What can you expect when someone falls and claims to have suffered personal injuries on your property? According to Illinois case law, a plaintiff may elect to pursue a negligence claim, a premises liability claim, or both. Neff v. Advoc. Condell Med. Ctr., 2023 IL App (2d) 220428-U, ¶ 47. The plaintiff must establish the existence of a duty owed by the defendant, a breach of that duty, and an injury proximately resulting therefrom in order to sustain a negligence claim. Id. at ¶ 48. Whereas, a premises liability claim involves a specific duty imposed by a property owner. Id. This duty is breached when the property owner fails to correct a dangerous condition and (1) it had actual knowledge of the condition, i.e., actual notice; or (2) the condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, its presence should have been discovered, i.e., constructive notice. Id.
Actual notice is generally shown if the entity was previously informed of the dangerous condition or had created the same. Constructive notice is more commonly at issue and is in play if there is no prior documented defect. A plaintiff “must prove that the defendant had timely notice of the specific defect that caused [the plaintiff's] injuries.” Zameer v. City of Chicago, 2013 IL App (1st) 120198, ¶ 23. Courts consider the location of the condition, the conspicuous nature of the condition, and whether evidence is presented as to how long the condition existed when determining constructive notice. This standard applies to both public entities and private establishments in the state of Illinois. (Reported by Senior Associate, Christina Szocka).