Many people believe that if they slip, fall, and suffer an injury, they automatically have a personal injury claim against the property owner. Slip and fall injuries, however, do not lead to viable personal injury claims unless there is adequate evidence that the property owner was negligent in some way. An Indiana, PA personal injury lawyer could evaluate the circumstances of your fall and determine whether your incident merits a personal injury lawsuit.
Filing Western, PA Slip and Fall Claims
Premises liability cases, which concern the legal duty of property owners to maintain their property for the safety of others, often involve slips and falls. These accidents may occur due to various hazards or dangerous conditions on the property, such as the following:
- Slippery floors due to weather conditions or spills
- Broken or crumbling stairs, wobbly or missing handrails, or poor lighting
- Loose carpeting, unsecured floor mats, or uneven floor tiles
- Cracked or broken sidewalks or sidewalks not cleared of snow and ice
A slip and fall claim can result from any dangerous condition that exists on property belonging to others, whether it is a private residence or a public place. Guests or customers at a hotel, store, or restaurant all expect safety when they visit these establishments and property owners must keep their property reasonably safe. When property owners fail to live up to this duty, injury victims may wish to consult with a slip and fall attorney in Indiana, PA.
Three Classes of Visitors
While landowners owe a duty to every visitor to protect them from harm, the requirements vary based on the visitor’s status. Pennsylvania law separates visitors into one of three classes, each with their own level of protection.
The first class is trespassers, who are owed the lowest duty of the three classes. Trespassers are people who enter or stay on someone’s property without the owner’s permission. The owners must only refrain from causing intentional or wanton harm to trespassers.
The second class is licensees, which include those who enter land with permission for their own benefit, such social guests at a party. The owners must warn licensees of known and concealed dangers that may cause harm.
The third category are invitees, which are those enter land for the benefit of the owner, such as to buy a product. The owners in these situations have an obligation to actively inspect their land for defects and warn invitees of any potentially damaging hazards.
A Western PA slip and fall attorney could help individuals understand what degree of protection they were owed.
Property Owner Liability
Various factors impact whether property owners will be liable in a slip and fall accident. One major factor is whether the property owners knew, or reasonably should have known, about the hazard that caused the injury. If the property owners knew about the danger, an attorney could investigate how long the property owner knew about the dangerous condition before the accident and whether the property owner took any steps to remedy the condition.
Other relevant factors may include whether the property owner took any steps to warn others of the hazard, such as posting signs or cones or issuing warnings to customers. Another consideration is how likely it was that the condition would result in harm to others. A slip and fall lawyer in Western PA could be able to examine each of these factors and determine the validity of any personal injury claims.
Another factor that an attorney could investigate is whether the property owner caused or created the dangerous condition. Property owners are not allowed to create dangerous conditions in areas where they know or reasonably believe other individuals may be present. For instance, our premises liability lawyers have pursued claims where homeowners have negligently discharged rainwater from a downspout onto their sidewalk, creating a dangerous condition and the potential for severe injury.
What is Comparative Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases?
While a landowner may be responsible for an injury that takes place on their property, they are not always liable to pay for all a person’s losses. These defendants may raise the affirmative defense of modified comparative negligence in an attempt to limit their payments.
Comparative negligence means that an injured party may share some of the blame for an accident. If the victim was partially at fault for the fall,the jury must reduce the claimant’s award by the percentage of blame that the victim committed. According to 42 P.S. §7102, if a jury believes a claimant to be 50 percent or more to blame, it cannot award any payment.
What is the Deadline for Indiana, PA Slip and Fall Claims?
Like other states, Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations or legal timeframe in which individuals must file lawsuits. These statutes of limitations often differ according to the type of lawsuit involved. Under Pennsylvania law, 42 P.S. § 5524, individuals generally have two years from the date of the accident that resulted in their injuries to file their personal injury claim.
Pennsylvania law does contain other requirements in certain cases, such as in the case of personal injury claims against government entities. In that case, injury victims have only six months to give a statutory written notice to the government body, or the claim could be barred.
Pursuing Claims for their Proper Value
Demonstrating landowner fault in a slip and fall case is only one part of a successful claim. It also falls on a claimant to show how that injury has caused the harm. The most obvious impact is a physical injury. It is not unusual for slips and falls to result in broken bones, separated joints, or severe head injuries.
In addition, many people also endure emotional traumas. If a fall forces a person to miss time with their children, or to quit a favorite hobby, the landowner must also provide compensation for these changes in lifestyle. Defendants are also responsible to provide compensation for lost income. If someone who suffered harm from a fall missed time at work to seek treatment or is left unable to work at all while making a recovery, the landowner must reimburse them for all lost pay. A Western PA slip and fall attorney could help measure a party’s losses and demand all appropriate payments.
Contact a Western, PA Slip and Fall Attorney for Advice
If you slip and fall on property belonging to others, you may end up with severe injuries that necessitate medical care and may cause permanent impairments, such as back and neck injuries. A Western, PA slip and fall lawyer could help assess the facts and circumstances surrounding your slip and fall accident and determining whether you are eligible to file a personal injury claim. Contact an attorney today.