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Category: Premises Liability

Jun 22, 2018 - Premises Liability

Property Owners Must Fix Tripping Hazards As Soon As Possible

If you have been injured in a trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accident in Pennsylvania, you may be entitled to damages pursuant to a premises liability claim.  Premises liability claims are not as straightforward as they might initially appear, however.  Even in cases where the court may agree that there was a hazard on the property, and that the defendant had a duty to correct the hazard, there may be issues involving “timeliness” that could influence liability (and thus, your recovery). Let’s begin with some of the basics. Basic Elements of Premises Liability In Pennsylvania, and throughout the country, those who possess property have a duty to ensure that the property is maintained in a reasonably safe condition.  This requires that: The defendant (possessor of property) know about hazards on the property; and The defendant failed to repair the hazard, or warn visitors about its existence (i.e., through signs or other warnings). In many premises liability cases, the issue of what constitutes a “hazard” lies at the heart of litigation.  Generally speaking, anything which exposes visitors to an unreasonable risk of harm will be considered a hazard. It’s also worth noting that not all hazards will be known to the defendant.  Lack of knowledge does not shield the defendant from liability, however.  If the defendant “should have known” about the existence of the hazard at-issue, then they could still be found liable for failing to correct the hazard (or warn others about it). Timeliness Timeliness is a challenging concept in premises liability, […]

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Feb 19, 2018 - Premises Liability

Understanding Slip and Fall Liability

In Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, those who possess or otherwise control a given property can be held liable for their failure to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the premises in a safe condition for those entering upon such premises.  Premises liability governs a category of claims that include a range of accident scenarios, such as slip-and-fall, and attaches liability to those who are negligent in their maintenance of property, thus exposing entrants to a significant and unreasonable risk of injury. Unfortunately, many injured persons are not aware of their right to recover — under Pennsylvania law — with regard to slip-and-fall accidents.  For the sake of clarity, let’s explore the basics of premises liability in Pennsylvania, first. Premises Liability Basics Pennsylvania law imposes substantially different duties on the possessor of land depending on the “type” of visitor that is injured on the premises at-issue.  For example, a trespasser is owed the lowest standard of care under the law, where the possessor of land will only be held liable for injuries if he has engaged in willful or wanton misconduct.  By contrast, a standard business invitee — a customer at a retail store, for example — is owed the highest standard of care under the law.  Given the enormous range of premises liability law, there are unsurprisingly diverse consequences. Generally speaking, however, most injury claimants will fall under the category of licensee or invitee.  Both licensees and invitees have the consent of the possessor of land to enter and remain upon the […]

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Jan 13, 2017 - Personal Injury

Snow, Ice and Customer Safety

Slips and falls can lead to serious and sometimes permanent injuries and even death.  Contact us online or call Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC at 888-777-7098 if you have been hurt in a slip and fall.  We have the experience to help you get a medical evaluation you can trust and identify the party responsible for your injuries. We will work with you through the entire legal process. Slip and Fall Facts The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) has complied the following facts about slips and falls: Slip and falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits and slip and falls are the leading cause of visits (21.3% of all visits are attributed to slip and falls). Fractures are the most likely serious consequence of slip and falls (they occur in 5% of all people who experience a fall). Such falls are the primary cause of days not worked. Each year in the United States, one of every three persons over the age of 65 will experience a fall (1.8 million people over the age of 65 were treated annually in an emergency room because of a fall). The cost of all these falls is staggering.  The NFSI reports that compensation and medical costs associated with slip and fall accidents is approximately $70 billion annually.  These costs include medical expenses, lost wages and reduced productivity. If you have been injured in a slip and fall while visiting a business, contact us so we can help you get the […]

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May 13, 2016 - Premises Liability

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR INJURIES ON A CRACKED SIDEWALK?

