Fall Accident FAQ, by a Pennsylvania Injury Attorney
I fell on the walkway leading to my apartment in Philadelphia. The sidewalk has a large crack and is uneven. My foot caught the crack and I fell. My wrist broke when I tried to break my fall. Is the landlord liable for the injuries?
Under Pennsylvania law, a landlord may be held liable for a fall accident like a trip and fall. However, the key is going to be whether the landlord had notice of the defect. In order to hold a landlord or any property owner liable for an accident, there’s got to be evidence that the landlord had actual notice or constructive notice of the accident.
Below is a discussion of the two most common scenarios showing actual notice and constructive notice where a landlord is held liable for a fall accident and resulting injuries. These types of cases are dependent on evidence of the defect and evidence of notice. Evidence must be obtained and preserved. So it’s crucial to have a lawyer advise you on your situation ASAP. Contact our personal injury lawyers for a FREE CONSULTATION.
Actual Notice – Landlord Knew About the Sidewalk Crack
Actual notice is what it sounds like, the landlord or an employee actually knew about the problem at some point before the accident happened. In cases involving sidewalk defects like large cracks or uneven areas, there may be prior written or verbal reports by other tenants or even employees. Other individuals may have tripped and fallen over the same defect, especially if the walkway is in an area of high pedestrian traffic.
Also, did anyone make any important admissions about the sidewalk? After your accident, did you have any conversations with the landlord (or an employee) about the accident or the sidewalk area? Was an incident report created? Oftentimes, employees will make statements admitting that they knew about the defect. It’s important to verify these conversations.
Constructive Notice – Landlord Should Have Known About the Sidewalk Crack
Constructive notice is a little bit more complex than actual notice. Someone has constructive notice about some thing or condition when the facts and circumstances show that it’s fair to say the individual SHOULD have known about the thing or condition.
Let’s assume that there were no prior reports and that there’s no evidence that the landlord actually knew about the sidewalk defect. How do you prove that the landlord should have known about it? The answer is, with circumstantial evidence. In other words, do the facts show that the landlord should have known about the problem? Here are some facts that may be important:
- the location of the walkway,
- how often the walkway is used by others, including the landlord’s employees,
- the nature of the crack itself (size, depth, etc.),
- how long the crack existed prior to the fall accident, and
- the landlord’s own internal policies and procedures for property inspections.
Any one or all of these factors can help prove that the landlord had constructive notice of the problem before your fall accident happened. For example, let’s say that the landlord’s office is located at the top of the walkway, and that the landlord and its employees use the same walkway to get to the office. This fact would show that the landlord should have known about it. Or, let’s say that the crack was so large that grass and weeds were growing out of it. Also, per the landlord’s own policy, the landlord is required to conduct monthly checks of all sidewalks for defects. Since the sidewalk crack had vegetation growing out of it, and the landlord was supposed to do monthly checks, it’s fair to say the landlord should have seen the crack.
Financial Compensation Claims Allowed for Injured Tenants
Pennsylvania law allows an injured tenant and guests of tenants to make claims against a landlord for any and all damages that reasonably flow from an accident or injury that’s caused by the landlord’s negligence. Claims for financial compensation include pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and other miscellaneous expenses.
Philadelphia Injury Lawyers – Accident Lawsuits Against Landlords
Our Philadelphia injury lawyers handle lawsuits against landlords for fall accidents and other incidents such as criminal conduct. Contact us for a FREE consultation. (215) 985-0777