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Slip-and-Fall Liability

Who is Liable for a Slip-and-Fall Accident in Pennsylvania?

A slip-and-fall accident occurs when an individual loses their footing and falls, leading to injury. If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident or a trip-and-fall accident, contact PhillyLaw for a free consultation with a slip-and-fall lawyer to learn more about how to recover compensation for your slip-and-fall case.

In Pennsylvania, liability for a slip-and-fall accident primarily hinges on the concept of negligence. Property owners, including businesses and homeowners, have a legal duty to ensure their premises are reasonably safe for visitors. If a property owner knows, or reasonably should know, about a hazardous condition on their property and fails to correct it or to warn others about the risk, they can be held liable if someone is injured as a result. However, the injured party must also prove that they were not acting negligently and that their injury was directly caused by the hazardous condition. This entails demonstrating that they were using the property as intended and were not disregarding any warnings about potential dangers.

Pennsylvania Law Governs Philadelphia Slip-and-Fall Personal Injury Cases

Under Pennsylvania law, slip-and-fall and premises liability cases are governed by both statutes and common law principles.

Understanding Negligence in Pennsylvania Slip-and-Fall Cases

Negligence in a slip-and-fall accident in Pennsylvania is based on the failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances. For a property owner to be deemed negligent, and therefore liable for damages, the following elements must be established:

  1. Duty of Care: The property owner or occupier had a duty to ensure the safety of the premises for visitors, tenants, or customers. This entails regular inspections to identify potential hazards.
  2. Breach of Duty: The property owner breached this duty by failing to address hazardous conditions. This could mean ignoring a spill, not repairing a damaged walkway, or neglecting to clear ice or snow within a reasonable timeframe.
  3. Causation: The breach of duty directly caused the accident. The injured party must prove that the accident was a foreseeable consequence of the neglected hazard.
  4. Damages: The accident resulted in actual damages, such as medical expenses, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, or other types of losses.

In summary, proving negligence in a slip-and-fall case in Pennsylvania necessitates showing that the property owner’s lack of action or precaution directly led to the incident and resulting injuries. Each case hinges on whether the property owner acted as a reasonable person would have under the same circumstances.

Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania

The Keystone State adheres to a modified comparative negligence system, which means that if a plaintiff is found partially responsible for their own injuries, their compensation can be reduced by their percentage of fault. If the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% responsible, they may be barred from receiving any compensation at all.

Statute of Limitations for Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawsuits

The statute of limitations for filing a slip-and-fall accident lawsuit in Pennsylvania is generally two years from the date of the accident. This timeframe is crucial, as failing to file within this period can result in the loss of the right to sue for damages.

Duty of Care Owed By a Property Owner in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania recognizes the doctrines of invitee, licensee, and trespasser with regard to the duty of care owed by property owners to others.

Invitee

An invitee, someone on the property for a mutual benefit like a customer in a store, is owed the highest duty of care while on someone else’s property, including regular inspections and repairs of the commercial property.

Licensees

Licensees, or those who are on someone else’s property for their own purposes but with the owner’s consent (such as social guests), must be warned of non-obvious dangers that the owner is aware of.

Trespassers

Finally, trespassers, or those on the property without permission, are owed the least duty, with property owners only needing to refrain from willful or wanton harm.

Premises Liability

Premises liability encompasses not only slip-and-fall accidents but also inadequate maintenance, defective conditions, and insufficient security, among other issues. For a property owner to be held liable in a premises liability case, it must be proven that they were negligent regarding the upkeep or safety of their property, and that this negligence directly resulted in the injury.

Damages Available from a Slip-and-Fall Incident

Victims of slip-and-fall accidents in Pennsylvania may be entitled to several types of damages to compensate for their losses. These damages can be broadly categorized into economic, non-economic, and, in rare cases, punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to cover the victim’s financial losses resulting from the accident. This can include medical expenses for treatments, surgeries, and rehabilitation, as well as lost wages if the injury prevents the victim from working. Furthermore, if the injury results in a long-term disability, victims may also be compensated for future lost earnings and medical care.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are awarded for the intangible losses suffered by the victim. These can encompass pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. Quantifying these damages can be complex as they do not have a direct financial impact but significantly affect the victim’s quality of life.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not commonly awarded in slip-and-fall cases but may be considered if the property owner’s actions were particularly egregious or reckless. The purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the victim but to punish the defendant for their behavior and deter similar conduct in the future.

