Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

In Illinois, the Fourth District Court recently issued an opinion in a plaintiff’s appeal of a trial court’s judgment ruling involving the voluntary undertaking doctrine. The plaintiff, the decedent’s father, filed a lawsuit against his son’s employer following a traumatic brain injury his son suffered after leaving the defendant’s bar. The decedent was invited to an event at the defendant’s bar and was ejected from the premises after becoming increasingly intoxicated. As the decedent left the premises, he fell and suffered fatal injuries from a traumatic brain injury. Amongst, other claims, the plaintiff argued that the defendant was liable because he owed him a duty of care under Illinois’ voluntary undertaking theory.

In response to the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendant filed a demand requesting detailed information including the specific information regarding the time and location of the fall, the exact manner of the injury, how the injury resulted in the death, and the time and location of the decedent’s death. The court denied the defendant’s motion but ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

On appeal, the court parsed out Illinois’ voluntary undertaking doctrine. Under the doctrine, courts recognize an affirmative duty of care when a plaintiff proves that the other party took a voluntary undertaking. For example, this applies when a defendant undertook a duty to assist and did so with negligence. The law applies when a party renders services for the protection of another, gratuitously or for consideration, will be liable for physical harm resulting from their failure to exercise reasonable care. The doctrine limits the defendant’s liability to the extent of their undertaking.

Slip and fall accidents often cause injuries

Slip and falls are common accidents that occur on another person’s premises. Some slip and falls do not lead to much of an injury, and others can be fatal. People are often too embarrassed to report such an accident, and many blame themselves for any injuries that may have occurred. However, people who are hurt in a slip and fall can pursue a Chicago personal injury case against the responsible parties.

In a recent Illinois appellate court case, the court was tasked with determining whether the defendant, a brewery, was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries even though the plaintiff was unable to prove the defendant knew about the dangerous condition.

A woman recently filed a personal injury lawsuit against a Bedford Park go-kart racing facility in Cook County Circuit Court. In her complaint, the woman alleges that she was injured as a result of a defective safety belt at Chicago Race Factory on May 2nd. According to the woman, employees at the facility assigned her a go-kart that was capable of traveling at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour but that was not equipped with a functioning safety belt. When she inquired about it, workers allegedly told her that safety harnesses were not necessary for adults who used the machines.

The lawsuit claims the injured woman’s body slid on the driver’s seat of the go-kart while she navigated the first turn on the track. As a result, the woman allegedly sustained damage to her ankle, knee, hip, and leg. The complaint accuses the go-kart facility and its manager of negligence for allowing the woman to use a machine that was not equipped with a functioning safety belt and for failing to properly train facility employees. The injured woman is currently seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

In Illinois, property owners are required to provide all visitors with a reasonable level of safety. When the owner of a business or other property knows or should have known that an unsafe condition existed and someone who was legally on the property was hurt, a premises liability claim may arise. A premises liability case may be caused by a slip-and-fall on an unsafe sidewalk or stairs, negligent security, building code violations, and a number of other unsafe conditions.

Illinois is a comparative negligence accident state. This means an individual who was hurt by someone else’s actions may be able to recover financial damages for their harm even if he or she was partially to blame. If you were hurt due to the negligent act of an individual or business, a skilled personal injury lawyer can help.
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As the winter season officially begins, Chicago area residents are likely to be faced with an increasing number of slippery conditions due to icy sidewalks and other potential weather-related fall hazards. Unfortunately, slips and falls can leave victims with serious and painful long-term injuries. Still, some simple and easy steps may help keep you and your loved ones out of the emergency room this holiday season.

According to Dr. John Fernandez, an orthopedic surgeon at Rush University Medical Center, one of the most important steps to avoid falling in inclement weather is to simply wear the proper shoes for current conditions. In addition, he said individuals should consider adopting a slower walking pace when it may be slippery outside. Dr. Fernandez also recommends abandoning anything in your hands if you happen to tumble. Instead, he said you should attempt to fall forward and use your hands to bear the bulk of the impact. If you happen to hurt your wrist in an icy or other fall, Dr. Fernandez stated the injury should only take about six weeks to heal.

