A Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer can fight for just compensation if you are injured by someone else’s negligence. Slip and fall incidents are seldom truly “accidents.” Instead, they are often caused by dangerous property conditions, such as wet floors, broken sidewalks, and icy parking lots. If you or a loved one was injured in a slip and fall accident caused by defective property in Pennsylvania, compensation may be available for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
You should speak with a Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your right to bring an injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit. To speak with an experienced slip and fall lawyer in Philadelphia call the Wieand Law Firm LLC at (215) 666-7777 today.
Slip and Fall Accidents – Personal Injury Attorneys in Philadelphia
The Wieand Law Firm handles a wide array of personal injury cases arising from slip and fall accidents. Speak with a Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer at our law firm if you were injured as a result of:
- Slip and Fall on Defective Stairs – Fall injuries can result in or because of stairwells if they are slippery, poorly lit, lack handrails, or feature defective railings.
- Slip and Fall at Work – Whether you work at an office building, a warehouse, a grocery store, or a construction site, common hazards such as broken flooring, unsecured cables, wobbly railings, defective equipment, and slippery floors can all lead to preventable falls in the workplace.
- Slip and Fall on Icy Sidewalk – A property owner has a duty to clear ice and snow from his/her property in a reasonable period of time. A owner may be liable if they fail to do so and someone falls due to their negligence.
- Trip and Fall on Broken Sidewalk – Falls often occur due to defective conditions of the street or sidewalk. Examples include unsalted ice, broken or crumbling pavement, potholes in the sidewalk or street, raised or uneven pavement, and slush or snow that has not been removed in a timely manner.
- Slip and Fall on Wet Floor – Leaks and spills, such as leaks from broken containers in grocery stores, must be cleaned up or cordoned off promptly. Likewise, freshly mopped or waxed floors should be indicated by warning signs.
- Trip and Fall on Pothole in the Street – Streets and crosswalks can feature dangerous defects, such as potholes, uneven surfaces, and the remnants of removed signs, which protrude slightly from the pavement and create almost invisible trip hazards.
Most private, commercial and public properties are insured for safety hazards. Usually, the property owner’s homeowners insurance or commercial liability insurance will cover losses for personal injury. Premises liability cases frequently occur at:
- Car Dealerships
- Bars and Restaurants
- Coffee shops
- Grocery Stores
- Movie Theatres
- Museums, Zoos, and Aquariumss
- Parking Garages and Parking Lots
- Shopping Malls
- Streets and Sidewalks
We represent clients who have suffered a serious harm or permanent injuries. Speak with a Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer if you suffered an injury such as:
- Ankle Fracture (broken ankle)
- Neck and Back Injury
- Broken bone or fracture
- Concussion and Head Injury
- Knee Injury / torn meniscus
- Neck Sprain and Strain Injuries (“Whiplash”)
- Spinal Cord Injuries / herniated discs
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Wrist Injury
Slip and Fall Settlements: How Much is My Slip and Fall Case Worth?
A Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer understands the problems caused by a serious injury, including unexpected medical expenses and limitations on your work or daily activities. Although these cases are frequently trivialized, we know that the pain and suffering endured by victims is real. When you are represented by our slip and fall lawyers in Philadelphia, you can rest assured that we will work diligently and strategically to pursue the compensation to which you are entitled.
Personal injury slip and fall settlement amounts vary greatly from case to case. The amount of a slip and fall settlement will depend on the negligence of the defendant, as well as the degree of harms and losses you incurred as a result of your fall.
Injuries incurred in an accident can simultaneously reduce your quality of life, burden you with heavy medical expenses, and make it difficult or impossible for you to continue earning income at the level you were accustomed to before the incident occurred. However, if your injury occurred because of another party’s negligence, that party may be liable for your damages, including:
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Lost Wages and Income
- Medical Bills
- Pain and Suffering
- Punitive Damages
A Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer will fight aggressively on your behalf in an effort to see that you are fully and fairly compensated for the harm caused. Our law firm will protect you from unknowingly accepting a low-ball settlement offer that fails to appropriately address your long-term care expenses. If an acceptable settlement offer is not made, we will not hesitate to try your case in front of a jury.
When Are Property Owners Liable for Slip and Fall Accidents?
Generally, a property owner or possessor is responsible for keeping his or her property in reasonably safe condition. This duty includes making timely and reasonable efforts to keep the premises free of any hazardous conditions which might cause injury to guests and members of the general public who are on the property lawfully.
Further, if a property owner has notice of a dangerous condition on their premises, he/she owes a legal duty not only to cure the hazard but also to warn persons who are legally on the property of the condition. Common warnings may include:
- Caution Signs
- Verbal Warnings
- Wet Floor Signs
- Written Notices
In some cases, notice of the danger may also require business owners to barricade the hazard – for instance, constructing a fence around a hole in the ground – or take other reasonable precautions that are necessary to make the premises safe. Our Philadelphia slip and fall lawyers will fight to prove negligence on the part of the property owner.
