If you or a loved one has been injured and are wondering whether you should file a premises liability claim, contact the Pittsburgh Premises Liability Attorneys at SMT Legal today to schedule your free case evaluation.
Our premises liability lawyers work with many people who have suffered many types of serious injuries from accidents on private property.
Many injury victims have required hospitalization and rehabilitation and have not been able to work or perform their usual daily functions due to broken bones, dislocated joints, brain injuries and other serious injuries.
What is Premises Liability in Pittsburgh?
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania law maintains that any person or company that owns or operates a property is responsible for any injuries that occur there. Owners must keep the land and any buildings safe and hazard free. They must remove or repair problems right away and warn visitors if there is a risk. Common examples of dangerous conditions include:
- Dangerous Sidewalks
- Unsafe Conditions / Properties (steps – railings – decks)
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Inadequate Security (poor lighting, security cameras)
- Swimming Pool Accidents
If you have been hurt on someone else’s property, you can pursue a premises liability case against them. This also applies to anyone who works on the property. You and your lawyer will need to prove that:
- The defendant owned, occupied, leased, or controlled the property where you were hurt.
- The defendant was or should have been aware of the hazard.
- The defendant failed to fix the problem and maintain the property in a safe manner.
- You suffered injuries on the property related to the hazard.
The individual or business responsible for the property is required to maintain it based on what a reasonable person would do in similar circumstances. Some examples of hazards that can cause an injury include:
- Failing to remove slip-and-fall risks such as liquid, debris, or ice
- Allowing animals to run loose or escape their enclosures, leading to attacks
- Uneven areas or potholes in sidewalks, roadways, and parking lots
- Inadequate lighting in hallways, stairs, and parking areas
- Debris, boxes, or other items that can fall onto visitors
- Electrocution risks from faulty wiring
- Carbon monoxide leaks
- Insufficient maintenance or security coverage
- Unsafe elevators & escalators
- Loose rugs or flooring, causing a trip hazard
What is Involved in a Premises Liability Case?
In Pittsburgh, a typical premises liability accident lawsuit is settled within about 24 months, while the average settlement or award for such cases is about $100,000, but can be substantially higher when the plaintiff is represented by a premises liability accident lawyer in Pittsburgh or elsewhere in Pennsylvania.
Recovering damages in a premises liability case requires extensive knowledge of Pennsylvania premises liability law, as the victim needs to establish four elements in order to receive compensation for his or her injury sustained on someone else’s property:
- The owner of the property where the accident occurred owed the victim a duty of care. Whether or not the owner of the property where you were injured owed you a duty of care depends on your status as a visitor (more about it later).
- There was a dangerous or hazardous condition on the property. The condition should be one that the property owner knew or should have known about through the exercise of due diligence.
- The dangerous condition was a direct or proximate cause of the victim’s injury.
- The victim suffered damages as a result of the premises liability accident.
How to Identify Your Status as a Visitor on Someone Else’s Property
Your eligibility to seek compensation in a premises liability case depends on your status as a visitor on the property where you sustained your injury. There are three different categories of visitors under premises liability law:
- Invitee: If you were invited to enter the property for a lawful purpose, you are considered an invitee. The invitation can be either explicit or implied. For example, contractors are considered invitees.
- Licensee: If you have no contractual relationship with the owner of the property on which you were injured, you may be classified as a licensee. However, licensees still have express or implicit permission to enter the premises, and thus the property owner owes a duty of care to licensees.
- Trespasser: Trespassers are people who enter an owner’s property with neither express nor implicit permission to do so. However, as absurd as it may sound, even trespassers are owed a certain duty of care. For example, it is prohibited by law for property owners to set up dangerous conditions or traps intentionally to cause harm to trespassers.
There are three types of individuals who might enter a property: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. The owner owes a duty of care to only two of them. If you are an invitee, you have been given permission to be on the property for the benefit of either the owner or yourself. This would include customers in stores or people attending a house of worship. If you are a licensee, you are there for your own benefit rather than the owner. Trespassers are those who enter the property without permission. The owner is not required to uphold a duty of care to this group. Trespassers are not eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the owner. An exception is if the trespasser is a child.
Are You Eligible to File a Premises Liability Claim?
What types of accidents on someone else’s property entitle you to compensation under the legal theory of premises liability?
Premises liability claims can involve the following types of properties:
- Public building (any building that is accessible to the public and is funded from public sources)
- Private homes
- Private properties
- Nightclubs, bars, movie theaters, and other entertainment establishments
- Cafes, restaurants, fast food joints, and other food-serving properties
- Vacant land
- Apartment complexes
- Public areas
- Grocery stores
- Beauty salons, barbershops, hair and nail salons
- Gyms, SPAs, and fitness clubs
Proving Fault in Premises Liability Cases
Most premises liability cases are not the easiest to prove. The victim of the accident has to be able to demonstrate that the property owner was negligent and that the owner was aware of the danger on their property or should have been aware.
If you have access to a digital camera or have a camera on your mobile phone, a good first step in collecting evidence is to take photos or videos as soon as possible. Gathering the names and phone numbers of any witnesses is a good second step.
The Pittsburgh injury attorneys at SMT legal understand how frustrating and painful it is to be in a serious accident.
Contact the Pittsburgh Premises Liability Attorneys at SMT Legal for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one were injured on private property, contact premises liability attorneys at SMT Legal Today.