Every property owner in Indiana, PA has an obligation to keep their land safe for visitors. As a result, many people believe that whenever they suffer an injury on another’s land, the property owner is automatically liable to provide compensation, which is not always the case. True, people who suffer injuries while visiting another’s property may be able to collect compensation, but they must be able to show that a landowner was negligent in not providing proper protection or a reasonably safe environment
A Western PA premises liability lawyer could help you establish that the landowner failed to take appropriate care under the circumstances. An experienced personal injury attorney could gather evidence concerning the incident, apply that evidence to Pennsylvania’s premises liability laws, and pursue your claim for all appropriate compensation.
Examples of Premises Liability
A premises liability claim alleges that a defective or dangerous condition of property causes a personal injury. A classic example is a slip and fall that happens when a landowner does not clear ice off of a sidewalk. Here, the landowner failed to keep his or her land safe for pedestrians who have a right to use that sidewalk.
Other premises liability cases allege that landowners are liable because they did not fix dangerous conditions on their land, including broken steps, defective hand railings, or even broken elevators.
Finally, landowners may be liable if they allow incidents to occur on their land because of poor security. Hotels should place locks on all doors, apartment complexes should limit access to only residents, and restaurants and bars should take steps to provide proper security measures. An Indiana, PA premises liability lawyer could help injured people to evaluate the actions of landowners to determine whether that landowner is responsible for an injury.
How Does One Prove Landowner Fault in a Premises Liability Case?
Just because an injury occurs on the property of another party does not mean that that party is liable. Generally, injured plaintiffs must prove that a landowner knew or with a reasonable inspection should have known about the dangerous condition that caused the injury.
First, plaintiffs must establish their permission to enter the land in question. This can be either as a business patron or as a social guest on private property. In general, there is no duty on the part of landowners to protect trespassers. The only duty owed to a trespasser under Pennsylvania law is to warn of dangerous conditions on the property that the landowner actually knows about.
Second, a plaintiff must show that a landowner knew or should have known about a defective condition. This can include introducing evidence that a temporary hazard such as a spill remained on a floor for a sufficient period of time before a fall. Alternatively, a plaintiff may prevail if the landowner actively created the dangerous condition that caused the injury.
Finally, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a defendant did not take appropriate steps to remedy the situation. Examples can include not taking prompt action to fix a temporary hazard, failing to place signs warning of a broken step, or failing to cordon off the affected area.
In all premise liability cases, a court must also examine the actions of the injured plaintiff. Because Indiana, PA is in a modified comparative negligence state, courts must utilize 42 Pa. C.S. §7102 to allocate negligence following an accident. If a court believes that a plaintiff is partially responsible for their own injuries, the court will reduce that plaintiff’s award by their percentage of fault. An Indiana, PA premises liability lawyer may be able to prove the defendant landowner was at fault and protect plaintiffs from allegations of contributory negligence.
What are the Types of Visitors?
The mere fact that an injury occurs on another person’s property does not automatically guarantee success. A claimant must first prove that the owner had a duty to provide protection.
Premises liability cases separate visitors into three classes: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Each of these classes have their own level of protection under Pennsylvania law.
Invitees enjoy the highest level of protection. These are people who enter land for the benefit of the owner, such as customers in a store. The property owner must conduct inspections of the property and maintain the land in a reasonably safe condition and warn visitors of any dangers that may cause injury.
Licensees also enjoy protection under the law. These people enter land for their own benefit, such as to attend a party. Owners here must only warn visitors of concealed dangers on the property that may cause harm.
Trespassers enter or remain on land without the owner’s permission. The owners here must only refrain from causing willful or wanton damage to the visitor. As a result, trespassers might be unable to recover compensation resulting from injuries except in special circumstances. A Western PA attorney could further clarify Pennsylvania’s classification of visitors in premises liability claims.
Statute of Limitations
Premises liability cases are similar to other personal injury cases, in that claims must meet the statute of limitations. This is the time limit that the law places on claimants to demand compensation through a lawsuit. This time limit also applies to seeking compensation through a settlement since defendants and their insurance companies will refuse to negotiate a payment if the time limit has expired.
Under 42 Pa. C.S. §5524, injured claimants must demand compensation for their losses no more than two years from the date of accident. A Western PA premises liability attorney could help to pursue claims within the applicable time limits.
Injuries that result from visiting another party’s property are surprisingly common. A landowner’s failure to shovel their sidewalks in a reasonable time period, or to fix a broken stair in an entryway may cause severe injuries that throw your life into chaos. Even if you make a full recovery, your damages may be significant.
A Western PA premises liability lawyer could take the lead in your case to pursue just compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.