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What to Know if You’ve Been Injured in an Accident at the Philadelphia Airport

According to internal data at the Philadelphia International Airport, over 30 million travelers make their way through the airport each year. This past December, there were nearly 2.5 million travelers at the airport. These numbers exclude individuals who drop off/pick up passengers at the airport, such as a friend or family member who parks and walks into the airport to drop off/pick up their loved ones.

While most people at the airport do not have accidents, many people do. The following are common types of accidents which can occur at the airport:

  • bathroom fall down accidents,
  • stairway fall down accidents,
  • carpet trip/fall accidents, and
  • moving vehicle strike accidents.

Related: Philadelphia Trip & Fall Law – How to Win a Trip & Fall Case in PA

This list is by no means exhaustive. Many people at the airport may be injured in other types of incidents and mishaps. For instance, a traveler making a purchase at one of the many airport stores may trip over an extension cord lying on the floor, or a traveler eating at one of the airport bars/restaurants may be injured when they sit in a broken chair which collapses beneath them.

Who is Liable for Philadelphia Airport Accidents?

Per the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, the City of Philadelphia is responsible for maintenance and control of the Philadelphia International Airport. This includes bathrooms, main areas, hallways, runways, baggage claim areas, etc.  However, independent restaurants and retail stores inside the airport may be liable as well. This depends on precisely where an accident occurred. For instance, the City of Philadelphia may be liable for a fall down accident which occurs on a stairway between two levels; whereas an airport retail store may be liable for an accident which occurs inside the store. In addition, there may be accident cases in which both the City of Philadelphia and an independent business are liable.

Related: Pennsylvania Slip & Fall Accidents – Evidence of Negligence is Key

City of Philadelphia, Liability for an Airport Accident

The Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act

Under Pennsylvania law, local government entities like the City of Philadelphia are generally exempt from liability. This is laid out in the Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (Act), which can be found at 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Sections 8541 through 8564. Under the Act, the City of Philadelphia is only liable in certain circumstances; by statute, an individual is allowed to seek legal recourse against the City of Philadelphia if the accident falls under one of several exceptions.

The Real Property Exception

In an airport accident case, the most commonly litigated exception is the real property exception 8542(b)(3), which allows the City to be liable when an accident involves:

The care, custody or control of real property in the possession of the local agency, except that the local agency shall not be liable for damages on account of any injury sustained by a person intentionally trespassing on real property in the possession of the local agency.

What Kinds of Airport Accidents is the City Liable For?

Under this exception, the City will only be liable for airport accidents which involve real property, i.e., things that are affixed or attached to the property itself. In general, the City of Philadelphia may be held liable for accidents which involve things like steps on a stairway, missing tiles on a bathroom floor, or holes/tears in carpeting in a hallway, because these items involve the care of the real property itself.

Click here to read about a March 2014 PA court case which discusses the real property exception in the context of an airport fall accident case.

If you were injured in an accident at the Philadelphia airport, please call our lawyers for a free consultation at Click To Call. There are many nuances to government entity law in Pennsylvania, and you must speak to a lawyer as soon as possible due to special time limitations in these types of accident cases.