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INJURIES FROM FALLS ON SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY.

SELECTING AN ESTATE EXECUTOR OR SERVING AS ONE.

Every year over 800,000 people are hospitalized because of fall injuries. Among the injuries are those which would not have happened but for the negligence of a property owner. Fortunately, under the legal theory of premises liability, those property owners can be held responsible for injuries that happen on their property.

In Pennsylvania, property owners, occupiers, or managers have a duty to provide visitors or residents with a reasonably safe environment. If a dangerous condition develops on the property, adequate warnings should be provided until the condition is fixed.

Premises liability claims may apply to private or public property including, but not limited to:

  • homes
  • supermarkets
  • retail stores
  • shopping malls
  • restaurants
  • entertainment venues
  • sports arenas
  • casinos
  • hotels
  • hospitals
  • parking lots/parking garages/sidewalks
  • apartment buildings
  • government buildings

Many people wrongly assume that the government can’t be sued. The government agencies do enjoy broad immunity from liability. However, Hourigan Kluger & Quinn Attorney Ryan Molitoris points out that “there are exceptions to that immunity. For example, Pennsylvania’s Political Subdivision Torts Act provides a real estate exception which allows claims for premises liability.”

Common conditions creating fall hazards

  • wet or slippery floors
  • snow or ice on sidewalks
  • uneven sidewalks/broken concrete
  • damaged flooring
  • torn carpets
  • curled edges on mats
  • loose or missing handrails
  • insufficient lighting
  • uneven steps
  • pallets and boxes in store aisles
  • building code violations

Proving premises liability

The individual filing the lawsuit must prove these elements:

  • the property owner had a duty of care to the injured party
  • the property owner violated the duty of care
  • the breach of the duty of care caused the injuries
  • injuries resulted in damages

In ascertaining the duty of care, one must determine if the claimant is an invitee, licensee or trespasser.

An invitee is a person who enters public or private property for the financial benefit of the property owner. (e.g., shoppers at a store, patrons at a place of business, people hired to do work on the owner’s premises and delivery persons) An invitee is afforded the highest degree of protection.

A licensee is a person invited onto the premises by the property owner for a purpose other than financial gain, most often for social purposes (e.g., family, friends, neighbors) Licensees are owed a slightly lesser duty of care than that owed to invitees.

A trespasser is “a person who enters or remains upon land in the possession of another without a privilege to do so created by the possessor’s consent or otherwise.” The duty of care owed to trespassers is very low. There is, however, an exception for children. Under the doctrine of attractive nuisance, a property owner in Pennsylvania may be liable for certain injuries suffered by minor children present on the property even if the children were there without permission.

Recovering damages

You may be able to recover damages for:

  • medical bills
  • lost wages
  • future earnings
  • pain and suffering

If you sustained a serious injury on someone else’s property, call Hourigan Kluger & Quinn at (800) 760-1529 to speak with one of our personal injury attorneys.

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