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What Is the Difference Between Premises Liability and Personal Liability?

August 31, 2022

If you suffer injuries in certain types of accidents, you may need to understand the difference between premises liability and personal liability. Premises liability claims are related to injuries sustained on another person’s property or business premises. Personal liability claims, however, are related to injuries sustained due to direct negligence by a person, company, or government agency.

What Is the Difference Between Premises Liability and Personal Liability?

When dealing with legal rights and accident and injury claims, there are two main types of liability cases – premises liability and personal liability.  Although each type of case may result in compensation for the victim’s injuries, it must be determined who is directly responsible for the injuries. This determination plays a significant role in the damages awarded to the injury victim.

Premises Liability

In premises liability cases, accidents and injuries are linked to mishaps that occur on an owner’s property, which may be a private home, business property, or government entity. Property owners and occupants of the premise are required by law to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition to prevent accidents and injuries to people on the property.

Premises liability accidents often occur at private residences, retail stores, shopping malls, grocery stores, restaurants, and in parking lots. Common causes of these injuries include:

  • Obstructed walkways
  • Damaged carpets and stair treads
  • Uneven flooring surfaces
  • Wet or slippery floors
  • Potholes and cracks in parking lots
  • Dog bites

Personal Liability

While premises liability cases are based on the property owner’s negligence, personal liability cases are based on the personal negligence of a person, company, or government agency. Personal liability accidents and injuries are often caused by car, truck and motorcycle accidents, and may involve reckless and impaired drivers. They may also be caused by falls, sports activities, and acts of intentional harm.

In personal liability cases, the person, company, or government agency that’s at fault for the accident can be held liable for the injury victim’s damages. Injury victims are entitled to pursue legal claims through personal injury lawyers to recover damages for medical expenses, property damages, and lost income.

Understanding the Illinois Premises Liability Act

To clarify what is the difference between premises liability and personal liability, it’s important to understand the Illinois Premises Liability Act. This act seeks to ensure that property owners take the necessary steps to maintain safe premises for licensees and invited guests. Under the Illinois Premises Liability Act, if a property owner fails to take reasonable care to prevent accidents and injuries on his/her property, one may hold the property owner accountable for related damages.

Duty to Licensees and Invitees

The first section of the Illinois Premises Liability Act addresses licensees (guests visiting the property for entertainment) and invitees (invited guests). Under this act, property owners are required to provide the same standard of reasonable care for both types of visitors to their property. Reasonable care means a property that is properly maintained and free of hazards that may cause accidents and injuries.

If known property hazards do exist, property owners should warn licensees and invitees of such hazards to prevent accidents and injuries. This may include warning entrants of dangers and defects by putting out hazard signs or orange cones, roping off certain areas, and restricting entrance to certain areas. Illinois premises liability attorneys often see injuries caused by negligent owners who don’t take the time to take precautions.

Recreational Visitors

illustration of a hunter

The Illinois Premises Liability Act also addresses a property owner’s responsibilities for visitors who use the premises for off-roading activities or shooting firearms. This Act protects property owners who accommodate such activities from criminal liability that arise from noise, sound emissions, public nuisance, and private trespass. However, property owners can be held liable for injuries caused by willful and wanton acts outside the normal use of the property.

Duty to Trespassers

Under the Illinois Premises Liability Act, Illinois property owners generally do not owe any duty of care to adult trespassers. This act only applies to licensees and invited guests. Under the law, trespassing is considered to be a willful and wanton act that violates the law.

Receiving Compensation for Accident Injuries

Premises liability claims and personal liability claims are commonly handled by insurance companies that represent at-fault parties and attorneys who represent injury victims. In many cases, these types of claims are resolved by settlement agreements.

A premises liability claim focuses on the location where you are injured, while a personal liability focuses on the person who caused the injury. However, in some cases, both types of claims may exist simultaneously. 

For instance, if an accident occurs on a property that’s being developed, a Chicago construction injury may occur. It may be difficult to sort out fault for the injury without understanding what is the difference between premises liability and personal liability. Is the homeowner at fault, or is the construction company that hired the worker at fault? What if the construction worker had a fall due to defective scaffolding or defective equipment? Is the homeowner responsible just because the fall occurred on his/her property?

Whatever the circumstances, insurance companies are usually involved in sorting out compensation for damages. For instance, injuries that occur on personal property such as falls and dog bites may be covered under homeowners’ insurance. Injuries caused by car accidents may be covered by the at-fault driver’s car insurance.

If the injury victim files a premises liability lawsuit or an accident claim, it’s likely that compensation for injuries will be handled between an insurance company and an attorney, either in court or through a settlement agreement. Damages may be awarded for the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation and therapy costs
  • Medication costs
  • Lost income and/or future lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disabililty or the loss of the normal enjoyment of life
  • Property damages

Accident and injury claims can be complex, especially when injuries are severe or result in impairments and disabilities. If you’re injured in an accident, it’s best to consult an attorney who knows what is the difference between premises liability and personal liability. This ensures that you receive adequate and fair compensation to cover all of your damages. Call the experienced attorneys at Jeffrey M. Goldberg Law Offices at (312) 236-4146.

About The Author

Photo of Jeffrey  Goldberg
Attorney Jeffrey M. Goldberg has spent his entire professional career handling cases involving birth injury, medical malpractice, product liability and related accidents.