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Approaching a Workplace Injury Case in Illinois Where There Are Multiple ‘Intertwined’ Entities That All May Be Liable to You

Sometimes, in marketing material, an auto accident attorney might advertise a commitment to getting you “everything you deserve.” That may refer to things like seeking forms of damages beyond just lost wages and medical expenses, like pain-and-suffering or punitive damages. If you are someone who was injured in a workplace accident, you also have a strong need for an aggressive Chicago injury attorney to help you get “everything you deserve” as, in your case, it may involve much more than pleading alternate forms of damages.

In your workplace accident lawsuit, reaching an outcome where you get a full recovery may involve doing the right “digging” to spot all the people or entities who, despite being less than obvious, still owed you a duty and are still liable to you.

Take, for example, J.F.’s unfortunate forklift accident at work. J.F. was significantly injured when, as she operated her forklift, “a storage rack filled with merchandise collapsed” onto her and her forklift, causing her injuries.

J.F.’s legal team recognized that she could sue not just her employer but also the owner of the Kane County building where the accident occurred. The woman’s theory of liability regarding the property owner was that it “had a duty to maintain a safe property for its invitees, employees, and licensees and breached that duty by permitting the property to remain in a dangerous condition.”

Specifically, the forklift operator’s legal team asserted that the property owner had the legal obligation to maintain the storage racks but that, despite that responsibility, the owner allowed the storage racks to remain in a state of disrepair that “created an unnecessarily dangerous working environment” for J.F.

The property owner sought to extricate itself from the case by arguing that it was merely a landlord and that the tenant, not it, had the duty to provide maintenance. According to the owner, the terms of its lease agreement placed almost all maintenance responsibilities on the tenant, placing the owner responsible only for maintaining the structure itself, the utility lines and the sewer pipes under the building.

Digging through layers of ownership to find two ‘intertwined’ entities

As it turned out, though, these two companies had more in common than just this lease agreement. There were many ownership commonalities between the owner and the tenant, which allowed the forklift operator to argue that the landlord and tenant were intertwined and that she was entitled to sue both of them.

The injured worker provided proof that both the owner and the tenant were LLCs held by a Kansas-based holding company that itself was owned by the American subsidiary of a parent company in India. The LLC that owned the facility where J.F. was injured existed solely to hold title to that property.

That argument of intertwined entities proved successful for J.F. in the appeals court. That court’s opinion noted that “the registered address of both” entities was identical, as was the manager of both LLCs. Furthermore, that manager was not just a manager to both… he was the only member of both LLCs.

That evidence and J.F.’s additional proof demonstrated adequate overlap between the LLCs to make out a plausible claim that both the owner and the tenant were intertwined entities and that she was entitled to seek compensation from both of them for her work injuries.

Sometimes, identifying the entity that is liable for your injuries is obvious. Other times, it is anything but clear. There may be layers upon layers of partnerships, corporations, LLCs and others. Identifying and naming the right defendants, then, relies upon a clear and detailed understanding of Illinois law as it relates to duty and liability. When you’re hurt in a workplace accident, you need an aggressive advocate who possesses that kind of detailed knowledge of Illinois law and how to deploy it for your benefit. Rely on the skilled workplace injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca to provide that type of strong and successful advocacy for you. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

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