Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Judgment for Defendant in Trip and Fall Accident Lawsuit

Trip and fall accidents can have serious and painful consequences for the victim. Although this type of accident may seem minor, the injuries that result can leave you with a lifetime of pain and disabilities. At Therman Law Office, our seasoned team of Chicago premises liability lawyers has confidently assisted numerous victims with asserting their rights following a trip and fall injury.

As a recent appellate opinion demonstrates, many of these accidents take place on a city-owned property. The plaintiff in the action brought a negligence claim against the City of Aurora, alleging that she was injured when she tripped in a depression located in a section of asphalt in a parking lot at a train station. The jury initially returned a verdict in her favor, but the court intervened due to one of the responses that the jury provided on its special verdict form. The question asked whether the depression in the asphalt had a vertical difference of 1.5 inches or less, and the jury responded yes to this question. The court concluded that as a result of this response, the dangerous condition was de minimis and entered a judgment in favor of the defendant.

The plaintiff filed a motion to reconsider its decision, but the court denied the motion, restating that the defendant had no duty to guard against de minimis hazards. The plaintiff appealed, alleging that the lower court erred in providing the special interrogatory to the jury and that the question the court used to enter a verdict in favor of the defendants was not dispositive of the ultimate fact of whether the depression was a dangerous condition on the property. The plaintiff also argued that there were aggravating factors at play that rendered the depression a dangerous condition, even if it was 1.5 inches or less in height difference from the surrounding asphalt. More specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the aggravating factors consisted of a high-volume pedestrian area at the train station that made it more difficult to notice the depression.

The appellate court reversed the lower court’s entry of judgment in the defendant’s favor, finding that the lower court erred in finding that there were no aggravating factors and that it erred in providing the special interrogatory on the jury verdict form because it did not relate to the ultimate issues in the matter. The issue regarding the aggravating circumstances created a genuine question of fact, and the surrounding circumstances involved at the time of the accident were relevant to determining whether or not the depression was a de minimis condition.

If you were injured in a premises liability accident, it is critical that you contact a seasoned Chicago accident attorney as soon as possible to preserve your right to compensation. Our team has diligently assisted victims in a wide variety of accident cases, including trip and falls. We are also confident when it comes to dealing with insurance companies and going up against major companies or municipalities that may not make addressing your claim a priority. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.

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