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Seeing in the Dark

When my children were little, one of my pet peeves was that they would not turn off the lights when they left a room.  If it was dark and they were going upstairs to get something from their rooms, they would turn on the upstairs hall light; stop in and use the bathroom leaving the lights on; go to their room; grab what they needed and come back downstairs leaving their room, bathroom and hallway lights on.  I always saw it as an unnecessary waste of energy and money lighting an area that did not need it.  A compromise was achieved: I installed presence detectors.  They had light when needed; I had lights turned off when not needed.        

Recently, my partner, Bob Bingle, and I tried a jury case for an injured woman who needed the lights on the exterior back stairs of a small condo facility but did not have it.  The lights were turned off to cut expenses.  The jury returned a verdict for over a million dollars for her injuries.

Moral of trial?  Safety should never be compromised for expenses!  Whether you are a huge condo association with hundreds of members or a small association of 2 - 4 members, safety for your members and guests should always be priority one!

In Chicago, many apartments or condos have the typical Chicago back stairs: usually grey in color; wooden; exposed to the elements and, potentially, dangerous.  Wood gets slick when wet.  Snow may melt and re-freeze at night when temperatures fall.  Snow may be tracked up the steps from people using the stairs.

Safety mandates that good lighting be in operation from dusk to dawn.  Whether switches have to be thrown, automatic timers set and monitored, or photo sensitive detectors are used, if adequate lighting is not provided for visitors, a tragedy may happen.

In our case, a woman fell because she could not see a slippery step.  She fractured a knee and eventually had knee replacement.  Her life has been permanently changed.

We are all concerned about energy and costs.  But compromising safety to save a couple of bucks is a tragedy in the making.  Just ask my client.

  • Partner

    Francis Patrick Murphy - Patrick Murphy - a Chicago personal injury lawyer, has been with the law firm of Corboy & Demetrio since 1983 and became a partner in 1991. He regularly handles complex personal injury and wrongful death ...

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Corboy & Demetrio
33 N. Dearborn Street
21st Floor
Chicago, IL 60602