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2004 Chicago Fire Safety Standards Still Need to Be Enforced

Any Chicago personal injury attorney would attest that the best kind of injury is the one that is avoided altogether. That’s why it’s so important that Chicago litigation intended to bring older high-rise apartments into compliance with tougher fire safety standards, is followed.

According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2004, city officials enacted legislation to toughen safety standards for residential buildings. This particular ordinance came in response to a fire in a Cook County Administration Building that killed six people. The legislation required that building owners had until January 1 of this year to either install fire sprinklers or make a combination of other improvements to meet the tougher standards, reported the Tribune.

Nevertheless, owners and managers of almost 120 buildings across the city submitted drafts for compliance and were rejected after the city found the proposals to be insufficient. Even worse, hundreds of building owners have not yet submitted plans for improvements, citing the inability to pay for the upgrades due to the economic recession. As a result the City Council has extended the deadline until January of 2015.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has since ordered the noncompliant buildings and fire departments to expedite the process. To move things along, all approved fire-related improvements in high-rise buildings will be placed on a fast track for permits, cutting through several layers of bureaucracy in some cases, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Illinois premises liability law is a significant branch of Chicago 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, 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 potential defendants would be the owners of the noncompliant buildings. 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 apartment building owners have a duty to maintain the buildings and ensure that they are properly equipped with fire safety supplies.

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.

When an accident or injury occurs to a an individual who – at the time of the injury – is on another person’s property, the owner or manager of the property may be liable if it can be proved that their negligence led to the injury.

Under Illinois law, wrongful death is the legal concept that arises when a person’s death has been caused by the fault or negligence of another person or business. In cases of wrongful death, such as this one, family members and loved ones of the decedent can file a claim to potentially make the wrongdoer pay damages for things such as the loss of companionship, monetary damages to cover the earnings the deceased person would have provided, and expenses associated with the death such as funeral and burial costs. If a fire occurs and it is found to be the result of the building owners’ negligence, a victim’s family would potentially be entitled to compensation for having lost time with the individual, as well as having to experience grief and sorrow.

Our Illinois personal injury lawyers have handled numerous cases and recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for the families of victims wrongfully killed because of someone else’s negligence. In fact, they obtained a $6.0 million settlement for the families of 6 children who died in a tragic apartment fire on Chicago’s north side because the landlords of the building failed to have proper and working smoke detectors in violation of the Chicago Municipal Code and the children were not able to escape the building in time. Additionally, they earned a $2.3 million Chicago fire injury settlement for two boys who were severely burned in a Chicago Housing Authority apartment fire.