Premises Liability in Pennsylvania
Accidents can happen anywhere, with anyone. However, people who own or operate businesses, or otherwise hold their property out as open to the public (or a section of the public) have specific obligations that must be upheld, or they risk being potentially liable for any injuries sustained on that property. This notion is referred to as premises liability, and if you have been injured on someone else’s land or in their business, you may be able to bring suit against them to cover your injuries.
Multiple Types of Accidents Possible
It can be confusing for some Pennsylvanians when they seek to bring suit after an accident because a cause of action for ‘premises liability’ does not technically exist in state law, even though that is the name of the legal theory under which a person would bring suit. In order to try and hold someone liable for the injuries you suffered on their grounds, you would bring suit under either a general negligence theory, or in some cases, strict liability (though this is rare and depends on the specific type of accident you experienced).
Some types of personal injury accidents that might conceivably be brought under a premises liability theory include:
- Dog bites – If you are bitten by a dog on property where you have been invited to be, or is open to the public, you may be able to argue that would fall under premises liability, since a landowner has a duty to make their premises as safe as possible;
- Slip and fall accidents – Examples include the stereotypical grocery store accident, or anything where a guest or customer slips when a business or landowner should have known there was a danger.
- Unsafe transit – poorly maintained pathways, stairs, escalators, elevators and anything else used to get from one place to another on the defendant’s premises can be grounds to file suit. These are among the most commonly filed premises liability actions, especially by senior citizens – the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that roughly one in four people over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year, and of those falls, a significant percentage of those which happen in the home occur on stairs.
Three Types of Guests
Your ability to bring suit will depend at least in part in your classification while you are on that person’s property – Pennsylvania recognizes the common law when it comes to premises liability, which means that three different classifications exist and whether or not you can recover for injuries is largely colored by which one you belong to. One class, trespassers, are owed no duty of care in Pennsylvania other than for a landowner to refrain from willfully injuring them.
The other two classes are licensees and invitees. Licensees are those people who come onto the premises for their own purposes, as opposed to any benefit to the landowner – for example, a neighbor kid coming to retrieve a ball in your yard would almost always be a licensee. Property owners must warn licensees about any potential dangers, but do not have to make the property safe for them. With invitees, by comparison, a landowner does have a duty to try and make their property safe, and if that is not possible, to warn them about any and all dangers they might encounter. If you are able to show that this was not done in your case, and you were not responsible for your own injuries (or at least not more than 50 percent responsible), you may be awarded compensation due to that breach of the duty of care.
Seek Out A Premises Liability Attorney Today
When you are injured, it can be a huge inconvenience. If you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, it can feel even worse because you could not, at least in theory, avoid it. If you have been harmed on someone else’s property, you may be able to bring a premises liability suit, but it is very difficult to do this without an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. The Needle Law Firm has experience with these cases, and serves a wide area, including Scranton, Montrose, Stroudsburg, Honesdale, Lackawanna County, Monroe County, and Susquehanna County. Call our offices today for a free consultation.