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Child’s Fall at Chicago’s Midway Airport Gives Rise to Consideration of Premises Liability Law

Though, fortunately, the injuries suffered in this case aren’t likely severe enough to warrant a Chicago personal injury lawsuit, an incident this afternoon at Chicago’s Midway Airport affords an opportunity to consider the notion of, and considerations behind, Illinois premises liability law.

According to a report by NBC Chicago, an 8 year-old boy with Down Syndrome was injured when he fell more than 20 feet – the equivalent of 2 stories – at Midway Airport in Chicago. The child and his family were at the airport to catch a flight back home to Guadalajara; while the boy was playing with a plant near a glass railing, he fell from the ticketing area to the baggage claim below.

The boy was immediately transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in “serious” condition with “non-life threatening injuries,” said Chicago Fire Department Spokesman Larry Langford. Fortuitously it turned out that the boy only suffered a cut lip, but the fact that the situation occurred is alarming unto itself.

This particular incident would remind any Chicago personal injury attorney of a tragic situation that occurred in 2009 when a 15 month-old boy died from a fall at an international airport after he fell from an upper departures area of the airport to a lower arrivals level. In any situation, it is the responsibility of the persons managing the airport’s premises to ensure that the area does not pose an unreasonable risk of injuries from a potentially-avoidable fall.

Illinois premises liability law is a significant branch of 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, if a suit were to be filed, the defendants would be the persons or group responsible for managing the airport and its premises.

Additionally, the requirements state that the person or persons on the land of another must be injured by negligence or a different wrongful act. 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 potential injury, or knew about the unsafe hazard but didn’t alert visitors or tenants to this fact; in this particular situation, a potential lawsuit would claim that the defendants failed to warn visitors of foreseeable dangers, failed to have proper barriers to prevent falls, and maintained a premise with unreasonably unsafe conditions.

Moreover, in cases such as the one involving the 15 month-old boy, the potential for a claim could arise from the child’s wrongful death. 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.

Our Chicago personal injury lawyers have handled numerous premises liability cases and understand what it takes to succeed in even the most complicated cases of landowner liability. In fact, our attorneys won a $510,000 settlement against a restaurant which caused patrons to wait in area too close to steps leading to downstairs banquet area, leading to our client’s fall down the stairs that resulted in a fractured hip and foot.

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 carelessness. If you or a loved one has been injured on another’s property as a result of the property owner’s negligence, contact an attorney to be apprised of your rights under the law.