A sudden fall on someone else’s property can have deceptively devastating consequences, especially if you land at an awkward angle or onto an unforgiving surface. However, if you want to hold the property owner legally liable for an accident of this nature, you may be in for a difficult legal battle—especially if you go into it without capable legal counsel on your side.
A skilled personal injury attorney’s assistance can be invaluable not just to establishing that a landowner should pay for your injuries and losses from an unexpected fall, but also to maximizing the amount of compensation you can get out of a case. If you were hurt by slipping or tripping over a hazardous property condition, meeting with a Bedford County slip and fall lawyer should be your top priority after getting necessary medical care.
Importantly, Pennsylvania state law does not hold property owners automatically at fault for every injury that occurs on his or her property, primarily because it does not consider property owners equally responsible for protecting every visitor that comes onto his or her land. Legal liability for a fall depends on the legal status of the victim, as well as on the nature of the defect and what the property owner did or not do in response to it.
The first category includes Business Invitees. A Business Invitee is owed the highest duty of care. Business Invitees include customers in stores, whether or not they make a purchase. The store has an obligation to affirmatively inspect its property for dangerous conditions and take steps to eliminate those dangers.
The second category includes Licensees. A Licensee is a person such as a social guest who visits a friend’s home. A property owner’s duty to Licensees is to correct any dangerous conditions of which the property owner is or should have been aware. This differs slightly from the “inspection” obligation owed to Business Invitees.
The third category includes Trespassers, meaning those who are on another’s property without permission. The only duty owed to Trespassers is to not create affirmative dangerous, such as trip wires or open pits.
Even if a landowner does owe a “duty of care” to a visitor, that visitor would only have grounds for civil litigation after a slipping or tripping accident if he or she can prove that accident happened directly because of the landowner’s negligent failure to meet that duty of care. For example, a landowner who irresponsibly leaves a patch of ice outside his or her storefront for several hours may be liable for injuries sustained by a customer who slips on it, but the same liability might not apply if that customer were to slip on a spill in a store aisle that happened only seconds earlier.
Fortunately, any person who can prove a landowner liable for his or her slip and fall injuries can demand compensation for the full value of all ensuing losses—including medical bills, lost work income, physical pain, and various effects of long-term disability if applicable. A qualified Bedford County trip and fall attorney could discuss more details during a private consultation.
Another important thing slip and fall victims should know is that they may miss out on compensation if they are found partially to blame for causing their own injuries. If a person slips or trips and falls in part because he or she was running when they should have been walking, was wearing inappropriate footwear, or was just not paying attention to his or her surroundings, 42 P.S. §7102 allows a court to proportionately reduce his or her total available compensation based on the percentage of total blame he or she holds for the accident.
Furthermore, any person found more at fault than all other parties involved in his or her claim combined is ineligible to recover any compensation whatsoever, even if a landowner was still somewhat to blame for the accident. A diligent slip and fall lawyer in Bedford County could provide irreplaceable help fighting back against allegations of “comparative fault” that might otherwise limit available restitution.
Understanding your rights after an unexpected fall can be crucial to ensuring your future financial stability and personal wellbeing. Actually enforcing those rights, on the other hand, can be almost impossible if you try to do it alone—regardless of whether you have past experience as a plaintiff in a civil claim.
Retaining a Bedford County slip and fall lawyer at Marcus & Mack could make a world of difference in your chances of securing a positive case outcome. Call today to learn more.
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