he Legal Intelligencer, a law-related news website, recently covered a court case relating to premises liability and slip-and-fall, specifically for winter sidewalk damage as we transition into spring. According to the article, there was a recent lawsuit in Pennsylvania involving a shifting and cracking sidewalk due to the harsh winter weather. A grandmother and her granddaughter were walking on a sidewalk outside of a shopping center when they tripped and fell on a disjointed section of sidewalk. The family sued the owners of the shopping center, but the court ruled in favor of the shopping center owner due to trivial, or “de minimis”, damage of the sidewalk. The trial court felt like the owners took care to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition
The family then appealed to the state Superior Court with additional details. The Superior Court consequently issued a lengthy determination, which included the recommendation of the case to be re-tried in trial court, but also agreed that owners are generally not responsible for trivial defects in the sidewalks. The writer of the article also noted the following observation, stating that “In a lengthy opinion, the Superior Court clarified that accidents sometimes do happen, and that property owners are not required to keep their properties perfectly level. With that being said, as spring comes this week, property owners in our region should inspect the damage caused to their properties by this harsh winter and make whatever property repairs necessary in order to avoid litigation.”
However, this case is not always the result of a slip-and-fall accident. Many owners often do NOT maintain their property, including sidewalks, in a reasonably safe manner. If you have slipped and fell on the property of another, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and potential pain and suffering. This may include cases where sidewalks were improperly maintained due to the winter weather, such as failure to remove snow and ice. Attorney Doug Stoehr takes cases for clients who have sustained slip-and-fall injuries due to the fault or negligence of another. For more information on his Altoona, PA area practice, please call his firm at 814-946-4100.