One of the responsibilities that come with being a property owner in Philadelphia and the surrounding area is maintaining your premises in such a way that no potential hazards cause harm to visitors. When the negligence of other people results in injuries suffered on their property or at their place of business, victims may have the right to compensation through a premises liability claim.
However, few property owners naturally feel obligated to pay a victim’s losses or use their insurance coverage to do so. These claims require the kind of attention to detail and establishment of solid evidence that the office of Baratta Law, LLC is known for, so you don’t have to take on your case without the assistance and experience of a Philadelphia premises liability lawyer.
Philadelphia Property Dangers and Injuries Common in Premises Liability Claims
There may be as many types of dangerous conditions that result in personal injuries to a visitor as there are properties in Philadelphia. The following are only some of the factors with established causation of these accidents:
- Slips and Falls – Often called a slip-and-fall, this kind of accident often occurs near swimming pools and other areas prone to water or ice accumulation–the slick flooring of grocery stores on a rainy day, for example.
- Dog Bites – Because dogs are considered personal property, owners have a duty to prevent visitors from being attacked while on the premises. An unlawful trespasser or other person engaging in criminal acts may not be entitled to financial compensation for animal attacks.
- Flooring and Ceiling Issues – Failing to adequately maintain the condition of one’s property can result in serious injuries to visitors due to things like loose floorboards that could be easily fixed. Victims of these preventable injuries may have the right to premise liability damages.
- Rental Property Hazards – Landlords assume the responsibility of protecting residents of their apartment complexes and other dwellings from injury. Failure to provide adequate security, insufficient maintenance, and negligence of repairs may require them to pay victims.
- Dangerous Playgrounds – Kids are some of the most vulnerable victims to hazardous conditions on playgrounds. The people who manage these areas should be accountable for the losses incurred by a child’s injuries, as well as those suffered by any other visitor.
- Swimming and Drowning Accidents – Children are also especially prone to injuries and deaths in or near pools or other bodies of water, so property managers have a special duty of care to protect them and other patrons from serious, potentially fatal injuries.
These and many other types of premise liability accidents far too often result in catastrophic injuries requiring immediate and future medical care. The following are some of the more serious injuries commonly sustained in this kind of incident:
- Spinal or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – Because these accidents often involve falls or falling objects, the brain and spine are particularly vulnerable to lifelong damage resulting in potentially limited functionality, loss of memory, or paralysis.
- Burns – Fires and the explosion of faulty wiring or other electrical components can cause devastating burn injuries requiring lengthy hospital stays and extremely painful recovery for victims.
- Broken Bones – Falling injuries, for example, can easily result in breaks and fractures to both large and small bones requiring surgeries, physical or occupational therapies, and special medical equipment.
Claims against property owners can vary widely in the injuries, contributing causes, and other aspects like proving negligence. Having a skilled Philadelphia premises liability lawyer can make a significant difference in the progression of a case and the number of damages you’re ultimately awarded.
How Do I Prove the Liability of a Property Owner for a Philadelphia Personal Injury?
One of the first steps to the successful resolution of a premises liability claim is establishing the liable parties whose actions–or lack thereof–caused your injuries. Because property owners and insurance companies aren’t likely to compensate victims without pushback, this task can feel overwhelming.
Besides proving a property or homeowner’s negligence, there are four key factors under Pennsylvania premises liability laws that must be established to prove that one or more parties are responsible for your injuries. These factors are as follows:
The Duty of Care Existed
The property owner must have a duty of care as it is recognized under Philadelphia law. This means they must refrain from actions and prevent dangers that can cause injury through gross negligence, recklessness, willful misconduct, or knowingly committing criminal acts.
Property owners generally have a duty of care to licensees (people invited to the premises for social purposes) and invitees (those invited because it benefits the property owner economically).
The Owner of the Property Breached the Duty of Care
When businesses, residents, and other property owners fail to secure their premises from dangers that can cause harm to visitors. They are responsible for protecting guests and patrons from injuries, and a failure to do so means they have violated their duty of care under the law.
The Breach Caused the Injuries Sustained
To achieve a favorable outcome, premises liability cases must be supported by evidence that a property owner’s breach of their duty of care directly resulted in the injuries at issue. This is known as proving causation.
The Injuries Resulted in Losses or Damages
Victims must also be able to prove that the injuries they’ve suffered have resulted in specific damages. These can be economic, such as medical bills or lost wages, or non-economic damages like pain and suffering, but claims for damage must be supported by thorough documentation and evidence.
