Lancaster Slip & Fall Injury Lawyer
Slip and Fall Injuries in Lancaster County PA
Whether you are dining at your favorite Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant in Lancaster, shopping at the Tanger Outlets, running other errands, staying at a motel or hotel in the area, or coming home to your apartment complex after a long day’s work, you have the right to expect the building to be safe and free from hazards. While most property owners do make sure their property is safe, others fail to devote sufficient maintenance and care to the property, leaving hazards for visitors to encounter. Slip and fall accidents may sound minor, but in actuality, they can cause some severe injuries.
When property owners fail to provide reasonable upkeep, and a person is injured through a slip and fall, the victim could be entitled to file a personal injury claim for the damages. If you have suffered a slip and fall accident in Lancaster—whether at a movie theater (like Regal Cinemas Manor 16, Zoetropolis, Penn Cinema or Kendig Squares Movie 6), a wet floor at the grocery store, or due to an unsafe structure, you should not be responsible for an accident caused by the negligence of another person or entity. A Lancaster slip and fall lawyer who has significant experience in premises liability claims can help you through this challenging time, making sure you receive proper medical care and are compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
How is Liability Determined?
When you fall on another person’s property, the owner of the property is not automatically liable, however, liability can certainly exist if the accident involved certain factors. Under the law, a property owner is liable for injuries to visitors if the accident could be considered preventable—that is, the owner of the property failed to take reasonable steps to alleviate a hazard and, as a result, a visitor was injured. Some owners skimp on regular upkeep of a property to save a few bucks. When this occurs, hazards can develop rapidly. Hazards on properties which are most likely to result in a slip and fall accident include:
- Cracks or defects in sidewalks;
- Unexpected potholes in parking lots or other areas commonly used for walking;
- Leaks which are unrepaired;
- Spills which are not properly cleaned up;
- Cables and cords which are not bundled out of the path of foot traffic;
- Improperly fastened down carpet;
- Inadequate lighting in stairwells;
- Inadequate lighting in parking garages;
- Broken stairs;
- Lack of a handrail on stairs;
- Uneven stairs;
- Recently mopped or waxed floors;
- Uneven surfaces with no warning signs;
- Loose rugs and mats;
- Trash or debris on the floor;
- Items left in the walk paths;
- Loose floorboards, and
- Ice that is not properly salted.
Although a slip and fall can happen anywhere, these types of accidents are most likely to occur in a grocery store, a big box store, like Lowe’s, Home Depot, a restaurant or a bathroom. Slip and fall accidents can also occur in shopping malls, outlet stores, bars, toy stores, craft stores, department stores, antique stores, floral shops, gift shops, theaters, hotels, motels and apartment complexes.
Slip and Fall Injuries at Work
Although slip and fall injuries involve low heights and no speed, to speak of, you might assume a slip and fall accident would not result in a serious injury which would land you in the Lancaster General Hospital. According to the National Safety Council, falls are actually the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths in the United States. Although this figure includes both falls from a height as well as falls on the same level, there were 134 workers killed in the workplace from a same-level fall in 2016. For those who fall while at work, construction workers are most at risk for fatal falls from a height, but even those who work at desks jobs can suffer a serious slip and fall.
Other Slip and Fall Facts
The National Floor Safety Institute reports that fall fatalities are nearly equally divided between men and women, however, women are more likely to experience a slip and fall accident. Falls account for more than 8 million visits to hospital emergency rooms, making falls the leading cause of ER visits. Of these 8 million, more than one million are for slip and falls, while the remainder is for falls from heights. Floors and flooring materials are the number one reason people suffer slip and falls. Elderly people are at a higher risk for a slip and fall as well as a higher risk of a serious injury from a slip and fall. Of all the fractures associated with falls, hip fractures are the most serious, leading to the greatest number of subsequent health problems and deaths. Nearly half of all elderly adults who are hospitalized for a hip fracture are subsequently unable to return home or live independently.
