Slip and Falls: Understanding the Non-Obviousness Requirement

February 28, 2019

Bethlehem Slip and Fall Lawyers

If you’ve slipped, tripped, or otherwise lost your balance on another’s property due to the existence of a dangerous condition of the property (in other words, a “hazard”), then Pennsylvania law may entitle you to compensation for your injuries.

Though your perspective lawsuit may seem rather simple in the initial stages, there are a number of ways in which the defendant may attempt to avoid or minimize liability.  Quite commonly, defendants in slip and fall cases argue that the injured plaintiff is precluded from recovery because the dangerous condition of the property — the hazard — was known or obvious to the plaintiff.

This defense can pose a real challenge when it comes to securing compensation, so let’s examine it, in brief, to understand how it works.  By learning about the basics, you’ll get a sense of how an attorney can overcome the defense.

Existence of a Known or Obvious Hazard is a Complete Defense to Liability

Slip and fall liability is a subcategory of premises liability — stated simply, the defendant property owner (or possessor) can be held liable for failing to exercise due care, and thereby exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm.  For example, if you’re eating at a restaurant, and you slip and fall on the way to the bathroom due to a large spill on the floor, then you could potentially sue and recover damages.  The defendant’s failure to inspect the floors and clean the spill would likely constitute negligence.

It’s important to understand, however, that premises entrants must also use due care when navigating a premise.  In Pennsylvania, if the plaintiff (premises entrant) knows or reasonably should know that a hazard exists, then they must use due care to avoid it.  Plaintiffs are expected to be aware of open and obvious hazards (i.e., a large, colored liquid spill).  Even if the hazard is not open and obvious, however, the plaintiff may be prevented from recovering damages if they knew of the hazard.

For example, if you are aware that a stairway lacks structural integrity and could collapse, then you cannot bring an action for damages against the property owner when it does collapse and causes you to suffer injuries.

Contact Our Experienced Bethlehem Slip and Fall Lawyers for a Free Consultation

Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC is a boutique personal injury firm representing clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania in a range of disputes, including slip-and-fall cases.  We have decades of experience working with plaintiffs in slip-and-fall lawsuits, helping them navigate the challenges (and take advantage of the opportunities) unique to such litigation.

We work tirelessly for our clients from the very beginning of the litigation process.  Unlike so many other personal injury firms, we focus on helping our clients secure the maximum available compensation (given the circumstances).  It’s our belief that by engaging with the client closely, we can develop a comprehensive understanding of the case and can more effectively negotiate on their behalf.

Ready to learn more about your claims and how we can provide assistance?  Call 610-433-3910 or send us a case evaluation form online to schedule a free and confidential consultation with our experienced Bethlehem slip and fall lawyers today.