Suffering an injury on property that is owned, leased, managed or otherwise controlled by someone else means that party could be responsible for the incident. Premises liability statutes address fault under Pennsylvania law, and fault can become a critical point of contention in a personal injury lawsuit.
Determining fault for a victim’s injury
Although someone might get hurt on another person’s property, that does not automatically mean the property owner is responsible. A hotel likely has nothing to do with the accident when someone trips over untied shoelaces while walking intoxicated into the lobby. However, when someone walks into that same hotel and falls on a slippery floor, the hotel may be liable to some degree.
In general, premises liability involves an owner’s duty to care for others and ensure that the property is reasonably safe. Not clearing off snow from the sidewalk in front of a home could create an unsafe condition. Allowing the snow and ice to remain for a week could be negligence since more than a reasonable amount of time to clear the walkway likely passed.
Legal matters and premises liability
Several legal questions can arise about a premises liability case. If the property owner did not know about a problem, he or she might not be liable. For example, a customer could walk out of a store and drop groceries outside a business several doors away, creating a slip-and-fall risk. If the business owner doesn’t know about the problem, he or she may not be liable.
Other issues may include whether the victim was trespassing or the property housed an “attractive nuisance.” Each case may have its particulars.
Various premises liability-related accidents may fall under a homeowner’s or business’s liability policy. Such policies might provide a financial settlement for a covered incident.