Under Pennsylvania’s premises liability laws, private and public property owners are required to make a reasonable effort to keep their indoor and outdoor spaces safe for visitors. Premises liability laws exist because all kinds of properties require ongoing vigilance, supervision, and maintenance in order to avoid accidents and preventable injuries.
When a property owner, landlord, or manager of either a residential or commercial property is negligent and causes an injury, the injured party may seek compensation for damages and loss. There are a variety of types of premises liability accidents, and it is common for more than one party or entity to be held liable. This can lead to multiple claims and lawsuits, making it especially important to hire an experienced premises liability lawyer.
Pennsylvania’s premises liability laws require that all property owners make a reasonable effort to keep their premises safe. Property owners in Pennsylvania are responsible for the following:
A skilled lawyer can gather the following evidence needed to establish liability:
Slip and fall accidents are extremely common. Most walking surf aces can become unstable or dangerous under certain conditions. Trip and falls can occur because of loose flooring, broken handrails or steps, uneven carpeting, or an accumulation of snow and ice on the sidewalk.
If someone falls due to slippery wet floors not marked by warning signage, the property owner can be held liable. Trip and fall accidents can lead to devastating injuries, including torn ligaments, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and head trauma.
In all property types, the owner is responsible for keeping walkways clear and safe. Walking into an obstruction, whether it be torn carpeting or a misplaced extension cord, can result in serious injuries and damages. Public or commercial property owners are required to provide warnings of overhangs and other obstructions. Construction sites and other workplaces can expose pedestrians and workers to multiple hazardous obstructions and other unsafe conditions.
Companies are responsible for maintaining a safe premises on which to conduct business. It is also a property manager or business owner’s job to provide safe premises for tenants of an apartment building or hotel, including parking lots and other unsecured areas.
If an employee or customer is injured during a break-in, robbery, or vandalism incident, the company’s security comes into issue for poor security cameras, locks, inadequate personnel, or faulty alarm systems. If the security is found to be insufficient, the company can be liable for any resulting injuries.
Pennsylvania law provides that a property owner’s responsibility includes repairing dangerous situations and warning visitors about potential hazards on the premises. Improperly maintained steps, staircases, and flooring can cause accidents and serious injuries. Other kinds of building elements can become dangerous if not properly maintained, including appliances, light fixtures, elevators, and escalators.
If a tenant or visitor is injured due to inadequate maintenance or equipment malfunction on a property, the landlord or building manager can be held liable.
Preventable fires, toxic fumes, or chemical spills can lead to serious burns and respiratory issues. Carbon monoxide leaks can be life-threatening, and often happen when older gas-burning appliances were not regularly maintained or installed correctly.
Complying with Pennsylvania’s fire code is a basic property owner obligation. Property owners can be held responsible for fire code violations, such as not having enough working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, lack of a sprinkler system, or blocked emergency exits. They can also be liable for a variety of preventable fire hazards, such as faulty electrical wiring, flammable construction materials, overloaded outlets, and illegal open fires.
If an owner fails to have proper safety measures in place, it can lead to traumatic injuries and deaths.
Having a pool on your property carries a legal responsibility to avoid pool-related accidents and injuries, including fatal drownings. While the liability burden for owning a pool is higher for businesses, private property owners are also responsible for preventing pool accidents.
Homeowners can be held liable if they neglected to have a proper fence restricting access to their pool and a child wanders in and accidentally drowns. Property owners can also be liable for not maintaining the pool’s infrastructure, such as ladders and diving boards, or failing to keep the surrounding areas free from hazards.
Pennsylvania dog owners must take reasonable steps to prevent their dogs from harming others, using measures such as proper fencing and keeping their dogs leashed. This responsibility is particularly relevant when a property owner has a dog that is known to have a dangerous temperament.
If the dog’s owner is a tenant of someone else’s property, the property owner may share liability if they knowingly allowed an aggressive dog to live on the property. Pennsylvania follows strict liability for dog bites, which means dog owners are responsible for any unexpected or unprovoked attack that causes injuries, even if it is the dog’s first biting incident.
While these types of premises liability accident claims are the most common, any serious but preventable injury that occurs on someone else’ property may trigger the right to a premises liability claim.
Premises liability accidents can lead to devastating consequences for injured parties and their families, physical pain, emotional trauma, overwhelming medical expenses, lost wages and diminished earning capacity, and long-term health conditions. It is important to consult with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible if you have been injured in a premises liability accident.
Our legal team at Galfand Berger LLP has decades of experience successfully representing clients in a variety of premise liability matters:
If you have been harmed in a premises liability accident, one of our knowledgeable Philadelphia premises liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP can review your case and discuss your legal options. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.