Job-Related Slip & Fall Injuries
You have a job as a meter reader for the gas company, which means you spend your day following a route that takes you through numerous homes and businesses in Chicago. One day along the way, you have to read the meter at a mom-and-pop retail business. The owner points you toward the stairwell leading to the basement while simultaneously dealing with a customer.
You make your way down the stairs, and about halfway down you hear a crack as you put your weight onto one of the steps. The board snaps underneath you. You lose your balance and fall down the remaining steps and hit the concrete basement floor below. You’re in a lot of pain. You think you dislocated your shoulder when you landed, and you might have broken your leg.
You end up in the emergency room, and the doctors tell you that you’ll be off work for several weeks while you heal, and even when you can return it’ll have to be on light duty. You definitely won’t be able to get out and read meters for quite some time. Workers compensation benefits will help with the medical costs and a portion of your lost income, but workers comp won’t cover everything. Your family is living paycheck-to-paycheck, and you’re pretty stressed about losing a chunk of your pay while you’re hurt.
Because your accident happened on someone else’s premises, you may have a claim against the business owner to recover some of your losses that workers comp won’t cover.
Third-Party Premises Liability Claims
Nearly any job may on occasion require you to visit another office, business, or someone’s residence in the course of your employment. When you encounter unsafe conditions that result in you slipping, tripping, or falling and getting injured, you may be able to make a third-party premises liability claim when the owner or occupier of the premises was negligent in maintaining it.
In Illinois, the Premises Liability Act, 740 ILCS 130, says that the owner or occupier of a property has a duty to keep the premises reasonably safe for lawful guests. That generally means either repairing known defects or warning guests that the defects exist. When an owner or occupier fails to do that, he or she may be negligent and bear some liability when you are injured.
There are some exceptions to liability, however. A property owner or occupier may not be liable when:
- You know about the unsafe condition
- The unsafe condition is open and obvious or you should have discovered it
- The owner or occupier didn’t know about the unsafe condition and couldn’t have been expected to foresee it
- You misused the premises in some way that created the unsafe condition
Making a Third-Party Claim
When you make a premises liability claim after you slip, trip, or fall on someone’s property in the course of your employment, the third-party claim is a separate process from workers compensation. With workers compensation, you only have to prove that you were hurt on the job. But with the third-party claim, you have to prove that the owner or occupier was negligent and should be legally responsible for your injuries and other damages.
Typically, your third-party claim would first be submitted to the owner or occupier’s insurance company along with a demand for compensation. An experienced Chicago premises liability lawyer can help you gather the evidence you’ll need for your claim, which may include medical records, accident or incident reports, photos, witness testimony, and expert opinions. Your lawyer also can prepare the demand letter and negotiate with the insurance company. If the insurance company refuses to settle, then the next step is a premises liability lawsuit. Your lawyer can prepare the lawsuit documents and try your case in court.
If you’re successful in either settling your claim or convincing a jury that you deserve compensation, you may be able to recover any medical costs or lost wages not covered by workers compensation, as well as compensation for your pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, and loss of normal life.