When you enter the property of a homeowner, business, government entity, or park, you understandably expect that property to be safe. Nonetheless, nearly 6,400 premises liability cases were filed in Pennsylvania courts in 2019 by people harmed by unsafe conditions.
Under certain circumstances, if a homeowner, property owner, or business neglected to keep their premises safe, you may be able to recover compensation for damages including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
The team at Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C. is committed to helping clients injured by unsafe premises in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Delaware counties. Call to schedule a consultation today.
Premises liability is a term the refers to a property owner’s or occupier’s responsibility in maintaining their property in a manner that ensures the safety of people entering the property. Property owners and businesses owe a duty of care to others. The level of that duty varies, depending on whether the person injured was a trespasser, licensee, business invitee, or public invitee.
To prove liability, you must prove that the property or business owner owed you a duty of care, that they breached that duty, that the breach caused your injuries, and that your injuries resulted in damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, or pain and suffering. Pennsylvania also follows a “comparative negligence” rule, which means you could be found to be partially at fault for your injuries. If you are assessed to be more than 50% at fault, you are ineligible to seek compensation from the property or business owner.
In Pennsylvania, there is a two-year statute of limitations for filing premises liability claims. This means that the injured party must settle an insurance claim or file a civil suit in the appropriate state court within two years of the incident that caused their injuries.
Premises liability includes any unsafe condition that results in a person’s injuries. Some common liability incidents leading to injuries or even death involve:
Slip and falls
Trip and falls
Dog bites and other animal attacks
Swimming pool and other water accidents
Construction site accidents
Injuries caused by lack of or faulty security
Elevator and stairway defects
Property owners and occupiers owe a duty of care, regardless of whether the unsafe condition is public or private property. This means you can file a claim or sue a homeowner, even if that person is a family member, friend, or neighbor. You can take action against the corner bakery as well as a big-box store. You can even sue a governmental entity such as your municipal government or state highway department if they breached the duty of care they owed to you.
Although you cannot sue the owner of a property leased to someone else if your injuries were caused by the lessee’s negligence, you can sue that owner if the unsafe condition was their responsibility.
As with any personal injury claim in Pennsylvania, the law allows plaintiffs to recover economic compensatory damages, non-economic compensatory damages, and in some cases, punitive damages.
Economic compensatory damages include easily quantifiable damages like medical expenses, lost income, and in the case of a wrongful death claim, funeral expenses, and loss of future financial support.
Non-economic compensatory damages are more difficult to quantify, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, physical impairment and disfigurement, or loss of companionship.
Punitive damages are reserved for cases in which the negligent party displayed a willful, wanton, malicious, and reckless disregard for the safety of others. Punitive damages of a significant monetary sum may be awarded to punish the negligent party for failing to take steps to protect others.
Premises liability cases can be difficult to prove. It is wise to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to help investigate the circumstances, preserve evidence, negotiate aggressively with insurers and their attorneys and, if unable to settle a claim, litigate the case in court. If you were injured as a result of unsafe conditions on a property, you should consult with a personal injury attorney right away.
The team at Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C., builds relationships with clients in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding counties based on honesty and trust. The firm is committed to using knowledge of the law to help injury victims rebuild their lives. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, don’t wait. Call today to schedule a free case consultation.