What to do After a Slip and Fall Accident
If you were recently injured by falling on another person’s property, and you believe that the cause of your fall was a hazard, flaw, or defect on the property, it is critical that you contact a slip and fall lawyer in Philadelphia for help. The sooner your slip and fall injury lawyer begins collecting, preserving, and analyzing the evidence, the greater your likelihood of prevailing in a claim and obtaining financial compensation. Some key steps in the investigative process include:
- Collecting evidence before it is lost or destroyed;
- Interviewing witnesses;
- Preserving video surveillance footage; and
- Taking photographs of the defective condition.
Proving a Premises Liability Case
Property owners and business operators almost always insist that when someone falls on the premises, it was because they were “not looking they were walking.” However, the truth is usually the opposite. Most slip and fall accidents are preventable and occur because the area was negligently maintained, poorly designed or defective.
In addition to claiming the victim was not paying attention, another common defense property owners often attempt to use is that the defective condition of the property was “open and obvious.” If true, the defendant may avoid liability under the theory that the victim should have seen and avoided the danger. However, despite the defendant’s claims to the contrary, the defective condition is frequently not open and obvious. People seldom notice dangers, such as wet floors or broken sidewalks, until it is too late to avoid being injured. A Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer can help you hold a negligent property owner accountable.
If you were injured due to a trip and fall accident, you may wonder if you have a legal right to be compensated for your harms and losses, and if so, what happens if you contact a Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer to represent you for a personal injury claim. The slip and fall claims process is explained in the following sections.
Evaluating a Slip and Fall Personal Injury Claim
The first step in evaluating a claim is to discuss the circumstances of your fall with a personal injury lawyer who can help determine if you have a viable claim. For slip and fall injury claims to be actionable, the fall and injury must be caused by someone else’s negligence. To prove negligence, your attorney will need to show the following:
- Duty – Did a person or business owe you a duty of care? The level of care owed to others usually depends on their guest status: for example, were they a business invitee, licensee or trespasser?
- Breach of Duty – Did you fall because of someone else’s negligence, carelessness or recklessness? If so, this may be considered a breach of duty.
- Causation – Were you hurt as a direct result of someone else’s negligence? To have a viable claim, your injury must have been caused as a result of another person’s negligence. If your injury was caused by something else, you would not meet the criteria to bring a personal injury claim. A personal injury attorney can help you understand whether you meet the criteria.
- Damages – Did you suffer actual harm as a result of your fall? If you fell but were not injured or harmed in any way, you do not have a viable claim.
However, even if you were injured due to another person’s negligence, there may be a valid defense to you lawsuit.
Defenses to Slip and Fall Lawsuits
In addition to analyzing your claim for negligence, a Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer will also need to consider what defenses will be used to argue against or minimize your claim. Some of the most common defenses to premises liability claims are provided below.
Assumption of the Risk – “Assumption of the risk” is a complete bar to recovery or something that prevents you from obtaining compensation, in a negligence claim in Pennsylvania. The assumption of the risk occurs when someone fully understands the risk of harm associated with their actions, yet chooses to continue with the action or remain in a hazardous area despite the risk.
This defense is most commonly used when someone is injured while playing a sport, such as football, or while participating in a dangerous activity, such as skydiving. However, it can also be used to defend against a slip and fall injury lawsuit. For example, if you see that a parking lot is covered with ice, and witness three people slip and fall while walking in the parking lot, but you choose to walk in the parking lot despite this knowledge, you will likely encounter an assumption of the risk defense.
Comparative Negligence – The most common defense to trip and fall lawsuits is that the victim was wholly or partially at fault for his or her own injuries. For example, if you fall and break your ankle on a broken sidewalk, the defense attorney will almost certainly claim it was your fault for not watching where you were walking. This is a “comparative negligence” defense.
Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law is codified at 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 7102. It allows a plaintiff to recover compensation for injuries if he or she was less than 51% at fault. If the plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault for a negligence claim, they are prohibited from making a financial recovery.
If a plaintiff is found to be partially responsible for their slip and fall accident, but still less than 51%, an award for pain, suffering and other economic losses will be reduced by their proportionate share of comparative negligence. For example, let’s say that you slipped on ice in a parking lot and injured your back. The jury awards you damages in the amount of $100,000. The jury finds that the grocery store is 80% at fault, and finds you to be 20% at fault. Under these circumstances, the jury’s award of $100,000 would be reduced by 20% due to your comparative negligence. Thus, your total recovery would be $80,000.
De minimus – A de minimus condition is a property defect that is too small or trivial to warrant consideration. Though case law in Pennsylvania describes some conditions that have been found to be de minimus, the court has the discretion to find what does and does not constitute a de minimus defect.
Hills and Ridges Doctrine – The “hills and ridges” doctrine is a defense that protects Pennsylvania landowners from liability for generally slippery conditions caused by ice and snow when the snow has not been allowed to accumulate to unreasonable ridges or elevations.
