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Premises liability in Illinois

Use of a private property that results in harm to an individual could raise questions of responsibility. The duty of a property owner may affect an injured person's ability to seek damages in connection with an accident. An owner or occupier of land is expected to exercise reasonable care. However, there may be cases in which this is dependent on the nature of the hazards.

If an entrant onto private property as an invited or licensed user of that property is aware of certain conditions or could reasonably be expected to discover these conditions, then an owner or occupier of the property is not necessarily required to take special steps to protect an entrant from such a hazard. Similarly, if an owner or occupier is not aware of such conditions, there is no duty to warn. An entrant who misuses the property or items affixed on the property may not claim that an owner neglected duty of care.

In cases involving adult trespassers, there is no duty of care owed with the exception of the need to refrain from conduct that would purposefully place such individuals in danger due to something other than an existing condition on such property. Property liability issues could arise if a property owner or occupier takes actions to prevent trespassing that are intended to cause harm to individuals.

A trespasser alleging that dangerous property has led to an injury may need to demonstrate that such an injury resulted from wanton and willful action by a property owner. Examples might include obstacles purposefully placed on a path that are not easily visible to individuals driving off-road vehicles. However, a trespasser encountering hazardous objects that are not on a defined path might have greater difficulty demonstrating wanton and willful misconduct by the occupier or owner of such a property.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "Illinois Compiled Statutes", September 26, 2014

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