• Personal Injury
  • Auto Accidents
  • Wrongful Death

Premises liability: Proving a property owner was negligent

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Many people throughout Illinois are injured while on private property every year. Illinois lawmakers enacted the Premises Liability Act in 1995 in order to protect accident victims and give them a means for claiming compensation after suffering an accident on another individual’s private property. Whether the accident occurs at a neighbor’s house or a local business, premises liability laws usually apply.

Establishing a claim

In order to establish a claim under the premises liability laws, injured parties must prove the following:

  • The defendant owns the property on which the injury occurred.
  • The defendant had a legal duty to those entering his or her property.
  • The defendant breached his or her legal duty.
  • The breach caused or contributed to the accident in which the individual was injured.
  • The breach of duty caused the injured party to incur damages.

The Act states that property owners have a duty to take reasonable care to keep their premises free from dangers. However, that duty may be minimized if the property owner did not have possession and control of the property, such as seen in commercial rental situations. A small business owner who is renting premises would usually retain liability of their storefront, while the property owner would usually retain liability of the parking lot and sidewalks.

Proving negligence

To successfully state a claim based upon a property owner’s negligence, and thus their liability for all damages arising from a claim, the injured party must clearly demonstrate that the owner or possessor of the property knew or should have known about the dangerous conditions that led to the accident. Plaintiffs must also prove that the owner should have known that the accident victim would not recognize the danger, and that the owner or possessor failed to take action to prevent the accident from occurring.

Exceptions

Trespassers are exempt from the protections of these laws. Only individuals who have express or implied consent to be on the property can be granted the protections found under premises liability laws. When individuals trespass, they are due a lesser legal duty by the property owner or legal possessor of the land. Additional exceptions are in place for landowners who allow public use of their land for recreational purposes, such as off-roading.

Those who have been injured in a slip and fall, animal attack, or other type of accident on private property may be able to seek relief through the application of premises liability laws. They should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss their matter and move forward with an individualized plan of action that will get them the compensation they need.