“I Didn’t Know” Isn’t the Same as “I Never Bothered to Look”

Premises liability cases are all about responsibility. Let’s say you enter a store that’s open for business. You’re greeted by a manager, who’s aware of a water leak but does nothing to alert you to the puddle accumulating on the floor. If you slip and fall in the wet spot, you can sue the store for your injuries. Sounds simple, right?

It’s usually not. From a plaintiff’s perspective, premises liability cases are difficult to prove. Even where your injuries are undisputed, liability is going to be a hotly-contested issue. How do you prove the store manager’s negligence? How can you show that he actually knew about the leak? Or if he didn’t actually know, how can you show that he should’ve known? You can’t recover money damages for bad luck, so you need some way of demonstrating that the defendant is responsible for what happened to you.

Most of the time, establishing liability is tricky business—it requires the collection and review of documents, the interviewing of witnesses, and no small amount of legal strategizing. It involves a potentially lengthy investigation and the application of law to particular facts. There are very few open-and-shut cases when it comes to premises liability.

The State of Illinois recently provided an exception to this rule when a woman was awarded a $148 million jury verdict after a collapsing bus shelter severed her spine and left her partially paralyzed. The local media predictably picked up on the horrific story and field reporters appeared on the scene at O’Hare International Airport the following day. One bold journalist went so far as to investigate other bus shelters in the immediate area. He found missing bolts, broken brackets, and rusted, corroded parts—in other words, strong circumstantial evidence of neglect. Without preparation or legal training, this reporter basically proved the plaintiff’s case: The City of Chicago should’ve known about the condition of the O’Hare bus shelters, because a reasonable inspection of any one structure would’ve revealed it to be poorly maintained. You can’t avoid responsibility by saying, “I didn’t know!” when what you really mean is, “I never bothered to look.

If you or a loved one has been hurt due to someone else’s wrongdoing or negligence, you need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case. Oftentimes, the best and most important evidence can be obtained immediately following an incident. The attorneys at the Marc Lopez Law Firm have years of trial-tested experience and are ready to fight for you. Call 317 632 3642 today for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.