Is A Business Liable For A Customer Injury In Illinois?
If you were ever injured in a business before, you have likely considered filing a personal injury lawsuit to hold the owner responsible for your injuries. The following article will provide some information regarding whether store owners in Illinois are liable for customer injuries that occur in their stores.
What does Illinois law say about owner liability?
Under common law, the duties that store owners and other property owners owe to entrants depended on the legal status of the person who entered the premises. There are three categories of entrants, which are: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
- Invitees: Invitees are entrants who have either been expressly or implicitly invited to the property for business reasons. An example of an invitee is a customer who enters the premises of an electronic store to make a purchase. Under common law, a storeowner had to reasonably inspect the premises to ensure that conditions are safe for invitees.
- Licensees: Licensees are entrants who have permission to enter the property, but who do so to further their own interest. An example of a licensee is a social guest. Under common law, a store owner had a duty to ensure that he does not knowingly or intentionally expose licensees to an unreasonable risk of harm.
- Trespassers: Trespassers are entrants who enter the property without permission from the owner. Under common law, a storeowner only had a duty to refrain from willingly or carelessly causing harm to trespassers.
However, in 1984, the Illinois Premises Liability Act (740 ILCS § 130) abolished the distinction between the duties owed to invitees and licensees but retained the common law duty regarding trespassers. Furthermore, this act states that in regard to invitees and licensees, a store owner’s only duty is to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances regarding the state of the premises or acts done or omitted on them.
It should also be noted however, that the 1990 Illinois Supreme Court case of Ward v. K Mart ruled that a store owner can be held liable for injuries that occur to customers if the owner:
- Knows, or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover, the dangerous condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to customers
- Should expect that customers will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it
- Fails to exercise reasonable care to protect customers against the danger
What types of accidents typically occur on store premises?
There are various types of accidents that can occur on store premises. Some of these include:
- Slip and fall accidents: Slip and fall accidents in stores are extremely common. Some major causes of these types of accidents include wet or oily floors, unsecured rugs or carpets, accumulation of ice and snow, and loose or broken floors, sidewalks, steps, or stairs.
- Elevator or escalator accidents: Elevators and escalators can pose danger for customers if not maintained. If a customer is injured while using one of these, the store owner can be held liable for those injuries.
- Fire accidents: If a fire breaks out in a store and a customer is injured as a result or suffers property damage, the store owner can be held liable.
- Incidents involving toxic fumes or chemicals: Some stores possess toxic chemicals or materials. If a customer is injured by these chemicals or fumes, a storeowner can be held liable.
- Incidents resulting from defective conditions of the premises: If a store owner is aware of defective conditions on the premises of which a customer is likely to be unaware, and does nothing about it, he can be held liable.
- Incidents resulting from inadequate security of the premises: If a store owner fails to take necessary precautionary measures to ensure customer safety and a customer is injured as a result, the store owner could be held liable.
Were You Recently Injured While Shopping? Contact an Illinois Attorney
If you were recently injured while shopping and need to understand what the next steps you should take are, Connolly Injury Law can help. Our Chicago personal injury attorney is ready to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have about filing a personal injury lawsuit.