Icy Sidewalks in Philadelphia – Slip & Fall Accident Liability (Homeowners & Businesses)


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Snow fall this winter in Philadelphia has been relatively tame compared to last year’s record breaking snow. However, temperatures have reached the single digits after inclement weather. This leads to patches of ice on sidewalks, parking lots, etc. A slip and fall accident on a patch of ice often results in serious injuries. It’s not uncommon for an unsuspecting pedestrian to suffer broken bones, head injuries and spinal injuries in a bad fall accident.

Most people who suffer slip and fall accidents due to an icy sidewalk or ice patch in a parking lot will not be seriously injured and will therefore not even have to entertain the idea of taking any legal action. However, those who are seriously injured will have no choice but to talk to an injury lawyer to discuss their legal remedies. This article will discuss liability of various parties for an icy fall accident in Philadelphia.

Related Fall Accident Case Result: Philadelphia Sidewalk Fall Accident Lawsuit Settles for $350,000 (May 22, 2014)

Private Homeowner (Accident Happened in Front of a Home)

Under Pennsylvania fall accident law, homeowners have the responsibility to take reasonable care of their properties, including adjacent sidewalks. This means taking reasonable steps to remove snow and ice. Of course, given the climate, homeowners are not expected to keep their sidewalks completely free of all snow and ice. The key is acting reasonably under the circumstances. Failure to do so may result in liability.

snowy sidewalk

If a homeowner is found liable for failing to remove snow and ice on the sidewalk which causes a pedestrian to fall and suffer injury, the next question is whether the injured pedestrian can obtain monetary recovery. What most people don’t know is that homeowner’s or renter’s insurance often provides coverage for slip and fall accidents on the covered property. This means that in a slip and fall accident due to an icy sidewalk, the homeowner’s insurance coverage may kick in and provide a source of financial recovery. Basically, the insurance company steps in and pays the injured pedestrian, up to the amount purchased by the homeowner. This is often $100,000 or more.

Private Business Owner (Accident Happened in Front of a Business/Store)

The same logic applies to private business owners. However, businesses which are open to the public are held to a slightly higher standard. Being open to the general public triggers a duty to inspect the property for hazards which pose an unreasonable risk of harm. A patch of ice on a sidewalk or parking lot could certainly pose an unreasonable risk of harm. Therefore, a business in Philadelphia can be held liable for failing to clear patches of ice from abutting sidewalks and other walkways like the parking lot.

This applies to all types of businesses in Philadelphia, such as:

  • retail stores,
  • malls,
  • grocery stores, and
  • gas stations.

In addition, obtaining financial recovery in a slip and fall accident lawsuit against a business in Philadelphia is very similar to a case against a private homeowner with homeowner’s insurance. In a case against a business, the commercial insurance policy kicks in and provides the coverage.

Proving Notice

Whether it’s a private homeowner or a business open to the general public, icy sidewalk fall accident lawsuits will require proof that the defendant knew or should have known about the dangerous condition at some point prior to the incident. Evidence of the defect, prior reports of similar accidents, weather conditions, etc., are all very important. Proving prior notice will require help from a knowledgeable fall accident lawyer who has experience handling these kinds of cases.

Click here to read about government liability for an icy sidewalk fall accident in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Sidewalk Fall Accident & Injury Lawyer

Our law firm specializes in accident and injury cases in Philadelphia. Our main office is located on Walnut Street in Center City, Philadelphia. Please call for a free consultation. (866) 641-0806

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