Those who visit the property of another have a reasonable expectation of not getting injured due to hazardous conditions. Therefore, property owners are responsible for maintaining relatively safe conditions, free of the risk of harm and defects. The failure on the behalf of a property owner to keep the property safe with a resulting injury can be the basis of a “premises liability” claim, sometimes commonly known as a slip and fall type case even though many types of injury may be involved. What sets this firm apart is that Philadelphia Premises liability Attorney Gary Brod has successfully achieved successful results for all types of premises liability cases involving serious injuries.
Types of Premises Liability Claims
There are several common circumstances that may give rise to a premises liability lawsuit, they include (but are not limited to):
- Dog bites
- Slip and fall accidents
- Swimming pool injuries
- Snow and ice accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Injuries caused by toxic fuels or chemicals
- Burn injuries
- Elevator and escalator accidents
Who Owes a Duty?
It is not only the person who owns a particular piece of property who is under a duty to keep that property reasonably safe for visitors. In some cases, other parties are under a duty to keep a property reasonably safe. For example, a store might lease space in a shopping center. Therefore, the store does not own the property, but still owes a duty to shoppers to keep the premises safe and free of hazards.
Under the law, a party is under a duty to keep premises reasonably safe when that party "possesses or owns a land. An individual or company possesses or owns a land or premises when:
- The individual or company is in occupation of the land with the intent to control it
- The individual or company has been in occupation of the land with intent to control it if no other person has subsequently occupied it with the intent to control it
- The individual or company is entitled to immediate occupation of the land if no other person is in possession as just defined.
The Duty of Pennsylvania Property Owners
When a visitor enters a property, they have every right to expect the premises to be safe and secure. According to Pennsylvania law, an owner or an occupier of the property has a responsibility to make a reasonable effort that ensures visitors are protected; this is called the duty of care. If a visitor sustains an injury due to conditions on the premises, a responsible party might be liable if:
- The property owner or the occupier of the property knew, or should have reasonably known that the premises they maintain are unsafe,
- With this knowledge, the property owner or the occupier of the property failed to take any steps to correct the unsafe conditions,
- There was a causal connection between the failure to take action and the resulting injury, and
- The injury resulted in actual losses or damages
Legal Visitor Status
In Pennsylvania negligence cases, the establishment of an owner's duty is largely dependent on the injured victim's status at the time of the injury. Therefore, the identification of the legal status of a visitor is a substantial fact in a premises liability claim. An injured person falls under the characterizations of either an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.
An invitee is divided into two categories: a public invitee or a business visitor. Public invitees are members of the public who are invited and authorized by a property owner to enter or remain on premises. Usually, public invitees enter properties that are available to the public. Alternatively, business visitors are people who are directly associated with business dealings that have been exclusively invited by a possessor.
Invitees are the types of visitors that most commonly file premises liability claims because they are granted the highest duty of care owed by a property owner. The Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343 claims that an owner is liable for an invitee's injuries only if they know that he or she could have discovered the unsafe condition as a risk of harm, the property owner expects that an invitee will not discover the danger, and the owner fails to exercise reasonable care to protect him or her.
Additionally, property owners have a responsibility to warn the people they invite about obvious and observable defects. So, if a possessor is not sure what these defects are, he or she is required to conduct inspections to discover potential hazards. Owners are only deemed not liable for an invitee's injuries is if they are harmed or injured by an activity whose danger is “known” to them. For example, let's say you invite your neighbors to a pool party. Your neighbor decides to do a flip off of the diving board and ends up hurting his leg. The property owner would not be liable because the invitee, through his own will, participated in an activity that he knew could result in injury.
A licensee is defined as a person obtains the privilege of entering or remaining on the land by virtue of a land owner's consent. Typically, licensees have the permission of the property owner to be on the premises, but they visited for their own purposes or entertainment, not because they were invited. A person who goes into a store and asks for directions, or those who visit neighborhoods with houses displaying Christmas decorations, for example, would be considered licensees.
Victims injured on these properties are required, with the help of a legal representative, that the owner of the premises was knowledgeable of the unsafe conditions and did not provide any warnings. The licensee also has the burden of proving he or she was not aware of the hazardous conditions prior to the incident.
The duty owed to a trespasser is undoubtedly the lowest duty of care provided by property owners. According to the Restatement (Second) of Torts, a trespasser is defined as an individual who enters or remains on premises in the possession of another without the permission of an owner whatsoever. A trespasser only recovers damages in a premise liability case when the possessor exhibited willful misconduct - a desire to bring about harm, or an awareness that an injury would have ensued as a result of the act of trespassing.
Experienced Pennsylvania Premises Liability Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else's property, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Brod Law Firm today for a free consultation. Contact the Brod Law Firm today to speak to one of our expert Philadelphia premises liability accident attorneys. At The Brod Law Firm our personal injury attorneys have fought for victim's rights for over 30 years. Call Gary Brod anytime at 888-435-7946 (888-HELPWIN) for a free no obligation consultation and explanation of your legal rights or online . We also have the option of easy phone sign-up process and we can begin work today. Even if you are not sure if you have a case please call us for straightforward no-nonsense answers to your legal questions. We do not charge you for legal advice.