Slip and Fall Injuries in Lancaster
Unintentional falls in Lancaster are a leading cause of traumatic brain injury, which can cause permanent, disabling medical complications. Other common injuries resulting from a slip and fall accident include:
- Broken noses and facial lacerations;
- Wrist fractures
- Tooth/dental injuries;
- Torn ligaments;
- Strains and sprains;
- Back and neck injuries, and
- Soft tissue injuries.
Compensation for Slip and Fall Injuries
If you are the victim of a slip and fall accident in Lancaster, which was caused by the negligence of a property owner, you could find yourself seriously injured, leading to a mounting pile of medical expenses you are unable to pay. Your injuries could prevent you from returning to work for a short while, a longer period of time, or forever. Because of these damages, you may be entitled to recoup your medical expenses (both current and future, including rehabilitative expenses), lost wages (current and future), and pain and suffering. In rare cases, you could also be entitled to punitive damages if the owner of the property was not simply negligent, but acted in a malicious, willful manner. If the slip and fall resulted in death, the family of the victim could file a wrongful death claim to cover medical expenses, funeral/burial expenses, and loss of future income.
Is There a Cap on Compensation for a Lancaster Slip and Fall?
Unlike some other states, Pennsylvania does not restrict the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover following a slip and fall accident. Certain exceptions do exist, however, including lawsuits against state and local government entities which limits compensation to $500,000 for local entities, and no more than “$250,000 in favor of any plaintiff, or $1,000,000 in the aggregate” for state entities.
Proving Liability in a Lancaster Slip and Fall Accident
A successful slip and fall claim will depend on your ability to definitively show the following:
- The owner of the property had a duty of care;
- The owner of the property was negligent in performing that duty of care;
- The owner of the property breached that duty of care, harming you in the process, and
- The breach of duty (negligence) on the part of the owner was a major factor in your injuries.
Property owners have different levels of duty of care toward those on the premises; an invitee is the highest level of visitor and is anyone who is invited by the owner or tenant to visit. This includes customers at stores, clients at businesses, and renters at apartment complexes). The owner of a property has a reasonable duty of care to maintain and repair property, so invitees are not injured. Other categories of entrants include licensees (a person on the property with permission when the property is not open to the general public) and trespassers (those with no permission to be on the property when the property is not open to the general public. Your best chance for a successful outcome to your slip and fall accident is when you are an invitee or a licensee. To show negligence, you must prove the owner of the property failed to act in a reasonable manner to prevent your injury. As an example, did the hazard exist for a sufficient length of time for the owner to have discovered it and remedied it?
Commercial vs. Residential Slip and Fall
The manner in which a slip and fall claim unfolds will depend on whether the property was commercial or residential. If you were injured in a residential slip and fall, you must show the landlord controlled the conditions which caused the fall, that preventing the fall would have been possible through relatively inexpensive repairs, that an injury was the obvious consequence of failure to perform the repairs and that the inability or unwillingness of the landlord to repair the problem caused your accident. In a commercial slip and fall claim, there are a number of people who could be responsible for the accident, including an individual employee of the company, the property manager, or the property owner. In a commercial slip and fall, the responsible party must have caused the spill, obstruction or dangerous area and the party must have known of the danger but neglected to act as any reasonable person would have done.
Our Lancaster Slip and Fall Lawyers Are There When You Need Us
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our Lancaster County personal injury attorneys want to be your advocate following your slip and fall accident. We understand that your slip and fall accident could have left you unable to pay your medical expenses and unable to work. We aggressively defend all our clients and are proud to represent all injured Lancaster County residents, including those living in Lancaster, Ephrata, Elizabethtown, Columbia, Lititz, Millersville, Willow Street, Mount Joy, Leola, New Holland, Manheim, East Petersburg, Akron, Denver, Maytown, and Reamstown. No matter where you are injured in Lancaster County, our attorneys are ready to assist you. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422. Our Lancaster Office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster PA 17603. We are ready to help you during this difficult time.