Fell at bottom of stairs due to uncovered drain hole...

by Cindy
(Chicago, IL)

I was bringing my bike down to the basement of my apartment building, and when I reached the cement landing outside the door that I had propped open, I stepped in a hole (about size of a softball) and severely twisted my ankle and fell.

I've lived in this property for about 8 months, and other tenants I've talked to said in past 3 or so years the hole has always been uncovered. The property management company informed the landlord that they've replaced it, but tenants keep removing it, which is ridiculous. It's total negligence on their part.

I went to the doctor who sent me to an orthopedist. I was diagnosed with severely sprained/torn ligaments and required "boot." Even though this injury happened over a month ago, it's still very tender/swollen.

What can I do here? How do I prove the landlord and/or property management company was negligent? Are they responsible for my medical bills? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Fell at bottom of stairs due to uncovered drain hole...":

Cindy (Chicago, IL):

In this situation, the applicable area of law is Premises Liability. A property owner has a legal "duty of care" to do everything within reason to make sure his or her property is free of dangerous defects which might cause undue harm or injury to those legally upon the property.

Here's more about liability in slip and fall claims.

However, the State of Illinois statute (law) governing premises liability is quite liberal and appears to be more protective of property owners than of persons (entrants) who may be unduly harmed or injured on the property.

According to Illinois CIVIL LIABILITIES Section (740 ILCS 130/) Premises Liability Act:

"The duty owed to such entrants is that of reasonable care under the circumstances regarding the state of the premises or acts done or omitted on them.

The duty of reasonable care under the circumstances which an owner or occupier of land owes to such entrants does not include any of the following:

1. A duty to warn of or otherwise take reasonable steps to protect such entrants from conditions on the premises that are known to the entrant which are open and obvious, or can reasonably be expected to be discovered by the entrant

2. A duty to warn of latent defects or dangers, or defects or dangers unknown to the owner or occupier of the premises

3. A duty to warn such entrants of any dangers resulting from misuse by the entrants of the premises or anything affixed to or located on the premises; or

4. A duty to protect such entrants from their own misuse of the premises or anything affixed to or located on the premises"

From the facts you present, after living there for eight months, one can presume you knew, or should have known of the dangerous condition. As a result, under Section (740 ILCS 130/) Premises Liability Act, the property owner may escape full liability.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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