Property owners in Illinois generally have a duty to ensure their business, home, or other real property is free from unreasonable safety hazards. In addition, a number of properties in Chicago and throughout the state are also regulated by established building codes and other safety standards. Still, many landowners fail to comply with codified safety rules. As a result, visitors may be harmed by negligent snow or ice removal, unsafe stairs, defective sidewalks, and a host of other hazards.

The injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident may include broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, neck or spine injuries, and other soft tissue damage. Before collecting damages in Illinois, individuals who were hurt on someone else’s property must establish that they were injured as a result of an unsafe condition that the owner of the property knew or should have known existed. If you were injured in a slip and fall or other unexpected accident, contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to discuss your options for recovery.
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An Illinois trip and fall attorney at Abels & Annes are currently working on a claim for a woman who was injured from an incident that occurred on August 18, 2010. The plaintiff was a resident at a mobile home park in the northern suburbs of Cook County. At that time the park was managed by a woman who ran an office out of one of the trailers at the property.

On the date of the occurrence our client had gone to the manager’s office to inquire about a trailer issue. She ascended the steps up to the small deck outside the front door to the office and knocked on the door. When there was no response she began to descend the steps to leave.

Chicago injury lawyers at our office are alleging that as a result of the improper design, construction and maintenance of the steps, as the plaintiff began to walk down the steps she lost her footing on the uneven steps and began to stumble. As she began to stumble she attempted to grab for a handrail to steady herself. Again, due to the improper design, construction and maintenance of the handrail, it was not located where it should have been and she was unable to grab it. As a result she fell, severely injuring herself.

Shortly after the occurrence the steps were inspected by an architect. She found the steps and handrail to be in violation of several sections of the Village Building Code and the 2003 International Residential Code (IRC), which the Village follows.

1. The stair risers were not uniform. Section R311.5.3 of the IRC provides that the maximum riser height shall be 7¾ inches and that the greatest riser height within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than ⅜ inch. The four risers from the bottom to top are measured at 4½”, 7″, 6½” and 3″. The greatest riser height exceeds the smallest by 4″. This is far greater than the allowable maximum of ⅜”, creating a hazard to users.

2. The handrail on the outer side of the steps was far too steep for its intended purpose. Section R311.5.6.1 of the IRC provides that handrail height measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing shall not be less than 34″ nor more than 38″. The handrail at issue from the bottom tread to the top landing measured at 16½”, 23″, 30″ and 39″. No portion of the rail measures within the 34″-38″ requirement, making it impossible to grasp the handrail for guidance or support.

3. The side of the stair adjacent to the trailer was completely open to the ground. Upon inspection it appeared as though a handrail had originally been built but had fallen off at some point in time and never replaced. The size of the opening is 7″, which is wide enough for a person’s foot to fall through. Section R311.5.6.2 provides that handrails for stairways must be continuous for the full length of the flight of stairs. An appropriate handrail should have been installed or reinstalled to allow a person to grasp it for support. Additionally, the existing handrail on the outside stops 4¼” short of the bottom tread’s nosing, leaving the end of the stair unprotected. This leaves a user descending the steps without support near the bottom in the event of a fall.

These violations created an extremely hazardous and unsafe environment for users of the steps.

Our client had an immediate onset of severe right leg and ankle pain. There was an obvious deformity in the area of her right ankle. She was transported by ambulance from the scene to Glenbrook Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Upon arrival at the Emergency Department a history was taken, she was examined and diagnostic tests were performed. She complained of severe right leg and ankle pain. Upon visualization there was an obvious deformity to the ankle area. She was administered morphine due to her extreme pain. X-rays revealed fractures of the right medial malleolus and of the right distal fibula, possible fracture of the posterior malleolus and the ankle mortise appeared to be disrupted.

Due to the severity of her ankle fracture it was determined that an open reduction internal fixation surgery needed to be performed immediately. The plaintiff was admitted as an inpatient to the hospital.
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Chicago premises liability attorneys recently reached a good settlement for a client in a tough case.

