What Are My Rights If I Tripped or Slipped on Someone Else's Property?

Generally, when someone falls on another person's property, it is due to ice or snow or some defect in the property, such as hidden holes or a foreign substance on the ground or the floor. There are any number of possible causes for a fall on someone else's property, but these are the most common. If you slipped or tripped and fell on someone else's property, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

The Property Owner's or Landowner's Obligation
Ice & Snow:

In Illinois, a property owner or landlord is obligated under the law to keep his premises reasonably safe for people who are lawfully on the property. If you slip and fall on ice or snow, the law limits the circumstances under which the property owner or landlord is responsible for the injuries you suffered.

A property owner or landlord is not responsible for what are called "natural accumulations" of ice or snow. Usually, that means that if ice or snow falls from the sky and accumulates on property, the property owner or landlord does not have any obligation to remove the ice or snow or to even use salt to melt it. Therefore, if it snows the night before and you are walking along your neighbor's sidewalk or even the sidewalk leading to a business establishment and you fall because the sidewalk was not shoveled, you are probably not entitled to sue.

On the other hand, if you fall due to an "unnatural accumulation" of ice or snow, then the property owner or landlord must compensate you for your injuries. An unnatural accumulation of ice or snow is an accumulation that occurred because of some action or inaction by the property owner or landlord that caused snow or ice to be where it otherwise would not have been. For example, if your neighbor or a business establishment has leaky gutters on their building such that the water from rain or melting snow is directed onto a sidewalk where it freezes, then the accumulation is unnatural and you are entitled to be compensated if you slip and fall on the accumulation.

It is frequently difficult to determine whether an accumulation is, under the law, "natural" or "unnatural." Consequently, if you are seriously injured in a fall on ice or snow it is probably best to consult with an experienced lawyer.

Defects in Property:

A property owner or landlord of residential or business property has a duty to reasonably maintain the property. Under certain circumstances, if you were injured when you slipped and fell due to a defect in the property, then you are entitled to be compensated for your injuries. There is an endless list of defects which the property owner or landlord can be responsible for, but common defects include loose carpeting or mats, foreign objects or foreign substances on the floor, hidden holes, and other circumstances that make a floor unreasonably slippery or hazardous.

If you are seriously injured because you slipped or tripped and fell on someone else's property, you should consult with a lawyer to determine if you have a valid claim against the property owner. Sometimes, people trip or slip and fall and it is not the property owner's or the landlord's fault. An experienced lawyer can help you determine if you have a valid claim or lawsuit.