Proving that a defendant acted recklessly enough in neglecting dangerous property conditions to cause personal injuries can be complex. Victims need an advocate with the knowledge and attention to detail to take on the insurance companies’ defense.
The Philadelphia premises liability attorneys of Baratta Law, LLC are well versed in establishing a defendant’s responsibility to pay damages. Our firm has processes in place for creating liability timelines and mechanisms of injury exhibits, and we utilize focus groups and eyewitness statements. Keeping open lines of communication with our clients as the progress of their case is also a firm priority.
Types of Compensation Available to Victims of Premises Liability in Pennsylvania
A serious injury can leave your wallet hurting as much as your body. The expenses victims face may risk their financial future, so premises liability claims often involve requiring property owners to pay multiple forms of damages through settlements or courtroom verdicts.
It’s important to discuss your situation with your premises liability attorney to fully understand your rights to a reasonable award of damages. However, in general, liability cases result in a few basic types of compensation for victims:
- Medical bills, including doctor and hospital visits, surgeries, medications, medical equipment, and other costs associated with the medical treatment required for your injuries
- Future medical costs such as continued occupational or physical therapies
- Wages and income you may lose from hours you would’ve worked if not for the injury
- Loss of future earning potential
- Decreased quality of life and negative effects on personal relationships
- Pain and suffering or mental anguish
Punitive damages may also be awarded in premises liability claims if a defendant’s actions are sufficiently reckless and outrageous to display an indifference to the rights of others to a safe environment. These matters are decided at the discretion of the courts.
When it’s time to seek financial recoveries for your economic losses and non-economic damages, you need a team of lawyers with detailed knowledge and years of experience handling premises liability lawsuits. The office of Baratta Law, LLC is standing by to get your case started on the path to a successful outcome as soon as it’s reviewed by one of our attorneys during a free, easy consultation.
Our Philadelphia Clients’ Most Frequently-Asked Premises Liability Questions
Premises liability cases are complex. Victims are already in pain, and questions about the legal system are the last thing you should be concerned with as you recover from your injuries. A consultation with our friendly staff and skilled attorneys can help you get more questions answered, but in the meantime, here are some of our clients’ most frequently asked questions:
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
Personal injury cases like those involving premises liability are taken on a contingency basis, meaning the fees a client pays depend on the outcome of their case. Contingency fees are fixed portions of your settlement agreed upon at the beginning of our representation. If we don’t recover a settlement or verdict for you, our office will never charge you for the services of our staff and attorneys.
Can I recover premises liability damages from the government?
Most premises liability claims involve an injured individual and another individual who bears responsibility. However, some injuries can be caused by a government agency or employee. For example, if you’re injured on state-owned property or by the driver of a government vehicle, the defendant in your case may be the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
While Pennsylvania judges use the sovereign immunity doctrine to decide personal injury cases involving the government, there are some circumstances under which a government agency or employee can be held liable for paying damages. One of these situations would be the dangerous condition of a government-owned building.
How long do I have to file a premises liability claim in Philadelphia?
In Pennsylvania, the required deadlines for filing premises liability claims are the same as those for other types of personal injuries. There is a two-year statute of limitations, which begins on the day of the incident.
An experienced attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of a claim not only by getting the facts of your case and the other party’s liability established but by ensuring that all filings are completed in a timely manner until your matter is resolved.
What if the property owner claims the accident was my fault?
A homeowner, business proprietor, or another property holder may attempt to shift the blame onto victims of injuries suffered on their premises. In Pennsylvania, the legal doctrine of comparative negligence may allow insurance companies to reduce the settlements they offer on the grounds that a victim was partially responsible for causing an accident.
Luckily, lawyers who are skilled in handling premises liability cases know how to negotiate with these companies and defend your claim. They may use different types of evidence to support the claim against the defendant, such as statements from each potential witness to the incident. Our lawyers thoroughly collect and utilize information to ensure they consistently act in their clients’ best interests.
Discuss Your Injury Claim with an Experienced Philadelphia Premises Liability Lawyer
Being injured on someone else’s property is difficult and traumatic. Whether it was a home, a business, or something in between, you’re hurting, and the issues that come with establishing liability and proving your case can create additional stress. Someone let you down with their negligence, but you don’t have to handle the legal system on your own.
A free, initial consultation with our experienced attorneys can begin to bring you peace of mind, help you understand your options and rights, and set your case on the right track early. Get started today by filling out the form below, or call our office at 215-914-8132 to schedule your consultation with a trusted Philadelphia premises liability lawyer at Baratta Law, LLC.