Can You Sue a Landlord for a Fall Accident in Philadelphia?
Under Pennsylvania law, tenants and their guests can sue landlords for fall accidents in public areas like walkways, hallways, parking lots, etc. However, there must be evidence of negligence on the part of the landlord. Landlords aren’t liable simply because a tenant or a guest fell on the property. In addition, landlords are generally not liable for fall accidents that happen inside the apartment.
What a Tenant Has to Prove in a Fall Accident Lawsuit Against a Landlord
In a case where a fall accident happens in public areas of an apartment complex, landlords are treated like a business. This means landlords have a duty to make the public areas safe from unreasonably dangerous conditions such as, water, snow and ice from inclement weather and crumbling or uneven sidewalk caused by tree roots.
This responsibility applies to any place that’s open to all tenants and their guests, including sidewalks, walkways, parking lots, mail room areas, laundry areas, and more.
Negligence & Proof
Negligence in these cases can be proved in one of two ways: actual knowledge and constructive knowledge. To prove actual or direct knowledge, there must be evidence that the landlord knew about a dangerous condition prior to the incident. This typically involves evidence that others complained about the problem or evidence that at least one other person fell due to the same defect. Proving actual knowledge requires proving who knew what and when they knew it.
Constructive knowledge is little more complex. It requires analyzing the circumstances and arguing that even though there’s no direct knowledge, the landlord should have known about the problem. Proving constructive knowledge in a given case will depend on the specific facts and circumstances.
For example, in a sidewalk slip and fall due to ice, this might require looking at the weather in the days and hours before the incident occurred and comparing this with the landlord’s shoveling and salting schedule.
In a parking lot trip and fall due to a large crack in the pavement from tree roots, this might involve having a maintenance expert measure and examine the crack, tree roots and area surrounding the pavement to show just how long the crack would have existed prior to the incident.