Landowners owe a duty to guests to ensure that the property is reasonably safe and to provide warnings against any known dangerous conditions. This duty changes, however, if the person injured was a trespasser at the time of the accident. As a defense to premise liability claims some defendants will attempt to argue that the plaintiff was trespassing or that the plaintiff did not fall within a class of people to whom it owed a duty. As dedicated Chicago personal injury lawyers, we are here to help you ensure that you receive the fair treatment and compensation that you deserve.
Recently, the Illinois Court of Appeal considered a case in which the plaintiff reportedly fell while walking through a walkway at a hotel that the defendant owned. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit seeking damages. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff was a trespasser and that it did not owe her a duty of care when she decided to take a shortcut to her office building by walking through the defendant’s property. The plaintiff alleged that summary judgment was not proper and that the defendant owed her a duty of care. The trial court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff appealed.
On review, the appellate court reversed finding that there was a question of fact regarding whether plaintiff may have been a lawful pedestrian on the walkway located on the defendant’s driveway. Although the defendant owned the property and the plaintiff was not a guest at the hotel, the court found that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care under the frequent trespass exception. In short, the exception states that where a landowner is aware that trespassers frequently use a portion of their property, a duty arises to ensure the safety of those trespassers.