On behalf of Peter Hileman of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted inPremises Liability on Friday, May 13, 2016. If the sidewalk outside of someone’s home is cracked and in poor repair, it may be slightly annoying. However, it may not be something he or she is really interested in fixing. The repair job may be too expensive, the person may be planning on moving — and therefore hesitant to make long-term repairs — or he or she may just not feel like putting in the time and effort. The homeowner may believe that it’s up to the city to make the repairs. The thing that people need to remember, though, is that repairing the sidewalk may subject them to liability if someone is injured on it If maintenance is not done, those who are injured may be able to seek compensation through a premises liability case. There is significant precedent for this in Pennsylvania. Back in 1998, a woman was walking along a cracked sidewalk when she tripped and fell. She hurt her shoulder and her wrist, and four of her teeth were knocked out. Considering these substantial injuries and the monetary costs that went along with them, she decided to sue the people who owned the adjacent house. The case was finally decided in 2004, and she won. The court ruled that the three family members who owned the house were primarily liable. If you’ve been injured because someone else did not take proper care of their property […]

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Mar 17, 2016 - Premises Liability

ROOT CAUSES CAN DETERMINE FAULT IN ACCIDENTS

On behalf of Peter Hileman of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Premises Liability on Thursday, March 17, 2016. When an accident happens, to determine whether or not there is a premises liability case for those who are injured, it’s important to break things down and look at the root causes of the accident. Only by doing this can fault be determined in specific situations. A popular example of this is the tragedy that happened at the Kansas City Hyatt-Regency Hotel back in the 1980s. There was a dance contest at the hotel, people grouped up to watch it from pedestrian walkways, and the walkway on the fourth floor collapsed. It then hit the one below it and they both fell all the way to the ground floor. Over 200 people were injured and 114 perished. When looking for the root cause, what was found was that a longitudinal weld did not have the strength needed to support the walkway. That weld gave out as people stood on the walkway in groups, giving it more weight than usual, when people just walked across it. When the weld failed, a support rod from the walkway then tore through the box beam. That’s what made the walkway collapse, and the second one was destroyed by the impact with the first. Root causes can go even further when establishing fault. There were clearly design issues with the walkways, and it was later discovered that project management errors made it so that these issues […]

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Dec 10, 2015 - Premises Liability

HOW FAST DO PROPERTY OWNERS NEED TO REMOVE SNOW?

On behalf of Peter Hileman of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Premises Liability on Thursday, December 10, 2015. If a property owner makes no effort to remove snow and ice from his or her property and then someone slips and is injured as a result, the injured party can start a premises liability lawsuit. This lawsuit can be used to force the owner to pay for the injuries since he or she neglected the snow and allowed the area to become dangerous. There are specific ways this has to be done. The legal code in Philadelphia, for instance, says that the person must create a path that is at least 36 inches wide. That goes for any sidewalks on the property. A big question, then, is how soon these sidewalks have to be cleared. How long does it take for the property owner to be neglectful? Again, the code in Philly can be consulted, and it says that the person has six hours. These begin when the snow stops falling. Obviously, this can be a bit hard to track, but it generally means that the person does have some time after a storm hits. The law is written this way to avoid punishing property owners who couldn’t have done anything differently. For example, what if the owner has to work an eight-hour shift and it snows in the middle of the day? He or she may not even get back and see the accumulation for four hours. People who […]

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Oct 22, 2015 - Premises Liability

DOES YOUR PROPERTY HAVE AN ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE?

On behalf of Peter Hileman of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Premises Liability on Thursday, October 22, 2015. It’s very important for homeowners to know what an attractive nuisance is and whether or not they have these on their property. If a child is injured while playing on one, it’s possible that property owners in Pennsylvania could be liable for those injuries, even if they never told the children they could come on the property in the first place. Generally speaking, an attractive nuisance is something—usually man-made—that a child may notice and decide to explore. Examples include staircases, roofs, tunnels, swimming pools and more. It is understood that children may not always realize they are in danger, so they have to be protected from dangerous situations. The key to the whole thing is knowledge of a risk. If you have a swimming pool that can be seen from the street and you know that kids may come by it while you’re away, the court may decide you have some obligation to stop them by putting up a fence. You know it’s a risk and you need to take action. Of course, the counter-argument that people will often use is that they put up signs or simply didn’t give the children permission to be near the pool in the first place. How can they be liable for people who are on the property illegally? The lines here can be blurred a bit, but again, the court recognizes that children don’t […]

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Sep 24, 2015 - Premises Liability

IS THE GYM LIABLE IF YOU GET HURT?

