Premises liability cases occur when a person is injured on someone else’s property due to a dangerous condition. Cases typically occur at someone’s home or a business. Homeowners and business owners owe a duty of care to guests on their property and they generally need to keep their guests safe from known dangerous conditions. Pennsylvania premises liability cases are brought on a theory of negligence or strict liability as discussed in more detail below.
Certain factual scenarios that frequently show up in premises liability cases are described below:
Slips, trips, and falls – These cases arise when a guest slips, trips, or falls due to dangerous conditions such as icy sidewalks, freshly mopped floors, and unexpected obstructions in walkways.
Fires – Fire premises liability cases can allege dangerous causes such as faulty wiring, overloaded outlets, lack of smoke detectors, or faulty smoke detectors.
Faulty railings and staircases – Slips, trips, and falls often result due to broken and poorly maintained railings and staircases.
Negligent security – These cases most often occur when someone is attacked or assaulted in a dark parking lot at a business.
Inadequate maintenance – Homeowners and businesses have a duty to keep their properties well maintained so that guests are safe on their property.
Falling debris – Items that fall from above such as negligently stocked shelves or snow and ice falling from a roof can cause injuries to unsuspecting patrons and guests.
Dog bites – Dog and other domestic animal bites are common cases as owners have a duty to keep guests safe from their pets.
Swimming pool accidents – Accidents that include drowning and spinal injuries due to shallow dives are regular premises liability subjects.
As mentioned above, two theories of recovery for premises liability claims are negligence and strict liability.
Negligence claims – Plaintiffs generally try to show the following elements to prove their negligence claims:
Strict liability claims – Strict liability claims do not require proof of negligence. In these claims, Plaintiffs need to prove that an abnormal or inherent danger caused his or her injury. Examples could be pets that are known to be dangerous or storing explosives that injure a guest.
Trespasser exception – Homeowners or businesses owe either no duty or a lowered duty of care. A duty of care may be owed if it is reasonable to foresee that a trespasser may be injured by a dangerous condition such as a child drowning in a swimming pool. Here a property owner would have a duty of care to put up a fence around the pool or take other measures to protect children who are attracted to the pool.