Premises Liability Attorney in Philadelphia
In an unfortunate aspect of day-to-day life, it is entirely possible that you may be injured when visiting someone else’s business or residence. Property owners or occupiers may be held legally liable for accidents on the premises due to their negligence.
The responsible party generally has a duty to keep their property free from unreasonably dangerous or hazardous conditions. A premises liability claim comes into play when an owner fails to maintain their property a reasonably safe condition.
If you have been harmed on someone else’s property in Philadelphia or elsewhere in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you deserve to have experienced, dedicated, results-focused legal representation on your side to help you pursue the compensation you need and deserve for your injuries.
Contact The Levin Firm today to set up a free consultation with one of our Philadelphia premises liability lawyers to find out how we can help you.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Premises Liability Claim?
Premises liability claims generally fall under the negligence category. Therefore, in a premises liability claim, it is usually necessary to prove that the property owner or occupier owed a duty of care to visitors, customers, and others who come onto the property, and then breached that duty.
The duty that a property owner or occupier owes an individual who enters upon their property depends on the status of that individual. The law recognizes three types of visitors:
- Invitees include those, such as customers, who enter the property with the permission of the owner or occupier for the owner’s benefit. A property owner or operator owes an invitee a legal duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition at all times.
- Licensees includes those who enter property with the permission of the owner or occupier, but for the visitor’s benefit. Examples of licensees include social guests, maintenance workers, or door-to-door salespersons. To them, a property owner or occupier owes a duty to warn of dangerous conditions that create unreasonable risks of harm. Legal liability assumes that the condition is known or should be known to the owner and the licensee is unlikely to discover the condition.
- Trespassers includes those who enter property without permission, with the exception of children, who are owed a higher duty of care. An owner or occupier of property generally owes a trespasser no duty of care except to refrain from intentionally, willfully, or wantonly inflicting injury, such as placing traps to injure unauthorized individuals.
In most premises liability cases, you must prove that the property owner or occupier breached their duty of care because they knew or should have known of the dangerous or hazardous, injury-causing condition, and therefore failed to maintain the property in reasonably safe condition. Failure to warn you about the condition is also an element of negligence liability.
For example, in a supermarket slip-and-fall case, it is typically necessary to prove that the supermarket failed to maintain the store in a reasonably safe condition because, for example, they knew of a wet floor and failed to clean it up. Another kind of liability occurs when a property owner should have known of a hazard on the premises and failed to reasonably investigate, inspect, or monitor the premises for hazards.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases We Handle
The premises liability attorneys at The Levin Firm have helped injured clients in the Philadelphia area and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey pursue their personal injury claims to obtain the financial recovery that they need and deserve. Some of the common types of premises liability claims that our firm handles include:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Trip and fall accidents
- Snow and ice accidents
- Dog bites
- Construction site accidents
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Inadequate security
- Swimming pool accidents
- Amusement and recreational park accidents
- Exposure to diseases or toxic fumes or substances
No matter how you were injured on someone else’s property, our dedicated premises liability attorneys can help you pursue a claim for financial compensation and get the recovery you need and are entitled to.
How Can a Philadelphia Premises Liability Attorney Help?
If you are injured on someone else’s property due to their negligence, seeking compensation for your injuries can be a complicated and time-consuming process. The responsible party or parties may try to deny responsibility, or there may be various parties and insurance companies that may be available to pay you compensation, but are pointing the finger at each other.
Our premises liability attorneys can help you navigate the process of seeking compensation for your injuries.
A premises liability attorney can assist by first collecting the evidence necessary to pursue your claim. An attorney can contact the property owner or business operator to ensure that critical evidence, such as photographs, surveillance video, or accident/incident reports are preserved.
After thoroughly investigating your accident and building your case, an attorney can determine who may be liable for your injuries. An attorney can then begin the process of negotiating with these parties to try to reach a settlement of your claim.
Many premises liability claims are resolved in fair out-of-court settlements. If a settlement is not possible, however, our attorneys will be prepared to pursue your claim in court. This ensures that your lawsuit is timely filed while complying with all court deadlines and related technical procedures that can make or break a case. If your claim does go to trial, our attorneys will be ready to professionally argue your case to the judge or jury to seek a verdict and judgment in your favor.
Compensation Available for Injury Victims in Premises Liability Cases
If you have been injured in an accident on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to certain forms of compensation for your injuries. Personal injury compensation generally falls into one of two categories – economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages compensate you for specific financial losses, particularly those that are easily determined by adding up medical bills, invoices, pay stubs, etc. Non-economic damages are intended to compensate an injured party for more subjective losses that cannot be calculated by referencing financial data alone.
Economic damages include:
- Past and future medical costs such as surgeries, hospital stays, doctor office visits, physical and occupational therapy, prescription medication, and durable medical equipment.
