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Unsecured water meter cover in Illinois leads to trip-and-fall

Property owners in Illinois have a duty to keep the premises free and clear of hidden dangers that could injure those that are invited onto the property. Common examples include cleaning up spills on the floor of a grocery store, removing debris from a home improvement shop or repairing rotten wood on the common stairway to an apartment.

What if the hidden danger is located on private property but essentially maintained by a third party? Can this third party be held liable for the damages caused by an individual that is injured in a trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accident? A recent case against Illinois American Water acts as an example of an injury that occurred under these circumstances.

Swimming pools are a common feature at apartment complexes across the nation. Although they are found on the grounds of the complex, a third party company often maintains the pool, the pipes or provides the water to the complex. In this case, it was Illinois American Water, a subsidiary of American Waterworks Co. Inc. that facilitated the transfer of water to the St. Clair apartment complex.

On Jan. 29, a lawsuit was filed by a man who claimed that he was injured as a result of the water company's negligence at the complex. The man claimed that while walking on the grass, he tripped in a water meter pit, seriously injuring himself. He said that the cover was over the hole, but that it had not been properly secured. When the man stepped on the unsecured lid, it tipped under the weight of his foot, causing him to trip and fall.

What happens if you were to injure yourself in a trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accident? Would you know whether you have a claim for damages to cover associated medical bills or lost wages? Would you know which party or parties to name in that lawsuit? The situation isn't always clear, which is why an individual should discuss any injury on another's property with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: The Madison-St. Clair Record, " Illinois American Water sued over man's fall into meter pit," Joel Brakken, Feb. 12, 2014

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