Hurt During Your Fourth of July Celebrations? Here Are Your Options!
Fireworks, friends, and drinks this fourth of July were amazing for more, but if you were injured while celebrating Independence Day at a bar or a friend’s house maybe it wasn’t such a good time after all. As things settle down and you realize your injury is more severe than you realized or perhaps you decided you’d like to look into pursuing your legal options, read below to find out your next steps.
If you suffered an injury while in a public space or at a friend’s place and are considering bringing a claim, the first thing to do is to assess whether you fall within the bracket of people who can legally bring a claim. Trespassers are barred from bringing such claims. You may fall under the umbrella if you were invited to the property, entered a public area or were a licensee. A licensee is someone who has permission from the owner to enter the land, such as party guests. Children are covered even if they were not invited or licensed to be on the property since a landowner is required to give a warning if he reasonably expects that children could be on the premises and the child may be affected by a danger on the premises. The place where you are injured plays a major role in how your claim may turn out. Most types of claims are against business owners of grocery/retail stores, bars, hotels, restaurants, office spaces and other public spaces, brought by people who slip, fall, or are injured on their property.
A property owner occupier or a renter may be responsible for injuries sustained by a person due to unsafe conditions on his property, as they have a duty to inspect and make sure that the property is in a reasonably safe condition. Generally, you will have to prove that the person owned, occupied, or leased the property. You must also show that the person was negligent in maintaining the property according to the standards. You can usually gain this evidence by taking a photo of the improperly maintained area. Then you must prove that you were harmed by the ill-kept premise. Harm includes slipping and falling, to mishandled equipment that led to injury, accidents in swimming pools, construction sites, and even inadequate security. Finally, you must prove that the defendant’s (this could be a friend if you were injured on private property) negligence contributed to your injury which may be proved by presenting medical bills, doctor’s testimonies, witnesses, and photos.
Things may be complicated if you have been injured on a government-owned property. The deadline to file a claim in Illinois against the government expires after one year from the date of the injury, as compared to private properties that have a two-year limit, so if you are unable to bring a claim within that time you could be permanently barred from doing so. It is advised to seek an attorney immediately after you have been injured (this is true of all cases). Claims against the government generally include accidents caused due to broken or missing signal lights or due to roadwork and of course slipping and falling on a defective public sidewalk. Claims against the government are governed by state and federal laws that grant some type of immunity. Essentially, claims against the government are not so simple and you should always consult an attorney before pursuing your claim.
Whether it is an owner, lessor or occupier, you should consider one thing: Who would pay for my injury? In cases of a private residence, it is usually the homeowner’s policy that pays out and in cases of commercial property, they would usually be covered by a commercial or general liability policy. A landlord is generally not responsible for injuries in a tenant’s space. If the space is a store or commercial property, insurance coverage may be available regardless of whether the tenant or landlord is at fault. It is usually explicitly spelled out in a lease regarding which party would be responsible in such an event. If you were injured at a bar, the question of who would pay you may be decided based on the lease between the bar owner and the landlord or by their commercial policy. But if you were at a friend’s house, it is important to know that many residential tenants do not carry renter’s insurance, so if the landlord’s insurance does not cover injuries and the tenant does not have renter’s insurance, recovery may be difficult, but you should still consult an attorney to explore your options.
If you were having a party on your property where someone was injured and could bring a claim against you, one of the possible ways to defend yourself is by comparative negligence, which means that if the person was also negligent or reckless, your liability may be reduced. An invitee has a duty to use reasonable care and common sense in exercising care for their safety. So, if the invitee himself did not exercise reasonable care, negligence may be shared. Another way to defend yourself is to show that you met the reasonable standard of care, such as putting caution signs in areas where there was a potential danger. An example of this is putting up notice of a wet floor in areas that were recently mopped.
Premise liability claims, although seemingly simple on the surface, can be tricky as it is difficult to tell on the outset whether the owner was negligent and who would pay if the claim is successful. These are some of the many reasons why it is important to consult an attorney as soon as you are injured, so they can make sure your interests are fully protected. While we hope everyone’s fourth of July was fun and safe, we hope these tips help anyone who suffered an unforeseen accident during their celebration.
If you have suffered an injury in a private or public place, call us at 888.442.6637 for a free case evaluation.