Are Homeowners Liable when Neighbors Slip on Wet Leaves or Ice in Pennsylvania?
Late autumn and early winter can be hectic times for lawn care and property maintenance. Homeowners are responsible for publicly accessible areas on their property, and they must keep these areas safe for guests and passersby. If you slipped and fell on a neighbor’s walkway, driveway, or sidewalk, they may be liable to you for damages resulting from the fall. Talk to an attorney today to discuss your options to file a lawsuit and seek compensation. Call The Reiff Law Firm’s Philadelphia slip and fall lawyers to schedule a free legal consultation on your potential injury case.
When Can I Sue a Neighbor for a Slip and Fall Accident?
Property owners are responsible for ensuring that their property is safe for people who enter their property legally. They have a much lower duty to trespassers and must only refrain from intentionally harming them. For people invited to the property for business or other benefits to the homeowner, the duty is even higher, and they must take extra care to keep them safe. The general duty owed to general visitors and guests is the duty to warn of or repair hidden dangers. Failing to do so can result in a premises liability lawsuit.
Slip and Falls from Leaves and Snow
In the winter and late fall, leaves, ice, and snow can cause many hidden dangers on the property. Patches of ice forming under melting snow, clear ice, and slippery leaves can cause a serious slipping hazard that can knock even careful pedestrians to the ground. Even dry leaves and loose snow can cause a tripping hazard if they hide dangers underneath, such as exposed tree roots or uneven pavement. Icy sidewalk slip and falls are one of the most common types of injuries in the winter.
Injuries to Licensees
Sidewalks outside a home are the most common place where people may be injured. However, there is an expectation that many people are “licensed” to enter your property. Guests the homeowner invites to their home certainly have permission to walk up the driveway or the front walk, as do mail carriers and delivery people. Utility workers and other maintenance people may also be licensed to walk onto your property and check your meters or mark underground lines before digging or construction, and homeowners may need to protect them from hidden dangers under the snow or leaves as well.
Sidewalk Slip and Falls
Driveways and walkways on someone’s property are within the areas they must keep safe, but so are sidewalks. Unless your neighborhood has a homeowner’s association that clears snow and ice from sidewalks, the homeowner is generally responsible for clearing the sidewalk. The city or local government is not typically liable for dangerous sidewalks.
Local laws may even dictate how soon after snowfall the sidewalk must be cleared, and they may give specific rules for how wide the clearing needs to be, giving more precise rules the homeowner must follow. If the homeowner fails to follow these rules, and you are injured because of that breach of duty, you may be able to sue for injuries.
Compensation for a Slip and Fall
The homeowner may be personally liable for the injuries you suffered, but suing your neighbor can be difficult. If you are on good terms with your neighbor, filing a lawsuit against them might drive a wedge between you. However, if your injuries are severe, you should consider the expenses you and your family face for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In many cases, the defendant’s homeowner’s insurance may be able to pay for the injury without causing too much strain on your relationship with your neighbor.
Accidents happen, and whether they happen because of the homeowner’s negligence or a pure accident, homeowner’s insurance might cover the damages. If you file a lawsuit against your neighbor after falling and being injured on their property or their sidewalk, their insurance company will usually pay for a lawyer and pay damages for them. This means that your lawsuit may not harm your neighbor financially, and it still gets you the compensation you need.
When filing a claim for a slip and fall, be sure to talk to an attorney about the amount of compensation you deserve. It is important to know what your case should be worth before talking to the insurance company or the at-fault homeowner. Homeowner’s insurance, like any insurance company, may want to pay out as little as possible for the damages you face. This may include paying only limited damages for medical expenses and lost wages, and it may mean refusing to pay pain and suffering damages.
Taking your case to court may be the best way to maximize your damages. Accepting a settlement from the insurance company or the homeowner may mean accepting reduced damages that might not cover your needs. Talk to a lawyer for guidance on how much your case is worth and how to maximize your financial compensation.
Philadelphia Slip and Fall Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one slipped and fell on a neighbor’s property or sidewalk because of wet leaves or uncleared snow or ice, call a lawyer today. You may be entitled to file a lawsuit against your neighbor and their homeowner’s insurance to get you the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To schedule a free consultation with The Reiff Law Firm’s Philadelphia personal injury attorneys, call our law offices today at (215) 246-9000.