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Premises Liability: Understanding the Distraction Exception to the Open and Obvious Rule

 Posted on December 14, 2021 in Personal Injury

joliet personal injury lawyerProperty owners have certain obligations under Illinois Law. They must create a safe environment free of dangerous conditions for all who enter the premises. If a visitor is injured by a hazard on their property, they may be liable under Illinois premises liability law.

There are ways the property owner can escape liability. If the hazard can be considered “open and obvious”, the property owner may not be at fault. The property owner may argue that the victim should have been aware of the dangerous condition and avoided injury. However, the open and obvious rule has its own exception called “the distraction exception.”

What Is the Distraction Exception?

The distraction exception creates a cause of action against the property owner, even if the victim was injured by a hazard that was “open and obvious.”

For the rule to apply, the plaintiff must have been distracted by something else on the property. The distraction cannot be of the plaintiff’s own making. For example, if someone was harmed because they were staring at their phone while walking down the stairs, the property owner may not be liable.

For example, an Illinois appellate court ruled an apartment complex was liable for a man’s injuries after he slipped and fell near an entrance. The complex had installed an epoxy coating near a stoop that became slippery when wet, and the plaintiff lost balance trying to quickly enter the building during a rainstorm.

The court found the property owner liable, even though the plaintiff knew about the epoxy. It concluded that it was reasonable to assume the man was distracted given the circumstances, and the owners should have anticipated the possibility of such an incident.

Contact a Joliet, Illinois Slip and Fall Lawyer

Suffering a serious injury is scary. Overcoming physical injuries is often just the beginning. If you are left unable to work and with medical debt, it may be difficult putting food on the table.

Thankfully, Illinois law creates a cause of action for victims. They can file a lawsuit against those responsible with the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. A successful suit could equal the financial assistance the victim and their family so desperately need.

McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC has been fighting for Illinois residents in their time of need for years. They appreciate the challenges facing their clients, offering sincere advice and guidance at each step of the process.

If you need a Will County personal injury attorney that puts client needs above the bottom line, contact McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC today at 815-727-0100 for a free initial consultation.




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