- Showing That a Property Owner Allowed an Unsafe Condition to Exist on the Property
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To prove negligence in a premises liability case, you will need to establish:
- Duty of care. The property owner or manager had a legal obligation to keep their premises safe for guests.
- Breach of duty of care. The property owner or manager did not uphold this obligation.
- There was a foreseeable hazard that caused your accident, and the responsible party did not address it.
- You experienced financial losses, such as medical bills, as a result of being hurt.
If you can prove all of these elements, then you could recover compensation for your losses. Consider how a personal injury lawyer can help you with this endeavor.
Showing That a Property Owner Allowed an Unsafe Condition to Exist on the Property
Hazards that could present a risk to others should be fixed as soon as reasonably possible. If a hazard cannot be corrected, a prominent warning should be given to visitors so that they can avoid being injured by the hazard. If you have ever seen bright yellow “wet floor” signs in a commercial property, you have seen an example of this type of warning.
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Types of Hazardous Conditions That Can Lead to Injuries
Many different types of hazardous conditions can cause an individual to be hurt on someone else’s property. Showing that a dangerous condition existed is often the first step in proving negligence in a premises liability case.
Examples of hazardous conditions that can lead to injuries include:
- Inadequate lighting
- Insufficient security measures
- Slip and fall or trip and fall hazards
- Spilled liquids or slippery floors
- Cluttered walkways
- Loose electrical cords
- Unsafe electrical wiring
- Building code violations
- Fire code violations
- Torn carpet and loose rugs
- Broken pavement or flooring
- Parking lot defects
- Defective stairs or missing handrails
Proving That the Injury was Foreseeable
The question of negligence in a premises liability case usually hinges upon whether the injury was foreseeable. If the property owner knew about the hazard and did nothing to fix it, the property owner could be liable.
The property owner cannot avoid culpability by simply claiming they did not know about the unsafe condition. If a reasonably prudent person in the same situation would have known about the unsafe condition, it could be argued that the property owner should have known about the unsafe condition.
Evidence that May Be Used to Prove Negligence
The burden of proof in a premises liability claim is on the person bringing the claim. It is not enough to claim that an unsafe condition existed on the property and that the owner should have fixed it or warned visitors about it. You typically must use evidence to prove your point.
Evidence that may be used to show a property owner’s negligence in a premises liability claim includes:
- Photographs of the unsafe condition
- Surveillance camera footage
- Maintenance records
- Company policies and procedures
- Employee schedules
- Incident reports
- Physical evidence, such as torn shoes or clothing
- Statements from witnesses
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To bring a successful premises liability claim and recover damages, you must demonstrate the connection between the unsafe condition and your injuries.
Property owners may argue that your injuries predated the incident or were not related to the dangerous condition. To combat this, many premises liability lawyers use statements from medical experts to show causation. For example, if you suffered a spinal injury in a slip and fall accident, an orthopedic surgeon may testify as to when and how your injury occurred.
You also need to show that you sustained “damages” as part of your case. Damages are the losses that you suffered due to the injury. Per 42 Pa. C.S.A. §8301, you may also be entitled to damages if your loved one died in an accident that occurred because of a property owner’s negligence.
Damages in a premises liability claim or lawsuit may include:
- Medical bills, including ambulance fees and hospital bills
- Expected future medical expenses caused by your injuries, such as the costs associated with physical therapy or medication
- Past and future lost wages from missed work
- Diminishment to your earning capacity caused by reduced functioning
- Lost financial support experienced by the surviving family of a deceased person
- Loss of a deceased person’s services and companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
The Deadline to Sue in Pennsylvania
According to 42 Pa. C.S.A. §5524, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Pennsylvania. If you file your lawsuit after two years, you may be ineligible for compensation.
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Using evidence to demonstrate that a property owner failed to mitigate or warn of an unsafe condition is key to proving negligence in a premises liability case. If you or a loved one was hurt in a slip and fall accident or otherwise injured due to a dangerous condition on a residential or commercial property, you may be entitled to compensation for your associated losses.
A premises liability lawyer from Berger and Green can help you demonstrate the property owner’s negligence, show causation, and prove you suffered damages. Call us at (412) 661-1400 today for a free consultation.