Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

At Zneimer & Zneimer, we understand the profound impact a slip and fall injury can have on your life, which is why we meticulously explore every legal avenue to secure your rights and compensation. The “open and obvious” doctrine, while a formidable defense, does not preclude the possibility of recovery if exceptions apply, as demonstrated in several Illinois cases.

For example, the Burns v. City of Chicago decision provides an outline of this defense. The court there recognized that in some instances a property owner may be held responsible where the property owner could foresee the danger despite its obviousness. This foresight, or lack thereof, by the property owner forms a cornerstone of legal strategy in such cases.

Case law has many examples showing the dynamic nature of Illinois law regarding slip and fall accidents and the importance of a nuanced legal approach. The attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer are adept at navigating these complexities, ensuring that our clients’ cases are robustly supported by the most relevant and persuasive legal precedents. Whether countering the “open and obvious” defense or advocating for the applicability of exceptions, our firm stands prepared to provide exceptional legal guidance and representation.

Navigating through the intricacies of Illinois’ “open and obvious” doctrine in slip and fall personal injury cases can be challenging. At Zneimer & Zneimer, we often get calls from people who were injured when they stepped in a “large” hole, or who were injured by a “big” obstacle.  The problem is that if the hole or the obstacle are “big” why did  the person not see them?  An important aspect of the “open and obvious” doctrine hinges on whether a hazard was genuinely obvious to a reasonable person, which often forms the crux of the defense in many premises liability cases.

Take, for instance, the case of Rozowicz v. C3 Presents, LLC, where the defendant was absolved of liability because the danger was deemed open and obvious. This case highlights the protective barrier this doctrine provides to landowners, potentially absolving them of responsibility if an injury occurs under such conditions. However, the legal landscape is not always so cut-and-dried.

In Morrissey v. Arlington Park Racecourse, the courts recognized the “deliberate encounter” exception, which caters to scenarios where the injured party knowingly encounters a hazard because the perceived benefits outweigh the risks. This exception is a crucial legal nuance that can overturn the traditional protections afforded by the “open and obvious” doctrine, offering a lifeline to plaintiffs who might otherwise have limited recourse.

At Zneimer & Zneimer, our experienced personal injury attorneys understand the complexities of slip and fall cases in Chicago and Illinois, especially those involving the “open and obvious” doctrine under Illinois law. This legal concept often serves as a significant defense for property owners, suggesting that they are not liable for injuries caused by hazards that are clear and recognizable to a reasonable person. However, the applicability of this doctrine is not absolute, and understanding its nuances is crucial for protecting the rights of those injured on someone else’s property.

One illustrative case is Kopin v. F.B. McAfoos & Co., where the court ruled that a “step down” to a parking lot was an open and obvious condition. The plaintiff, in this case, failed to show that he was distracted, which might have countered the open and obvious nature of the hazard. This ruling underscores the typical challenges plaintiffs face in these cases; however, it also highlights the importance of demonstrating distraction or other factors that could mitigate the apparent risk.

In Burns v. City of Chicago, the courts acknowledged exceptions to this doctrine. Specifically, if a property owner can foresee the harm despite the obviousness of the condition, they may still be held liable. This was similarly argued in Morrissey v. Arlington Park Racecourse, where the “deliberate encounter” exception applied. In this scenario, the court held that the property owner should have expected the invitee to proceed with the encounter due to the benefits outweighing the risks, thus imposing a duty of care on the property owner.

For individuals in Chicago, especially those who have suffered injuries in public transit scenarios, understanding the dynamics of premises liability is essential. Chicago train injuries attorneys often grapple with cases like Quiroz v. Chicago Transit Authority to safeguard their clients’ rights.

In a decision from the Illinois Supreme Court, nuances surrounding the duty of care in premises liability cases were made clear. This decision is particularly significant for people in urban areas that use public transportation.  It is also significant for Chicago personal injury attorneys, as it limits recovery for people who end up on the tracks, and provides an in-depth perspective on how courts handle ‘open and obvious risks’ and their implications on a landowner’s or public transit’s duty.

Quiroz v. Chicago Transit Authority, arose from a heart-wrenching incident where a person tragically lost their life in a train tunnel.  A couple of trains passed through the tunnel but noone notified dispatch to let them know that an unauthorized person was inside the tunnel.   Central to the case was the question: Did the CTA owe a duty of care to the decedent? And if so, was this duty negated by the ‘open and obvious’ nature of the risk?

Key Points of the Supreme Court’s Ruling:

Anchoring their decision on the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 337, the Illinois Supreme Court stated that if the risk is open and obvious, a landowner or public entity might be absolved of a duty of care because individuals are anticipated to spot and sidestep such open and obvious dangers.  The court’s decision hinged on the intricate requirements of section 337, which involved determining if the landowner (or in this case, CTA) believed that the individual would remain oblivious to the inherent dangers they faced.  The Court determined that a train represents an open and obvious danger, and therefore it was not foreseeable to the landlord that the decedent would not see the danger or appreciate its risk.  The Court determined that the CTA has no duty to the decedent.

Offering a different angle, the lower appellate court had formerly overruled the circuit court’s initial dismissal. Their justification was rooted in the premise that the CTA should have exercised due diligence, especially since the deceased was ostensibly visible to the train operators. The Supreme Court, however, found flaws in this rationale and reinstated the circuit court’s judgment. Continue reading

IMG_7821-225x300IMG_7849-225x300IMG_7855-300x300

Though it has been a snow free winter so far this winter, it may be about time to find the snow shovels and salt and get ready to shovel the sidewalk.  Shoveling the sidewalk in front of ones house or building is not only a considerate thing to do it is also required by law in Chicago.  The Municipal Code of Chicago 4-4-310 & 10-8-180 requires that property owners and occupants of land keep their sidewalks clear of snow and ice.  A five foot wide path must be created for pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks.  Additionally, the snow that is cleared should not be into alleys, crosswalks, bike-lanes or Divvy stations.  Chicago property owners must clear the snow anytime it snows.  For snow at night the snow must be removed by 10 a.m.  For snowfall during the day, the snow must be cleared by 10 p.m. at night.  The penalty for not following the law are possible fines ranging from $50-$500.  Violators can be reported by calling 311.