- Past and future lost wages and income for work that for missed work while you were at home recuperating from your injuries. It can also include the difference in income or earning potential if injuries prevent you from returning to your pre-accident job and you are forced to accept less-demanding work at a lower salary.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering such as physical and emotional/mental anguish or distress caused by injuries.
- Loss of quality of life such as the inability to perform daily tasks or participate in activities enjoyed prior to the injury.
- Loss of consortium/companionship from a spouse or other family members.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt on Someone Else’s Property
When you are hurt due to a dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else’s property, consider these steps to protect your legal rights and to put yourself in the best position possible to receive maximum compensation.
- You should immediately contact the property or business owner to report the accident. If you are injured on a business’s property, particularly a medium or large corporation, completing a formal accident or incident report to document the accident is standard.
- You should also obtain the contact information of the property owner or operator, along with the contact information for their insurance company and their risk management officer or company, if they have one. If you are injured in an area with surveillance video, request that the people in charge preserve that footage. You or your attorney should also follow up soon after with a written request to safeguard all evidence relating to the accident, such as surveillance video and any written reports.
- It is advisable to take photos of the area where you were injured. In particular, try to take pictures of whatever negligent condition that caused the accident and injury, such as a patch of ice, a wet spot on the ground, or broken tile or pavement. You should also photograph the surrounding area to document whether any warning signs were present or whether there was anything that was obstructing your view of the hazard that caused the accident. You should also take pictures of lighting and weather conditions at the time of your accident.
- You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident. Even if you do not feel at first like you were injured seriously, internal or soft tissue injuries can take days, weeks, or even months to manifest symptoms but may still be identifiable through medical examination. A timely diagnosis and treatment could make all the difference in your health and the outcome of your claim. Obviously, upon suffering a serious injury, calling 911 or heading to the emergency room for immediate care should be your first priority.
- You should consult an experienced premises liability attorney to help you pursue your claim. Proving fault in a premises liability claim can be a complex, fact-intensive effort. A knowledgeable, assertive attorney can make the process much smoother. They will know what evidence to collect and how to present it in a persuasive claim to pursue financial compensation for your injuries and losses.
Tips for Dealing with Insurance Companies After a Premises Liability Accident
Although a property owner or occupier may be legally responsible for premises liability claims, an insurance company will likely take over the defense and negotiations for settlement of your claims. As a result, you should be mindful of important facts in dealing with insurance companies after an accident on someone else’s property.
Even if the insurance company is offering to pay you money for your injuries, the insurance company is not on your side. Instead, it may be in the insurer’s best interests to offer a quick, low-ball settlement to make your case go away at minimal cost.
As leverage, the insurance company may try to use the fact that you have medical bills piling up or that you are out of work. Against that stressful backdrop, the first settlement offer is seldom the maximum amount of compensation that the insurance company is actually willing to pay.
For this reason, you should review any initial officer with an experienced premises liability attorney. A skilled legal professional can advise you as to what your claim is really worth and whether the proposed settlement represents a fair measure of compensation for your injuries.
An insurance adjuster may ask you to provide a recorded or written statement about how the accident happened. Don’t do it without the advice of your attorney. The insurance company is looking for information they can twist and use against you.
Time Limit on Premises Liability Claims
If you’ve been injured on someone else’s property and have a premises liability claim, you have a limited period in which to file a lawsuit to pursue your claim. This period is called the statute of limitations.
In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the statute of limitations for personal injuries arising from a premises liability claim is two years from the date of injury. If you fail to file your lawsuit in court before the statute of limitations runs out, your claim will almost certainly be rejected, and the courthouse doors will be permanently closed to you.
There are certain limited and technical circumstances in which the statute of limitations can be paused or “tolled.” For example, under Pennsylvania law, if a minor is the injury victim, the statute of limitations is tolled and only beings to run when the minor turns 18 years old.
The discovery rule is another potential reason for tolling the statute of limitations. In this scenario, the limitations period does not begin to run until a claimant knows or reasonably should know of the facts and circumstances giving rise to his or her claim.
It can be problematic to wait until the last minute to sit down with a premises liability attorney. Instead, seek legal counsel as soon as possible after your injury. Remember, these cases take time to investigate and prepare to give you the best chance at full compensation.
If your injury occurred on government property, be aware that there is a separate time limit for providing the appropriate government agency with formal notice of your claim and intent to sue. In Pennsylvania, this notice is required within six months of the date of your injury.
Philadelphia Premises Liability Lawyer Answers Your Questions
Accidents on other peoples’ property happen all the time in Philadelphia. We never expect them and we certainly wish they did not happen, but they do. Whether you have slipped on a slippery floor in a restaurant, tripped over uneven stairs at a store, or tripped into a hole in the ground at an apartment complex, these incidents have the potential to cause serious injuries.
