Limitations in Pennsylvania Premise Liability Cases

Premise liability laws are a vital part of every states’ code of ethics concerning the duties of property owners. These laws grant citizens the right to a safe visit to another entities property. When a civilian is injured on someone’s property, they can fight for compensation for their injuries due to premise liability rules. While the goal of the law is to protect citizens who are injured by a hazard, there are limitations to what these rules can achieve.

Limitations of Negligence in Premise Liability Claims

In premise liability claims based on negligence, the plaintiff must prove four elements:

  • The property owner had a duty of care to the injured.
  • The owner knew about or should have known about the hazard that caused the accident.
  • The property owner failed to remedy the dangerous condition he or she knew about.
  • The breach of duty was a direct cause of injury.

As all four elements need to be proven, there are limitations that get in the way. For example, if a person is trespassing on someone’s property and is injured, their lawsuit may fail because the owner of the property had no duty of care to the trespasser. In some situations, a premise liability lawsuit may unravel because the defendant can prove they were unaware, and had no way of knowing, of the hazard that caused the accident. In other cases, a plaintiff may have been injured while on the premise, but the direct cause is shown to be something else other than the stated hazard. Additionally, the property owner may be able to prove they were trying to remedy the dangerous condition when the injury occurred. Any one of these scenarios can throw out a premise liability lawsuit.

Limitations of Strict Liability Claims

When a person is injured while on another entity’s property, the wounded can pursue a strict liability claim. A strict liability claim covers accidents that are abnormally or inherently dangerous. In strict liability claims, there is no need to prove that a property owner breached their duty of care to a citizen. For example, if a premise owner set a trap for burglars and a visitor is injured by the trap, this would fall under strict liability. While strict liability lawsuits do not have to prove a breach of the duty of care, they will have to show that the accident was abnormally or inherently dangerous. The standard of “abnormal or inherent” danger has limitations for the plaintiff, as the defendant can prove just cause for maintaining the hazard in question.

Comparative Negligence & Statute of Limitations

Two other limitations can affect premise liability lawsuits:

  • Comparative Negligence: The plaintiff can only win if they prove the property owner’s negligence was higher than their own. If they are found to be at fault for more than 50% of the accident, they may not be able to pursue the compensation they need.
  • Statute of Limitations: A premise liability claim must be filed within two years of the accident’s occurrence; otherwise, it may be thrown out due to Pennsylvania statute of limitations laws.

Get the Help You Need to Fight for the Compensation You Deserve

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons why a Pennsylvania premise liability case may not be successful. However, it does not mean you should let go of your case—it means you should get help. At Handler Henning & Rosenberg, we’ve been helping people recover financially from injuries for nearly 100 years. We have the experience you need to pursue a claim and move forward.

If you have a premise liability question, call (888) 498-3023 to receive a free consultation


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