Settled a case the other day where my client was injured after falling on what appeared to be ice and snow near the entrance to a restuarant. If the injury had solely been caused by the presence of ice and snow, the client may have been out of luck. The fact that the owner had admitted allowed water and ice to accumulate near the only entrance door allowed me to pursue another theory of recovery. In Illinois, a property owner has a general duty to provide a reasonable means of entry to and from their business. At the same time, a property owner has no duty to remove natural accumulations of snow and ice fom his property. The presence of ice and snow however, doesn’t completely immunize a property owner. The owner still has a duty to give adequate warning of a known and dangerous condition. In my case the owner admitted that he was aware that due to the slope of the roof, moisture would descend onto the sidewalk area near the front door[the only door the public was allowed to use]. Nonetheless, he had taken no steps to warn customers of moisture near the door. As a result I could argue he was in violation of his duty to provide safe entry to his building. The defense lawyer recognized that fact and the case resolved shortly before we were to start picking a jury. That being said, premises cases are becoming increasingly difficult to litigate in Cook County and the surrounding counties. As noted above if a person is injured due to a natural accumulation of snow/ice, he is out of luck. Even if you can prove the accumulation was not natural, the jury instructions are not plaintiff-friendly. And juries seem increasingly skeptical when it comes to these types of cases. Consequently, I advise my clients early on that at some point, if a reasonable settlement offer is conveyed, I will be telling them to take it .

Categories: ILLINOIS LAW