Premises liability is the legal principle utilized to determine what party is legally responsible for a person injured in a slip-and-fall accident. The doctrine of premises liability requires a person who controls certain property to keep the location in a reasonably safe condition.
The element of property control
In considering the doctrine of premises liability as it extends to a slip-and-fall accident, a hypothetical situation involving a retail store is helpful. Assume that a grocery store rents its space from a building owner. A bottle of milk spills onto the floor, and the staff of the store fails to clean it up in a reasonably timely manner. A customer slips, falls and suffers injuries.
The grocery store would likely be legally responsible for the accident and injuries because it controls the space and had the ability to lower the risk of that particular accident. The building owner does not have day-to-day control over the space because of the existing lease agreement and applicable Pennsylvania commercial landlord and tenant law.
However, if there was a structural defect that caused a person to slip, fall and suffer injuries, both the building owner and the grocery store owner might be deemed legally responsible in such a situation. Depending on the nature of the building defect and what steps the grocer took to protect patrons, the possibility also exists that the building owner might alone bear legal responsibility.
Filing a premises liability claim
Pennsylvania slip-and-fall claims involving issues pertaining to premises liability can prove complex. This reality underscores the importance of retaining legal representation when in need of pursuing such a claim for compensation.