Whom Do You Sue? A Philadelphia Case Offers Insight into the Workings of Some Slip-and-Fall Cases
If you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident, would you know what to do to ensure you fully and completely protected your rights? Would you know whom to sue if you found out that the property where you fell was leased at the time of your injury? All of these facts were part of a case involving a woman injured outside a Montgomery County church, and the case highlights how even a seemingly “simple” slip-and-fall case can have nuances and complexities with which an experienced Pennsylvania slip-and-fall accident attorney can provide crucial help.
The injured woman, Catherine, was walking along a sidewalk outside a Catholic church in Montgomery County in November 2005 when she slipped and fell, suffering injuries. On most days, this set of facts might offer a fairly straightforward potential case, with the injured pedestrian seeking recovery from the property owner. But this wasn’t most days; it was Election Day, and, on that day, the county had leased the church for use as a polling place.
This “wrinkle” in the facts of the case led the injured woman to sue both the Catholic Archdiocese and the county. This decision spawned extensive legal wrangling between the county and the archdiocese. The county moved for summary judgment, which, if successful, meant that it would be removed from the case before the trial even started and face no potential liability for the woman’s injuries. The trial court agreed and removed the county from the case.
Along the way, the injured woman and the archdiocese agreed to a settlement that gave the archdiocese the freedom to pursue its claims against the county. Ultimately, the archdiocese lost its argument against the county. The church lost, in part, because of the existence of something called the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act. Even though the county allegedly had agreed in a lease agreement with the church to obtain liability insurance naming both the county and the church as the insureds, and it allegedly had failed to do so, that didn’t help the archdiocese’s case. The Tort Claims Act gave the county immunity, and there was nothing in the law that said that the county could contract away its statutory immunity within a lease agreement or any other contract.
While many of the legal arguments discussed in the Commonwealth Court case involved the battle between the archdiocese and the county, the pedestrian’s case offers a prime example of why it is essential to retain knowledgeable slip-and-fall attorneys and have them by your side from the very beginning. Sometimes, a premises liability case (such as trip-and-fall and slip-and-fall cases) can involve something as direct as pursuing recovery from the property owner. In other cases, the property upon which you fell may be leased, which could raise issues regarding whether to pursue the owner, the tenant, or both. Experienced premises liability attorneys can help you decide how to attack your case. The diligent Pennsylvania slip-and-fall accident attorneys at Needle Law Firm are here to help you. We have been offering our clients diligent representation and personalized attention for many years.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 570-344-1266.