Premises Liability

slip and fall attorney

Slip and Fall and Premises Liability Lawyers in Philadelphia

Handling Injury Cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

We all have a responsibility to keep our property safe for visitors. This is true whether the property is owned by an individual or a business. It is also true regardless of whether the property is rented or owned. If the owner or manager fails to keep the property safe and you get hurt, you might have what is known as a premises liability case. Common sources of injuries include:

  • Dangerous stairs
  • Uneven pavement or floors
  • Wet floors
  • Icy paths
  • Hazards where people walk
  • Falling items
  • Improper security
  • Dog bites
  • Poor lighting
  • Malfunctioning elevators or escalators
  • Unsafe amusement park rides

If you suffered an injury due to the negligence of a property owner or manager, reach out to our experienced premises liability attorneys. We are here to help you seek compensation for your harm.

The Cause of Your Injury Matters in Premises Liability Cases

Frequently, people assume if they are injured on someone else’s property, especially in business, that the owner will be financially liable. For example, perhaps you tripped and fell on some stairs, or slipped because something spilled in a grocery store. However, the law does not work like that. You must be able to show that the property owner was negligent in order to be successful in a lawsuit. Due to the complexity of proving premises liability cases, it is critical to have qualified attorneys on your side who have experience handling these types of claims.

Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Claims

If you fall or otherwise injure yourself in a store or other property in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, your attorney must be able to build an appropriate claim against the responsible party. Such claims are based under a legal theory called negligence

Business Must Keep Customers Safe

The first part of negligence involves the duty of care a property owner owes their guests. Duty simply means the requirement to act with a certain level of care. For there to be liability, the defendant must owe you a duty.

Business owners encourage visitors in order to receive a financial benefit. As a result, commercial properties that receive customers have the highest level of responsiblity to keep their guests safe from harm. Non-commercial property owners have a duty to their guests as well. For example, landlords must keep their property safe for their tenants. Similarly, homeowners have must keep their property safe for their guests. Trespassers, on the other hand, are not entitled to the same level of protection as everyone else. When property owners fail to meet their duty of care, they can be held liable for the resulting harm their guests suffer.

Attractive Nuisance – An Exception for Children

The rule for duty of care is different for children in premises liability cases. If a property has what is called an attractive nuisance and a child gets injured using it, even without permission, the owner could be held liable. An attractive nuisance includes such things as a trampoline, swimming pools without a proper fence, or farm equipment that is not properly secured. It can also include an unsecure construction site. If you have a young child who was hurt due to an attractive nuisance, you may be able to seek compensation on your child’s behalf.

Was There a Dangerous Condition On The Property?

In order to be successful in premises liability cases, you must be able to prove that there was a dangerous condition on the property that caused your injury, and one of the following:

  1. The responsible party caused the dangerous condition that hurt you. For example, an employee of the store spilled soap, failed to clean it up and you fell and got hurt.
  2. The responsible party knew about the dangerous condition and did not fix it. For example, a customer spilled soap, an employee of the store saw the spill, failed to put any warning, failed to clean it up, and you fell and got hurt.
  3. The responsible party should have known about the dangerous condition and did not fix it. For example, it is the store’s practice to check for spilled substances every hour. The responsible employee failed to check the store on time. Someone spilled soap, no one cleaned it up, and you fell and got hurt. The store should have known about the soap. It is reasonable to expect a store to check and make sure that there are no hazards, and the failure to do so could give rise to a claim for your injuries.

Did You Have Any Responsibility For Your Injury?

In premises liability cases, if someone is responsible for their own injury, they may not be able to receive compensation. People are expected to take care as they walk around, and therefore, it is necessary to review their actions. A frequent defense to premises liability cases is to blame the injured party.

Pennsylvania uses comparative negligence to determine eligibility for compensation. Comparative negligence means that if the injured person shares a percentage of responsibility, any financial compensation gets reduced by that amount. However, if you are found 51% or more responsible for your own injury, you cannot receive any compensation at all.  New Jersey uses comparative negligence in premises liability cases as well. Your share of the responsibility for your injury must be no greater than 50% in order to receive compensation.

An example of such a situation might be one in which soap was spilled, an employee cleaned it up, marked the area with a sign and put tape around to keep people from walking through the dangerous spot. However, you moved the tape, walked into the area and fell. Under such a scenario, it would be very unlikely that you could receive any compensation at all.

Is There Strict Liability? Dog Bite Cases Are Different

In a limited number of circumstances, a doctrine called strict liability can impact your ability to recover compensation. For example, dog bite cases fall under strict liability. Strict liability means that you do not have to prove that the dog owner was careless. The fact that you were bitten is enough.

In Pennsylvania, the law provides for strict liability recovery of medical bills if you are bitten by someone else’s dog. This does not mean, however, that you will automatically receive compensation for pain and suffering or disfigurement. New Jersey has a strict liability statute as well. That statute specifically prevents trespassers from receiving compensation. Therefore, if you are trespassing on someone’s property and get bitten by a dog, you do not qualify for compensation under strict liability. 

This type of liability for dog-related injuries is limited to dog bites. If you get hurt by a dog running past you and knocking you down, the case falls under traditional negligence law. This means that you must prove that the dog owner or handler was negligent.

You Must Be Injured

The last requirement for a premises liability case is that you suffered some kind of injury. For example, if you fall and break a bone, or hit your head and suffer a traumatic brain injury, that would be the type of damage upon which to base a lawsuit. 

Hurt On Someone Else’s Property? We Can Help

If you were injured on someone else’s property you may have the basis for a premises liability case. No matter whether you fell, had something fall on you, were attacked due to unsafe conditions, or got injured by someone’s animal, you should check in with the experienced attorneys at Rodden, Rodden & Breslin for assistance.