The incident occurred at a local health club where the plaintiff was playing basketball with friends. He was not a member of the club and was not officially allowed in as a guest. He entered the club with another member without having to sign in and he was not required to sign any waiver before entering the club.

The defendant health club owner owned, occupied and controlled the fitness facility, and therefore had a duty of care to operate and maintain the club in a reasonably safe manner under the circumstances.

While they were playing basketball, someone reported to one of Defendants’ employees that there was water on the basketball court, and that someone should clean it up. However, none of Defendants’ employees responded to this notice by cleaning the basketball floor and the plaintiff was unaware of the condition. Subsequently, our client slipped on the water and fell, fracturing his left leg.

The defendant health club denied that they and/or their employees were notified that there was water on the court.

While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, someone that the plaintiff was playing basketball with was pressured by the health club manager on duty into signing a guest profile with our client’s name on it.

The defendants had policies requiring non-members to be screened & forms before entering facility, and further requiring that employees walk non-members through the facility and explain the rules, including a rule that states that non-members are not allowed on the basketball court. None of the policies were followed when dealing with the plaintiff in this case.

Defendants’ policies also require that employees perform a walk-through of the facility at the beginning of every shift, and recommend that employees perform a walk-through every hour. Once again, Defendants violated this policy by failing to monitor the facility’s basketball floor for wetness and other risk hazards, as well as by failing to make towels and other water removal supplies readily available. Moreover, in spite of being notified that there was water on the basketball court floor, Defendants failed to respond.

At the time of the injury, our client experienced excruciating pain in his left leg. He was transported from Defendants’ facility to Northwestern Memorial Hospital by ambulance. The paramedics found him lying prone on the floor of the basketball court with visual deformity to his left leg and hip. They noted that his breathing was labored, that his injury was painful and distracting, and that he complained of numbness to his arms, fingers, and face.

At the hospital the plaintiff was hospitalized overnight. He presented with left thigh pain, noticeable deformity of the left femur, and tingling in his fingers. An x-ray of his left femur showed a fracture of the middle third of the femur.

Approximately one month after discharge, the client followed up with a medical doctor, who noted atrophy over the quadriceps. The physician prescribed physical therapy treatment. He had a second follow-up visit with the doctor a few months later. On that visit, the physican noted that ht eplaintiff was back on his crutches and was still experiencing pain and swelling. He prescribed additional physical therapy treatment. The plaintiff received extensive physical therapy treatment, posture re-education, and other treatment at Saint Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center for approximately two months.

Our client also treated with a doctor at Winfield Moody Health Center. That treater performed several tests and regulated the client’s medication.

The plaintiff continued to experience some discomfort due to his injuries for many months. Future medical issues and treatment may occur.
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An Illinois premises liability attorney at Abels & Annes has reached a settlement with the owners of a local restaurant in regards to a slip and fall that occurred back on February 13, 2010.

The plaintiff was at a restaurant located in the 12700 block of South Ashland in Calumet Park, Illinois. The defendant owned, operated, managed, maintained and controlled the premises and was further responsible for providing safe means of ingress and egress through the premises.

In the days before the occurrence, it snowed approximately 8 inches in Calumet Park. As a result, the restaurant undertook the duty to plow and/or shovel its parking lot. Unfortunately, they plowed its parking lot and negligently left large piles of plowed snow next to customer parking spaces. There were then several days of warmer weather where the snow melted and refroze, forming sheets of ice.

There were no signs or other warnings posted to notify customers of the dangerous condition that they insured created. Further, the parking lot was inadequately illuminated.

On the date of the occurrence, our client parked her car in a marked parking space in the restaurant parking lot. As she attempted to exit her vehicle, she slipped on a sheet of ice and/or snow left behind by the defendant during the plowing process of its parking lot.

We alleged to the defendant’s liability insurance carrier that based upon the facts and circumstances surrounding the occurrence at issue, it is clear that a proximate cause of the slip and fall occurrence was the negligent conduct of the restaurant owners.

