Be it falling on asphalt, tripping on the sidewalk, or slipping on ice, sometimes accidents happen. However, when an accident occurs on someone else’s property causing you to sustain injuries, you may be able to hold the property owner liable. It’s no surprise that premises liability cases can be complicated.
But, with the guidance of Scranton’s personal injury attorney, Craig Kalinoski, your case can gain a successful outcome.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability occurs in personal injury cases where the injury was sustained as a result of an unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property.
In Pennsylvania premises liability cases, the victim must prove that the property owner was negligent in the care and maintenance of the property. The law relies on “reasonable care” as the condition the responsible party did not meet on their property.
However, it’s not enough that the property owner did not properly upkeep their property. You must prove that the property owner knew or should have known that the property was unsafe and still failed to remedy the issue.
Common Types of Premises Liability
Premises liability cases are more common than you may think and encompass many personal injury cases including:
- Slip and fall cases
- Inadequate maintenance of the premises
- Defective conditions on the premises
- Inadequate security leading to injury or assault
- Elevator/escalator accidents
- Animal attacks
- Swimming pool injuries
- Water leaks or flooding
- Toxic fumes or chemicals
A property owner may try to say they were not aware of the conditions of the property. It’s not the best defense when property owners are liable to care for and maintain their property. However, the level of care they must provide depends on your relationship with the property owner at the time of the incident.
Duty of Care
The relationship between the injured and property owner determines the duty of care the property owner must follow. There are three types categories a victim may fall into; these categories include:
- Invitee: Someone who has the landowner’s express or implied permission to enter the property. This can include friends, relatives, and neighbors. The landowner owes an invitee a duty of reasonable care to keep the property safe.
- Licensee: Someone who has the landowner’s express or implied permission to enter the property, but entered for their own needs. People may include salesmen. In these situations, the property owner need only warn the licensee of dangerous conditions that may create harm.
- Trespasser: Someone without authorization to be on the property. Unless the trespasser is a child, the property owner owes no duty to the person. If a child is a trespasser, they must not create a foreseeable risk of harm due to artificial conditions. Examples would be swimming pools, construction projects, etc.
In determining the duty of care also comes the element of negligence which follows.
Determining Negligence and Liability
Under Pennsylvania law, there are three aspects to be mindful of in a premises liability case. They are:
- Strict Liability vs. Negligence: In strict liability cases, there is no need to determine negligence because the condition is abnormally or inherently dangerous. This can include a dog with a history of attacks. However, in cases of negligence, the victim must show that: 1. The property owner had a duty of care to the injured; 2. The owner knew about or should have known about the dangerous condition; 3. The owner failed to remedy the situation; 4. That breach of duty caused the injury.
- Comparative Negligence: In some cases, both the victim and the property owner have some fault in the injury sustained, such as the victim not being mindful of their surroundings. In these cases, the court will determine to what extent the victim is at fault. So long as the victim is not more at fault than the property owner, they will receive compensation. It will be at a reduced rate determined by that percentage.
- Statute of Limitations: Like any other claim, there is a time restriction to make your voice be heard. In Pennsylvania, you have two years from the date of the incident to file the claim.
Premises liability cases can be complicated, especially if lines are blurred and you aren’t sure who is completely responsible. Attorney Craig Kalinoski is here to help you navigate the murky waters of the legal system and get you the compensation you deserve.
Scranton Personal Injury Lawyer: Kalinoski Law Offices P.C.
Not every home is as safe as the homeowner thinks. If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you need to seek legal advice. We’ll help you understand if you qualify for a premises liability claim. To see if you have a case, contact Attorney Craig Kalinoski today at (570) 207-4000 to schedule a free initial consultation.