Property owners often could have prevented these injuries by taking simple steps to protect your safety. By failing to warn you about a known dangerous condition, or failing to fix it, those owners could make themselves legally liable to pay you financial compensation for your injuries.
Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive as lawyers for people who have suffered preventable injuries on someone else’s property. For answers to specific questions about your legal rights, contact an experienced Philadelphia premises liability lawyer today.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is a legal term used to describe a property owner’s responsibility to keep a property reasonably safe for visitors. As a general matter, a property owner who knows of a dangerous condition on a property must take reasonable steps to either fix the condition or to warn visitors about it (or, ideally, both). Failing to take those reasonable steps makes the property owner legally liable to anyone who suffers an injury as a result of the dangerous condition.
Premises liability for property owners can arise from a variety of circumstances. Some of the most common dangerous conditions that put property visitors at risk of serious injury include:
- Wet floors;
- Loose or missing handrails for stairs;
- Unfenced swimming pools;
- Inadequate lighting;
- Faulty electrical systems;
- Unrestrained animals; and
- Inadequate security.
Lawyers sometimes refer to premises liability cases as slip and fall matters, because many of them involve a visitor to a property who took a tumble on a slippery surface. However, in reality people get hurt on other peoples’ properties in all sorts of ways, as the list above reflects. No matter how you suffered an injury on someone else’s commercial or residential property, an experienced Philadelphia premises liability lawyer can work to get you the compensation you deserve.
What steps should I take to protect my rights after getting hurt on someone else’s property?
The steps you take after suffering an injury on someone else’s property can make a big difference in your ability to recover compensation.
Follow these tips to help protect your rights.
- Seek prompt medical care. No matter how “minor” you think your injury is, always visit the emergency room, your regular doctor, or an urgent care clinic as soon as possible, and no later than within 24 hours of getting hurt. Many severe, even life-threatening, injuries do not display obvious symptoms right away, but require immediate medical attention to prevent a health catastrophe. In addition to protecting your health, getting prompt medical care also ensures the existence of medical records that prove the connection between your injury and the incident on someone else’s property that caused it. Your lawyer will need those records if you later take legal action for compensation.
- Consider calling 911. Summoning EMTs and police to the scene of an injury on someone else’s property might make good sense, depending upon the circumstances. Call 911, for example, if you need emergency medical care, or if it seems potentially important that the police write a report of the incident. Use your best judgment.
- Take pictures/video and collect contact information. Take pictures of everything related to how you (or your loved one) sustained an injury. In a premises liability case, pictures really can speak a thousand words. Get images of your injuries, the accident scene, and any other items or surrounding areas that might have played a part in how you or your loved one got hurt. There is no such thing as too many pictures. Also, make sure to collect the names and contact information of anyone who saw what happened. These people may have valuable information to provide to your lawyer when it comes time to prove the property owner’s liability to you for damages.
- Contact a lawyer right away. The sooner you have a lawyer gathering evidence, talking to witnesses, and pursuing compensation on your behalf, the better your chances of recovering every dollar of compensation you deserve.
How does my lawyer prove a premises liability claim?
Every legal claim has its own unique requirements. However, as a general matter a lawyer needs to prove the following facts to get you the compensation you deserve for an injury you suffered on someone else’s property:
- The property owner or operator had a duty to keep you safe by keeping free of dangerous conditions and/or by warning about any such conditions;
- The property owner/operator failed in that duty by either not warning you about a condition, or not taking reasonable steps to prevent it from harming you;
- The unsafe conditions caused your injury;
- The injury resulted in provable damages, such as expenses or pain and suffering.
Legal claims tend to seem easy to prove when listed out this way. However, in reality, it takes experience, skill, and resources to build a strong case for premises liability against a Philadelphia property owner or operator. To maximize your chances of obtaining all of the compensation you deserve for an injury suffered on someone else’s property, always hire an experienced Philadelphia premises liability attorney to represent you.
What compensation can I get for my injury?
For starters, no lawyer can guarantee you will receive compensation for an injury you suffer on someone else’s property. Compensation follows from the ability to show legal liability, as described above.
Assuming your lawyer can prove a property owner/operator’s legal liability to you for damages, the type and amount of damages you might receive will depend largely on the nature and extent of your injury, and the circumstances of the incident that caused it. Also, the amount of money you should receive may differ from the amount of money the person or entity liable to you can actually pay (such as when the payment comes from an insurance policy that has a maximum payment limit).
