Address Property Issues to Prevent a Premises Liability Lawsuit
As winter wanes and spring arrives, cleaning up and repairing damages caused to your property should be a priority for more than just aesthetics.
In Pennsylvania, property owners are legally required to maintain their property, keep it reasonably safe and ensure it is free of hazards. Maintaining a safe property is considered the owner of the premises’ duty. Pennsylvania premises liability law asserts that the responsibility for injuries or accidents on a property belongs to property owners or occupants.
When proper maintenance is not regularly performed, the likelihood of a slip and fall or trip and fall accident increases significantly. When the property owner knew about the hazards on the property, had adequate time to fix the hazard and failed to properly amend the situation, they may be liable for any injuries as a result. This falls under Pennsylvania premises law and personal injury law.
Weather and its effects on landscaping and structures play a large part in the condition of a property. Below are a few hazards that property owners should address to prevent a premises liability lawsuit.
Dead Tree Dangers
Trees provide beauty, shade and environmental benefits. However, when a tree dies, it becomes a liability to the property owner. Dead trees have drier, more brittle wood making branches and trunks more susceptible to damage. Falling branches can cause significant damage to property, vehicles and severely injure people.
In addition, a falling branch or toppling tree may also cause downed power lines, which could lead to a utility outage. This is dangerous for the elderly or people who depend on electric medical devices.
Sidewalk Maintenance Matters
Injuries caused by uneven or cracked sidewalks, tree roots, potholes, ice and snow, or vegetation have the possibility to cause an injury on a property – opening the door for a possible personal injury or premises liability lawsuit.
Though tripping on an uneven sidewalk may leave a scrape and bruise, there is the potential for a concussion, traumatic brain injury or worse. Sidewalk maintenance may be the responsibility of home, business or property owners, but may also lie on municipal, county or state governments.
During winter, snow and ice may cause concrete to freeze and expand. As warmer temperatures arise, the concrete may settle back down and buckle or crack. If water issues are not properly addressed and damage mitigated, then the cracks and damage will get worse and worse.
In the spring, vegetation may rapidly grow and trail across a walkway, posing a trip hazard. Keeping grass, vines and other vegetation trimmed back from walkways will help to prevent a personal injury.
If a sidewalk is cracked, broken, icy or covered with vegetation and it poses a hazard, property owners have a duty to address and fix the issue to prevent personal injuries. When not fixed or warnings are not posted, the property owner may be held liable if someone is injured as a result.
Legally, the burden of proof in these situations has been placed upon the victim to prove the property owner failed to reasonably maintain their property and should have been aware of the hazard. This is why the use of an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer or premises liability attorney is so important. Proving the case can be very complicated, so a legal expert is a needed resource in these instances of personal injury.
Proving a Premises Liability Case
Anytime someone is injured due to a property owner’s negligence can be considered a premises liability accident.
When someone is injured a property, Pennsylvania premises liability law looks at whether the victim can prove,
- the owner of the premises has a duty to visitors;
- the owner breached the duty;
- the breach led to a visitor’s personal injury/injuries;
- the visitor’s injuries resulted in damages.
If you find yourself the victim of an accident due to the negligence of a property owner - or premises liability accident – obtaining prompt medical care, gathering evidence and seeking testimony from witnesses are very important. Take photos of the accident scene and what caused the injury and document it as best you can. This will prevent the evidence from being cleaned up by an employee, thus making your case more difficult to prove.
Finally, never admit fault for the accident. Be careful about what you say in the moment.
Just because someone was injured on a property, the property owner is not immediately liable. Evidence must be provided to demonstrate that the property owner was aware of the hazard and failed to address and/or fix the problem, which resulted in the injury.
According to the American Bar Association, “Every tort claim, regardless of its basis, whether intentional, negligence, or strict liability, has two basic issues—liability and damages. Was the defendant liable for the damages you sustained, and, if so, what is the nature and extent of your damages? If you can prove liability and damages, our system of justice will award you compensation for your loss.”
Slip and Fall Accidents are Common
Slip and fall accidents account for more than 8 million hospital emergency room visits and nearly half of traumatic brain injury-related hospitalizations. They are also the primary cause of lost days off of work.
Personal injury claims stem from injuries that occur as a result of the fault of another party.
If you or a loved one have been injured at a business or on another person’s property and are dealing with the aftereffects, please do not hesitate to call a premises liability lawyer, like Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC. Personal injury claims have a statute of limitations of only two years, so filing promptly is important.
Contact a Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer
Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC’s premises liability lawyers and personal injury attorneys have handled many injury claims – ranging from minor accidents to accidental death. Our personal injury legal team is skilled, capable and competent to work hard and fight harder for your case. Our experienced personal injury attorneys, Doug Engelman, David Wilk, and Gary Black have decades of experience and have won substantial settlements for our clients.
We would be honored to fight for you. And remember, if we do not win, you do not pay. Contact us today for a free personal injury consultation.
If we don't win, you don't pay!
WE HAVE RECOVERED MILLIONS FOR OUR CLIENTS FOR...
• Automobile & Motorcycle Accidents
• Truck Accidents
• Slip & Fall
• Death Cases
• Medical Malpractice
• Worker's Compensation