On behalf of Peter Hileman of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Premises Liability on Thursday, September 24, 2015. With any type of athletic activity in Pennsylvania, there is the chance that you could be hurt, and this also goes for a trip to the gym. So, if you’re injured, can you sue the gym to cover your medical costs and other such things? The answer can be a bit complex. The first thing to consider is whether or not you signed a waiver. If you did, you may have given up some of your rights when you joined the gym. For example, these waivers often protect the gym if you get hurt doing a high-risk activity, like power lifting. Even if you do it correctly, the odds of getting hurt are just higher than they are with more low-key exercises. The waiver also could state that you can’t sue if you do something dangerous. If you don’t use the equipment the right way, for instance, and your deliberate action causes the injury, then you may not be able to sue. However, you do still have the same rights to safety and health that you have in other businesses, and the gym’s owner does have an obligation to provide these things. Negligence is often one of the biggest factors here, as it is in many liability cases, because negligence on the owner’s part could cause you to be hurt. For instance, if the treadmill is in poor repair and the […]

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Aug 14, 2015 - Premises Liability

COUNTY FAIR ATTEMPTS TO LIMIT DANGEROUS PROPERTY ACCIDENTS

On behalf of Peter Hileman of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Premises Liability on Friday, August 14, 2015. Safety officials working for the Fayette County Fair are attempting to limit accidents and other medical emergencies at the popular summer venue. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges to public safety at the fair is the summer heat. Excessive heat can cause health problems for visitors unaccustomed to spending long periods of time in the sun. Higher temperatures can also accelerate food spoilage. Each year, inspectors with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services travel to the fair prior to its opening day. Once on scene, a handful of safety inspectors check out food vending trailers and other outlets preparing consumable goods for fairgoers. Last year, the inspectors found 16 food safety violations among the fair’s food vendors. The inspections at the fair aren’t just limited to food. According to the owner of many of the fair’s mechanical rides, each day a licensed inspector will also oversee 26 of the rides scheduled to be in operation at the fair. The Department of Agriculture also maintains a database on the last time those rides were inspected. An estimated 20 to 30 security staff personnel will be on hand daily. They are tasked with keeping order among the large crowds and visiting animals. Last year, a horse that bolted from the fairgrounds sparked a civil lawsuit after it collided with a passing vehicle on Route 119. The horse […]

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Jul 1, 2015 - Premises Liability

CAN SUBSTANDARD HOUSING GIVE RISE TO PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIMS?

On behalf of Peter Hileman of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Premises Liability on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Premises liability is a field of legal practice that encompasses the duties that landowners have to whomever sets foot on their properties. Basically, landowners must exercise reasonable care to ensure that their properties are free of potential hazards to visitors, customers, tenants, people soliciting goods and services, vendors and even trespassers. It is generally understood that the relationships between landowners and the people coming onto their properties directly affects the amount of care they should be liable for in situations involving injury accidents. For example, the owner of a car dealership would likely owe a higher level of duty to prevent customers from slipping and falling on an oil puddle than they would owe to trespassers attempting to steal vehicles. The three basic tenants that every property owner should remember about premises liability are: inspect, correct and warn. Put simply, landowners should actively seek out potential hazards and either remove them from their properties or warn visitors about those potential dangers. A good example of this can be found in situations where negligent landlords unnecessarily place their tenants at risk of harm. Exposing tenants to the hazards of chipping lead-based paints or failing to ensure that rental properties contain adequate fire suppression devices are two good examples of things that could potentially give rise to premises liability lawsuits. Pennsylvania law allows injured victims to sue property owners for much more than […]

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