What to Do If You're Injured on Someone Else's Property: A Guide to Premises Liability Claims in Pennsylvania
March 27, 2023
Accidents can happen anywhere, and sometimes they occur on someone else's property. When you sustain an injury on another person's property in Pennsylvania, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses under the state's premises liability laws. This blog post will provide an in-depth guide to understanding premises liability claims in Pennsylvania, helping you navigate the process and protect your rights.
Understanding Premises Liability in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, property owners have a legal duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition for visitors. This responsibility extends to both residential and commercial property owners. If an owner fails to meet this duty and someone gets injured as a result, the owner may be held liable for the injured person's damages under premises liability laws.
Types of Visitors in Premises Liability Cases
Pennsylvania law categorizes visitors on a property into three groups: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. The property owner's duty of care varies depending on the visitor's classification.
Invitees: These are individuals who are on the property for a specific purpose, usually for the owner's benefit, such as customers in a store. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees, which includes regular inspections, maintenance, and repair of the property to prevent potential hazards.
Licensees: Licensees are individuals who enter the property with the owner's permission but without any specific purpose, such as social guests. The owner's duty towards licensees is to warn them of known dangers on the property that may not be obvious.
Trespassers: Trespassers enter the property without permission, and property owners owe them the lowest duty of care. However, owners must not intentionally or recklessly cause harm to trespassers.
Steps to Take After an Injury on Someone Else's Property
Seek medical attention: Your health and well-being are of the utmost importance. If you're injured on someone else's property, seek medical attention immediately, even if the injury seems minor. Documenting your injuries is crucial for building a strong premises liability case.
Report the incident: Notify the property owner or manager about the accident as soon as possible. Provide a detailed account of the incident and request a copy of the incident report if one is created.
Gather evidence: Collect as much evidence as possible to support your claim, including photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and any hazardous conditions that contributed to the accident. Obtain contact information from any witnesses and request copies of any surveillance footage that may have captured the incident.
Document your losses: Keep a record of all expenses related to your injury, including medical bills, lost wages, and any other costs you may incur. This documentation will be vital when calculating the value of your claim.
Consult a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney: Navigating the complexities of a premises liability claim can be challenging. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights, evaluate your case, and guide you through the legal process.
Proving Negligence in a Premises Liability Case
To prevail in a premises liability claim in Pennsylvania, you must prove that the property owner was negligent. This typically involves demonstrating the following elements:
Duty of care: The property owner owed you a duty of care based on your visitor classification.
Breach of duty: The property owner failed to fulfill their duty by not maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition or by not warning you of known dangers.
Causation: The property owner's breach of duty directly caused your injury.
Damages: You suffered damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering, as a result of the injury sustained on the property.
It is crucial to gather strong evidence to support each of these elements in order to build a successful premises liability case.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases
Some of the most common premises liability cases in Pennsylvania include:
Slip and fall accidents: These often occur due to wet or slippery surfaces, uneven flooring, or poorly maintained walkways.
Trip and fall accidents: These can be caused by debris, clutter, or obstacles on the property.
Inadequate security: Property owners may be held liable for injuries resulting from criminal activity if they failed to provide adequate security measures, such as proper lighting or security personnel.
Dog bites: In Pennsylvania, dog owners can be held responsible for injuries caused by their pets under certain circumstances, such as if the dog has a history of aggression or if the owner was negligent in controlling the animal.
Swimming pool accidents: Property owners can be held liable for injuries sustained in and around swimming pools if they fail to properly maintain the pool area, provide appropriate safety equipment, or erect adequate barriers to prevent unauthorized access.
Elevator and escalator accidents: Property owners are responsible for maintaining elevators and escalators in a safe condition. Accidents resulting from mechanical failures, poor maintenance, or other hazards can lead to premises liability claims.
Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Claims in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including premises liability cases, is two years from the date of the injury. If you fail to file your claim within this time frame, you may lose your right to pursue compensation. It is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure your claim is filed in a timely manner.
If you're injured on someone else's property in Pennsylvania, it's important to understand your rights and the steps you need to take to protect your interests. By seeking medical attention, documenting the incident, gathering evidence, and consulting with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, you can build a strong premises liability case and pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Don't hesitate to reach out to a skilled legal professional for guidance and support throughout the process.