Have you recently been injured after tripping and falling in a pothole? You may have some questions:
- Who was responsible for repairing the pothole?
- Why wasn't it repaired?
- Who is liable for my injury expenses?
- What kind of compensation could I recover?
Our slip and fall lawyers can help answer these and other related questions you may have.
No one should suffer injuries because of a property owner's negligence.
Potholes don't only affect drivers. Pedestrians can easily be injured because of potholes in sidewalks, parking lots, or in the street. It's up to property owners to maintain safe walking surfaces. Those negligent property owners who failed to repair potholes endanger anyone who visits their property.
Have you been injured in a trip and fall accident caused by a pothole? You don't have to deal with the financial fallout all on your own. The negligent property owner may be held liable for your medical bills and other damages.
Who Is Responsible For Pothole Trips and Falls?
There are a few possible responsible parties in these accidents. Determining liability depends on the location of the accident, the property owner, and other factors.
Let's look at a fall in a grocery store parking lot as an example. While pushing your cart full of groceries through the lot, you stumble and fall in a pothole. You end up breaking your wrist as a result.
Which parties may be held liable for damages? Well, that depends on the circumstances of your specific case. It would be best to rely on an experienced personal injury attorney for help figuring that out.
But there are a few possible options, including business owners, landlords, third parties, and municipalities.
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The owner of the grocery store will often be held liable for damages. It is usually the responsibility of the property owner to maintain safe conditions throughout the property. If the grocery store owner was aware of the pothole, should have been aware of the pothole, or caused the pothole, he or she will likely be found liable for damages.
In some situations, the grocery store will be renting their space from a commercial landlord. In these instances, liability may depend on the type of agreement between the landlord and the tenant (grocery store). If the terms of the lease specify that the landlord is responsible for maintenance and repairs, then he or she may be found negligent. If the lease says that the business owner is responsible for repairs, then he or she would be the at-fault party.
There are certain circumstances in which a third party is at-fault for a pothole accident. For example, let's say that the grocery store has hired a parking lot maintenance company to regularly repair any issues which may arise. If an employee of that company missed a pothole which eventually caused an injury, that maintenance company may be held liable.
In some cases, the city or county may be held responsible for a pothole accident. If the incident occurred on public or government-owned property, you may have a case against the municipality where it occurred. These cases are much more difficult than those against private property owners but can be won if negligence is proven.
In order to prove negligence in a slip and fall case, you need evidence of one of three things:
- The property owner knew of the problem but didn't fix it - If a customer or employee had previously notified the property owner of a pothole which later caused an injury, the owner may be found negligent for failing to address the problem.
- He or she should have known about the danger - If the issue was present for an extended period of time and the owner remained unaware of the problem, he or she may be found liable. It is a property owner's responsibility to have a regular maintenance routine in order to preserve a safe environment for guests.
- He or she caused the problem which lead to an accident - If the property owner actually created the dangerous conditions which lead to an accident, he or she will likely be found negligent.
Pennsylvania's comparative fault system accounts for the victim's degree of responsibility in a slip or trip and fall accident. The court will determine how much the victim could have done to avoid the accident and assign an appropriate percentage. Any verdict will be adjusted based on this percentage. For example, if you were found to be 25% responsible for the accident and received a $100,000 verdict, that number would be reduced to $75,000. You are only permitted to sue if your responsibility is determined to be less than 50%.
What Damages Can I Recover?
If you can prove negligence on the part of the property owner, he or she may be held liable for the numerous damages which arise after a serious slip and fall injury:
- Medical bills - Serious injuries require serious medical attention. While insurance may help cover medical bills at the beginning of treatment, the need for care often extends beyond the insurance policy's cap limit. In these instances, a negligent property owner may be ordered to cover additional medical costs.
- Lost wages/Earning potential - A serious injury could also force you to miss significant time at work, or even cause you to lose your job.
- Loss of quality of life - If you can no longer engage in activities which you previously enjoyed prior to your accident, the at-fault party could be forced to provide financial compensation.
- Pain and suffering - Damages may be awarded to compensate for the pain and suffering you've gone through during and following an accident.