Pittsburgh PA Premises Liability Lawyer
Owners of businesses and other property on which the public enters for shopping, conducting business or entertainment purposes have a legal responsibility for public safety. If you were injured on a business, government or private property in Pennsylvania or Ohio, talk to a premises liability attorney at Dallas W. Hartman, P.C., with offices in New Castle, Hermitage, Butler and Erie, Pennsylvania.
What are the Common Types of Injuries for Premises Liability?
Many people think of premises liability as ‘slip-and-fall’ accidents. In fact, a property owner can be held liable for injuries resulting from any kind of accident that could have been prevented with appropriate consideration for public safety. Some typical premises liability cases include:
- Injuries from defective or dangerous overhead doors
- Injuries from falling products, equipment or materials
- Industrial accidents, workplace injuries, workers’ compensation claims
- Construction site accidents
- Injuries from assault, insufficient security
- Injuries from loose stair treads or handrails
- Parking lot and parking ramp pedestrian injuries
- Injuries from broken glass
- Electrical shock, burns or explosion injuries
- Swimming pool injuries
Property Owners’ Duty of Care
You cannot obtain compensation through a premises liability case without understanding the concept of duty of care. In personal injury law, a duty of care is someone’s legal obligation to treat another person in a reasonable manner. A property owner’s duty of care is called premises liability.
In Pennsylvania, property owners owe different duties of care depending on the type of visitor:
- Someone the owner invites onto a property. A property owner must make sure the property remains in a reasonably safe condition for invitees.
- Someone with legal authorization to enter a property. A property owner must warn licensees of dangerous conditions that may not be conspicuous.
- Someone who has entered a property without permission or legal authorization. A property owner does not owe any duties of care to a trespasser unless the trespasser is under the age of 18.
It is a property owner’s responsibility to fulfill these duties of care to the best of his or her ability. If a property owner carelessly or deliberately does not fulfill these duties, he or she is negligent. Negligence can lead to a poorly maintained or defective property that puts visitors at risk of serious injuries.
Proving Negligence in a Premises Liability Case
Once you file a premises liability case in Pennsylvania, it becomes your burden of proof to show using clear evidence that the property owner is legally responsible for your accident. The burden of proof in a premises liability case is a preponderance of the evidence: enough evidence to show that the property owner is more likely than not (at least 51%) responsible for the accident.
Proving negligence in a premises liability case requires establishing four elements:
- Duty of care. The property owner owed you a legal duty of care.
- Breach (negligence). The property owner did something that breached his or her duty of care.
- The property owner’s mistake was the proximate cause of your accident.
- You suffered actual damages in the accident, such as physical injuries or property damage.
You will need enough evidence to prove your premises liability claim as more likely to be true than not true. Evidence may include eyewitness accounts of the accident, video footage or photographs, an accident report, medical records describing your injury, notes from your doctor, and expert witness testimony.
Damages in Premises Liability Cases
In premises liability law, damages refer to the financial compensation available to make you whole again after an accident or injury. The damages available to you during a premises liability case in Pittsburgh will depend on how the accident impacted you and your family. Pennsylvania law allows you to seek recovery for both economic (tangible) and noneconomic (intangible) damages:
- Past and future medical expenses
- The costs of ongoing rehabilitation or physical therapy
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering (physical pain and emotional distress)
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Catastrophic injuries or disability
- Legal fees and out-of-pocket costs
- Punitive damages
If you wish to discuss how much your premises liability case could be worth, consult with an attorney in Pittsburgh. An attorney will review your losses to give you an accurate determination of how much your case is worth. Then, your attorney will help you demand an adequate amount for your losses from a property owner’s insurance company.
What Should I Do If I Was Injured on Someone Else’s Property?
Go to a hospital in Pittsburgh as soon as possible. This is important to show an insurance company that you are seriously injured. You should also document your accident if you can, such as by taking photographs of the dangerous property defect while still at the scene of the accident. Report the accident to someone at the scene, as well, such as a store manager or the property owner. Then, contact a premises liability lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?
Business owners are particularly quick to want to settle with people who have been injured on their property. You may be contacted by an insurance adjuster within days after an accident. We advise you not to discuss your case until you talk to a qualified, experienced premises liability accident attorney. We offer a free consultation and will advise you of your rights and your legal options for obtaining a full and fair settlement.
Free Consultation · No Attorneys’ Fees Unless You Recover Money Damages
From our offices in New Castle, Hermitage, Butler and Erie, Pennsylvania, our Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys represent clients in communities throughout the Greater Northern Pittsburgh metro region and throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. Call us in Pittsburgh at tel:(412) 262-2888 or toll free at 1-800-777-4081 or contact us by e-mail to arrange a free consultation with an experienced Pittsburgh premises liability lawyers today.