Liability Laws: Who’s At Fault If You’re Injured In A Chicago Business?

FSD Staff

Premises liability sounds complicated, but it essentially means that a property owner can be held legally responsible for certain injuries that occur on their property. Those include injuries caused by dog bites, inadequate security, asbestos exposure, roadway and sidewalk defects, poorly lit staircases, iced entryways, or even slip and falls.

Injuries from these events can range from mildly inconvenient to life-changing. Slip and fall injuries alone account for 8 million emergency room visits a year, according to the National Floor Safety Institute.

If you’ve sustained one of these types of injuries in a Chicago business, you may have some questions about who’s at fault and what you can do legally. So let’s discuss liability laws and what can be done in your case.

Liability Laws: What Responsibilities Does A Business Owner Have

The first question you may have regarding your injury is who is at fault? Chicago premises liability laws are complicated. In general, a business owner could be legally responsible if you were injured due to negligence or mismanagement by the property owner.

That’s a little vague, as are the laws in some cases. There are, however, some guidelines to consider to help you determine if you have a case.

Your Fault Or Theirs: Guidelines To Consider When Determining If You Have A Case

There are some rules in place regarding your ability to seek compensation for an accident in which you were injured.

  • A property owner has at least some liability for the safety of people who are legally on their property. That means that if you were on private property without permission, you may not be covered under the law.
  • Your actions as the injured person may matter in deciding whether the property owner is liable. It’s important to discuss all actions with your attorney with complete honesty.


  • For a property owner to be considered liable, your injury must have been foreseeable. That means it has to be reasonable to say that the property owner could have predicted that someone could be injured in the way that you were.

If you were legally on a property and were injured due to what you believe to be a foreseeable circumstance, it may be worth investigating to see if you have a case.

Are You Protected: Who Is A Property Owner Responsible For

As we discussed earlier, a property owner holds some responsibility to keep a safe space for the people who are legally on their property. There are three types of people who are present on someone else’s property, an invitee, a licensee, and a trespasser. The property owner is usually only responsible for the first two.

So how do you determine if the property owner had some responsibility for you at the time of your accident?

If you were an invitee, the property owner was most likely responsible for you at the time of your accident. An invitee is someone who was given an explicit invitation to be on the property. Invitees include customers who were injured on a business’s property and sometimes guests who were invited to a home for a specific purpose.

Invitee cases are the most common. A good example of an invitee would be a customer who went into a retail store to shop and slipped on a wet floor. If there was no wet floor sign to warn them, they may have a case.

If you were a licensee, the property owner holds less responsibility for you, particularly if you were warned about the danger. A licensee is someone who was invited over casually.

So, let’s say your friend invited you over to their home for dinner, and their dog bit you while you were there. If your friend’s dog is a known biter, and you weren’t warned, your friend could be liable for your injury. If you were warned, it becomes much more complicated.

If you were a trespasser at the time of your accident, meaning that you were on the property without the owner’s knowledge or permission, you’re unlikely to have a case. The exception to this is if the property owner was aware you were trespassing and took no actions to stop you or warn you of dangerous conditions.

The Next Step: What To Do If You Think The Property Owner Is Liable

If you believe that the property owner may be liable for your injury based on what you’ve learned, your next step should be to meet with an attorney. Federal laws, and Illinois state laws, are complicated and you need a professional to interpret them to ensure your case is properly handled.

An attorney increases the odds of getting a good outcome in your case and obtaining some form of monetary compensation for your injuries. Bring all of the evidence you have regarding your case to your lawyer so they have all the facts they need to help you.

If you need money to cover financial problems caused by the accident before your case can be settled, ask your lawyer about lawsuit loan lenders, or other options that they recommend. It’s important to check with your lawyer before making any big decisions, to ensure they won’t affect the outcome of your case.

Now that you know more about the laws surrounding liability in Chicago, you can decide who you believe was at fault for your injury.

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