Illinois Court of Appeal Overturns Summary Judgment for Injured Forklift Operator in Multi-Defendant Dispute

One of the most frustrating aspects of a Chicago personal injury lawsuit can be figuring out who is responsible for your injuries. There are often multiple defendants involved in an accident, especially if it happens at a business or other public location. Even if you are able to identify each potentially liable defendant in your lawsuit, they may play games and try to blame the other parties even if they are partially liable. This can create frustration and delays, which prevent injury victims from receiving the compensation that they deserve. At Therman Law Offices, we represent the victims of personal injury accidents and help them fight for the fair treatment and compensation that they deserve.

In a recent lawsuit, the Illinois Court of Appeal issued an opinion regarding a dispute over which defendants were liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff alleged that she was injured while at work after a rack containing merchandise collapsed near her causing its contents to hit her. She was operating a forklift at the time of the accident. In her complaint, she alleged that she was hired by the forklift company to perform work at a property owned by another entity. She alleged that the property owner had a duty to keep the property in a safe condition for employees, invitees, and licensees and that it breached its duty by not addressing the dangerous condition that the shelf posed.

She also alleged that the property owner was responsible for managing the storage racks and that they were not secured properly at the time of the accident. Furthermore, she asserted that the property owner knew or should have known that that was creating an unnecessarily dangerous working environment.

The property owner filed a motion for summary judgment in response to the lawsuit. It alleged that although it owned the property where the accident took place, it was not in control of the property because it leased it to the forklift company for whom the plaintiff worked. Based on this reasoning, the property owner claimed that the forklift company assumed the duty to keep the premises safe through the lease agreement. The plaintiff rejected this argument, alleging that both parties were “intertwined” and mutually responsible for her injuries.

The trial court granted the property owner’s motion for summary judgment and the plaintiff appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed, finding that there were too many questions about the relationship between the property owner and the forklift company to determine as a matter of law whether the property owner had possession, ownership, or control of the property. Because the record did not contain enough evidence to resolve the factual ambiguities, the appellate court remanded the case for further proceedings and a potential trial.

If you were injured and multiple defendants are involved in your case, you should speak with a Chicago personal injury lawyer to learn more about protecting your rights. You can contact us now for a free consultation to learn more about whether you are owed compensation, the potential value of your case, and who can be held responsible for your injuries. To get started, call Therman Law Offices at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.

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