Landlord liability for an icy sidewalk accident in Philadelphia depends on many factors, such as when, how and where the accident occurred, and being able to prove the existence of the condition. In addition, the most important factor is whether there is sufficient evidence that the landlord knew about the condition and if not, whether the landlord should have known about the condition.
In Pennsylvania accident and injury cases against landlords, like snow/ice fall down accidents, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving the following elements:
1. the accident occurred in a common area,
2. the landlord had actual or constructive notice of the condition, and
3. the accident resulted in injuries and damages.
As a general rule, landlords in Pennsylvania are responsible for unreasonably dangerous conditions in common areas, areas which are open to the general public. This includes sidewalks, parking lots, stairways, laundry rooms, etc. With some limited exceptions, landlords are generally not liable for dangerous conditions inside private areas, such as a tenant’s apartment.
Since the accident occurred in a common area, such as a sidewalk, the first element is met. The second element, proving notice, is usually a very complex issue. Most fall accident lawsuits are won or lost on the strength of the evidence that the landlord had prior knowledge about the condition (actual) or should have known about the condition (constructive).
Actual notice is what it sounds like; days or weeks before the accident at issue, another tenant had the same accident, due to the same defect. In terms of proof, the previous incident report indicating that a tenant had fallen would probably be sufficient to prove that the landlord knew about the condition.
Proving constructive notice is much more involved. In an icy sidewalk case in Pennsylvania, proving constructive notice requires a thorough investigation into the facts of the case, such as the weather conditions leading up to the accident, temperature variations throughout the days prior to the accident, and whether/when snow removal was conducted. In addition, it is vital to investigate the landlord’s own policies with respect to snow/ice removal and whether those procedures were followed.
Suggested Reading: Landlord Liability for Snow/Ice Accidents in Pennsylvania
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