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When one hears the term ‘slip and fall,’ they mistakenly believe that such accidents only affect the elderly, or they only happen during inclement weather. While both factors may increase the likelihood of slip and fall accidents, they in fact happen much more often than that. The most recent statistics place York and Somerset Counties at the top of the list for falls, but Philadelphia County is right behind. Large cities are more likely to experience a high volume of slip and fall accidents than rural areas, solely because there are more areas to make safe for more people - but they also have more slip and fall lawyers who can help.
Slip and Fall Statistics
According to the most recent available statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, slip and fall accidents account for approximately one-third of all hospitalizations that came from injury. The most common age group sustaining such injuries was those aged 80 and over, but starting at age 50, all age groups sustained injuries from falling at a much higher rate than other listed causes. Philadelphia County had the second highest number of fall-related deaths in the state at 480 (though this is still lower than might be expected in a large urban area).
Overall, the age-adjusted death rate for unintentional falls rose by about 25 percent between 2006 and 2010 (the most recent available year of data). While part of this can be explained by an aging of the population, the statistics are also somewhat influenced by the fact that there is a disparity in population between older and younger in most counties. The fewer elderly people, the more each incident counts in statistical terms.
Bringing Suit For Slip and Fall Injuries
The majority of slip and fall accident cases that come to court are brought by people who allege that a business or homeowner did not sufficiently make their premises safe for people to enter. Landowners have a duty to their guests to either actively make their property safe, or at least to warn of potential dangers, and if they do not, they may be held liable. This theory is called premises liability, and it is based in negligence law. Often, the question of recovery in a premises liability case will hinge on the class of visitor that you, as the plaintiff, would fall into. In Pennsylvania, there are four classes of people for the purposes of premises liability. At common law, there were three: invitees, licensees and trespassers. (Pennsylvania divides invitees into two subclasses, business and public.)
Invitees, or people who are invited onto the land (for a public purpose, or for a purpose of the owner), are owed the highest duty of care, though exactly what the landowner must do depends on the nature of their business. For example, a shop owner may be required to check for spills and broken items every time they cross the shop floor, while a homeowner may only be required to perform plain view searches when they come and go.
Licensees, conversely, are people who have been granted permission to enter the land. Examples of licensees are diners in a restaurant. Licensees do not merit a physical inspection of the property under Pennsylvania law, merely a warning of potentially dangerous conditions. Trespassers are granted no duty except to not be the target of deliberately malicious acts on the part of the landowner. To bring suit, you must first ascertain which category you fit into, and what duty is owed to you. If that duty was breached, you may have a case.
Contact A Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Attorney
Prevailing on a premises liability claim requires precision and a working knowledge of the complex strata of liability law. Many personal injury lawyers are experienced in these types of cases, and will work hard to involve you in your suit at every step of the way. Contact an experienced attorney to discuss your options and have your questions answered.