Slip and fall injuries occur at random and usually happen at the most inopportune time. If you fell and were injured because of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries and other losses by making a slip and fall injury claim against the negligent person or company. However, what if you fall on property owned by the city instead of private property? Can you bring a slip and fall injury claim against the city of Philadelphia?
In short, the answer to this question will depend on the specific circumstances of your fall and the actions you take following your injury. This article will provide a general overview of premises liability actions against the city of Philadelphia. However, if you were seriously injured, you should always consult with an experienced Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer who can help answer your questions and protect your legal rights.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Slip and Fall Claim Against a City?
In order to successfully bring a negligence claim against the city of Philadelphia, you must put the city on proper written notice of your claim within six months of the date of loss. Further, you must either settle your claim or file a legal action within the two-year statute of limitations. If you do not file a writ of summons or civil complaint within the statute of limitations, you will be barred from making a recovery. In other words, you will lose your ability to recover compensation.
Given the strict time limitations for making a claim, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible following your injury. Your slip and fall attorney will need sufficient time to provide proper notice to the government, investigate your claim, collect evidence, consult with experts, and file a lawsuit, if appropriate.
Premises Liability Lawsuits and the PA Tort Claims Act
The city of Philadelphia has an extra layer of protection against tort claims, known as “governmental immunity” that is not available to private persons and businesses. This protection is codified in the Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act 42 P.S. § 8541 et. seq. The Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act provides that, to bring an injury claim against a governmental entity such as the city of Philadelphia, in addition to proving negligence (i.e. that the property was in a defective condition which caused your injury), you must also show that your injury meets an exception to governmental immunity.
Personal injury claims due to slip and fall accidents, or trip and fall accidents, typically fall under the real property exception (Section 8541(a)(3)), the streets exception (Section 8541(a)(6)), or the sidewalks exception (Section 8541(a)(7)). Therefore, if you trip and fall due to a defective condition of the street, sidewalk, or a city-owned property, you may be able to make a recovery against the city for the damages you sustained.
Notably, when a slip and fall claim occurs on a city street or sidewalk, it is the plaintiff’s burden to prove that the city had actual or constructive notice of the defective condition. Further, a plaintiff must prove that there was sufficient time to take measures to protect the public against it.
Proving that the city had notice of a defect is no easy feat. In many cases, the physical evidence disappears, and records of complaints made to the city are lost or never created. It is vital to retain an attorney who has experience uncovering evidence of actual or constructive notice to the city – which defense attorneys fight hard to keep hidden.
In addition to filing an injury claim against the city of Philadelphia, there may be other independent contractors who are liable. Philadelphia often hires contractors to clean, maintain, and repair city-owned property. If you were injured because a private contractor caused a hazardous condition or negligently maintained the property, you may be able to hold them accountable. Usually, the city’s contractors will be required to maintain liability insurance to cover bodily injury claims, and will not be entitled to governmental immunity.
Limitations on Damages for Injury Claims Against the City of Philadelphia
The Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act sets a limitation on damages which can be recovered against municipalities. Section 8553 limits the amount of damages that can be recovered against the city of Philadelphia to $500,000 in the aggregate.
Further, Section 8553(c) limits the types of losses a claimant can recover to:
(1) Past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity.
(2) Pain and suffering in the following instances:
(i) death; or
(ii) only in cases of permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement or permanent dismemberment where the medical and dental expenses referred to in paragraph (3) are in excess of $1,500.
(3) Medical and dental expenses including the reasonable value of reasonable and necessary medical and dental services, prosthetic devices and necessary ambulance, hospital, professional nursing, and physical therapy expenses accrued and anticipated in the diagnosis, care and recovery of the claimant.
(4) Loss of consortium.
(5) Loss of support.
(6) Property losses.
The provisions of Section 8553(c)(2) most frequently affect personal injury claims by barring injury victims from recovering compensation for pain and suffering, unless if the injury results in: (1) death, or (2) injury where medical bills are in excess of $1,500, and the victim suffers permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement, or permanent dismemberment.
If you were seriously hurt, but are unsure as to whether you have a permanent injury, you should discuss your specific circumstances with an attorney experienced in litigating premises liability claims against the government.
Free Legal Consultation With an Experienced Injury Attorney
Injury claims against cities are subject to complex regulations. It is in your best interests to be represented by an experienced slip and fall accident attorney. To speak confidentially with a personal injury lawyer at the Wieand Law Firm, LLC about your personal injury claim against Philadelphia, call us today at (215) 666-7777 for a free legal consultation.
Disclaimer: This page does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice. It is for informational purposes only. This information may not be current law or may contain errors. You should always consult with an attorney if you have specific legal questions or concerns.