The determination of damages in a slip-and-fall case requires a thorough evaluation of the impact of the injury on the victim’s life, both financially and emotionally. An experienced slip-and-fall lawyer can help victims assess the full extent of their losses and advocate for the maximum compensation possible under Pennsylvania law.

Common Causes of a Slip-and-Fall Accident

Common causes of slip-and-fall accidents are varied, stemming from both natural and human-made conditions.

Wet Floors or Icy Surfaces

Wet or icy surfaces rank as one of the most prevalent reasons for these incidents, often occurring outside of buildings during rain or snow, or inside when floors have been recently mopped or waxed without proper warning signs.

Uneven Surfaces

Uneven surfaces, including potholes in parking lots, cracked sidewalks, or abrupt changes in flooring, can also lead to trips-and-falls. Other common causes include cluttered floors, loose mats, rugs, or carpets, and exposed cables or wires that are not properly secured.

Poorly-Lit Areas

Poorly lit areas contribute to the risk, making it difficult for individuals to see potential hazards.

Inadequate Warning Signs

Neglecting maintenance and inadequate warning signs are also significant factors that can lead to a slip-and-fall accident. Understanding these common causes is crucial in both preventing accidents and establishing liability in the event of an injury.

Common Injuries from a Slip-and-Fall Incident

Slip-and-fall incidents can result in a wide range of fall injuries, some of which can have long-lasting effects on the victim’s health and overall well-being. Common fall injuries sustained in these accidents include but are not limited to:

  • Fractures and Breaks: Falling can easily lead to broken bones, with wrists, arms, and hips being particularly vulnerable. Elderly victims are at a higher risk of hip fractures, which can significantly impact their mobility and independence.
  • Head Injuries: Hitting the head during a fall can result in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), ranging from mild concussions to more severe conditions that can lead to long-term cognitive issues.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: A hard fall can damage the spinal cord, potentially leading to serious injuries like temporary or permanent paralysis and other sensory and neurological impairments.
  • Cuts and Abrasions: While not as severe as other injuries, cuts and abrasions can still lead to scarring, infections, and other complications if not properly treated.
  • Internal Injuries: Internal injuries are a serious consequence of slip-and-fall accidents, often not immediately apparent at the time of the accident. These can include internal bleeding, organ damage, or internal bruising, requiring prompt medical attention for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Soft tissue injuries, such as sprains and strains, may not be immediately apparent but can cause significant pain and disability, affecting the victim’s ability to work and perform daily activities.

The severity of slip-and-fall injuries can range significantly, with some victims recovering quickly while others may face lengthy periods of rehabilitation or even permanent disability. It’s crucial for victims to seek immediate medical attention after a fall to diagnose and treat any injuries properly and to document their injuries for potential legal claims.

PhillyLaw’s Commitment to Slip-and-Fall Accident Victims

PhillyLaw is deeply committed to assisting victims of slip-and-fall accidents. Our team of experienced attorneys understands the physical, emotional, and financial toll these incidents can have on individuals and their families. With a profound commitment to justice and client care, we diligently work to ensure that victims receive full and fair compensation for their injuries. At PhillyLaw, we believe that legal representation can be a pivotal factor in the recovery process, providing not just a pathway to recover compensation but also a sense of justice and closure for those affected by slip-and-fall accidents. Representation by a PhillyLaw slip-and-fall attorney is characterized by compassion, expertise, and relentless advocacy on behalf of our clients, ensuring that their rights are protected and their voices heard. If you have suffered injuries as the result of a slip-and-fall accident, contact the PhillyLaw law firm for a free consultation to learn more about how you can recover damages for your injuries.