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Premises Liability


A Premises Liability Lawyer Can Obtain Justice for Injured Victims

A “premises” is simply a place: a lot, real estate, a parcel of land, reality, etc. Premises can include restaurants, hardware stores, supermarkets, office buildings, parking lots, department stores, other people’s homes, rental properties, “superstores”, banks, take-out or fast food places, bars or taverns, malls, and any land or buildings that are considered to be someone’s property. The legal basis for a “premises liability” case is that property owner’s, generally, have a duty to ensure their premises or land is reasonably safe for others. When a person has an accident and is injured on someone else’s premises, the property owners can sometimes be held responsible.

One of the main determining factors regarding liability is the “status” that the injured person has while upon the property of another. For instance, if you are shopping at one of those Big Box stores, or a supermarket, you are considered to be a “business invitee”. In Pennsylvania, as well as virtually every other state, a property owner owes the highest duty of care to a business invitee. This is as opposed to a “trespasser” who has no or little right to be upon the property. In most jurisdictions, though, a property owner even owes some duty to trespassers.

Premises liability cases are commonly referred to as a “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” cases, because many of these claims arise when a person slips, falls or trips due to a hazardous condition upon a property.

In order to build a strong premises liability or slip and fall case, the injured party should be able to prove that the property owner knew or should have known a danger existed upon their premises and had adequate notice to fix the dangerous condition, yet failed to take the necessary steps to repair or remedy the danger or hazard in a timely manner. You may also have grounds for a premises liability claim if the owner caused or created the dangerous condition.

For instance, we had a case where a group of people owned a former factory that they converted into loft apartments and condominiums. Because the municipality was installing trees on several blocks of sidewalks several hundred feet away, the property owners decided to do this themselves; however, the workers who performed the task, were completely untrained, uneducated and had no knowledge of the proper methods to perform this task. In fact, two of the workers were undocumented illegal aliens. The apartment building owners and their workers then broke several pieces of concrete on the sidewalk and planted a tree, essentially in a “hole”. The property owners never attempted to fill in the hole, place grating, dirt, bricks, pavers, or anything of the sort around the hole, thus allowing our client, a delivery man, to turn his ankle upon this six to eight inch drop-off surrounding the tree, thus causing him severe, serious and permanent physical injuries when the ligaments around his ankle burst requiring reconstructive surgery.

Insurance companies and large self-insured (many of the “Big Box stores” and chain fast food restaurants supply their own insurance) often fight hard to deny premises liability claims. At our office, however, we aggressively pursue the rights of people injured in a variety of different actions involving premises liability.

Common Types of Premises Liability Accidents

Whether someone is visiting a private residence, shopping in a supermarket, taking an elevator in an office building, walking into a store where a security guard opens the door for you, or simply walking along a public sidewalk, accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. An injury could result from the elevator door closing upon you, falling on a broken stairwell at someone’s residence, slipping upon a floor in a supermarket from spilled liquid detergent or where a soda can broke leaving a slippery or sticky surface or tripping upon an uneven sidewalk, or perhaps a sidewalk covered with ice and snow.

Depending upon the cause of the accident, you or an injured loved one may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, lost time from school, or for “non-economic damages” (commonly referred to as “pain and suffering”) if you are injured upon someone else’s property.

Some dangerous property conditions that can cause accidents for which their owner is liable or responsible include:

  • Wet, slippery, or sticky floors
  • Merchandise falling from shelving
  • Uneven sidewalks (oftentimes caused by tree roots)
  • Rotting food or dirty paper upon a floor
  • Torn carpeting or unbalanced flooring (oftentimes we see this where two buildings have been joined together)
  • Negligent care of publicly owned areas such as a pothole or sinkhole in the ground
  • Safety code violations
  • Negligent security (where, for instance, an apartment building, a parking garage, or an office complex has cameras or security guards, but the cameras are malfunctioning or the security guards are inattentive)
  • Improperly maintained roofs
  • Elevator and escalator failures
  • Fires, burns, or explosions (for instance, where an owner overuses an electrical circuit, has inadequate wiring on the premises, or, due to poor maintenance a heater or boiler explodes)
  • Doors slamming upon customers either because a doorman or security guards closes the door upon an unsuspecting customer, or where an automatic or electric door malfunctions.

Injuries Caused by Slip and Fall Accidents

Many slips, trips or fall injuries are minor, but even seemingly small injuries can have far reaching effects upon the life of the injured person. You may get strapped with unplanned bills, especially medical bills if you have no medical insurance or high deductibles and co-pays. Perhaps more importantly, you may be unable to enjoy activities with your family and friends as you did in the past due to pain and physical limitation.

Examples of common injuries sustained as a result of fall down accidents include:

  • Deep cuts or scrapes
  • Severe bruising
  • Sprained ankles
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Low back injuries with radiating pain
  • Burns or scarring
  • Brain injuries or concussions

More severe accidents may result in multiple surgeries and extensive physical therapy. In extreme cases, a trip, slip or fall can cause a victim’s death resulting in a potential wrongful death or survival lawsuit.

Obtaining Compensation for a Premises Liability Case

A slip, trip or fall accident attorney with well over thirty (30) years of experience, GARY STEWART SEFLIN, ESQUIRE, may be able to help you obtain compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages due to short or long term disability caused by the accident, medical treatment and recovery
  • Physical and financial hardships related to your injury (pain and suffering)

With trip, slip and fall accidents research and evidence is required in order to pursue your injury claim and obtain the maximum compensation you deserve. The laws are complicated surrounding premises liability. If you or a loved one have sustained any type of injury from a trip, slip, fall, fire, burn, explosion, or encounter with an elevator, poor security, etc. it is important to seek qualified legal assistance such as that you will receive from GARY STEWART SEFLIN, ESQUIRE.

Be careful, though, in trying to resolve a premises liability claim yourself! In many, many of these cases, insurance companies or large self-insureds will get to work as soon as you are injured to minimize your settlement or to try to have you lose your case! It is in the financial interest of insurance companies or large self-insureds to either disprove your claim altogether, or to get you to accept an inadequate settlement. Once you have accepted an insurance settlement, you waive your right to seek damages through a lawsuit for personal injuries or negligence.

Our office know the tactics insurance companies use to coerce victims into taking small settlements that will not fully cover their medical expenses, lost earnings, long term disabilities or pain and suffering. GARY STEWART SEFLIN, ESQUIRE, an experienced premises liability attorney, can negotiate with insurance companies, or self-insureds, while you take the necessary time and steps to heal and recover.

Accordingly, if you or a loved one has been injured in any type of premises liability claim, the first step you should take is to seek medical attention immediately. The second step is to call GARY STEWART SEFLIN, ESQUIRE, an experienced litigator who has helped thousands of individuals seeking their just compensation.


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