Ice and snow create a big fall risk for anyone using an uncleared sidewalk.   The fall risk is especially acute for people who have difficulty walking, such as seniors, people with disabilities and young children.  Every winter the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. receive numerous calls from people have been injured from a fall after slipping on ice or snow on an uncleared sidewalk or walkway.  Additionally, uncleared sidewalks and walkways cause people to walk in the street which is especially dangerous since the roads will most likely be slick if there is snow and there is usually not enough room for both cars and pedestrians.   The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer encourage everyone to shovel their sidewalks for everyone’s safety and shoveling has the added benefit of being great exercise.

 

IMG_7750-225x300

The weather brought us a lot of snow in Chicago, first sparkly and puffy, and now soggy and icy.  Walking in snow is a risky business, as every step carries the peril of slip and fall.  The ruts and the mounds of shoveled snow amplify the hazard.  The accidental step in a rut or step on a transparent ice formation from melted snow mound nearby can lead to very serious injuries.  Every winter brings along with the cold and snow, many injuries as a result of snow related hazards to both pedestrians and car drivers.  Paying attention, driving carefully, and minimizing winter driving can decrease the chance of a snow-related car crash.

For pedestrians: wearing proper shoes, walking carefully, and watching out for ice, can decrease the risk of slip and fall.   As personal injury attorneys we field a lot of calls from injured people as a result of ice and snow, and can help in some cases.   The law is not kind to people who slip and fall.

Under the common law, a property owner has no general duty to clear natural accumulations of ice or snow because it is unrealistic to keep all pathways clear from snow during winter.  An injured person in a slip and fall case must prove that the ice or snow is (i) an unnatural accumulation, and that (ii) the property owner knew or should have known of the condition.  In addition, the injured victim must establish that the specific unnatural condition caused the slip and fall. Continue reading

According to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, having professional translators on staff may limit miscommunications between patients and medical staff in the ER. The study found that mistakes with “clinical consequences” were twice as likely to occur if the hospital ER no interpreters or amateur interpreters to translate for the non-English speaking patient.

The study, which was conducted with primarily Spanish speaking families, found that 12 percent of translation errors could have been a potential risk to a child but when the translator was a family member or a non-professional translator the potentially risky errors went up to 22 percent. Interpreters with at least 100 hours of training were found to have the lowest error rate with only two percent of errors being potentially harmful to a child.

In one example of an error, the amateur translator told the ER medical staff that the child patient was not on any medications and was not allergic to any medications when in fact he never ever asked the mother of the child whether this was true.

As reported in CBS’ Historic Auburn-Gresham Building Torn Down After Partial Collapse, shortly after noon on Tuesday, January 31st, four people were injured when a three story historic building partially collapsed. The building, located on the northeast corner of 79th and Halsted, has been vacant for 20 years and was originally constructed in the 1880’s. It is owned by the city of Chicago. The debris falling from the building injured people on the street and caught two others under scaffolding.

Firefighters worked to remove the victims and searched under the rubble for an alleged fifth victim. According to the Chicago Fire Department it appears the top of the building’s brick façade collapsed along the roofline causing it to fall below. The scaffolding surrounding the building buckled as the roofline collapsed, trapping several pedestrians. Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Robert Hoff included that a tree had grown through the building’s roof and believes years of neglect, along with recent weather conditions, and the age of the building led to the building’s collapse.

A Chicago ordinance requires that snow that falls before 4 p.m. be shoveled within 3 hours. Snow falling after 4 p.m. must be shoveled by 10 a.m. the next day. The fine for not shoveling is a $50.00. The law is obviously not strictly enforced.

The ordinance also protects those who shovel from liability for not doing a good job of shoveling. Chicago Municipal Code Section 10-8-190 states: “Any person who removes snow or ice from the public sidewalk or street, shall not, as a result of his acts omissions in such removal, be liable for civil damages. This section does not apply to acts or omissions amounting to wilful or wanton misconduct in such snow or ice removal.”

However, the law does not protect property owners who create or whose property creates an unnatural accumulation of ice or snow that is unreasonably dangerous. For example Chicago personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer handled a case where a property owner had a pipe on his building that drained water on to the public sidewalk which then froze causing an unnatural accumulation of ice. Our client suffered a broken leg after slipping on the ice on the sidewalk and the Chicago injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer were able to reach a fair money settlement for our clients injuries.

When a person suffers injuries as a result of a slip and fall on negligently maintained property, it is important to establish who is responsible to maintain the property that caused the slip and fall.

In the recent decision Gilmore v. Powers, the Illinois Appellate Court determined that homeowners are not responsible for injuries on public property abutting their house, even if the homeowners maintained the property by cutting grass, watering, spreading salt on the property. The plaintiff in this case was a mover that was helping the property owners move their belongings from California to their home in Evanston, Illinois. As the moving company was finishing its work, one of the movers fell on a stone walkway which straddled the city-owned parkway in front of defendants’ house.

The mover sued the homeowners for negligence claiming that the homeowners should have maintained “their property” in a condition that was safe for people such as herself. The mover specifically asserted that the homeowners violated this duty by failing to inspect “their property” for hazardous conditions, permitting the walkway to remain in a dangerous condition, failing to fix the walkway after becoming aware of its dangerous condition, and failing to properly maintain the walkway on the property.

Contact Information