Immediately after the fall, our client started to experience left wrist pain. Due to ongoing and increasing pain, she sought medical treatment with a medical doctor. There, she complained of left wrist pain. A history was taken, she was examined and diagnostic tests were ordered, including left hand and left wrist x-rays.

The plaintiff was diagnosed with a comminuted intraarticular fracture of the left distal radius with slight dorsal angulation as well as soft tissue swelling. The physician performed a hematoma block, closed reduction and long arm casting under fluoroscan control. He prescribed pain medication and instructed our client to follow up with him.

On February 23, 2010, she sought follow up medical treatment from her doctor. She again had x-rays taken of her left hand and wrist that showed a fracture of the distal radius. The physician examined her and instructed her to follow up with him in five (5) weeks for removal of her cast.

On March 30, 2010, she had x-rays taken of her left wrist which showed a healing fracture of the distal radius. The plaintiff’s cast was removed and it was recommended that she begin physical therapy for her wrist. He discharged her from care on April 24, 2010.

Despite a short period of relief from her symptoms, her left wrist flared up requiring her to seek medical care from her doctor again, where she complained of pain in her left wrist. He noted that since she sustained an intraarticular fracture of the left wrist, it is possible that she will have some arthritis in the future. Her physician recommended that she begin occupational therapy.

On March 12, 2011, she went back to the doctor’s office again. There, she complained of left wrist pain and stiffness. Pain medication was again prescribed and instructed her to continue her home exercise program. The physician discharged her from his care on April 9, 2011.

Per her physician’s instructions, our client attended 11 sessions of physical therapy at Southwest Hand Rehabilitation starting on December 30, 2010 and ending on February 28, 2011, at which time she was discharged from treatment.

The case settled for just over $26,000. No lawsuit was filed, saving our client the cost of going to court.
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Chicago premises liability attorney Gary Annes has resolved a case on behalf of a south suburban resident who slipped and fell on an unnatural accumulation of ice. The ice was formed when a dog owner, in freezing conditions, sprayed down his porch with a hose to clean up dog excrement. Unfortunately, he did this in the dead of winter, creating a hazardous sheet of ice. The Chicago area slip & fall case settled for the defendant’s homeowners insurance policy limits of $100,000.

The slip and fall occurred at a townhouse in New Lenox, Illinois on February 15, 2010. The plaintiff was at the home of the defendant. She opened the door to the back patio area of the house and stepped outside to throw away some garbage. Once outside, as she walked to the garbage cans she slipped on a large sheet of ice on the patio, falling to the ground, and landing on her right hand and forehead.

After our client fell, the homeowner admitted that he used the gated back patio area of his home as a dog run. The back patio area was a concrete slab. He further admitted that the day before the occurrence he had hosed off the back patio area to attempt to clear the area of his dog’s waste. Unfortunately, due to the freezing temperatures the water used to clean the patio froze forming a sheet of ice which was then obscured by a light snow. He also admitted that he forgot to put down salt as he had apparently intended.

The claimant had an immediate onset of severe right wrist and head pain. She was taken from the scene of the occurrence to Silver Cross Hospital‘s Emergency Department.

Upon arrival at the Emergency Department a history was taken, she was examined and diagnostic tests were performed. She complained of severe right wrist and head pain. She was experiencing dizziness and nausea. Examination revealed a significant contusion to her forehead and an obvious deformity with tenderness to her right wrist.

X-rays of the right wrist revealed a comminuted fracture of the distal radius involving the metaphysic and epiphysis with displacement of the largest distal fracture fragment. The fracture lines extended to the radial carpal joint space. There was widening of the distal radial ulnar joint. There was also a displaced fracture of the ulnar styloid.

Based upon her exam and the results of the diagnostic tests the plaintiff was diagnosed with a right wrist fracture, a closed head injury and post concussion syndrome. Her right arm was placed in a splint to immobilize it, she was given a sling, she was prescribed pain medications and instructed to see an orthopedic surgeon for follow up care of her wrist.