As a general matter, however, victims of a premises liability-type incident in Philadelphia may have legal rights to recover compensation for:
- Medical and other expenses relating to the injury suffered because of a dangerous property condition;
- Wages lost while missing work to recover from an injury, and income the injured person cannot earn in the future because of injury-related disabilities or impairments; and
- The physical pain, emotional suffering, and diminished quality of life resulting from the dangerous property condition-related injury.
As we said, every injury has its own unique facts and circumstances. The most reliable way to determine the types and amounts of compensation you can hope to receive for your injury is to retain the services of an experienced, diligent Philadelphia premises liability injury attorney right away after getting hurt.
Is my time limited for taking legal action?
Yes. In Pennsylvania, in most cases according to Pennsylvania law, you only have two years from the date of your injury to bring a personal injury claim against the at fault party. Two years might seem like a lot of time, but for lawyers, it is not.
Plus, in virtually all personal injury matters, premises liability cases included, taking your best shot at recovering the compensation you deserve requires getting started right away after getting hurt. Days matter when it comes to collecting evidence, speaking with witnesses, and putting immediate pressure on legally liable parties to do the right thing and pay you what they owe for your injuries. The more time that passes, the less likely it is your lawyer will have access to critical information and arguments for getting you paid. So, do not wait a single day longer to call a lawyer about your premises liability-related injury. Act now to get the most money possible out of your legal rights.
The property owner offered to make things right without getting lawyers involved. Should I accept?
No. At least, not without first speaking with an experienced Philadelphia premises liability attorney about your rights.
No matter what someone calls it—“making things right,” “resolving things just between us” and so on—this kind of an offer constitutes a “settlement” that could put your legal rights to compensation in serious jeopardy. Even accepting a comped room or a free meal from a hotel where you fell and hurt yourself could, in fact, sacrifice your rights. As a general rule of thumb, if someone really seems to want to avoid getting lawyers involved in connection with any incident that left you injured, then that is a surefire sign you should definitely get a lawyer involved on your behalf.
Settlement offers like this rarely, if ever, provide you with adequate compensation for your injuries and losses. Parties with potential liability to you make them because they hope you do not know enough to realize what a bad deal they have offered. Do not make an expensive mistake by sell your legal rights on the cheap. Instead, trust an experienced Philadelphia premises liability attorney to negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement on your behalf.
Sometimes, an insurance company representing the party with legal liability will make this kind of offer to you. The insurer will try to seem friendly, as if it’s there to help you. It’s a trap. Do not fall for it. Any unsolicited offer you receive from someone with potential liability to you is bound to amount to far less than you deserve for your injuries. No matter how friendly or helpful an insurance representative (from someone else’s insurance company) seems, tell them to talk to your lawyer.
Will I have to go to trial?
Any experienced personal injury lawyer’s goal is to resolve a client’s legal claim for damages as efficiently and effectively as possible. In many premises liability cases, the lawyer’s efforts secure a client a fair, reasonable, and reasonably prompt settlement of a claim. Lawyers and clients alike love it when claims prove this straightforward.
Not all claims go this way, however. Sometimes the parties in a premises liability claim cannot reach agreement on a settlement. Those cases may instead end up at a trial in front of a Philadelphia judge and jury.
Lawyers can rarely predict in advance which cases will end up in a courtroom. Sometimes, what seems like the simplest case to resolve grows into a complicated mess. Other times, cases that look hopelessly complex at the outset achieve a quick and effective resolution.
What lawyers can say, however, is that the most reliable way to ensure you have the best possible shot at recovering the compensation you deserve for your injuries is to hire a Philadelphia premises liability lawyer with years of experience in the courtroom who has a strong reputation for getting results. That way, if your case ends up as one of the relatively few that goes to trial, you will have the strongest possible fighter in your corner.
Why do I need a Philadelphia premises liability lawyer?
Because you will almost certainly not recover maximum compensation for your injuries and losses without one.
The success of a premises liability claim depends on the quality and experience of the legal representation the injured person chooses. Working with an experienced Philadelphia premises liability attorney ensures that your legal representative has the resources and know-how to identify the parties who owe you legal liabilities, and to pursue those parties for every dollar of compensation you deserve. Do not risk your valuable legal rights on just any lawyer. Only trust your premises liability claim to knowledgeable, seasoned legal counsel.
Have injuries sustained on someone else’s property have caused devastation or disruption in your life? Contact the experienced Philadelphia premises liability attorneys at the Levin Firm today for a free consultation.
Talk to a Philadelphia Premises Liability Lawyer Today
If you have been injured while visiting someone else’s property, you may be entitled to seek compensation through a premises liability claim. Reach out to one of our premises liability lawyers at The Levin Firm today by scheduling a free consultation at our Philadelphia office to discuss your premises liability claim.
Contact us now to learn more about how our attorneys can help you seek the compensation and financial recovery you need and deserve. There are no legal fees unless we win your case.
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