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When is a property owner liable for injuries on the property?

Town Law Publishing Jan. 17, 2023

Premises liability refers to the legal responsibility that property owners have for injuries that occur on their property. In Pennsylvania, property owners are liable for accidents that occur on their property if they knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and failed to take steps to fix it or warn visitors about it.

One example of when a property owner would be liable is if a visitor slips and falls on a wet floor in a grocery store. If the store owner knew about the wet floor and failed to clean it up or post warning signs, they could be held liable for the visitor's injuries.

Another example is if a tenant in an apartment complex is injured as a result of a broken stairway, the landlord would be liable if they knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and failed to repair it.

However, there are also situations where a property owner would not be liable. For example, if a visitor is injured as a result of their own negligence, such as not paying attention while walking, the property owner would not be liable. Additionally, if an injury occurs due to an act of nature, such as a tree falling during a storm, the property owner would not be liable.

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It is also worth mentioning that there are certain categories of visitors that have different standard of care, for example a trespasser may not be entitled to the same protection as an invitee or licensee.

Please keep in mind that Pennsylvania follows the comparative negligence rule, which means that the damages awarded to the injured party may be reduced if they are found to be partially at fault for the accident.

It is important for property owners to regularly inspect their property for potential hazards and to take prompt action to fix any problems that are found. They should also take steps to warn visitors about any dangerous conditions that cannot be immediately fixed.

Premises liability law can be complex, and it's always best to consult with our attorneys if you have been injured on someone else's property. We will be able to advise you on your rights and help you navigate the legal process.