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Are Property Owners Liable for a Slip and Fall Injury?

Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of personal injury claims filed in Pennsylvania. Victims of slip and falls can suffer painful physical injuries, substantial medical bills, lost wages and – in many cases – long-term health problems. Most slip and fall accidents can be traced back to property owner negligence. In these situations, the property owner can be held liable, or financially responsible, for the victim’s injuries with proof of fault.

How Does Premises Liability Law Work?

Slip and fall accident cases fall under the umbrella of a larger practice area known as premises liability law. In Pennsylvania, premises liability laws hold property owners legally accountable for preventable accidents and incidents that take place on their premises. This includes slip and falls that should have been prevented with ordinary care by the owner. Working with a skilled premises liability attorney in Pittsburgh to prove a slip and fall accident claim requires proof of the following elements:

  1. The accused party (defendant) owned or controlled the land or building where the slip and fall accident took place.
  2. The defendant should have, through the exercise of reasonable care, discovered the unsafe condition.
  3. The defendant failed to reasonably protect lawful visitors against a known danger, hazard, or slip and fall accident risk.
  4. The victim suffered compensable damages because of the defendant’s negligent property maintenance or care.

The duties of care that a property owner owes a visitor depend on the status of that visitor. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care. Anyone who was invited to enter the land as a member of the public, such as a business visitor, must be treated with the utmost care by the property owner. Licensees are owed lesser duties of care but can still expect a reasonably safe premises. Trespassers are not owed any duties of care, with an exception for children under the age of 18.

The Comparative Negligence Defense 

Many slip and fall accident claims are met with a defense known as comparative negligence. In Pennsylvania, the modified comparative negligence law states that as long as a victim is found to be less than 51 percent responsible for an injury, he or she can still seek financial compensation. However, the financial recovery available will be reduced by the victim’s percentage of fault. 

Pennsylvania’s premises liability laws state that if a dangerous condition is known or obvious, this may free the property owner of liability for injuries caused by that condition. If a reasonable and prudent visitor would have noticed the hazard, the property owner may be able to use this to avoid liability for a related slip and fall accident. An attorney can help you combat this defense tactic if it arises during your claim.

Evidence to Collect After a Slip and Fall Injury

If you get injured in a slip and fall accident in Pittsburgh, there are steps you should take to start establishing the grounds of a premises liability claim. Your attorney must establish the elements of your case as more likely to be true than not. If you can, collect the following types of information and evidence after a slip and fall to support your injury claim:

  • Photographs of the scene of the accident and dangerous property condition
  • Footage from any surveillance cameras
  • An accident or incident report
  • The clothes and shoes you were wearing when you fell
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Medical records and billing statements

After you contact a slip and fall accident attorney in Pittsburgh, the law firm will investigate your accident and collect evidence for you. This may include property maintenance logs and other evidence showing that the property owner negligently failed to prevent your accident. With legal help from an experienced Pittsburgh personal injury attorney, a successful slip and fall accident case could result in payment for your medical bills, lost wages, and more.

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