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Premises Liability / Slip and Falls in Western PA

Pittsburgh injury attorneys

Property owners have a duty to maintain safe conditions on their premises. Owners are responsible to all that come onto their property ranging from guests at a dinner party to patrons at their place of business. Slip and fall injuries due to unsafe conditions are extremely common, but the frequency with which they occur does not make the injury any less devastating to the victim.

Common Slip and Fall Cases

Examples of common slip and fall cases include:

  • Falls due to broken steps, stairs, or railings
  • Falls due to crumbled, cracked, or uneven sidewalks or parking lots
  • Slips due to a spill in a store
  • Falls due to poor lighting on a walkway
  • Falls due to poorly maintained rugs or carpeting either in a home or business
  • Slips and falls due to snow or ice, which accumulated to the extent to invoke the Hills and Ridges Doctrine

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The “Hills and Ridges Doctrine”

In our region, snow and ice are constants in our lives from late fall to early spring. Buildups of snow and ice often lead to slippery sidewalks and perilous parking lots that can cause falls resulting in serious injuries. Property owners in Pennsylvania have a duty to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks, walkways, driveways and parking lots in a reasonable amount of time after snow or ice accumulates. However, the property owner’s liability is not absolute. Pennsylvania has adopted what is known as the “Hills and Ridges Doctrine” to help limit property owners’ duty to travelers upon their property by allowing owners a grace period to remove ice and snow from their premises.

The “Hills and Ridges Doctrine” protects property owners from being sued for generally slippery conditions such as freshly fallen snow or thin layers of black ice that may be hard to detect or remedy quickly. If property owners were to be held liable for these general conditions, then owners would be forced to anticipate the storm or ensure that their property was immediately cleared of ice and snow. “Hills and Ridges” allows for actions to be brought for slips and falls due to snow and ice only after the snow or ice has accumulated to the point of creating ridges in the snow. Ridges in the snow are proof that the property owner let the dangerous accumulation go untouched long enough for the top layer to melt and refreeze.

To establish a case for a slip and fall under the “Hills and Ridges Doctrine,” there are three essential elements that must be proven before the property owner can be held liable for your slip and fall injuries:

  • The accumulation of snow and ice must have been the actual cause of the fall.
  • The snow or ice must have accumulated to the point of creating ridges of such proportion as to unreasonably obstruct travel and cause a danger to pedestrians.
  • The property owner must have either known about the accumulation or a reasonable amount of time must have passed so that the owner should have known that the accumulation needed to be cleared.

The “Hills and Ridges Doctrine” does not pertain to all snow or ice slip and fall injuries, only those that are naturally occurring. The “Doctrine” was adopted in Pennsylvania to help property owners deal with the constant inclement weather in our region, not to absolve owners from all liability. “Hills and Ridges” only applies to the natural accumulation of snowstorms and ice storms, but will not create a grace period for property owners who allow artificial conditions, such as water leaks or damaged sidewalks, to become dangerous with ice or snow.

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Making a Claim Due to a Slip and Fall

If you have fallen due to ice or snow, please call Rudberg Law Offices, LLC for a free consultation.

Please remember that adults only have two years from the date of the slip or fall in which to file a lawsuit and children have until two years from their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit for their injuries, but it is always best to pursue a claim as soon as possible, as it can become more difficult as time passes. It always helps to take pictures of the unsafe condition after you have been injured.

These property problems can lead to serious injuries for innocent people of all ages from infants to the elderly. Your child could suffer a broken arm, collarbone or leg. Your parent could suffer a fractured hip or leg resulting in surgery and the potential that they will no longer be able to care for themselves. You could hurt your back or sustain an injury that would cause you to miss extended periods of work, which could unnecessarily lead to tight monetary situations. Let our law firm help you recoup medical expenses, lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering.

If a property owner knew of the dangerous condition or that the dangerous condition existed for a long enough period of time that the owner should have known about it, then the owner was on notice of the problem and will likely be held liable for the injuries that the dangerous condition caused to you.

Contact a skilled accident lawyer in Pittsburgh

If you have been injured in any type of accident caused by the careless or wrongful actions of others, call the Pittsburgh accident attorneys of Rudberg Law Offices, LLC for assistance at (412) 488-6000, (866) 306-2667, or complete our quick contact web form.