Slipping and falling due to a wet surface, icy walkway, broken stairs, or other dangerous condition can lead to serious and long-lasting injuries. A Montgomery County slip and fall lawyer may be able to help if you or a loved one was injured in a fall on someone else’s property. An experienced Montgomery County, PA injury attorney can investigate whether the property owner failed to keep their premises safe and is therefore liable for your personal and financial losses.
Common Recoverable Damages from Falling
A fall on a dangerous surface or other property hazards can cause someone to suffer catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord damage, head injuries, brain trauma, back injuries, and broken bones. Muscle strain, soft tissue injuries, lacerations, contusions, and concussions are also common in slip and fall claims.
If someone is tripped and injured in a fall that could have been preventable if not for the property owner’s negligence, the injured party should consult with a Montgomery County attorney to discuss what compensation may be available. The plaintiff could recover several different types of damages, including:
- Lost wages
- Hospital bills
- Therapy and rehabilitation expenses
- Future diminished earning ability
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Doctor bills
If the judge finds that the property owner’s actions were so gravely negligent that they constitute an egregious lack of care, they might award the plaintiff punitive damages in addition to the aforementioned compensation. Punitive damages can punish the wrongful actions of a defendant as well as discourage others from similar acts of negligence in the future.
What Kinds of Negligence Lead to Slips and Falls?
While “slip and fall” is the most common term used for falling accidents on or inside privately owned property, a lawful visitor does not necessarily need to slip on a wet surface and subsequently fall to have grounds for a claim. Any hazardous condition stemming from property owner negligence that leads to someone slipping or tripping and falling could justify litigation, as a Montgomery County trip and fall attorney could explain in further detail.
For example, if a shop has frayed carpeting, loose or broken tiles, or anything else that presents a tripping or slipping hazard on the floor, an unsuspecting patron who suffers a bad fall because of that hazard may be able to file suit. Likewise, a stairwell with broken steps or guardrails could lead to someone losing their footing and suffering serious harm as a result. In some cases, even a lack of proper lighting or clearly marked walkways could lead to an actionable slip and fall injury.
Contesting Allegations of Comparative Fault
Of course, property owners and managers rarely just accept financial liability for an accident that occurs on their land, especially if that accident leads to life-altering and expensive injuries. Unfortunately, one of the most common ways in which defendants try to absolve them of liability for a slip and fall is by pushing that liability onto someone else, most commonly the injured plaintiff.
In short, a court can limit the amount of compensation available to a civil plaintiff if it finds that the plaintiff is partially responsible for causing or exacerbating their own damages. Specifically, under 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes §7102, any plaintiff found 50 percent or less to blame for their injuries would be subject to a proportionate reduction of their final damage award. Any plaintiff found more than 50 percent at fault would be unable to recover anything at all.
A defendant may argue that a plaintiff was wearing inappropriate footwear, that they were not paying attention to their surroundings, that they were engaging in horseplay, or even that they created the hazardous condition that led to their injury themselves. Representation from a skilled local slip and fall attorney is often crucial to disproving these kinds of accusations and limiting the effect they have on recoverable damages.
Trip and Fall Negligence Laws
The viability of a slip and fall claim in Montgomery County depends on whether the plaintiff can show that the property owner was negligent in maintaining their premises. This includes proving the landowner owed them a duty of care, breached that duty, and that this caused them to experience injuries and losses.
For instance, a property owner owes the most significant duty of care to an invitee, or someone who the property owner has invited onto the premises for their personal gain, such as a customer at a shopping mall. A property owner has a duty to invitees both to check for property hazards and make them known to prevent injury. Conversely, a far lesser duty is owed to trespassers who are on the land without the owner’s consent.
If the property owner was responsible for the property hazard, should have discovered it by exerting reasonable care but failed to do so, or was aware of the hazard but neglected to rectify it, they could be liable. A Montgomery County Pennsylvania lawyer could help someone injured in a trip and fall determine whether the owner is responsible for their losses and might owe them compensation.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Montgomery County?
As per 42 P.S. § 5524, there is a two-year timeline following the incident date in which an injured person can file a slip and fall claim. If they wait and try to file their case after the two years have passed, they would be prevented from collecting compensation.
Importantly, there are a few caveats to this strict legal deadline under certain circumstances. For instance, the two-year filing period does not technically start until the plaintiff discovers—or reasonably should have discovered—their injuries, so there may be some leeway of anywhere from a few days to a few months depending on the circumstances.
Likewise, since minor children cannot represent their own best interests in court, the statutory filing period for any personal injury claim in which a child is the injured party may be paused—or “tolled”—until the child turns 18. Legal counsel could clarify further what the deadline for legal action would be in a particular situation.
Discuss Your Rights with a Montgomery Slip and Fall Attorney
If you believe that a property owner’s negligence caused you to sustain an otherwise avoidable injury, it may be prudent to speak with a Montgomery slip and fall lawyer. Time is of the essence when determining if a trip and fall case is viable as physical evidence including photos, video surveillance, and the condition of the property can change. An attorney could provide an honest review of your case and determine whether you are eligible for financial recovery. Contact our skilled team of civil lawyers today to discuss your situation.