Superior Court of Pennsylvania Allows Injured Man to Continue Slip And Fall Suit
With the recent severe winter, many Pennsylvania residents have fallen and injured themselves on the icy sidewalks outside businesses. Shops and businesses have the duty to keep their premises safe for the invited patrons, including walkways and entrances. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently overturned a decision in favor of a mall, allowing an injured patron to pursue a civil action against the business. The gentleman broke his leg after he slipped in a pool of brown liquid. The owners of the mall argued that they did not have constructive notice of the dangerous condition of the spill. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, but the Superior Court overturned the judgment.
The court reviewed the law governing customers, or invitees, on the premises. While there is liability for the injuries endured by patrons, it only occurs if the owners of the land know of a dangerous condition, know that customers would likely not discover the danger themselves, and fail to use any reasonable care to protect the invitees against the danger. In other words, it is not enough for the dangerous condition to merely exist.
During the trial, the injured man testified that, while he slipped and fell in the puddle of brown liquid, as he was trying to lift himself up he discovered the edges of the puddle were dry and sticky. This testimony was brought out to show the puddle had been there long enough for the edges to dry, and therefore it was there long enough that the owners of the premises should have noticed and taken action. The trial court and the Superior Court both disagreed that this testimony, by itself, without knowing what type of liquid it was and how long it would take to dry, was not enough to establish the mall had constructive notice.
The Superior Court did align with the injured person’s argument that his case was negatively affected by the absence of the maintenance records on the day of the accident. The entire month before and after the date of the accident was provided, highlighting the lone missing day of records. These records would have revealed whether sweeping and spot mopping occurred hourly on the day of the accident. If the mall maintenance employees failed to check and clean the floors prior to the accident, the mall would have been liable for failing to provide reasonable and affirmative care regarding the safety of the premises. The Superior Court felt that because there was still an open question of whether or not the missing evidence was detrimental to the plaintiff’s case and what the level of fault should be attributed to the defendants, summary judgment was inappropriate at this stage.
The Pennsylvania Slip And Fall attorneys at Needle Law, P.C. have the experience you need to litigate and negotiate the damages you deserve. If you have fallen in someone’s home or in a business, call today for a free, confidential consultation at (570) 344-1266.