Premises liability accidents can happen anywhere. An innocent person can slip and fall in a grocery store, restaurant, parking lot, office building, or in another person’s home. Any building or land that is someone else’s property can become dangerous for others when the owners fail to keep their property free of hazards. Premises liability accidents occur anytime someone becomes injured because of a property owner’s negligence. Victims of premises liability accidents have a legal right to bring a lawsuit against the negligent property owner for damages resulting from their injuries.
How to Win a Premises Liability Lawsuit in Pennsylvania
Proving a premises liability lawsuit can be challenging. After medical malpractice lawsuits, premises liability lawsuits are among the most complex types of litigation in Pennsylvania. You will need to conduct a thorough investigation into the premises liability accident and gather evidence that shows the property owner knew or should have known about the condition that did not fix it.
The first step in winning a premises liability lawsuit is understanding Pennsylvania premises liability laws. A plaintiff who files a premises liability lawsuit needs to prove certain elements to succeed in obtaining damages. Specifically, the plaintiff will need to prove that the property owner knew or should have known that a danger existed on his or her property. The plaintiff must prove that the owner had adequate notice to fix the dangerous condition and failed to take steps to fix it promptly.
Proving Negligence in a Premises Liability Lawsuit
Under Pennsylvania law, property owners owe their guests and invitees to use a duty to keep their properties reasonably safe. Most premises liability lawsuits involve a guest or invitee. For example, if you are a customer, a friend, or a person walking in a public park, you are the property owner’s guest. Anytime you are lawfully on private or public property, courts will generally presume that the landowner owes you a duty of care.
The legal duty owed by commercial property owners is typically higher than private property owners. Additionally, property owners do not owe trespassers a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe. However, property owners can be held liable for injuries that children sustained due to dangerous conditions under Pennsylvania’s attractive nuisance doctrine.
You will need to prove that the landowner failed to repair a dangerous condition, did not take reasonable steps to maintain the property, or failed to warn you about a dangerous condition about which the landowner knew or should have known. Suppose a clothing retailer knows that ice and snow typically accumulate on the steps leading up to their entryway. In that case, the ice and snow are foreseeable hazards to customers, and the property owner has a duty to clear the dangerous conditions for customers’ safety.
Steps to Take After a Pennsylvania Premises Liability Accident
Becoming injured in a premises liability accident can be jarring and overwhelming. None of us anticipates suffering a serious personal injury when at work, running errands, or visiting someone in their home. However, knowing what to do after a premises liability accident can help you preserve your legal right to compensation. The steps you take after an accident are crucial for recovering the compensation you need.
Gathering evidence is one of the most important steps you can take immediately after a premises liability accident. The first thing you should do is call 911 and request immediate medical attention. If you can, take out your cell phone and take pictures of the dangerous condition or object that caused your accident. Suppose you were injured after slipping on a puddle of liquid at a grocery store. Try to take photographs of the substance on which you tripped and fell.
After a premises liability accident, it is common for the property owner or one of his or her employees to try to quickly clean up the liquid or debris that caused your accident. Obtaining photos of the dangerous condition can help you prove that your injuries were the property owner’s fault. If you see any witnesses to your accident, ask them for their contact information. Without cell phone video or CCTV footage, witness testimonies may be the only way to prove that the accident occurred.
Finally, hiring a premises liability attorney as soon as possible after your accident is crucial. Insurance companies typically begin calling victims very soon after the accident occurred to request a statement. You only have a limited amount of time to file a premises liability lawsuit and your lawyer will need to begin conducting research as soon as possible.
Due to the trauma of the accident, many victims accidentally admit fault for the accident. An attorney can help you give an accurate statement that protects your future compensation claim. An attorney can also help you negotiate with the insurance company so you do not accept an unfair settlement offer that is far too low.
Common Types of Premises Liability Lawsuits in Pennsylvania
Premises liability accidents can happen nearly anywhere, and they occur for a variety of reasons. Many premises liability lawsuits involve slip and fall or trip and fall accidents, but there are numerous ways in which a person can become injured on someone else’s property. Some of the many dangerous conditions on a person’s property that can cause premises liability accidents to include the following:
- Safety code violations
- Slippery or wet floors
- Unsafe or narrow stairways
- Inadequate lighting
- Merchandise falling from shelves
- Unbalanced floor
- Torn carpeting
- Uneven or cracked sidewalks
- Negligently maintained publicly-owned areas, such as potholes
- Tree branches falling on visitors
- Dangerous electrical wiring
- Toxic chemicals or fumes
- Swimming pool accidents
- Safety code violations
- Debris in a pathway
Contact a Pennsylvania Premises Liability Lawyer
If you or your loved one has become injured on another person or company’s property, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. The premises liability lawyers at Schwartz and Schwartz have a proven track record of obtaining compensation for our clients who have been injured on other people’s property. We have decades of experience with Pennsylvania premises liability laws, and our trial-ready lawyers are prepared to represent you. Contact our Pennsylvania premises liability lawyers today to schedule your free initial consultation.