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Property Owners and Premises Liability Lawsuits

A couple stands in front of their new apartment.

Property owners are responsible for maintaining safe conditions for people coming on or about their property. They are legally bound to provide a reasonably safe condition of property. If they are found to be negligent, property owners must pay the victim damages, which may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of current and potential wages, and other damages.

At the law firm of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our premises liability attorneys take on cases in which property owners are found liable for injuries. Premises liability covers a comprehensive range of suits for injuries caused by a property owner’s failure to warn, maintain and correct situations on public and private premises.

The most common premises liability cases involve individuals who slip, trip or fall because of a defect or hazard on another person’s property. Examples:

  • Slippery sidewalks
  • Potholes
  • Oil or grease on floor of garage or ramp
  • Tree roots
  • Balcony and stairway collapse
  • Poor lighting
  • Water on floor
  • Food or spilled milk on supermarket floors
  • Blocked aisles
  • Loose carpet
  • Cords, string or wires on the ground
  • Broken or cracked sidewalks
  • Falls on escalators and elevators
  • Unprovoked dog bites and attacks
  • “Failure to warn” notification of a property’s hazardous or unsafe condition

There are three categories of property visitors the law recognizes:

  • Invitee – someone who enters another person’s property for business purposes. The property owner is expected to repair and correct known hazards, and check for unknown hazards.
  • Licensee – someone who enters another person’s property for social purposes. The property owner must show reasonable care and maintenance. There is no duty to look for unknown hazards.
  • Trespasser – unauthorized visitors who are not subject to any safety consideration by the landowner. If the trespassers are children, the property owner is responsible for their safety.

The law differs in the state of Wisconsin, where there is a “recreational immunity statute.” That law states that a property owner’s liability for injuries to persons engaging in recreational activities on the property is very limited. Landowners who open up their land for recreational use are immune for any injuries that occur on their land during the recreational use. Recreational activity means any outdoor activity undertaken for the purpose of exercise, relaxation or pleasure. Examples of recreational activities are hunting, camping, bicycling, hiking, sledding, water sports. The statute attempts to include any outdoor sport, game or educational activity except organized team sport activities sponsored by the owner of the property.

There are exceptions to the immunity. The private property owner is not immune if the owner charges an admission fee for spectators and for a malicious act or by a malicious failure to warn against a known unsafe condition.

If you have been injured because of a condition of someone’s property, it is important to document the condition in a way that will show the physical characteristics of the height, width, depth, and nature of the substance before someone goes out and repairs the condition.

Many times the owner of property, learning of an injury, will go out and conduct a repair. They do this for two reasons: to eliminate evidence, and to make sure no one else gets injured. Please, contact us today, we handle cases nationally with offices located in Illinois and Wisconsin. Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., is committed to protecting the rights of individuals, and we will put our experience and dedication to work for you.

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