An Illinois state representative introduced legislation recently that would change the current premises liability act. According to The National Law Review, the legislator seeks to prevent a property owners from the responsibility of protecting people who go onto their property when adverse conditions are “open and obvious.” Typically, it is left to a court to decide whether or not the owner had a duty to prevent injury.
As a Chicago premises liability attorney has seen, there are many situations in which a court sides with a property owner due to the injured party’s negligence. However, when landowners neglect to properly alert people to potential hazards, they should be on the hook for any damages. Regardless of this bill passing or not, it is important for people to know what property owners should do to protect the public.
Poor lighting is one way that a building owner may fail to highlight areas with debris, cracks in sidewalks or other potential hazards. Under the Illinois Premises Liability Act, property owners have to exercise duty of reasonable care regarding the state of the area. Failing to light an area could be viewed as a negligence for which a court will hold someone responsible.
2. Warning signs
Any Chicago premises liability attorney knows that warning signs will alert people to dangerous areas. These signs can help protect a property owner from a lawsuit. There are even some situations in which a government entity may require a sign to be posted, such as if there are deadly or other hazards that may or may not be obvious to someone entering the area.
Simply having the sign is not always good enough; a court could still find an owner negligent should the following be true:
In many cases, a warning sign will prevent incidents from occurring in public spaces. If they do happen, the owner may be able to prove that the necessary steps were taken to make the incident avoidable.
In some public areas, such as parks and swimming pools, a fence may be a necessary part of providing security. In fact, Illinois law mandates that a fence of at least 4 feet high should enclose all pools. There are other areas that may require a barrier in order to keep people from trespassing into dangerous territory.
When these factors are not present to let people know of the potential dangers in a public space, accidents can happen. It is important for people to know their rights as well as the duty of a landowner to alert people of potential hazards. Anyone who has questions about this matter should consult with a Chicago premises liability attorney.