In a Philadelphia personal injury accident case, the injured individuals (plaintiffs) must prove that the responsible parties (defendants) were negligent. There are 4 elements to negligence per PA law:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- The defendant breach that duty or failed to perform the duty of care.
- The breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s accident/injury.
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the accident/injury.
For instance, if a driver drove through a red light and caused an accident and injured another driver to sustain broken bones, the injured driver would have to prove that the driver was negligent in order to win a personal injury lawsuit. The driver owed a duty of care to other drivers on the road to follow all rules of the road, such as stopping at a red light. The at-fault driver failed to follow the rules of the road and drove through the red light. Because the at-fault driver ran through the red light, he caused the accident with the other driver. Lastly, the driver sustained broken bones as a result of the accident.
In a Philadelphia slip, trip and fall accident lawsuit, the plaintiff has to prove something else in order to prevail – notice. Slip, trip and fall accidents are caused by dangerous conditions, such as an icy sidewalk or broken stairway. Plaintiffs must prove that the liable parties knew or should have known about the dangerous condition in order to prevail.
Actual notice is exactly what it sounds like, i.e., the liable party knew about the dangerous defect. Constructive notice is when the liable party should have known about the dangerous defect.
Consider the following example:
A patron at a Philadelphia restaurant goes downstairs to go to the restroom. One of the steps is loose and causes the patron to lose his balance and fall down the stairs. As a result, he suffers a head injury and herniated discs in his back.
In order to win a trip and fall lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the restaurant had notice of the broken step. If the day before the accident, an employee noticed the broken step but failed to tell anyone about it, then the restaurant had actual notice. Another scenario where the restaurant would have had actual notice is if the employee told a supervisor who forgot to put a warning sign and/or call someone to fix the step.
Constructive notice is a little harder to prove. Using the same example, if the kitchen of the restaurant is downstairs and employees go up and down the stairs all the time, it can be argued that the restaurant should have known about the broken step because restaurant employees walked by it all the time.
Help After a Slip, Trip and Fall Accident in Philadelphia
If you or a loved one was injured in a slip, trip or fall accident, call Jordan Namerow, a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer to schedule a free consultation. (215) 985-0777