Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Judgment for Defendant in Skating Rink Accident Case

One of the biggest issues in any trial is the instructions that the court provides to the jury during the trial and before the jury deliberates. Although the trial court judge determines which instructions it will provide to the jury, the parties can offer suggested instructions or ask the court to include or restrict certain information with regard to the instructions. This is why it is critical to have a seasoned Illinois personal injury lawyer assisting you in your lawsuit.

An Illinois appellate court recently issued an opinion involving a dispute about jury instructions. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff sued a roller rink after falling and suffering a broken wrist. At the time of the fall, the plaintiff was reportedly skating backward. After the close of evidence at trial, the plaintiff asked the court to instruct the jury regarding Illinois Civil Jury Pattern Instruction (IPI) 60.01. The plaintiff suggested adding three provisions to the instructions that were taken from the Roller Skating Rink Safety Act, which multiple witnesses had discussed in their testimony. The additions included a provision about how the operator was required to comply with common safety standards for roller rinks, to have at least one supervisor present on the floor for every 200 users, and to maintain the skating rink surface in a reasonably safe manner.

The roller rink offered its own suggested version of the instruction, which included a statute covering the responsibilities of skaters when they are using a roller rink, as well as their assumption of the risk of potential injuries. The trial court judge ultimately instructed the jury regarding the entire statute and also provided an instruction regarding comparative negligence. This is a doctrine that allows the jury to consider whether the plaintiff’s own conduct contributed to his or her injuries. After deliberations, the jury returned a verdict for the roller rink, and the plaintiff filed a motion seeking a new trial, based on her assertion that the judge provided confusing instructions. The judge initially denied the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial.

On appeal, the reviewing panel upheld the lower court’s use of the jury instructions, finding that there was sufficient language in the instructions to assist the jury with understanding the responsibilities of each party in addition to the role that the plaintiff’s assumption of the risk played in adjudicating liability. The appellate court also reviewed evidence in the record and concluded that the evidence supported the jury’s finding. The owner of the roller rink testified about maintenance of the facility and the operation’s compliance with the statute. Ultimately, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s judgment and dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal.

If you were injured in a recreational activity or in some type of accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the person who caused the accident to happen. Knowing whom you should sue, which expenses you are entitled to recover, and how to go about preserving your legal rights can be confusing. At Therman Law Offices, our seasoned team of personal injury lawyers is passionate about providing responsive and dedicated legal representation to Chicago accident victims. We offer a free consultation to assist you with learning about your legal rights. Call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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