Businesses and property owners are responsible for the incidents that occur on their properties. If the owner or manager knew about a dangerous condition but failed to take steps to remove it, they could be held liable for any injuries that result from their negligence.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury while visiting another person’s commercial or private property, speak with a well-practiced injury attorney about your options for restitution. A Bucks County premises liability lawyer can provide a consultation to review your claim in preparation for legal action.
Possible Defendant’s in Property Accident Cases
Premises liability laws were founded on the belief that those in control of property are legally responsible for keeping it safe. When someone is injured due to a hazardous condition, multiple parties could potentially be held liable for the resulting harm.
Local dangerous property attorneys are required to identify all those who could be potentially liable for causing a claimant’s injury. This could include a landowner, operator, property manager, or other parties in corporate liability cases. In residential areas, owners, building superintendents, and maintenance personnel could be liable. Additionally, there could be owners, inspectors, managers, and countless general and sub-contractors responsible for a fall on construction sites. Experienced representation could help an injured party identify the correct defendant in their case.
Establishing Premises Owner Liability
A civil lawsuit on the basis of a hazardous premises requires the establishment of defendant negligence. The primary elements needed to be proven in negligence cases are duty, breach of duty, actual damages or injuries, and the proximate cause between the wrongdoing and the injuries suffered.
In the case of premises liability lawsuits, a Bucks County lawyer must show that the possessor:
- Knew or should have known of a condition that posed an unreasonable risk of harm by inspection
- Should have expected that a visitor would not be aware of the unsafe condition in order to avoid it
- Failed to exercise reasonable care to protect the visitor from the prospective harm
All three elements must be established, otherwise the claim may be subject to dismissal. Courts first look to whether a dangerous or defective condition existed on the premises, and then they analyze whether that condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm. This can include spilled liquids, uneven flooring, exposed electrical wire, or broken stairs. Additionally, if the property owner placed obvious warnings of the hazard or if the hazard should have been foreseen by the claimant, the case could be dismissed, meaning the claimant cannot recover compensation.
Impact of Visitor Status on Property Liability Claim
Most cases of premises liability involve injuries to visitors to commercial property. The owners, lessees, and operators of businesses and other premises that invite the public have the highest duty of care to offer a safe environment for those who enter. A failure to do so could be considered legally negligent and lead to liability for damages.
Private property owners have an obligation to inform their social guests of hazards they know about, but the owners need not inspect a property to find hidden dangers. If a guest suffers an injury on private property, the possessor might not be liable unless he or she knew of the hazard, and the guest could not have anticipated it.
Trespassers have no protection under premises liability theories. A property owner or possessor may not intentionally create a condition to injure a trespasser, but otherwise, a trespasser cannot hold a landowner or possessor liable for injuries they suffer when on a property without permission.
What is the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine?
Even though premises liability law does not protect trespassers, there is an exception when the trespasser is a child. If the property contains a feature that might attract a child, and the child would be unable to ascertain the danger the feature poses, a landowner might be liable. This is known as the attractive nuisance doctrine.
Attractive nuisances are man-made features, such as swimming pools, trampolines, sandpits, construction sites, or fountains, that might induce a child to enter and play. When a child enters a property without permission and suffers an injury, a landowner could be held liable if:
- The land contained a feature that the landowner should have known could be hazardous
- A child might not realize the danger
- The landowner knew or should have known that children could access the property
- The cost of mitigating the hazard was reasonable considering the risk it posed to children
If a child suffers an injury on someone else’s property, a Bucks County injury lawyer could investigate to determine whether there was an attractive nuisance on the premises. If so, the landowner could be found negligent for failing to prevent children from accessing the hazard and be liable for the child’s damages.
Filing Deadline in Bucks County
Each state restricts the timeframe in which an individual could file a lawsuit seeking damages for personal injuries. The Commonwealth, under 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes §5524, demands injured persons bring suit within two years of the date of their injury. A failure to meet this timeline will defeat a claim.
When the claim alleges negligence on the part of the Commonwealth or a local government within Pennsylvania, there is even less time to act. A court will not hear a claim against a government defendant unless the plaintiff files a notice of claim within six months of their injury.
A seasoned property liability lawyer in the area could preserve an injured person’s right to sue all potentially liable parties by ensuring that all filing deadlines are met.
Contact a Bucks County Premises Liability Lawyer
If you need assistance with your claim, speak to a Bucks County premises liability lawyer to discuss your case. A hardworking attorney can undertake due diligence by gathering evidence, preparing a case strategy, and working with you to seek the compensation you deserve. Take the first step toward building your case by scheduling your initial consultation with our team today. Your first consultation is always free.