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County Fair Not Liable for Woman’s Injuries after She Falls Through Rotten Board

No one expects to be injured while attending a fair. However, accidents can happen anywhere. And as one woman found out, sometimes the purpose of the event can be the determining factor in whether or not a person can receive compensation for their injuries.

In a recent case, a woman sued a county fair after injuring herself on a grandstand. The woman went to the fair to watch a fireworks show. After she arrived, she began looking for a seat in a grandstand to watch the fireworks. She stepped on a rotten board, fell through the stands, and suffered injuries. The woman sued the fair, alleging that the fair was negligent in maintaining the grandstand and that she was injured as a result. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. It found that the fair was protected from liability because it had “recreational use” immunity.

While landowners generally owe guests a duty to maintain their premises, the state had a law that provided an exception for certain landowners who used their land for recreational purposes. The exception did not apply to for-profit businesses that used their land for commercial purposes.

The plaintiff argued that the fair was not entitled to immunity because it was not using the land for recreational purposes, but instead for commercial purposes. However, the court disagreed. The court noted that the woman did not pay to enter the park or watch fireworks displays, nor did any of the fair’s attendees. The woman argued that vendors at the fair were charged, and thus she indirectly paid a fee because the vendors paid on the attendees’ behalf. However, the court rejected this argument. Accordingly, the state’s supreme court affirmed the decision, finding that the fireworks display was a recreational activity and was covered by the exception in the statute.

Premises Liability in Illinois

Illinois adopted the Premises Liability Act in 1984. Under the Premises Liability Act, owners and occupiers of property owe a duty of reasonable care to others in taking care of their premises. The Illinois Supreme Court has held that generally a plaintiff has the burden of proving six elements to prevail in a premises liability case: (1) there was a condition that constituted an unreasonable risk of harm; (2) the defendant knew or should have known that the condition constituted an unreasonable risk of harm; (3) the defendant should have anticipated that people would not be protected from the danger; (4) the defendant was negligent; (5) the plaintiff was injured; and (6) the condition was a cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

The Recreational Use of Land and Waters Act

In Illinois, the Recreational Use of Land and Waters Act allows land and water owners to make their areas available to the public for recreational or conservation purposes by limiting their liability. The Act states that an owner of land does not owe a duty of care to keep premises safe for use for recreational or conservation purposes. However, there may be exceptions that apply to certain owners or uses.

Have You Been Injured on Someone Else’s Property?

If you have been injured on someone else’s land, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries because of the owner’s negligent care of the land. However, these cases can be complicated, especially if the land was being used for recreational purposes. You need someone who understands premises liability law in your corner. The attorneys at Moll Law Group are experienced advocates for Chicago residents and other people in Illinois who have been hurt on hazardous premises, including stores, amusement parks, schools, churches, day care, parking lots, playgrounds, restaurants, and swimming pools. Call us at 312-462-1700 or use our online form to set up a free consultation.

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Court Considers Causation Issues in Defective Gun Case, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, March 8, 2016.

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