Premises Liability and Subsequent Remedial Measures

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every year more than 3,000,000 million people visit emergency rooms and more than 800,000 people are hospitalized because of injuries suffered in a fall!  The most common fall injuries are head injuries and hip fractures.  However, falls are also a leading cause of neck and back injuries, wrist injuries, ankle injuries and leg injuries.  

Falls are often caused by property owners failing to maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition or failing to warn the public about known dangers on the property.  According to the CDC, most accidental falls occur because of broken or uneven stairs, unsecured rugs and carpeting, clutter in walkways and ice or slippery substances.  In Illinois, property owners are responsible to maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition and to warn pedestrians about known dangers on the property – also known as premises liability.  

Proving a property was maintained in an unsafe condition or that a property owner failed to warn about unsafe conditions is often difficult and requires care to obtain timely photographs, video and eyewitness accounts of the injury and the unsafe condition causing the injury.  Delays in obtaining such evidence is not always fatal to a case, but can result in the property owner taking steps to fix the unsafe condition or erecting signage to warn the public – also known as subsequent remedial measures.  However, in most cases, evidence that a property owner corrected an unsafe condition is not admissible in court because of a public policy that exists to encourage safe behavior – the fear being that if such evidence was admissible against the property owner she might be discouraged from making her property safe!  

While some exceptions exist to the evidential rule barring the admission of subsequent remedial measures, such as to show control over the property or the feasibility for taking the safety precaution, courts are hesitant to allow such evidence for fear of discouraging future safe behavior.  As a result, injury victims stand at an immediate disadvantage in proving their injury case if they fail to obtain timely evidence of the unsafe condition that caused their fall.

Guiding Your Path to Justice

Injury victims should take care to immediately document the condition that caused their fall and timely consult with an experienced injury attorney that is adept at investigating and proving premises liability claims.  The injury attorneys at Feagans Law Group have the experience and resources necessary to successfully investigate and prove your premises liability case – including exploring the use of subsequent remedial measures to do so!  If you or your family member was injured in a fall accident that occurred because of an unsafe property condition, please consider allowing  the attorneys at the Feagans Law Group to Guide Your Path to Justice.