Camping is a popular leisure activity for many Illinoisans; but when campgrounds are not well-maintained, things can get dangerous. Tragically, that’s exactly what happened to a family whose two youngest children were killed when a tree fell on their tent while camping at an Illinois campground.
The family was camping out at a popular resort campground; when they became aware of an impending thunderstorm, the father asked the property managers whether the family would be able to stay overnight in one of the log cabins on the property. Nevertheless, the owners of the campground refused, saying the cabin needed cleaning. As the storm worsened, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning and alerted people to potentially destructive winds. Still the family was not permitted to use the log cabin for shelter.
At some point during the overnight hours, a tree that was suffering from trunk rot was knocked down by the storm. Trunk rot is a fungal disease that causes wood at the center of trees to decay, causing the wood to soften and become structurally weaker. As a result, the tree was too feeble to withstand the storm, and fell on the family’s tent; the two youngest children were killed by the impact.
Illinois premises liability law is a significant branch of Illinois personal injury law that allows victims to recover after they have been injured on another person’s property, and the negligence of the property owner was the cause of that harm. In order to apply to a set of circumstances, Illinois premises liability law requires a number of factors to be satisfied: the defendant must be the owner or possessor of the land, or “premises” – in this case, the defendants were the campground owners. Additionally, the person or persons on the land of another must be injured by negligence or a different wrongful act; in this particular situation, the campground owners had a duty to maintain the grounds and ensure that they were safe for campers.
In cases such as this, Illinois premises liability law may be triggered if it can be shown that the property owners or managers either failed to maintain the property, created unsafe conditions that caused the injury, or knew about the unsafe hazard but didn’t alert visitors or tenants to this fact.
Following the tragic series of events, the family filed suit against the owners of the recreational campground: The lawsuit accused the campground of being negligent in two ways: not removing the tree suffering from trunk rot and not evacuating campers.
Just this week, a settlement was reached in the case. The owners of the premises were made to pay the family $1.25 million dollars for the wrongful deaths of the two children.
In Illinois wrongful death cases, relatives and loved ones may be able to receive compensation for their loss; this often comes in the form of damages for loss of companionship, or damages for lost wages that the individual would have otherwise contributed to supporting his or her family. In this case, the parents would have recovered for the loss of the companionship and love from their two children.
Though a lawsuit can never bring a loved one back to life, it is a step in the right direction, both for achieving justice, and making those at fault pay for their careless actions. If you or a loved one have been injured on the premises of another, contact an attorney to better understand your rights under the law.