Visitor Question

Fractured ankle on apartment steps – why is insurance denying my claim?

Submitted By: Michael (Chicago, Illinois)

I was leaving my girlfriend’s apartment to take my daughter to school at 7:40 am. It had recently snowed. I slipped down the stairs and I twisted my ankle badly. I went to the doctor and found out it was a chip fracture on my ankle.

The previous day on Halloween it snowed. When it stopped the landlord had shoveled the snow but no salt was put down, so the morning when I slipped and fell the stairs were icy.

I filed a claim with the landlord’s insurance company, but they denied it. Why would they deny my claim? What can I do to get them to accept the claim and pay for my injuries? Thank you for any information you can provide.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Michael,

We’re sorry to hear about your injury. Under Illinois law, to recover for a slip and fall claim you must prove negligence on the part of the landlord.

The four elements of negligence are:

  1. Duty of Care
  2. Breach of Duty
  3. Causation
  4. Damages

If the insurance company thinks you cannot prove the landlord was negligent, they will deny your claim.

Illinois follows what’s called modified comparative fault rules. This basically means that responsibility for the injury can be shared between you and the landlord.

Illinois state law states the following:

“The plaintiff shall be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact [jury] finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought.

The plaintiff shall not be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact [jury] finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is not more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought…”

The above statute means is that if a jury found that you were 51% or more at fault for your own injuries, then you would be barred from recovering any compensation. Likewise, if the insurance company thinks you are 51% or more at fault for your own injury, they will deny your claim.

One key question about your claim is whether the landlord had a duty to salt the stairs. It seems from your description that the landlord did clear the snow, but did nothing further.

Even if the landlord should have salted the steps, the insurance company is probably denying your claim because you were aware that it had snowed, you knew the steps could be slippery and you had a duty to yourself to be careful when going down the steps.

We know it can be frustrating to be blamed for your own injury. But just because the insurance company denies your claim doesn’t mean you can’t pursue it further.

An experienced personal injury attorney can gather additional facts and information to determine the strength of your claim and the strength of any modified comparative fault defense the landlord may have.

If the insurance company continues to deny your claim, you would have no option but to file a lawsuit against the landlord.

Learn more here: Slip and Falls on Ice or Snow

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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