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Premises Liability FAQ

When you in an unfamiliar place, you have no way of knowing about hidden dangers that might be lurking on the property. In some cases, people can even suffer injuries in places they feel they know very well when property owners fail to correct obvious dangers.

When a shopper is hurt in a retail store accident or a tenant sustains injuries because of landlord negligence, victims may be able to pursue damages from the property owner in a premises liability lawsuit. The West Chester personal injury lawyers of Ciccarelli Law Offices work as a team to help these types of accident victims obtain the compensation they need after being hurt or losing loved ones because of a property owner’s negligence.

This section of our website provides answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about premises liability cases. If you want specific answers regarding your own case, call (610) 719-3190 or complete an online contact form right now to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Premises Liability in West Chester, PA

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What is a premises liability claim?

Premises liability applies to a property owner’s legal responsibility for injuries or other torts that occur on that party’s property. A premises liability claim generally involves some type of dangerous or unsafe condition on the property that caused the injury. Slip and fall accidents are some of the most common premises liability claims.

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What steps should I take after suffering an injury on another person’s property?

After any accident on another party’s property, you should immediately seek medical attention. Even if you do not believe that your injuries are particularly serious, you will still want to have a medical record and it is important to remember that many serious injuries may not show symptoms until several days or even weeks later.

You will either want to get the contact information (names, phone numbers, and addresses) of all witnesses or have somebody else do it for you if you are still receiving medical care. You should also have as many photographs as possible taken of the accident site.

After you have received a doctor’s opinion and left the property, you will want to immediately contact an experienced West Chester personal injury attorney. The one thing you should absolutely never do is speak to the property owner or any insurance company without legal representation.

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Am I automatically entitled to compensation for injuries sustained on another person’s property?

No. Not all injuries on somebody’s property are the fault of a property owner. In order for an accident victim to obtain compensation, the property owner must have failed to eliminate a hazard or unsafe condition that directly caused a victim’s injuries.

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What needs to be proven in a premises liability case?

In order for a property owner to be negligent, the victim will need to prove that the property owner had a duty to keep the premises safe for the visitor, the property owner failed to eliminate a dangerous condition or failed to warn the visitor about the condition, the victim suffered some type of injury as a result of the property owner’s negligence, and the injuries were serious enough to result in economic and/or noneconomic damages.

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How long do I have to file a premises liability lawsuit?

A person has to years to file an action to recover damages for personal injuries or for the death of a loved one caused by the negligence of a property owner under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524(2).

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What types of compensation might I be entitled to?

The value of a premises liability claim depends on the nature of the specific injuries a victim suffered and the property owner’s degree of negligence. Most victims are able to recover economic damages for verifiable losses such as past and future lost income and medical expenses. Some people can also be awarded noneconomic damages for intangible harms such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, and emotional distress.

In certain cases, a judge or jury may also award punitive damages (also referred to as exemplary damages) in cases of extreme recklessness by the property owner. State law caps punitive damages at 200 percent of the compensatory damages (economic and noneconomic damages), but these damages are rarely awarded in a very few cases.

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What are the different types of property entrants?

In premises liability cases, there are three types of claimants:

  • Trespassers are people who enter or remains upon another party’s property without consent. Trespassers can only recover for injuries sustained in a premises liability case if the property owner was guilty of wanton or willful negligence or misconduct. While property owners have no duty of care to most trespassers, children are an exception because they are not old enough to be presumed negligent. This exception can apply in swimming pool accidents when property owners fail secure pool areas.
  • Licensees are people who enter or remain upon another party’s property with permission, most often for social purposes. Property owners are liable for a licensee’s injuries if the property owner knew or had reason to know of a dangerous condition that might not be discovered or realized, and failed to exercise reasonable care to either make the condition safe or warn the licensee of the risk. The licensee must also not know or have reason to know of the condition and the risk involved.
  • Invitees are people who are invited to enter or remain upon another party’s property either for business purposes or when property has been open to the general public. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care and property owners must keep their premises safe, warn invitees of hazardous conditions, and rescue invitees who are in danger when visiting. King of Prussia Mall visitors are classified as invitees.

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The property owner told me I was to blame for not watching where I was going. How difficult will this make my case?

Many property owners will immediately invoke this defense upon learning of a victim’s injuries. In some cases, judges and juries may agree that a hazard or danger was obvious and apparent enough that a victim was at fault and should not be awarded any damages.

Oftentimes there are many other factors that contributed to the victim suffering an injury though. A skilled personal injury attorney can investigate the specific circumstances of your own accident and craft the most compelling argument as to why the property owner was at fault.

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Can property owners be liable for criminal acts that occur on their premises?

Certain property owners may be liable for attacks by third parties that occur on their premises. A property owner could be liable for negligent security if security personnel were improperly trained, there was a lack of adequate supervision of the premises, or the property owner failed to maintain any kind of surveillance system.

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I know how to file a claim and have all of the necessary evidence, so why would I pay to a lawyer when I could keep more of the settlement for myself?

Many victims commonly believe that by handling their cases themselves, that will mean they won’t have to share any of the compensation they receive. This is exactly what insurance companies want people to think—and a major reason their agents will tell you there’s “no need” to being attorneys into the situation.

Of course, insurance companies have several attorneys of their own working behind the scenes to make sure that they pay as little as possible to settle these claims. Some victims make the mistake of accepting the first offer they receive, usually settling for amounts that are much less than what they will need or deserve for the full lifetime of care involved.

The truth remains that having a lawyer will ultimately mean that you get more than you would on your own. Better yet, Ciccarelli Law Offices handles premises liability cases on a contingency fee basis so you pay absolutely nothing unless we get you a monetary award.

Call (610) 719-3190 right now to schedule a free consultation that will let our attorneys review your case.

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