Under Pennsylvania law, property owners can be held liable for stairway fall accidents. The key is proving fault or negligence. Therefore, it is important to have sufficient evidence of the defect itself. In many cases, the outcome will depend on proving the defect existed and proving the details about the defect itself.
In a stairway fall accident case, the following details are often important:
- the size of the defect compared to the rest of the steps,
- whether there were any other defects on other steps and if so, their sizes, and
- whether the defect was clearly visible or obstructed from normal view.
Therefore, it’s important to get pictures or video of the defect as soon as is practically possible after an accident. Do not delay in seeking legal help.
What You Have to Prove for a Stairway Fall Accident Case in Pennsylvania
The injured party in a civil action bears the legal burden to prove a fall accident case. Under Pennsylvania accident law, the plaintiff is required to prove the following:
- The property owner owed a duty of care.
- The property owner breached the duty of care (i.e., committed negligence).
- The breach caused the accident and injuries.
- The nature and extent of any damages.
Most fall accident cases, including stairway fall accident cases, hinge on the second and third elements. Was the property owner negligent? If so, did that negligence cause the accident to occur. We’ll discuss each element.
Negligence of the Property Owner
In this case, there must be evidence that the property owner either knew about the defective stair or should have known about it under the circumstances. Did other people complain about the uneven stair in the days or weeks prior to the incident? Was the defect so large that it must have existed for an extended period of time, such that the owner should have known about it? These are the types of questions that must be answered in order to win a fall accident case in Pennsylvania.
Did the Negligence Cause the Accident?
This is where the principle of contributory negligence comes into play. In every fall accident case in Pennsylvania, the question of how the accident happened will arise. In most cases, the negligence of the property owner will be compared with the negligence of the injured party. That’s because PA law assumes that every pedestrian will exercise ordinary caution when walking on a stair or sidewalk.
If an accident happens, the injured party must be prepared to answer the question, “Were you watching where you were walking?” Most people answer, “Yes, but I didn’t see the [defect] because…” The rest of the answer must be truthful and reasonable. Answering that you were looking down at a cell phone is probably going to result in a win for the property owner.
Pennsylvania Fall Accident Lawyers
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