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Slip-And-Fall Cases

The Ins And Outs Of Slip-And-Fall Cases

by Joyce Novotny-Prettiman, Esq.

Some of the most serious personal injuries our clients suffer are as a result of falls on stairs, ice and other obstacles. These types of cases, commonly known as slip-and-fall cases, are also some of the most difficult cases that our office handles. The most important thing to keep in mind is this: when an accident like this happens, it does not automatically mean that someone was at fault.

The first thing that we need to know when reviewing a slip-and-fall case is why the injured person was at the property where the injury happened. Pennsylvania law classifies people who enter onto land into three categories: invitees, licensees and trespassers. Each classification of land entrant is treated differently by the law.

An invitee is owed the highest duty of care and would be someone who has entered onto property of another for business purposes. The best example of an invitee is a person who enters a retail store. In this situation, a landowner must take reasonable steps to protect the entrant from dangerous conditions of which the landowner has knowledge or should have had knowledge, including the requirement that the landowner inspect the premises to protect business visitors. The second classification is that of a licensee. This person usually enters land with the permission of the owner but for his own purposes. A social guest is one person that falls within this classification. With a licensee, the land owner must know that a condition presents an unreasonable risk of harm, and exercise care to correct or warn of the condition of which the entrant would not have knowledge. The lowest duty of care is owed to a trespasser. The possessor of land need only refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring a trespasser.

The person who enters premises owned by another has responsibility for his or her own safety under the law. If there is a danger that is known or obvious, the person who enters onto the land must avoid the danger.

If you are involved in a slip-and-fall accident, here is what you should do:

  • Obtain the appropriate medical treatment immediately
  • Report the fall immediately, in writing, to the person in charge of the premises
  • If possible, take a sample of what caused your fall with you and preserve it
  • Get the names and phone numbers of all witnesses to the accident
  • Keep your shoes and clothing in a safe place (do not launder your clothes and do not wear your shoes)
  • Return to the accident scene to obtain photographs as soon as possible
  • Do not talk with insurance company representatives without first talking with an attorney

For homeowners, here are some tips:

  • Make sure that you have adequate lighting
  • Repair any crumbling or cracked concrete or walkways
  • Be sure that you have appropriate handrails in all stairways
  • All stair heights and tread widths should be identical and adequate
  • Be sure that carpeting and rugs are secured to avoid moving and sliding
  • Keep all walkways free of snow and ice
  • Remember: adequate homeowners insurance is your best defense

There are many other factors that make these cases complicated. At QuatriniRafferty, we will be happy to review the specific facts involved if you have been seriously injured as the result of a fall. Email a Pennsylvania slip-and-fall attorney today, or call us at 724-837-0080 in Greensburg or toll free at 888-534-6016 for a free evaluation of your case.

For more information on slip-and-fall, please visit our Personal Injury Information page.