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Pennsylvania Premises Liability Explained: Protecting Your Rights and Understanding Property Owner Obligations

Town Law Publishing April 5, 2023

Premises liability is an essential aspect of personal injury law that holds property owners accountable for injuries sustained by visitors on their property. In Pennsylvania, premises liability law can be complex, and understanding your rights is crucial when seeking compensation for injuries. In this in-depth guide, we'll explore the foundations of premises liability law in Pennsylvania, the duties of property owners, and how to navigate the legal process to protect your rights.

The Foundation of Premises Liability Law in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law, premises liability claims arise from the legal principle that property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. When a property owner fails to uphold this duty, and someone is injured as a result, the property owner may be held liable for the victim's damages.

Property Owner's Duty of Care

In Pennsylvania, a property owner's duty of care varies depending on the classification of the visitor:

  • Invitees: These are individuals who enter the property for the benefit of the property owner, such as customers in a store. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees and are required to inspect their property for hazards, make necessary repairs, and provide warnings of any known dangers.

  • Licensees: Licensees enter the property for their own purposes with the property owner's permission, such as social guests. Property owners must warn licensees of known hazards on the property but are not required to inspect for or repair unknown dangers.

  • Trespassers: Trespassers enter the property without permission. Property owners generally owe no duty of care to trespassers, except in cases involving children, where the property owner may be liable under the "attractive nuisance" doctrine if they fail to protect children from known hazards.

    Proving Negligence in a Premises Liability Case

To succeed in a premises liability claim in Pennsylvania, the injured party must prove the following elements:

  • Duty of care: Establish that the property owner owed a duty of care based on the injured party's classification (invitee, licensee, or trespasser).

  • Breach of duty: Demonstrate that the property owner failed to uphold their duty of care by not maintaining the property, repairing hazards, or providing adequate warnings.

  • Causation: Prove that the property owner's breach of duty directly caused the injured party's injuries.

  • Damages: Provide evidence of the damages incurred, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

    Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania Premises Liability Cases

Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence system, which means that if the injured party is found to be partially responsible for their injuries, their compensation may be reduced by their percentage of fault. However, if the injured party is more than 50% at fault, they will be barred from recovering any damages.

Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Claims

In Pennsylvania, premises liability claims must be filed within two years from the date of injury. Failing to meet this deadline may result in losing your right to pursue compensation.

Call Us Today

Understanding premises liability law in Pennsylvania is vital for protecting your rights and obtaining the compensation you deserve for injuries sustained on someone else's property. Due to the complexity of premises liability cases and the various factors that impact a property owner's duty of care, it's crucial to consult with an experienced attorney who can navigate the legal process and ensure your rights are upheld. If you or a loved one has been injured on another's property, contact our law firm for a consultation to discuss your options and potential claim.