The holidays are around the corner, and there are a lot more people walking in Philadelphia doing their holiday shopping. With more shoppers, there may also be more slip, trip and fall accidents, inside and outside of a store.
Can injured pedestrians receive compensation for the injuries sustained as a result of a slip, trip and fall accident? Can injured pedestrians be blamed for the fall accident? We will answer these questions in this article.
Liable Parties in a Philadelphia Slip, Trip and Fall Accident
If a person falls inside a store, the store may be responsible for the person’s fall accident. For instance, a customer is shopping inside a store in Center City, Philadelphia. As she is walking through the store, she slips on a puddle of water on the floor. She falls and breaks her right arm. She is taken to a nearby hospital in Philadelphia. As a result of her fall, the customer needs surgery on her arm and physical therapy for several weeks after the surgery.
Can the store be liable in this situation? Let’s assume that earlier in the day, another customer spilled a bottle of water on the floor. A sales representative saw what happened and told the customer that she would clean it up. However, on the way to get paper towels, another customer asked the sales representative for help. The employee decided to help the customer first and told herself that she would clean up the spill after. However, after she helped the customer, she forgot she needed to clean up the spill. In this situation, the store would probably be liable for the customer’s fall and injuries pursuant to Pennsylvania fall accident law.
In Pennsylvania, a store is liable for a customer’s slip, trip and fall accident and resulting injuries if it knew or should have known about the dangerous condition/hazard that caused the fall accident. This is the legal element known as notice.
In this above case, the employee knew about the spilled water; therefore, she had actual notice of the dangerous condition. The employee should have cleaned it up, but she got side tracked and the water remained on the floor. The employee should have told the customer that asked for help to hold on one second while she went to get a mop to clean up. She also could have asked the customer to hold on and put caution signs around the puddle to warn customers of the dangerous condition, i.e., water on the floor.
It is important to note that if the first customer spilled the water just minutes before the second customer fell, the store may not be liable for the accident. Let’s assume that after the customer spilled the water, she went to tell a sales associate. When she walked away, the second customer walked by, slipped on the water and fell. In this situation, the injured customer cannot argue that the store had notice of the spill. Because the spill and the fall happened within minutes of each other, it would be unreasonable to argue that the store had notice and should be liable.
What if the store employee didn’t see the spilled water before the accident? If the water was there for hours, it can be argued that the store had constructive notice, i.e., should have known about the spilled water. For instance, if where the water spilled is an area where many employees walked by during the day, it can be argued that the store should have known about the water. They should have seen the puddle. If there is constructive notice, then the store would be liable for the customer’s fall and injuries.
Can the Customer Be Liable?
Can customers be blamed for the accident? Yes, they can. In fact, in slip, trip and fall accidents, the defendants (party being sued) almost always argue that the plaintiff (injured party) is also to blame for the fall accident. However, it is important to note that just because an injured party may also be blamed for the accident, it does not mean they cannot recover. This is the legal doctrine of comparative negligence.
Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, as long as the plaintiff, i.e., injured pedestrian or injured individual, was not negligent (at-fault) by more than 50%, then the plaintiff can still recover. However, the financial recovery is reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s negligence. For instance, let’s say the plaintiff was 20% responsible for her fall, her recovery would be reduced by 20%. Therefore, if the jury awarded $100,000 in damages, then the award would be reduced by 20%. The plaintiff would only receive $80,000.
Help After a Slip, Trip and Fall Accident
If you were injured in a fall accident in Philadelphia, call Jordan Namerow, a Philadelphia personal injury lawyers. Mr. Namerow always offers a FREE consultation. 215.985.0777