Summary of Pennsylvania law and process when pursuing a premises liability case.
What is Premises Liability?
The term premises liability includes a variety of ways in which people are injured by careless conduct of others, ranging from slip and falls, to dog bites, to claims of improper maintenance of property, to accidents on construction sites. It is a catch-all phrase that generally refers to claims against owners or occupiers of land.
We have handled cases involving construction accidents, falls down elevator shafts, injuries on stairs, falls on slippery sidewalks or in stores or restaurants, injuries caused by hunting accidents, among others.
What are the duties of a property owner?
In Pennsylvania, the duties of a property owner depend upon the status of the person injured--are they an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser? Most cases involve injuries to invitees.
With respect to an invitee, property owners have a responsibility to inspect their property periodically and to make repairs and correct dangerous conditions. This is particularly true if the property is held out for the use of the general public. How frequently they must inspect and correct dangers depends on how the property is used. For example, a store that invites the public on to its property so that it can make money off of them has a responsibility to frequently and diligently look for hazards.
What is "causation" in a premises liability case?
That simply means that we have to prove that the defective or dangerous condition, or the careless behavior, caused the injuries and damages we are claiming. There must be a connection between the conduct and the injury.
Is comparative or contributory negligence ever applicable in these cases?
Yes, frequently the question of whether the injured person contributed to their injury is an issue. For example, if you slip on a slick entry way in a store, the store will try to claim that you should have seen that the floor was not properly prepared or maintained and avoided the danger. This is an issue we must address head-on in order to help you win your case.
What damages are available in premises liability lawsuits?
Typical damages include compensation for medical expenses and lost wages in the past and the future, as well as non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life's pleasures, and harm to your marriage.
What should I do if I am injured and think I have a case?
First, get prompt and proper medical treatment to enhance your ability to get well from your injuries. If you are able to do so, pay attention to and document whatever caused your injury. Take photos if you can, or ask someone else with you to do so. Try to get names of independent witnesses. Report your injury to the person in charge if you are in a business when you are hurt. And consult with an experienced attorney, in particular before you make a decision about speaking with an insurance company about your case.
How long do I have to file a premises liability claim?
Pennsylvania has a 2 year statute of limitations, meaning that you must file a lawsuit identifying the proper party within 2 years of the date you were injured.
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