Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Defendant in Parking Lot Slip and Fall Case

As winter approaches, Chicago property owners should review the rules that apply to maintain a safe property for pedestrians, guests, and business invitees. Under Illinois law, a property owner does not have a duty to remove natural accumulations of ice and snow from his or her property. This standard may seem straightforward, but many slip and fall cases involve disputes about whether the accumulation was natural or unnatural, resulting from a modification or improvement that the property owner made. Our diligent team of Chicago premises liability attorneys is prepared to help you fight for your right to compensation after an avoidable slip and fall accident.

Recently, the Illinois Court of Appeal considered a case in which the plaintiff’s slip and fall lawsuit was dismissed for failure to prove that the defendant created an unnatural accumulation of ice and snow. The plaintiff argued that this rule did not apply to her situation because she slipped on paint that was on top of a handicap symbol in a parking space in a parking lot that became unreasonably slippery, according to her complaint. In support of this assertion, the plaintiff provided an affidavit from an expert witness. The defendants moved to strike the affidavit, which the trial court granted on the basis that it was inadmissible and granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

On review, the appellate court reversed, finding that the trial court should not have struck the plaintiff’s expert witness affidavit in its entirety or entered summary judgment for the defendants on the issue of whether the natural accumulation rule applied. Based on the evidence in the record, the appellate concluded that the jury could have found in favor of plaintiff’s theory that the handicap parking lot symbol was unreasonably slippery. The appellate court found that the natural accumulation rule did not apply to this situation because the main issue is whether the symbol was unreasonably slippery when it became wet regardless of whether the moisture resulted from a natural or unnatural accumulation.

Regarding the affidavit, the appellate court noted that the expert’s qualifications were not challenged by the defendant and that his testimony was based on his review of product data sheets, warnings, and directions for the materials that the defendant’s contractor used to paint the handicap symbol. the expert attached sworn copies of the documents that he referred to in providing testimony. Because his testimony was based on personal knowledge, there was a reasonable inference that he was competent to testify about the subject. As a result, the lower court should not have struck the affidavit. The appellate court remanded the case for further proceedings based on these rulings.

If you were injured on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your financial losses such as medical expenses and missed wages in a premises liability lawsuit. At Therman Law Offices, we understand how frustrating this situation is for you and your family. We will help you with all aspects of your case including evidence gathering and negotiating with insurance companies. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.