Chicago residents know that our city often has very intense weather, which can even switch between extremes in one season. Our winters are cold and snowy, and our summers can really heat up. At some times, we can even see both of these weather patterns in the same month. If you are the owner or operator of a restaurant, shop or other public space in Chicago, you should know to expect the unexpected with weather and to be prepared. This can mean having salt and shovels on hand for snowy days or mats available during a hard rain to provide a surface with traction. While the temperatures may be sunny and pleasant one day this can always change the next. What does not change though, is the duty that owners owe to visitors and customers to provide safe premises where they will not be exposed to dangers that may cause them injury.
A recent report by the Cook County Record reports that a patron filed suit against a Chicago restaurant for a 2013 slip and fall accident. The patron is alleging premises liability in her suit, which she filed last month in Cook County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleges the defendant sprayed water on the pavement, which created an unsafe condition and/or unnatural accumulation of snow and ice that caused her to fall and sustain injuries. In her complaint, she argues that this condition was unapparent to her and that the defendants were aware of the hazard, failed to remedy it, and increased the probability that pedestrians and patrons would fall and suffer injury. The plaintiff is alleging personal pecuniary and permanent damage, and seeks compensation in excess of $50,000.
When reading this report, you may be wondering how she filed a lawsuit for an injury that took place just under two years ago. It is important to understand the law when wanting to protect your rights, because Illinois law places a time limit on personal injury claims, known as the Statute of Limitations. The statute is 735 ILCS 5/13-202, and states that, “Actions for damages for an injury to the person…shall be commenced within 2 years next after the cause of action accrued…” This is interpreted to mean that the time period begins to run when the accident occurs (the actual slip and fall accident) or when the plaintiff discovers the injury (such as often occurs in medical malpractice lawsuits). Therefore, in this instance, because the plaintiff suffered injury on March 22, 2013, and she filed suit on March 20, 2015, she still satisfies the Statute of Limitations even if just by two days’ time. This is why it is so important to know the time limit for personal injury actions under the law so that you do not miss the legal time period in which you can bring your action and defend your rights in a personal injury lawsuit.