Illinois Postal Worker Slip And Fall Accident Claim
Slip and fall accidents can occur to anyone, anywhere, and at any time. Such was the case for one of our clients, a postal worker, who was badly injured while working.
Our client was delivering mail to a residence that had outdoor carpeting covering its concrete stairs and walkway. The carpeting was in poor condition and caused our client to trip and fall, fracturing her elbow. She required surgery and missed a significant amount of time from work.
In cases like this, the issue becomes one of proving homeowner liability for slip and fall injuries. In this post we explore Illinois law as it applies to homeowner liability for slip and fall injuries and how the homeowner’s insurance policy can come into play.
Homeowner Liability for Slip and Fall Injuries
Many assume that a homeowner is automatically liable when a visitor is injured at the property. However, the homeowner must be shown to have been negligent in some way.
Homeowners are required to keep their homes safe, particularly common areas like entryways or hallways. The general rule is that a homeowner will be found negligent if he knew or should have known about an unsafe condition but failed to remedy it, and the visitor was not otherwise to blame.
Common Slip and Fall Accidents
To better understand the concept of negligence, it helps to look at the most common slip and fall accidents for postal workers that occur at private residences. These include slip and falls on stairways, sidewalks and pathways, and inside of the residence.
Accidents that occur inside of the home are typically caused by defective flooring or other hazardous conditions. Defective flooring could include loose floorboards, uneven tiles, or bunched up carpeting.
Hazardous conditions include things like area rugs, wet floors, or waxed floors. A homeowner may be held liable for defective flooring issues since the typical homeowner should know that a loose floorboard or defective carpeting could potentially lead to an injury.
Things like area rugs can be tricky from a negligence standpoint. If the rug lacks a slip resistant backing or is heavily frayed, it could give rise to homeowner liability.
Stairway accidents are caused by a variety of factors. These include a lack of handrails, shallow steps, defective carpeting over the stairway, or uneven stairs.
The maintenance and repairs of sidewalks is typically the responsibility of the town or city where the property is located. However, the safety of walkways, driveways, stairs, and porches are the responsibility of the homeowner.
In our client’s case, the homeowner allowed an unsafe condition to exist by failing to remove or replace the carpeting.
Contributory Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases
The owner’s duty to keep their homes safe is not the sole consideration in a negligence claim. The Illinois courts will also look at the victim’s role when determining homeowner liability for slip and fall injuries.
This concept, known as contributory negligence, provides that a plaintiff can recover damages in a personal injury case as long as he or she was not more than 50% responsible for the accident. (735 ILCS 5/2-1116). The plaintiff’s award of damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributable to the plaintiff.
There is another important exception to homeowner liability for slip and fall injuries. Where the victim is trespassing and is injured, the homeowner may not be liable.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Slip and Fall?
If the homeowner was liable for the victim’s injuries, then it is necessary to determine whether damages can be recovered under the homeowner’s insurance policy. Homeowner’s policies generally provide two types of coverage:
- Liability coverage
- Medical coverage
Liability coverage protects homeowners when someone is injured on their property. It also covers bodily injury to another person or property damage for which members of the homeowner’s household are liable.
Medical coverage pays for injuries to another person that is accidentally injured on the homeowner’s property or otherwise injured by the homeowner or a member of his or her family.
What to do if you are injured
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at someone’s residence, you should report it immediately. Once you obtain the insurance information from the homeowner, you should contact the insurer as soon as possible. If too much time passes, the insurance company may try to deny the claim.
It is possible the homeowner will refuse to provide you with the insurance policy information. In these cases, your only remedy will be to sue the homeowner to obtain the information.
Once the injury is reported, an adjuster will be assigned to your claim. The adjuster will attempt to contact you to obtain your version of the events. The adjuster may request to take a recorded statement.
It is normally not optimal to provide a recorded statement without the assistance of an attorney, if at all, as the statement may later be used against you.
Contact an Experienced Illinois Slip and Fall Accident Attorney
Our Lake County Slip and Fall lawyer goes the extra mile to recover on behalf of our clients. To prevail in the post worker case referenced above, we filed a lawsuit, retained a damages and liability expert to testify regarding the degraded condition of the carpeting and proceeded to alternative dispute resolution.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall accident, please contact us our Illinois slip and fall accident law firm to discuss your rights and options with a postal accident attorney.