As the winter season approaches, inclement weather conditions threaten to make many public and private properties far more dangerous to those who visit them. Often, weather elements such as freezing rain, snow and ice create serious hazards leading to increased risk of slip-and-fall accidents.
This is complicated by increases in traffic congestion and greater numbers of pedestrians in commercial areas. One can easily imagine how shoppers find themselves at risk of suffering such an injury during the holiday season as they rush from business to business.
As you make preparations for the holiday shopping season, be mindful of these hazards and the ways that you might minimize your own risk of suffering a slip-and-fall injury. Unfortunately, even as pedestrians taking proper precautions, slip-and-fall accidents do occur.
If you or someone you love suffers a slip-and-fall injury this holiday season due to a property owner's negligence, do not hesitate to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney will guide you through the process of assessing the causes of your injury and help ensure that your rights and priorities remain protected.
Under what circumstances can a property owner be held liable?
As you know, winter weather creates significant risks for pedestrians, but that does not mean that every slip and fall is legally actionable. Different states and municipalities maintain varying laws that govern whether a property owner is liable or not. Be sure to understand these laws and the ways they may affect your claim before you take legal action. In most cases, pedestrians are responsible for avoiding dangerous hazards if they can.
However, property owners are responsible for addressing known hazards on the property as soon as possible, and to keep the property free of preventable hazards that may cause injuries, such as ice buildup in areas with heavy foot traffic.
This could mean a business owner could be held liable for not addressing a patch of ice on a sidewalk leading to the establishment. In contrast, if a slip-and-fall injury occurs in a public space, such as a sidewalk in a business district, the city or other municipality may be liable rather than any particular business owner.
In many slip-and-fall cases, the question of liability centers on whether the property owner knew or should have known the hazard existed.
Get the help you need when you need it.
After a slip-and-fall injury, your focus should be on getting better. Let a personal injury attorney handle the accident investigation and your claim for compensation. Understand, though, that evidence in slip-and-fall cases is very time-sensitive, and there is a statute of limitations for bringing a premises liability claim in Pennsylvania.
For more on these matters, please see our overview of sidewalk and parking lot injuries.