Open and Obvious – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has found that a property owner is not liable to for injuries caused to others when the defective condition is “open and obvious,” unless the landowner should anticipate such harm despite this knowledge. This defense to premises liability claims is usually asserted when the defect is physically large and obvious to a reasonable person.
No Notice of Defect – Defendants often allege that they did not have actual or constructive notice of a defective condition, and therefore, were not negligent. The lack of notice defense is most frequently used when a customer slips or trips due to something recently spilled or dropped on the floor by another customer.
Sovereign or Governmental Immunity – Commonwealth and government entities in Pennsylvania are protected from tort claims by Pennsylvania’s Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act.
The Tort Claims Act creates eight exceptions to this immunity. In order to successfully bring a premises liability claim for an injury that occurs on property owned by a municipality, a city, or the Pennsylvania Commonwealth, you will need to prove that your slip and fall accident meets one of the exceptions to governmental immunity.
Statute of Limitations – The “statute of limitations” limits the time you have to bring a claim. With limited exceptions, Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations on negligence claims. If you do not settle your claim or file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, your case will be dismissed.
It is vital that you consult a trip and fall attorney in Philadelphia as soon as possible after an accident to protect your legal interests and gather the evidence needed to prove your case.
Preparing a Premises Liability Lawsuit (Pre-litigation)
Your attorney will collect information needed to investigate your claim and protect your rights. Some documents that may be collected in pre-litigation include:
- Accident Scene Photographs
- DHS and Medicare Liens
- Incident Reports
- Injury Photographs
- Medical Records
- Medical Bills
- Medical Liens
- Verification of Lost Wages
- Video Footage and Surveillance
- Weather Reports
- Witness Statements
Your accident attorney will try to determine the identity of the responsible parties, such as the landowner, the property manager, or the snow and ice contractor, and notify them of your claim. It is also good practice to send a preservation of evidence letter so that key evidence is not lost or destroyed.
If your claim is against the Commonwealth or a political subdivision such as a city, borough or other municipality – for instance, to bring a slip and fall claim against Philadelphia you must give the government proper notice of your claim within six months.
A slip and fall attorney may also try to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. If the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer, the next step is to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
A slip and fall lawsuit in PA is initiated by filing a writ of summons or civil complaint. The Complaint sets forth the plaintiff’s allegations against the defendant, and the plaintiff’s demand. In Pennsylvania, the demand for personal injury claims is not a specific dollar amount. Instead, the rules of court require that a plaintiff plead whether the demand is over or under a certain threshold.
For example, in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, claims can be filed as either “arbitration” or “major jury.” A complaint that alleges damages in excess of $50,000 will be put into the major jury program. If the complaint alleges damages not in excess of $50,000, it will be submitted to the compulsory arbitration program.
Compulsory arbitration is intended to resolve smaller cases without expending the time, expense, and resources needed for a jury trial. In compulsory arbitration, a case is decided by three arbitrators in a less formal setting. Both plaintiffs and defendants each have an automatic right to appeal a compulsory arbitration award within 30 days.
Discovery: Gathering Evidence to Prove your Case
After a Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer files a lawsuit, your case will be assigned scheduling deadlines, and the parties will begin the formal process of exchanging information known as “discovery.” A party can request information from the other parties, or from persons not involved in the litigation, if it is relevant and calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. This is often done through:
- Depositions – A court event where the attorney can ask questions to another party, witness, representative, or expert on the record.
- Requests for Admissions – Written requests for a party to admit a fact or issue.
- Request for Entry – Request for entry upon another party’s premises.
- Subpoenas – A request for production of documents (or other items) possessed by a non-party.
- Interrogatories – Written questions to another party.
- Request for Production of Documents – Request for documents or other items, such as photographs, video, or physical evidence.
Slip and Fall Settlements in PA
Following the close of discovery, a settlement conference and/or pretrial conference will be held. Here, the parties will attempt to settle the case. If it does not resolve, the case will be set for a jury trial or an “Alternative Dispute Resolution” such as mediation or binding arbitration.
Jury Trial – Personal Injury Lawsuits
Jury trials give each party the opportunity to plead their case in front of a jury of their peers. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial may last several days, weeks, or even months.
During the trial, a judge presides over the case and acts as the courtroom referee. After the case is litigated, and each party has presented its case, the judge will instruct the jury on the law which must be followed during deliberations. The jury then performs its civic duty as the “finder of fact,” and will render a verdict for either the plaintiff or defendant.
Philadelphia Slip and Fall Lawyer- Personal Injury Claim
The Philadelphia slip and fall attorneys at Wieand Law Firm, LLC aggressively represent injured people throughout Pennsylvania. If we represent you, we will immediately begin preparing your case for trial while working to negotiate a settlement to fairly compensate you. For a free consultation with Philadelphia personal injury attorney call us at (215) 666-7777.
Disclaimer: This page is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. This information may not be current law or may contain errors.
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