to take reasonable care in a situation that is obviously and plainly dangerous. If that does not happen, “Comparative Negligence” may actually come into play.

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Modern Comparative Negligence

Just a few short decades ago, Illinois personal injury law took the narrow view that a victim of personal injury should only receive damages when they themselves bore absolutely no measure of responsibility in their injuries. The legal name for this rule is called “contributory negligence” and it spelled hardship for anyone involved in an accident where they might have contributed in any way to its cause. So let’s say a slip and fall accident occurs in aisle 3 of a local supermarket when several customers overheard an intercom call for a “clean up” in aisle 3 more than 20 earlier. Sounds pretty cut and dry, right?

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Slip and Fall: Snow and Ice (Natural Accumulation vs. Unnatural Accumulation)

Anyone who has ever suffered an injury after a slip and fall on snow or ice in Chicago and sought legal assistance knows that a personal injury claim against a property owner that had not cleared their walkway during a snowy Chicago winter is not as cut and dry and one might think. In fact, in most cases, “slip and falls” on snow or ice in Illinois will not result in damages for the injured party.

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Slip and Fall Accidents: Proving Fault

Slips and falls occur every day in our busy, commerce-driven society. Amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life, people fall on a slippery surface, a broken staircase, an obstruction in your path, or a cracked walkway all the time. Many times, these falls result in an injury. Just because one suffers injury as a result of a ‘slip and fall’ on another person’s property does not mean the injured party is automatically owed damages. In fact, there are a number of circumstances under which a property owner is not responsible for injuries suffered as a result of an accident on their property.

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