“Breach of duty” is a legal concept that comes into play in many personal injury cases, especially premises liability claims. Premises liability cases are those that result from injuries on someone else’s property when they fail to keep the the place safe for guests.
Proving that someone else was responsible for your injuries often requires proving that they breached some duty to you. If you were injured in a slip and fall, hotel pool accident, or another accident on someone else’s property, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your case today. The lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm have been helping injured victims with their Philadelphia injury cases for over three decades.
Premises Liability in Pennsylvania
“Premises liability” is a field of personal injury law that covers injuries sustained on someone else’s property. Everyone is entitled to safety and security, even when they are at someone else’s house or business. It is up to property owners to keep their premises safe for guests or the public.
Especially in areas that are open to the public, it is vital to keep things safe. Sidewalks are a prime example of places where people can be injured; especially in the winter when ice and snow are a huge risk for slip and fall injuries, it is important to keep sidewalks clear. Stores and other places open to the public need to be kept safe and accessible for all kinds of people. Pedestrians and store customers could slip on puddles or spills, errant cables, uneven tiling or pavement, or other dangers. Especially for elderly or handicapped people, these obstacles can be extremely dangerous.
Slip and falls are not the only premises liability injuries, though. Stairways and railings must be kept safe for guests as well. This means keeping them clear of debris, well-lit, and sturdy. Even more traumatic injuries can occur in cases of stair, floor, railing, or deck collapses.
Breach of Duty in Pennsylvania
In order to prove a premises liability case in Pennsylvania, you must prove four main elements:
- The premises owner owed you a duty;
- The owner breached that duty;
- The breach caused you injury; and
- Your injuries can be proven in court and compensated – called “damages.”
The second element of this requires proving that the premises owner breached their duty. This means examining what the duty is, and how you prove breach.
Premises Owner’s Duty
A premises owner has a duty to keep the premises safe for guests. This means removing/repairing things that might injure people on the premises, like dangerous spills, loose cables, falling debris, and other dangers. This can require serious upkeep in especially dilapidated places like older houses. At the very least, if the premises owner does not repair facilities, they have a duty to warn guests of hidden dangers.
The proper way to warn people of dangers is often up for debate in court. Sometimes, a sign might be enough, such as a yellow standing sign that says warns of wet floors. Other times, especially if there are multiple signs the information might be buried, providing an unhelpful warning.
These requirements are only for hidden dangers. If a danger is very obvious, courts will often decide that the injured party was “on notice” of the obvious danger. For instance, an open fire pit might be considered an obvious danger. Hurting yourself by walking into the fire pit might not be the premises owner’s fault, as anyone could plainly see that the fire pit is an “open and obvious” danger. Other things like kitchen appliances, lawn equipment, and power tools may also be obvious dangers. In any case, check with an attorney about whether the danger that caused your injury was one the defendant should have warned you about or repaired.
Breach of Duty
In order to breach this duty, the defendant simply needs to do nothing. If they make no effort to fix dangers or warn guests about them, the guests may face injury. Even something as simple as leaving snow on a sidewalk could allow passers-by to slip on black ice. Sudden trips and falls could cause serious injuries, especially if victims fall and hit their head or back.
Proving that they breached the duty is a matter of showing that the danger existed, unrepaired. If the danger still existed when it caused your injury, and you were not warned about it, then the premises owner clearly did not do enough to make the danger safe. Ultimately, proving the defendant breached their duty is vital to proving your premises liability case. Moreover, the more obvious their breach, the easier it should be to prove your case.
Premises Liability Injury Attorneys
The personal injury attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm have been helping injured plaintiffs get compensation for over three decades. If you were injured, we may be able to take the premises owners and their insurance companies to court to get you the compensation you deserve. Call (215) 246-9000 today for a free consultation about your premises liability injuries.