Injured In Lake County? Our Experienced Chicago Slip and Fall Lawyers Can Help
Lake County offers picturesque Great Lakes natural settings combined with cutting-edge businesses, inspiring retail venues, and several recreational sites. All of these locations are popular among Lake County residents and visitors.
Companies in Illinois have a responsibility to help their patrons avoid injuries from slip and fall accidents. These responsibilities may range from promptly cleaning up spills to warning visitors about the risk of a slip, trip, or fall. Businesses may also have obligations to protect their employees. Even residents of Lake County have certain responsibilities when it comes to inviting guests onto their property.
Common Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls
Many situations or objects can cause a slip, trip, or fall injury. Some of the most common causes of these incidents include:
- Broken, torn, or inappropriate flooring. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that floors and flooring materials cause over 2 million fall injuries each year. Broken floor tiles, uneven flooring, torn carpeting, slippery rugs, and other flooring materials and coverings may all cause a slip or a trip, resulting in a fall.
- Substances covering walkways. Ice, snow, rain, cleaning materials, or spills of any kind can reduce the grip between your shoes and the walkway, causing you to slip. Substances covering walkways are some of the most common causes of falls, according to the CDC. The NFSI estimates that 85 percent of workers’ compensation claims arise from workers who slip on walkways and other surfaces that lack necessary traction due to a spill.
- Clutter in the walkway. Items in your path don’t have to be spilled liquids or substances to cause a fall. Trip and fall accidents from tools, rugs and other clutter left in walkways can also cause serious injuries. In some cases, the clutter’s presence may cause additional injuries or make an injury worse. A person who lands on walkway clutter, for instance, may suffer additional harm.
- Inadequate safety features. Broken or missing handrails, poor lighting, and steps that aren’t marked to show their edges all fall into this category. Slips, trips, and falls from inadequate attention to safety are often preventable.
Most falls that occur in homes and retail businesses are falls at the same level, or from a person standing on the ground to landing on it. In some venues and construction and manufacturing settings, falls from a height are more common. In these falls, the person begins on one level, such as on a ladder or platform, and lands at a lower level, such as on the ground beneath. Falls from a height increase the risk of severe injury.
Injuries That May Result from a Fall
Slips, trips, and falls result in over 8 million hospital emergency room visits a year, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). About 21 percent of emergency room visits annually occur after a slip and fall incident, making these injuries the single most common reason for ER visits.
Slips, trips, and falls can cause serious injuries. These include:
- Broken bones. About five percent of all falls result in at least one broken bone, according to the NFSI. Falls create an especially high risk of hip fracture. The CDC estimates that 95 percent of broken hip injuries result from a fall.
- Spinal cord injuries. Falls are the second leading cause of spinal cord injuries among people over age 65, the NFSI estimates. Falls can also cause serious spinal cord damage to younger people.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Falls are the number-one cause of traumatic brain injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
- Increased risk of future falls. People who suffer injury from one fall often fear falling a second time. Unfortunately, many respond to this fear by further limiting their physical activity – increasing the chances that they won’t be able to stop themselves from falling again if they lose their balance.
Other types of injuries may result from a fall as well. For example, muscle or nerve damage may occur as a result of a fall injury. These injuries can cause lingering pain and trouble with daily activities.
Filing Your Slip and Fall Injury Claim in Illinois
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall in Illinois, you may be able to file a legal compensation claim. Several rules apply to these claims, however. To understand your legal options, it’s important to speak to an experienced attorney. A lawyer can help you understand how the laws apply to your case and which options you have.
Illinois law gives an injured person two years to file a personal injury claim in court. If the claim is not filed within this two-year window, the court will refuse to hear the case. This law is known as the “statute of limitations,” as it limits the amount of time available to file a claim.
Typically, the two years begin to run on the date the injury occurs. Some exceptions apply to this general rule, however. For example:
- If you couldn’t have reasonably known you were injured on the date of the injury, the statute of limitations begins to run from the date you discovered, or reasonably should have discovered, you were injured. This is known as the discovery rule.
- People who don’t have the legal capacity to file their own claim will see the two-year time limit begin on the day they gain the legal capacity to file the claim, not the date the injury occurs. For example, a child injured in a slip and fall accident at age 10 may file a claim within two years after reaching age 18 – the time at which that person becomes legally capable of filing their own claim. This is known as the legal disability rule.
While these exceptions apply in some cases, Illinois courts stick to the two-year requirement whenever possible. The best chance of success in a slip and fall injury claim is to file the claim as soon as possible after the injury occurs.
Fall-related injuries can be expensive. In 2015, the total medical costs for fall injuries in the United States exceeded $50 billion, according to the CDC. The Hartford Insurance Company estimates that falls make up 16 percent of its insurance injury claims, but they account for 26 percent of its total injury-related claims costs.
Few people understand the expenses of a slip and fall injury like those who are injured – and their experienced injury lawyers. The cost of a slip and fall injury may include losses like:
- Medical costs, including the costs of treatment for the injury, follow-up appointments, therapy and rehabilitation, and other expenses.
- Lost wages if the injury prevents you from working – including lost future wages if lingering medical problems limit your ability to work.
- Transportation costs to and from your appointments.
- Replacement services at home if your injury prevents you from doing chores, finishing repairs, or taking care of children like you ordinarily would.
These damages are commonly called “economic damages.” Economic damages often come with a specific dollar amount, which can be proven with receipts, invoices, pay stubs, and similar documentation.
Those injured in Illinois slip and fall accidents can seek a second type of damages as well. Known as “non-economic damages,” these damages don’t always come with a price tag attached. Yet they inflict real losses on you and your household – and you can seek compensation for them.
Common types of non-economic damages include
- Pain and suffering from both the injury incident itself and the ongoing effects of the injury, like chronic pain or loss of mobility.
- Loss of enjoyment of life if the injury prevents you from doing things you enjoy, like participating in your favorite sports, hobbies, or other activities.
Other types of non-economic damages may apply as well. An experienced attorney can help you understand how these losses might be compensated in a personal injury case.
Take the Next Step
Organizations that track fall injury data, like the CDC, make it clear: Slips, trips, and falls should not be considered “accidents.” They are not inevitable incidents of fate.
Rather, most slip, trip, and fall injuries can be prevented. Proper attention to safety, including applicable safety rules, is a must. When a business or other property owner fails to take proper care to prevent slips, trips, or falls, serious injuries can result – injuries that could have been prevented.
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall, don’t wait: Talk to an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer right away. The team at Briskman, Briskman & Greenberg is dedicated to helping our neighbors in Lake County and throughout the Chicago area. We’ll help you understand your legal rights, explore your options, and take the next step to protect yourself and your family. Talk to us today to learn more.