Slip and fall cases are very common in our state, probably next to auto accidents they are the second most common cases that we practice. They would generally fall under what the law calls premises liability which simply means that the occupant of a particular property has not kept their premises safe for the people who walk or ride through that property. For example, some causes would be wet floors, snow and ice, and uneven pavements.
What Is The Legal Standard Surrounding Premises Liability In Pennsylvania?
The requirements of a property owner or someone occupying property differ depending on the type of person who becomes injured. If someone is trespassing on a property, the property owner has very little responsibility towards the trespasser. If someone is walking through the property, the property owner generally has to keep the property safe from any risks that the person passing through would not be aware of. In case of any business, a customer in a store or other circumstances where you have been invited into a public or a commercial area, that property owner has the highest duty of care to protect against things that you may or may not be able to see and keep that property safe at all times.
What Are The Conditions That Cause A Slip And Fall To Occur In A Store?
In any store, it could be all sorts of fluids on the floor, such as a customer that dropped a jar in a grocery store and the water was not cleaned up, or something can be leaking from the roof. It could be water or cleaning fluid that has been left by store employees or the cleaning crew. This would also cover in the context of a store what we call unsafe displays where property could fall or the product could fall off the shelves. Even outside the premises can be hazardous, such as uneven pavement, steps or stairs.
What Are The Conditions Where A Property Owner Would Be Held Liable And Vice Versa?
Most property owners know the laws regarding premise liability issues. They are responsible for the upkeep of their property. The question is in the context of the conditions of the store and especially if you are talking about something on the ground or on the floor that caused someone to slip or trip. Did the property owner know about the conditions prior to someone being injured? Was the hazard there for a long enough time for the store to have noticed it? But if someone is walking and spills something and the person behind him slips, then the store would not be held responsible. If the spill was left there for several minutes or enough time for a store employee to have noticed it and attended to it then the store would be responsible for any injury caused by that spill.
Are Accidents Outside The Store Or In The Parking Lot Also The Store Owner’s Liability?
Typically yes, the store owners are usually liable for outside the stores such as parking lots and sidewalks that they invite patrons to use. In a situation like a parking bumper, that would probably be the responsibility of the store. If it is a situation like snow or ice and the snow has not been removed or the parking lot has not been treated yet, the store is initially responsible, but they may well have a contract with a service that removes snow and ice and those folks might be responsible too in that circumstance, but generally, the store is the main party who is responsible.
How Difficult Is It To Determine Who Is At Fault In Those Situations?
Typically, it is just a matter of checking the property records to see who owns the property and who is at fault. The responsible party is the party who occupies any given premises as opposed to who owns it. The owner is not necessarily the occupant. If the property is rented to a particular store for the store to use, the store would be the occupant and therefore they would be responsible.
If the store is owned and occupied by the same party, then of course, they are responsible. But as far as who is responsible, it is just a matter of looking at the property records and then if there are other entities that might be responsible for a particular part of that property. Usually we can find that out once we start communicating with the defendant.
What Should A Person Do Following A Slip And Fall Injury?
The most important thing is to have good documentation of the area where someone fell. Best idea would be taking photographs of the area; of course after the immediate health issues are addressed, and if it is possible to get pictures of the areas with some things placed in the photo to show the dimensions, such as a dollar bill, a quarter or something of a known size so that in the case of a crack or an uneven area of sidewalk, this would be an indication of how significant the damage of the property area is.
If it is a slip inside of a store on some unknown fluid, those photos would be helpful to identify what that fluid was and also help us see any evidence that would indicate how long the fluid was there. A puddle that has clearly marked footprints where people have walked through it is evidence that the puddle has been there for a period of time. A puddle that is completely clean and does not show that anyone has stepped in it might go the other way in that regard. Photographing that area so we know what it looks like at the time of the fall is probably the single most important factor.
For more information on Slip & Falls In Philadelphia, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (215) 569-1212 today.