Sidewalk fall accidents in major cities throughout Pennsylvania are actually very common. This is certainly true in Philadelphia. Some of the most common causes of sidewalk fall accidents in the Philadelphia area include:
- tree roots,
- uneven sidewalk bricks,
- broken concrete, and
A pedestrian who is seriously injured in a sidewalk fall accident often wants to know whether they can take legal action. Below is a discussion of Pennsylvania law which pertains to Philadelphia sidewalk fall accidents.
PA Law – Duty to Maintain Sidewalks
Under Pennsylvania law, property owners have a duty to take reasonable care of their properties. This applies to both commercial and residential property owners. However, under the law, there are some slight variations in terms of what is required of property owners. These variations depend on the status of the property owner and the individual. For instance, a commercial property owner has a heightened duty compared to a residential property owner. This means that a commercial property owner may be held liable for a sidewalk fall accident, whereas a residential property owner might not. Read more about fall down accident law in Pennsylvania.
Snow & Ice Accumulation
With respect to sidewalk fall accidents due to snow/ice accumulation, Pennsylvania law provides that a property owner can be held liable if the accumulation was unreasonable. Basically, a property owner can be liable when snow/ice accumulates to such a degree that it constitutes a danger to pedestrians.
What is considered unreasonable depends on various factors, such as:
- how much snow/ice accumulated on the sidewalk,
- weather conditions prior to the accident, and
- the nature of the property (commercial, residential, etc.).
Should You Sue?
Not every sidewalk fall accident case is meritorious. There are two important factors to consider when deciding whether you should take legal action. First, is the injury serious enough to warrant proceeding with a case? In order to justify proceeding with a lawsuit, the injury must be serious enough. That’s because the costs of litigation can be quite high. A typical fall down accident lawsuit can cost $2,000-$5,000, and that’s just to prepare for trial. If the case goes to trial, the costs go upward from there. Therefore, a sprained ankle is probably not serious enough to warrant filing a lawsuit, whereas a broken ankle would justify filing a claim.
Second, is there clear evidence of a defective or dangerous condition? Under PA fall accident law, a pedestrian who is injured in a fall accident must be able to prove what actually caused the accident. That means being able to identify the dangerous condition and prove that it caused the accident. This analysis must also take into account comparative negligence of the injured pedestrian. The comparative negligence doctrine applies in 80% of fall down injury cases. That’s because pedestrians have a duty to watch where they are walking. If a fall down accident happens due to something clearly visible, like a tree root, the injured pedestrian will be assigned some portion of fault for having caused the accident, i.e., not watching where they were walking.
Philadelphia Sidewalk Fall Accident Injuries
Were you injured in a fall down accident in Philadelphia or the surrounding suburbs? Please call our injury lawyers for a free consultation. (866) 641-0806
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