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General Civil

Liability Of Property Owners

The duties owed by property owners and property possessors to persons injured on their property vary depending on whether the injured persons were on the property with the permission of the owner. As to property not occupied by its owner but occupied by a property possessor under a lease, the legal duties and potential liability also depend on the lease agreement. For purposes of this discussion, the term owner refers to both property owners and property possessors.

Conditions of land that can injure visitors include indoor and outdoor conditions, such as defective building conditions, debris or certain accumulations of water, ice, or foreign substances on walking surfaces, or any other condition arising from the property. A property owner also is liable if a person becomes intoxicated at the owner's home and is subsequently injured as the result of that intoxication, even if the injury does not take place on the premises. Both homeowners and business owners are liable for negligence in the maintenance or use of their property.

However, a property owner owes no duty of care to trespassers, except that the owner must refrain from willful or wanton misconduct that might cause injury to a trespasser. For instance, an owner who deliberately disregarded safe building standards would be liable even to injured trespassers. Or a landowner who intentionally placed a dangerous condition on his or her property would be liable to persons who were injured as a result of it.

Posting No Trespassing signs on the property does not make any difference as to an owner's liability, but, in particular cases, posting signs on the property might help prove that the owner did not consent to an individual's entry onto the property. When a property owner consents to someone's entering the home or property, the owner must warn the individual of any dangers of which the owner is aware. For instance, if some floor boards were loosened to perform a repair, the owner must tell any visitors of this potentially hazardous condition. However, if a danger is obvious, the owner does not owe any warning.

Persons entering private property are obliged to avoid dangerous conditions that they actually notice. Consequently, if a neighbor visits and there is a 12_foot trench in the owner's backyard, it is incumbent upon the neighbor to avoid that danger. However, rather than assume that a dangerous condition is obvious, it is best to post a warning.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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