Slip and Fall Accidents

 

When it comes to slip and fall accidents, visions of a person slipping and falling on a banana peel come to mind. However, slip and fall accidents normally result from a variety of conditions including uneven floors or sidewalks, a slippery floor condition (such as a spill in a grocery store), unseen obstacles lying on the ground, and even inadequate lighting.

Everyone should be responsible and use care when walking on someone else�s property. However, property and business owners must also take care to ensure that foreign objects or obstacles aren�t in pedestrians� paths.

The question asked is: �Would a reasonable property owner have seen the problem and then removed it or warned individuals about it?� If the answer is yes and the owner failed to take action, he or she may be held liable if an injury occurs due to a slip and fall. Generally a property owner is not liable simply because a person falls on the premises. To be liable, the property owner must have created or known of the dangerous condition and then not taken steps to correct the problem in a reasonable amount of time. For example, if a spill occurred moments before a customer entered a store, employees probably would not have had enough time to discover and clean up the spill. In this situation, proving liability may be difficult.

Natural conditions, such as snow or ice, may cause liability for owners who fail to remove these conditions from their property within a reasonable amount of time. Tenants of a building can also be held liable for injuries in cases where they were responsible for removing these conditions and failed to do so.

Comparative negligence is almost always a defense in these cases. Should the plaintiff have been watching where he or she was going more carefully? Victims may be unable to receive damages if a reasonable person in similar circumstances should have known about the danger and tried to avoid it. If the plaintiff is more negligent than the defendant property owner, the property owner is not responsible.

Do I Owe A Trespasser The Same Amount Of Care As I Do An Invited Guest?

In Pennsylvania personal injury law there are three groups of individuals � licensees, invitees and trespassers. Owners owe each group different degrees of care.

Invitees

Invitees enter the property at the express or implied invitation of the owner. Individuals who visit a business are commonly invitees. People using public parks or those visiting public places such as hospitals or businesses are also considered invitees. Owners owe the greatest degree of care to this group and they may be held to have a duty to inspect their property for dangerous conditions to protect invitees from harm.

Licensees

A licensee enters the owner's property with the permission of the owner. Family members and friends fit into this category. Owners do not owe extra care to licensees. If owners are aware of a dangerous condition on their property, they must inform the individual of the condition. Liability is created when owners fail to mention a potentially dangerous condition or fail to take steps to protect licensees from the danger and he or she becomes injured.

Trespassers

Trespassers enter without permission. This group has no right to be on the property and the owner has a lower standard of care. However, property owners cannot permit a dangerous condition to exist to recklessly endanger a trespasser.

Children are the exception to laws regarding trespassers. They often wander into areas where they don�t belong, so owners must take extra care to clean up potentially dangerous situations. Safety measures such as gates, guards, alarms, fences and signs can help to reduce liability.

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