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Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed After Chicago High-Rise Apartment Catches Fire

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.

That’s exactly what’s being alleged in a recently filed Chicago wrongful death lawsuit. The mother of a woman who was killed in a fire in high-rise apartment building on Lake Shore Drive earlier this month brought the claim. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the lawsuit alleges that the companies responsible for managing the building, 3130 N. Lake Shore LLC and Planned Property Management Inc., are legally liable, and that the 32 year-old woman would otherwise be alive, had there been a sprinkler system in place to put out the fire.

Additionally, the claim asserts that that the two management companies failed to warn the woman of the fire in the building, and permitted her to use the elevators when they “should have known if was not safe to do so.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the woman died from carbon monoxide intoxication, and inhalation of smoke and soot after she took the elevator to the 12th floor of the building. The tenants of the apartment in which the fire started had left their door open so a pet could escape; nevertheless, the toxic fumes seeped out as well, leading to the woman’s death.

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.

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.

In this particular situation, legal responsibility could potentially arise from two issues: initially, the fact that the building owners failed to install sufficient sprinklers to extinguish a fire is a prime example of failing to maintain the property, and even created a situation where a potentially dangerous set of circumstances could arise. Moreover, the fact that the woman was allowed to use the elevator and was never warned of the fire in the building is epitomical of failing to alert individuals of dangerous circumstances.

If the property managers are indeed held liable for having been negligent, and it can be shown that their negligence caused or contributed to cause the woman’s death, they may be on the hook for a lot of money.

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. 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.