For property owners, ensuring the safety of those who enter onto their land can be a source of anxiety due to the fear of liability for injury or death. This is especially true for property owners who are engaged in dangerous activities on their property, who have a dangerous condition on their property, or who have a lot of traffic on their property.
Different states have different laws when it comes to premises liability. While some states make distinctions between different categories of individuals who enter onto a property owner’s land, assigning different legal obligations landowners have to these different groups, Illinois does not make such distinctions.
In Illinois, property owners simply owe all individuals who enter onto their property a reasonable duty of care under the circumstances, both with respect to the condition of the premises and the property owner’s actions or omissions on the property. This means that property owners are expected to act reasonably with regard to the safety of those coming onto their property.
Because the rule of reasonable care is the guiding factor in Illinois premises liability cases, property owners do not have an absolute legal duty to protect others from dangerous conditions known to them, or dangerous which are open and obvious, or which could be reasonably discovered by others. Neither do property owners have an absolute duty to warn others of hidden defects or dangers on the property, whether known or unknown, nor a duty to protect or warn others about misuse of the premises or anything on the premises.
State law assigns specific rights to property owners with respect to off-road riding facilities and firing ranges. In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic, particularly with respect to property owners’ obligations regarding trespassers.