Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Are Your Rights If You Fall and Are Injured Due to Water?

Winter is just around the corner, and that means an increase in wet feet and slippery floors. If you fall down and injure yourself in a place of business or private property, do you know your rights? Here's an overview of the law in Illinois.

In Illinois an owner of property may not be responsible for your injuries if you fall due to slippery conditions of water.

The Law in Illinois holds that a property owner is not responsible for these types of falls if the fall is due to a Natural Accumulations of water. That means that the property owner must have acted in a way or failed to act in a way that created or allowed an Unnatural Accumulation to exist.

Just because someone falls on a property does not mean that the property owner is automatically responsible. You must show the condition was either created by the premises owner or that the owners acted upon the condition to make it unnatural and dangerous or that there was a defective condition causing the water to accumulate and become slippery. There must be proof of Actual Notice or Constructive Notice to owner. This means that you can show they are responsible if they actually knew of the danger or merely that they should have known of the danger.

Important factors to keep in mind and record, and a helpful checklist list in order to show that the property owner may be responsible are as follows:

Fall due to water/tracked in water:

Find the source of the water.

Was it a condition that was created by the owner?

Were there safe, proper mats in place in the premises?

Were the mats defective?

Was there a dripping condition allowed on the property due to defective drains or signs or conditions on the outside?

Was there proper lighting to the area of the fall?

Did the employees do something to the water to create an unnatural condition?

Was the slippery water condition, created by the owner or employees such as mopping or cleaning the floors?

Does the water on the floor look dirty?

Is the water soapy?

Are there footprints around the area of the fall from other customers that indicate the water was on the floor for a long enough period of time to prove the owner should have known about the water and the danger?

Is there evidence nearby, such as a bucket or mop?

Are there any warning signs or wet signs in the area or lack thereof? If so, are they close enough to the area of the fall?

If you fall to the ground, are your clothes wet or stained from the fall?

Are any employees standing nearby doing the mopping, but there are no warning signs in place?

Are there any underlying or overhanging defects on the outside of the property that allowed the water to accumulate, such as: cracks in the outside pavement, improper declines in the sidewalk; improper declines towards a sewer opening; cracked or broken or clogged sewers that cause water to accumulate and become slippery; cracked and/or clogged drains; improper water runoff towards pedestrian walkways or other outside defects?

Important Information You Should Collect:

Always report the fall to the owner or employee and take down the name of the employee or any other employees that helped you after the fall.

Make sure they take your name and number.

Take down info of any witnesses to fall.

Get information on who to call for follow-up.

It is recommended that you do not sign the report and do not give a recorded statement without first discussing with an attorney.

Take your own photograph of the condition and defects.

Seek immediate medical care from the scene. Ambulance is preferable.

Seek advice from attorney and remember that the Illinois statutes allow you only TWO years to file a lawsuit for a fall at a property and ONLY ONE year if you fall on a property owned or controlled by a governmental entity such as a municipality, transit authorities, city colleges and any city or State entity.