What Do I Need to Prove to Recover Money for a Slip and Fall Case in Pennsylvania?
Slip and fall cases generally rely on the theory that the owner of the property was negligent and because of the owner’s negligence you were injured. To prevail in a negligence action, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant “owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, that duty was breached, the breach resulted in the plaintiff’s injury, and the plaintiff suffered an actual loss or damages.” The owner of a piece of property, such as a shopping center or an apartment complex, may be held liable for physical harm to someone who comes on to their property. However, the law has created different classifications of people and how one is identified when you are on someone’s property, to determine if they will be able to recover damages. The law may consider you a trespasser, licensee, or an invitee, and this may be the determinative factor regarding whether you can bring a claim against a property owner.
What are Trespassers, Licensees, and Invitees?
You might think that when you are one someone else’s property you are just on their property and are considered the same as a person in a store or in an apartment. However, you might be considered a trespasser or you might be considered a licensee, or perhaps even an invitee. What you are doing on the property generally determines what status you are given. The law provides different levels of protections for each of the different classifications. These range from almost no protections to a high level of protection.
A trespasser is a person who is on another person’s property without their permission. However, unless you exceed the scope of your invitation or engage in illegal activity, you will not be considered a trespasser at a store or shopping center. The property owner only owes a trespasser a duty to refrain from wanton or willful conduct, and from maintaining a “hidden engine of destruction.”
A licensee, on the other hand, is a person who is privileged to enter or remain on another person’s land because they received permission from that person. Generally, a property owner is only liable for someone’s slip and fall injury under the following conditions:
- The possessor knows or has reason to know of the condition and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such licensees, and should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger;
- He fails to exercise reasonable care to make the condition safe, or to warn the licensees of the condition and the risk involved, and
- The licensees do not know or have reason to know of the condition and the risk involved.
A public invitee is a person who is invited to enter or remain on the land as a member of the public, for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public. A business visitor is a person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of land. Generally, an invitee is owed the most protection. For a property owner to be held liable for an invitee’s slip and fall injuries, the condition that caused them to slip and fall must either be known or discoverable by the property owner. A property owner must exercise reasonable care to discover conditions which involve an unreasonable risk of harm to invitees. This includes a duty to inspect the property and make it reasonably safe for invitees.
As you can see, how the law decides to classify you may be the deciding factor for whether you will be able to recover damages in a slip and fall accident. It is very important that you have an experienced personal injury attorney, such as the seasoned attorneys from Edelstein Law, LLP, who are familiar with the various classifications and who can advocate for you to receive the protections you are entitled to. Call Edelstein Law at (215) 893-9311, for a free consultation!