Sidewalk fall accidents are one of the most common types of fall accident cases in Philadelphia. This is due in large part to the sheer number of pedestrians in Philadelphia. Sidewalk fall accident cases require a great deal of investigation and consideration because they often involve complex legal issues. Here are the two most common legal issues which come into play in a typical fall accident case in Philadelphia.
1. Is There Sufficient Evidence of Fault or Liability?
Sidewalk fall accidents are often won or lost on the evidence. If there is insufficient evidence of fault, the plaintiff (injured party) is likely to lose the case. In sidewalk fall accidents, the defective condition that caused the accident must be proved. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving that a defective condition existed at the time of the accident. In addition, the plaintiff is required to prove that the property owner (business or homeowner) knew or should have known about the condition but failed to take appropriate steps to correct it or warn others about it. The legal duties required of the property owner depend on the status of the property owner: business versus private residence. Pennsylvania fall down accident law imposes different duties on public businesses and private homeowners.
Oftentimes, when serious injuries occur, an injured pedestrian isn’t thinking about proving that a defective sidewalk condition caused the accident. Rather, they are focused on getting medical treatment. By the time the person speaks to a lawyer, weeks or months may have passed. As more time passes, the harder it becomes to prove that a defective condition existed. In other words, the longer you wait, the harder it becomes to prove fault. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to have someone go back to the accident scene and take pictures of the defective condition. If you’re unable to take pictures yourself, have a trusted friend take pictures.
2. Are There Governmental Liability Issues?
Another issue which often arises in these cases is whether the local or state government bears any liability. In general, government entities (state, local or county agencies) may bear secondary liability for defective sidewalk conditions. This means that a public or private property owner is liable first. Then, the local government agency may be liable, or is liable second.
In some instances, a government entity may bear primary liability. If the sidewalk was owned or otherwise maintained by the government, the entity may be the only party liable. The typical example involves a sidewalk fall accident which occurs in front of a government building.
When governmental liability is triggered, the plaintiff is required to provide written notice to the correct entity. Pennsylvania law is very specific about this notice which is known as a tort notice. Failure to provide the tort notice to the correct entity may result in dismissal of the claim.
If you have a potential sidewalk fall accident case in Philadelphia, it is crucial to speak to a lawyer right away. Call our office for a free case review. (866) 641-0806 (located on Walnut Street in Center City, Philadelphia)
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