Premises liability allows a person who lives on or visits another person’s property to recover for injuries sustained while on the property, if the owner was negligent. A property owner has a duty to keep the premises or property in a reasonably safe condition. A property owner may be negligent in several ways, including allowing a sidewalk to become icy or a liquid spill to be left in the aisle of a store.
Hurt on Another Person’s Property
Traditionally, an invitee was owed the highest level of care. An invitee is a person invited to enter or remain for the commercial benefit of the property owner. This includes a person entering a store to shop or a tenant renting an apartment or house.
As opposed to an invitee, a licensee is someone who has permission to be on the property, but who is there for his or her own personal purposes and not for business purposes. Guests at a party or family members with an open invitation to visit are considered invitees. Under common law, a lesser standard of care was provided for licensees than was provided for invitees.
Under Illinois law, the common law distinction between invitees and licensees, in regard to the duty owed, is no longer recognized. Instead, an owner of property owes all entrants a duty of “reasonable care under the circumstances regarding the state of the premises or acts done or omitted on them.” In order to impose liability on an owner or possessor of property, a person injured while on the property of another must establish that the owner:
1. Knew or in the exercise of ordinary care should have known of the dangerous condition and should have realized that it involved an unreasonable risk of harm;
2. Should have anticipated that the entrant would not have discovered or been aware of the danger, or would not have taken precaution against it; and
3. Failed to exercise reasonable care in providing protection against the danger.
Importantly, trespassers are not provided the same protections as entrants who have express or implied consent to be on the property. Generally, owners or possessors of property only need to avoid willfully or wantonly injuring trespassers. Willful conduct involves an actor having actual knowledge of the danger of the act being performed in conjunction with a conscious failure to avoid the injury. A wanton act is one that is performed with a reckless indifference to the potential for harmful consequences.
If you have been injured while you were on the property of another person, it may be possible for you to recover damages from the owner. For more information, contact a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our firm represents individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, in communities such as Crystal Lake, Palatine, Schaumburg, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Inverness, and Deer Park.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.