The next day our client was seen by at Parkview Orthopaedic Group. A surgeon took a history, examined her and reviewed her x-rays. The doctor observed swelling and obvious deformity to her right wrist. He put her in a new splint and sent her back to Silver Cross Hospital for a right wrist CT. The CT showed the comminuted fracture of the distal radius with dorsal angulation and displacement at approximately 4 mm of impaction of the fracture fragments with fracture lines extending to the radial carpal joint space and a comminuted fracture of the ulnar styloid.

Based upon the CT results the physician diagnosed the claimant with a four-part intraarticular displaced unstable distal radius fracture to the right wrist and ulnar styloid. The doctor recommended an open reduction internal fixation surgery.

Surgery was performed in February, 2010 at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. Treatment of the fractures required the implantation of surgical metal, including a plate and screws.

Following the surgery the client continued to follow up with her doctor on a regular basis through August, 2010. On March 9, 2010 her cast and staples were removed and she was put into a splint. She was required to wear the splint at all times except for bathing. She was finally taken off the wrist splint on April 6, 2010. Nonetheless she continued to have limitations including no heavy lifting. The physician gave her a full home exercise program consisting of stretches and exercises to help rehabilitate her wrist. The last time she saw the doctor for her wrist she continued to have some issues when she would place pressure on the wrist or attempt to lift heavy objects.

Despite her treatment, the plaintiff still has pain and discomfort in her wrist. This is especially prevalent when there are changes in the weather, such as cold and damp weather, or when pressure or weight is applied to the wrist such as when she carries groceries or does laundry.

For months after the accident the plaintiff could not do any activity that required the use of her right hand. Even after her cast was removed and she was able to begin to use her right hand and wrist, she continued to experience pain with almost all activities of daily living. Simple activities such as turning a door knob, opening a jar, personal hygiene, putting on her makeup, doing her hair, getting dressed, using a computer, cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping were very difficult and painful for her.

She incurred medical expenses of just over $30,000 due to the accident. She now has a permanent surgical scar on her right wrist.
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Chicago premises liability attorney Gary Annes has resolved a case for a South Side woman who fell on a defective ramp outside a house she was renting.

The plaintiff was descending the ramp constructed outside the front door of a residence located on South LaSalle Street. As a result of the improper design, construction and maintenance of the ramp, as she was walking down it one of the boards gave way or bent underfoot causing her to stumble. As she began to stumble she attempted to grab for a handrail to steady herself. Again, due to the improper design, construction and maintenance of the handrail it was not located where it should have been and she was unable to grab it. As a result she fell, injuring herself.

Shortly after the occurrence the ramp was inspected by an architect retained by our law firm. She found the ramp and handrail to be in violation of the Chicago Building Code due to the following:

1. The span between the stringers was too large causing the decking to buckle creating a tripping hazard. A third stringer should have been added in the center to properly support the decking.

2. The ramp itself was uneven and far too steep. The Chicago Building Code requires ramps to have a grade of not more than 1 to 8; however the ramp in question had a grade at the north side of 1 to 4.5 and on the south side of 1 to 6. This means the ramp was both uneven and far too steep on both sides.

3. The Chicago Building Code requires ramps having a grade more than 1 to 12 to have a nonslip surface. This could have been accomplished through either a granulated coating or applying nonskid adhesive strips. No such efforts were made.

4. The ramp’s railings were similarly insufficient. The Chicago Building Code requires ramps with a grade of more than 1 to 10 to have handrails and the handrails are required to be between two feet ten inches and three feet two inches above the walking surface. The north and south handrails have heights of three feet three quarter inch and two feet ten and a half inches respectively at the top of their run and terminate into the ground making the heights of each handrail below the minimum requirement for the vast majority of their runs. This makes it impossible for a person who is falling to grab onto the handrail for support.

We argued to the property owner’s insurance carrier that these violations created an extremely hazardous and unsafe environment for users of the ramp. Based upon the facts and circumstances surrounding the occurrence, it was clear that the vast majority of fault lied with the defendant property owners.

After the incident our client had an immediate onset of severe right arm pain. She was transported from the scene to the Saint Anthony Hospital Emergency Room.
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