When you pick up dry cleaning, visit a restaurant or go shopping, you have a reasonable expectation that you are going to be safe from any unknown perils on the properties that you visit. In the state of Pennsylvania, property owners have a duty of care to keep their properties safe for those who enter within. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable for any injuries that result. For example, if you fall due to a spill on the floor while shopping in your local supermarket or you trip over wires strung aimlessly in your pathway, then any ensuing injuries may be the responsibility of the property owner. If you have experienced an injury on someone else’s property, give SMT Legal a call to discuss the details of your case and weigh your legal options.
Duty of Care
“Duty of care” establishes that a property owner has an obligation to keep the public reasonably safe. If the owner of a property fails to meet this standard, then they can be found liable for negligence and may find themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit.
In simple terms, duty of care means that a property owner must take reasonable care of their property when it’s obvious that something on the property might injure someone – their neighbor or any other person who has a right to be on the property, including tenants renting the property, visitors, and other invited guests. Broken steps or stairs must be fixed to avoid causing falls and broken bones, falling tree limbs that pose a danger to the neighbor’s house must be trimmed or removed, electrical wiring must be covered, and septic tanks must be covered, for example.
If you’ve been injured on somebody else’s property – whether it be a private homeowner, public business owner, or government-owned facility – then a skilled premises liability attorney can help you determine who is liable for your injury. If your injury was due to the property owner’s negligence, you are entitled to file a claim against them.
Special Circumstances: Trespassers
One exception to the duty of care requirement is trespassers. Property owners are not obligated to accommodate trespassers who were not supposed to be on the premises to begin with. For instance, if a person enters a condemned building that is a known hazard or trespasses into a construction site and they become injured; they will likely not win a premises liability case because they took the risk of illegally entering the premises.