Doctors in France have declared Michael Schumacher’s condition stable, but he remains in critical condition, NBC News reports. Schumacher, a world record holding Formula One racing champion, was skiing in the French Alps on December 29th when he hit an unseen rock and fell. He sustained serious brain injury after he hit his head on a rock farther down the mountain, said Sabine Kehm, Schumacher’s manager.
Injuries like this occur at ski resorts quite frequently. The company running the facility is always very careful to disclaim liability for injury upon their property. But brain injuries that occur because of dangerous conditions negligently allowed on a company’s property will sometimes result in compensation for the injured defendant and his family. Whether an injured victim can recover will often depend on what category he falls into while on the premises: trespasser, invitee, or licensee. The doctrine is called premises liability.
A trespasser is one who is on the land without permission, a category that does not apply here. An invitee is one who is on the land for the benefit of himself. If someone with a mountain on their land allows people to ski there free of charge, the skiers are invitees. Invitees may sue a landowner or tenant for injuries caused by dangers that the landowner/tenant knew or should have known about, but did not warn about.
That leaves licensees. Licensees are people who make use of the land of an owner/tenant for the benefit of the owner/tenant. People who come to ski on property for a price are licensees. At this point, the owner/tenant is not only liable for injuries caused by known hazards, but also for unknown hazards that could have been discovered through reasonable inspection of the grounds. While it is unclear in the case of Michael Schumacher whether the resort knew of the rocks, or even if the law of France would recognize a case for negligence in those circumstances, it is possible that a similar situation in the United States would result in the resort being held liable.
If someone incurs a brain injury, one of the unfortunate but necessary tasks is to evaluate the cost of the injury over the life of the injured person. This will include doctors’ bills and emergency medical costs. More importantly, it will include lost income for the projected length of the injured person’s work life expectancy. It may also include the mounting and possibly continuous cost of therapy to help the brain injured individual better navigate their life after having suffered traumatic brain injury. An experienced personal injury attorney has the resources to effectively evaluate the unfortunate mathematics necessary to obtain the level of recovery such a devastating injury demands.
Contact an Illinois Brain Injury and Premises Liability Attorney
The law is complex, especially in premises liability cases. The traditional common law rules have in some cases been supplanted by statutes passed by the Illinois General Assembly. When contracts containing disclaimers of liability are introduced to the situation, it becomes muddled and confusing. An experienced attorney knows the state of the law, and can put that knowledge to work for you. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact Willens & Baez at (312) 957-4166 for a free consultation.