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Philadelphia is a walking city–over 30 percent of Philadelphia residents do not own or have access to a vehicle and rely primarily on public transportation or walking to travel across the city. Unfortunately, the city’s poor sidewalk conditions have led to many slip and fall accidents.
Sidewalk accidents aren’t uncommon, and eldery, disabled people, or children are at a much higher risk of suffering from injuries in a sidewalk slip and fall. Sidewalks accidents can happen for a variety of reasons: cracks in the concrete, uneven pavement, or landscaping negligence. Injuries can range from a broken wrist to a sprained ankle.
If you’ve been injured in a sidewalk accident it’s important to identify who is liable and prepare to make a claim.
You may be surprised to learn that many sidewalks are owned by private businesses or homeowners, not the city or local municipality. In Pennsylvania, private property owners are expected to maintain and fix sidewalk conditions. If you’ve been injured on a sidewalk because an owner has neglected to address its dangerous conditions, they may be held liable.
Slip and fall, or trip and fall accidents are a part of premise liability law. Premise liability law encompasses any accidents that occur on someone else’s property due to the property owner’s negligence. Property owner’s have a duty to keep their land in reasonable condition, so as not to cause injury to others on their property.
If you slipped and fell on a sidewalk, it is first important to determine whose property you slipped on and who may be responsible for your injuries. Homeowners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks adjacent to their home, making it relatively easy to determine who is liable in a residential trip and fall accident. However, slipping on commercial property, where buildings are rented or leased, may be more complicated. In these situations, liability could fall on either the property owner or the leasing tenant.
Because personal injury cases rely on negligence, not all injuries you incur are covered by homeowners. Holding a homeowner liable for dangerous sidewalk conditions requires proving that the homeowner noticed, or should have noticed the dangerous conditions and repaired the property within a reasonable time frame. A crumbling sidewalk, or even failure to address dangerous snow and ice conditions might warrant a personal injury claim.
The City of Philadelphia owns sidewalks in public spaces. Yet, the city’s sidewalk conditions are below par. An op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer cites a 2012 study done by Philadelphia’s City Planning Commision, which found that more than 230 miles of sidewalk in the city are in ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ condition. Many of the worst sidewalks are located in lower-income neighborhoods– where sidewalks are especially important for access to transportation, education, and jobs. Between 2012 and 2018, the City of Philadelphia paid over $30 million dollars in lawsuits concerning sidewalk and pedestrian safety.
In Pennsylvania, you can only sue the government for your injuries in a slip and fall case in specific circumstances. The government is only liable if the property that caused your injury was defunct itself and the government was clearly negligent. Icy sidewalks, for example, are not sufficient to hold the government liable because it is a result of weather conditions, and not a defunct piece of property.
Whether you were injured in a slip in fall on government or private property, you should consult with an attorney who can advocate for you and has knowledge of state and local laws. Attorney Crichton has experience with several trip and fall cases in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. While you focus on your recovery, Attorney Crichton will investigate your claim, coordinate with your physician or medical expert, and prepare for pre-case settlement or litigation.
If you suffered injuries from a property owner’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for hospital bills, lost wages, and more. Be aware that Pennsylvania has a strict statute of limitations on when you can file your slip and fall claim, which is two years from the date of the incident. If you’ve fallen on government property, you have six months from the date of your injury to notify the proper offices before you take any further action. Prepare to file your claim in a timely fashion, and consult an attorney as soon as possible.
Request a free case, personalized case evaluation today by calling (267) 225-3317. All personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning we don’t get paid until you receive compensation.
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