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The Hazards of Icy Sidewalks: Understanding Premises Liability in Philadelphia

December 11, 2023

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Winter in Philadelphia brings its own set of challenges, from icy roads to frosty winds. However, one often underestimated hazard during this season is the treacherous icy sidewalks that can lead to severe injuries. Slip and fall accidents on icy sidewalks are a common occurrence, and understanding premises liability is crucial for those who suffer injuries as a result. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore premises liability in Philadelphia, local laws, how to prove liability, and when to contact a lawyer. If you've been injured due to icy sidewalks, this article aims to provide you with the knowledge you need to protect your rights.

Philadelphia Premises Liability Laws

Premises liability laws are established to protect individuals who are injured on someone else's property due to unsafe conditions. In Philadelphia, property owners have a responsibility to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition, especially when it comes to sidewalks adjacent to their property.

Duty of Care

Property owners, including homeowners and businesses, have a duty of care to maintain their property, ensuring that it is safe for visitors and pedestrians. This duty extends to public sidewalks adjacent to their property. Property owners must take reasonable steps to prevent and address hazardous conditions, such as icy sidewalks.

Icy Sidewalks in Philadelphia

Philadelphia's climate makes icy sidewalks a significant concern during the winter months. Property owners are expected to address these hazards promptly. Failure to do so can result in serious injuries to pedestrians, and property owners can be held liable.

Municipal Codes and Regulations

The City of Philadelphia has established specific regulations regarding sidewalk maintenance. Property owners are responsible for keeping their sidewalks clear of ice and snow within a certain timeframe after a snowstorm. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to fines and liability for any injuries that occur due to icy sidewalks.

Comparative Negligence

In Pennsylvania, the concept of comparative negligence applies. This means that if a person injured on an icy sidewalk is found partially at fault for the accident, their compensation may be reduced accordingly. However, if a property owner's negligence is the primary cause of the accident, they can still be held liable for the injured party's damages.

Landlord Liability

For rental properties, landlords may be held responsible for icy sidewalks if they are responsible for sidewalk maintenance under the lease agreement. Landlords must fulfill their obligations and ensure the safety of their tenants and visitors.

How to Prove Liability

Proving premises liability in the case of icy sidewalks can be challenging, but it's essential to establish the property owner's negligence to obtain compensation for your injuries.

Document the Scene

The first step is to document the scene of the accident. Take photographs and gather evidence to demonstrate the icy conditions, such as photographs of the icy sidewalk, the surrounding area, and any warning signs, if applicable.

Obtain Witness Statements

If there were any witnesses to the accident, obtain their statements. Witness testimonies can help corroborate your version of events and strengthen your case.

Seek Medical Attention

It's crucial to seek immediate medical attention after a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk. Even if your injuries seem minor, it's essential to have a medical record to link your injuries to the accident.

Preserve Your Clothing

If your clothing was damaged during the accident, preserve it as evidence. It may show signs of icy conditions, such as snow or ice on your clothes.

Request Surveillance Footage

If the accident occurred near a business or a property with security cameras, request the surveillance footage. It can provide valuable evidence of the accident and the conditions at the time.

Review Municipal Records

Check the municipal records for snow removal and maintenance schedules to determine whether the property owner complied with local regulations.

Consult an Attorney

Consulting an experienced premises liability attorney is essential. They can help you gather evidence, assess the strength of your case, and guide you through the legal process.

When to Contact a Lawyer

Determining when to contact a lawyer is a crucial decision when pursuing a premises liability claim for injuries sustained on icy sidewalks in Philadelphia. Here are some key considerations:

Severity of Injuries

If you suffer severe injuries that require medical treatment, surgery, or rehabilitation, it's essential to contact an attorney. Serious injuries often result in significant medical bills and may have long-term consequences on your life.

Challenges in Proving Liability

If there are challenges in proving liability, such as disputes over property ownership, compliance with municipal regulations, or the cause of the accident, it's advisable to seek legal representation. An attorney can help navigate these complexities and build a strong case on your behalf.

Insurance Company Disputes

Dealing with insurance companies can be complicated. They may try to minimize your claim or dispute your injuries. An attorney can handle negotiations with insurance companies and work to ensure you receive fair compensation.

Statute of Limitations

In Pennsylvania, there is a statute of limitations for premises liability claims. You typically have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Failing to meet this deadline can result in the loss of your right to seek compensation.

Potential for Compensation

Consider the potential compensation you may be entitled to. If your injuries have resulted in medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, pursuing a premises liability claim may be in your best interest.

Contact an Experienced Premises Liability Lawyer At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim for a Free Consultation About Your Case Today

In Philadelphia, the hazards of icy sidewalks during the winter season are a significant concern. Property owners have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their premises and sidewalks. When they fail to fulfill this duty, and injuries occur as a result, premises liability laws come into play.

Understanding Philadelphia's premises liability laws, such as duty of care, municipal regulations, and comparative negligence, is essential for those who have been injured on icy sidewalks. To prove liability, documenting the scene, obtaining witness statements, seeking medical attention, and consulting an attorney are crucial steps.

Knowing when to contact an attorney is equally important, especially when dealing with severe injuries, challenges in proving liability, insurance disputes, or statute of limitations issues. Taking timely action can make a significant difference in your ability to obtain compensation for your injuries.

If you've been injured due to icy sidewalks in Philadelphia, the law firm of van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim is here to assist you. Our experienced premises liability attorneys can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence, and pursue the compensation you deserve. Don't let icy sidewalks leave you out in the cold – contact us today for a consultation and protect your rights. Your safety is our priority.

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