Chicago Slip and Fall Accidents

Even in the modern urban landscape of Chicago, with parking lots, sidewalks, and escalators, accidents happen.  It is easy enough to misstep and end up with a sore backside and bruised pride.  However, personal injury law makes a clear distinction about such occurrences, commonly called “Slip and Fall Accidents.”  If an individual’s slip and fall injury could have been prevented by the fulfillment of another’s duty – say, salting a winter sidewalk or clearing a public aisle of clutter – there may be grounds for a personal injury case.  A Chicago personal injury lawyer is qualified to assess the merits of each case.

While slip and fall-type cases may seem to support the criticisms of our legal system as overly-litigious, they can be very serious.  Typically, such accidents are one of four types:

1)    trip and fall (foreign object on the walking surface)
2)    stump and fall (an obstacle in the walking surface)
3)    step and fall (an unanticipated hole in the walking surface)
4)    slip and fall (shoes lose grip on the walking surface)

We can all think of times when we have experienced each of these: tripping over our own two feet, stepping in an unseen hole in the ground, or even stumbling into the elevator having failed to notice the “Step Up” sign.  Most likely, after each we picked ourselves up, brushed off, and continued on.  So, if these incidents are so common, then why take legal action?  Unfortunately, it is not always a matter of “picking ourselves up.”  For the elderly, one fall can mean surgery and weeks or months of recovery.  Even for the average citizen, being caught off guard and falling can result in broken bones, concussion, back problems, and host of other serious medical problems, resulting in lost time at work and medical bills.

Let’s take an example.  When we fall, the body reacts to catch itself and prevent serious injury. This means protecting the head, spine, and internal organs first and foremost.  It is instinct to extend the arm to break the fall, even though this may result in injury to the arm.  But for an individual who uses his/her arms for a living, such an injury can be devastating.  Consider a material handler, perhaps a UPS employee.  For this individual, an injury resulting in a cast or a sling would entirely prevent him/her from doing his/her job, unable to drive, let alone arrange, carry, and deliver packages.

While such an injury sustained on the job is subject largely to state workman’s comp laws, imagine that this UPS employee is injured during off hours, negotiating the usual snowy, icy pathways of a Chicago winter, perhaps shopping, visiting friends, or simply walking.  If he/she loses footing and falls on public or private property, the best-case scenario is breaking the fall with the arm and thereby avoiding more serious injury.  However, this is at the cost of very great risk of injury to the hand, wrist, or arm, the repercussions of which can be far-reaching for the material handler and family.

How do we decide fault in such a case?  Is the material handler to blame, perhaps moving in haste or without care?  Is the property owner to blame for failing to make his/her property as safe as possible for others?  Many communities have ordinances in place requiring citizens and business owners alike to keep the sidewalks and pathways in front of their homes and businesses clean and clear for just this reason.  These questions of fault, responsibility, and damages owed are exactly those sorted out by Chicago personal injury lawyers.

If you think you or a loved one needs the council of a Chicago personal injury attorney, do not hesitate to call or e-mail us at VanDerGinst Law today!