Anyone who owns property in Pennsylvania may have a responsibility to make sure their property is in a safe and hazard-free condition, depending upon whether they are in or out of possession. If owners fail to properly maintain their property and someone is injured as a result, the injured party may be entitled to sue the property owner for compensation in a premises liability case.
Depending on the injury and the circumstances, awards for premises liability can be substantial. For example, a federal jury awarded a Bucks County woman over $800,000 in a Pennsylvania case that occurred at the Pathmark on Franklin Mills Avenue. The woman suffered multiple injuries, including a dislocated right shoulder with four fractures, a fractured knee, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck injuries, back injuries, and depression.
If you or a loved one was injured or someone has died due to the negligence of a property owner, you may be entitled to compensation that could include monetary damages for medical and hospital expenses and for lost past and future wages and loss in wage horizon. You may also recover damages for non-economic damages that include loss of life’s pleasures, pain and suffering, emotion and physical distress, loss of consortium, society and services.
Pennsylvania premises liability laws are complex; and if your case is not handled correctly, you may never receive the compensation you are entitled to. It pays to seek the help of an experienced premises liability attorney to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
The experienced and compassionate Pennsylvania premises liability lawyers at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters know the law, the judges, the courts and the system and what you need to do to increase your chances winning a good settlement. Our attorneys have helped any number of Pennsylvania individuals and families who have suffered injuries win a good settlement.
What Pennsylvania Law Says
Owners of private, public and business properties in Pennsylvania have a “duty of care” to inspect and maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition and to protect people entering their property from dangers or injuries. If they fail to do so and their negligence results in an injury, they may be held liable.
In a premises liability case, negligence must be proved by showing:
- The owner had a duty of care to the injured party.
- There was a “breach” of or failure to fulfill that duty.
- This breach caused harm.
- The harm resulted in actual damages.
A duty of care exists for the various types of visitors to property that are recognized by law – invitees, licensees and trespassers.
- Invitees – An invitee is someone who has implied or express permission to enter the property for business (such as a customer of a store) or social (such as a dinner guest) reasons. A public invitee visits a property as a member of the public, such as a visitor to a museum or library. A duty of care involves discovering dangers and making them known to the invitee. Invitees are owed the highest level of duty of care.
- Licensees – A licensee is anyone who enters a property under authority of the law, such as police, firefighters, and emergency responders, and also people invited to the property for reasons that typically do not benefit the property owner. Licensees are owed a lessened degree of care than invitees, but owners must still take care of any known hazards.
- Trespassers – A visitor who has not been invited or approved to visit the property is a trespasser. Property owners do not have a duty of care to protect trespassers, but owners are not allowed to intentionally inflict injury on a trespasser, and may be liable if they create a hazard and failed to reasonably warn trespassers.
- Trespassing children – Property owners have a duty to ensure that their property is safe for children who may be tempted to trespass and explore what are called “attractive nuisances,” such as swimming pools. Owners must prevent harm to children by limiting access to or removing hazards.
These categories are not wooden. Circumstances define what category a person falls into and there is a myriad of case law on the subject.
Types of Premises Liability
The following are common types of premises liability that cause injuries:
- Slips and fall-downs
- Failure to maintain the premises
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Defects in sidewalks, roadways, or uneven flooring
- Poor lighting in stairs or parking areas
- Falling debris or hanging hazards
- Carbon monoxide leaks
- Negligent security
- Construction sites or other workplace area accidents
- Unsafe elevators and escalators
Who Can be Held Liable?
In addition to property owners, there may be other people or entities that may be held responsible for injuries, including tenants, work crews, landlords, security guards and companies, and people whose intentional, criminal actions caused injuries.
Pennsylvania considers “comparative negligence” (whether the injured person contributed to their injury). Your settlement amount is reduced based on the percentage you are at fault; if your fault was greater than 50%, you cannot win any damages.
The defendant will often try to claim that you should have seen the hazard and avoided the danger, and it is up to your attorney to prove otherwise.
Statute of Limitations
Personal injury claims must generally be filed within two years from the date that the injury occurred or two years from the date the person knew or should have known, in the exercise of due diligence, that the injury was caused by another’s negligence. Notice is required within six months of an injury when bringing claims against government bodies in Pennsylvania. There are certain circumstances where that notice may not apply, and this too can be a complex component of a claim.
Contact an Attorney at Our Firm
If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died due to premises liability, you should get immediate legal assistance to protect your rights at every stage of your claim.
The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania premises liability attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters have spent decades honing their skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome. With our competent staff, we offer strength in experience while providing top-notch personal service.
If you or your loved one has suffered harm from someone else’s negligence, your next step should be to consult Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters by calling or using our online contact form. Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.