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Property Owners May Be Liable for Unsafe Conditions

Owning and investing in property can be a lucrative business. Some investors buy a property, fix it up, and then sell it for a handsome profit. Others buy property and lease it to residents or other businesses, collecting rent for the ongoing use of the property. Finally, there are those property owners who live in or run a business out of the property they own, with no intention of selling or renting the property for additional profit.

Legal News GavelIn Illinois, no matter how property owners use their properties, they must take reasonable care to ensure that the property is free of dangerous conditions. How the law defines reasonable care in part depends on the circumstances, but typically it requires that a property owner conduct necessary inspections, make timely repairs to dangerous conditions that are noted or reported, and warn guests of dangerous conditions that exist on the property.

Reasonable care also requires that property owners repair and warn guests of dangerous conditions the property owner should be aware of, even if he or she purports not to have prior knowledge of a given hazard.

If a property owner fails to act with reasonable care, and a guest or customer is injured, Illinois law allows the guest to recover damages and be compensated for his or her injuries. Cases of this nature are generally referred to in Illinois as “premises liability cases,” although it is not uncommon to hear them described as “slip and fall” cases as well.

Illinois Premises Liability Cases

In premises liability cases, an injured party is entitled to recover damages for out-of-pocket costs, like lost wages and diminished future earnings. Illinois law also allows for non-economic damages, which include pain and suffering and emotional distress. Non-economic damages also compensate a person for his or her loss of enjoyment in life. The Illinois Supreme Court has held that there is no limit, or cap, on non-economic damages.

There are countless ways in which a guest can be hurt that may give rise to a personal injury case. In restaurants, bars, or supermarkets, a customer may be injured because employees fail to clean up a dangerous spill in a timely fashion. In a retail store, a customer may be injured because a clothing rack is unsteady or because snow and ice outside the store is left untreated. In the common area of an apartment building, a resident may be injured because an entry door malfunctions, burned out light bulbs are not replaced, or a smoke alarm battery is not regularly tested and changed.

Property owners must also take reasonable care when upgrading a property. This requires that all demolition and improvements be performed by licensed professionals in accordance with accepted safety standards. When a property owner breaches this obligation, he or she may be liable to not only guests of the property but others in the general vicinity as well.

One Recent Example of a Potential Premises Liability Situation

According to a recent news article, a situation like this occurred in Philadelphia several years ago, when a vacant building was being demolished as part of an effort to redevelop a strip of properties. While work was being performed on the building, a wall the property shared with a Salvation Army thrift shop collapsed, and several employees and shoppers were trapped in the rubble. Seven people died as a result of the accident, and another lost both of her legs and has required 31 surgeries since 2013.

As a result of the accident, two contractors involved in the demolition were convicted of involuntary manslaughter and will now serve time in prison. One failed to employ standard demolition practices, and the other operated heavy machinery while taking narcotics for medical reasons. Civil lawsuits have also been filed by family members who lost loved ones when the building collapsed.

Have You or Someone You Love Been Injured On Another’s Property?

Many property owners care more about making money than maintaining a safe environment for their guests. They collect rent but skimp when it comes to making repairs and improvements. Some of these improvements are cosmetic, but others are necessary for the safety of those who walk in and out of the property every day. The lawyers at Moll Law Group believe that by holding property owners accountable for their actions, more lights are fixed, smoke alarms updated, spills cleaned, and sidewalks shoveled. We know that by helping maximizing your compensation for your injuries, together we are making the Chicago area’s aging buildings safer for everyone. For a free consultation, call Moll Law Group at (312) 462-1700.

See More Posts:

Common Carriers Must Take Reasonable Care or Face Liability, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 12, 2016.

State-Owned Railway Is Protected by Sovereign Immunity, Supreme Court Decides, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 9, 2016.

Illinois Protects Police with Partial Immunity in Police Misconduct Cases, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 16, 2016.

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