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Property Ownership Comes with the Responsibility to Provide Liability Insurance Coverage for Slip-and-Fall Injuries (photo of guy holding knee on the ground in snow)

By MARK KOGAN, ESQ.

 

Slip-and-fall accidents occur frequently and may have far-reaching, negative consequences for the injured person and his or her family. In Pennsylvania, property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition and exercise care to protect persons from conditions that can result in injury. These duties apply to both commercial properties, such as stores and businesses, and residential properties, such as homes and apartments. Common conditions on the properties that may give rise to accidents and injuries include: uneven or damaged sidewalks; icy conditions on walkways and steps; potholes or defects in parking lots; poorly lit or inadequately maintained stairways and hallways; and liquids or other substances on the floor. Each of these conditions can cause serious injuries and damages, including medical expenses, lost time for work and lost wages, as well as pain and suffering. In order to be successful and recover just compensation for the injuries from the fall, the injured person must prove the existence of the condition and that the property owner caused the condition or had notice of the condition. Quick and thorough action on the part of the injured person after a slip-and-fall incident is necessary to preserve any claim.

It is important to document the occurrence of an accident. If possible, an accident or incident report should be completed with the property owner or manager. The accident or incident report will confirm the location, date and time of the fall or accident, as well as the identity of potential witnesses. It is also necessary to identify the owner of the property and anyone else who may have been responsible for the maintenance of the property.

If the fall occurred on a property maintained by the local, state or federal government, such as a government office or agency, specific laws require the injured party to place the government agency on notice of the fall within a brief period of time after the fall. In the case of a commercial store or property, it may be necessary to obtain lease agreements to identify any party responsible for the maintenance of the store. Photographs of the condition should be taken. At times, the fall or injury may occur in the apartment or rental unit of the injured party.

Often times, the injured person may have advised the landlord or property manager of the condition causing the fall or accident before the accident. In those cases, it is important to document the prior communications with the landlord or property manager. Records of any medical treatment should be obtained.

Property owners may have insurance coverage for injuries arising from slip-and-fall incidents. The available insurance may include payment of medical expenses as well as money damages for the negligent actions of the property owners that resulted in the fall. The insurance company for the property owner may contact the injured party to request a statement and other information and documentation in connection with the claim. The insurance company for the property owner may seek to resolve the claim for an amount less than its value. The assistance of a skilled attorney can maximize recovery and minimize the impact of the slip and fall on the injured party.

The lesson to be learned from this article is that, if you suffer a slip and fall, you need to be aware of all of the possible damages you can recover. On the other hand, if you are a property owner, you need to make sure you have the appropriate amount of insurance coverage in case someone slips and falls on your property. You also need to know that many insurance companies will try to reduce the amount of recovery with early settlement offers and requests to limit litigation. In either situation, you should seek assistance from a lawyer before you make a decision that could hurt you and your finances.

If you have any questions about this article or any other topic related to legal issues, please call (888) 975-5291, or my email at mkogan@hgsklawyers.com.

Staff Writer

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