Slip and Fall Accidents

Winter-The “Slip and Fall” Season!  

Although there is always a chance of a slip and fall, the winter season in Pennsylvania increases the risk. It goes without saying that all Pennsylvanians know that the sidewalks and streets are snow and sleet filled often. 

Add to this the fact that the winter months are darker in EST time zones, with December 23rd being the shortest day of the year. This means that walking or working at night can increase the risk of slipping and falling because of poor visibility. 

Prevention of Slip and Fall Injuries in Winter

The Mayo Clinic specifically addresses the higher risks in the winter. With a focus on preventing the most damage from a winter slip and fall, these suggestions are made: 

  1. Avoid walking after dark, especially on uncleared sidewalks.
  2. Carry a bag of sand, salt, or even ice melt should you encounter a dangerous uncleared area. 
  3. Carry a flashlight. 
  4. Wear good heavy non-slip footwear, even cleats.
  5. Maintain good bone health to prevent serious injuries. 

All these suggestions will reduce the amount of injury and even perhaps morbidity from very serious injuries. 

Residential and Commercial Liabilities

According to the state of PA, all property owners and businesses must show a Duty of Care in removing snow and ice. This Duty of Care is the same as a doctor, or other service provider must follow. It simply means that reasonable care must be taken to not cause harm to others. 

Ommissions count as much as commissions or covert acts as opposed to overt acts. A Duty of Care shows that the most care and caution must be taken to ensure sidewalks, walkways, and commercial docks are as free of hazards as possible during the winter months. 

Ignoring the Duty of Care is Deemed Negligence

Municipalities can be liable if PA property owners do not comply within specified timeframes for the removal of snow and ice. Pedestrians and even delivery personnel and postal workers can be at risk. 

Many counties and municipalities in PA, approximately 67, have implemented a Residential Rental License for landlords who, as the property owners, are indeed responsible. 

Building Code is generally responsible for enforcement, and a municipality should have a Building Code Official onboard, even if sub-contracted. Wes is spelled out on the West Chester County site. Fines and penalties can be implemented, and a county/municipality can restrict the property owner/landlord from renting. 

These Residential Rental Licenses (RRLs) generally also include a CO (Certificate of Occupancy) for a landlord to rent any houses or apartments. Yearly inspections may be mandatory for all commercial property or mixed-used property owners. 

Mixed-use is a common designation for rental properties, as these exist in residential zones mostly.

Strictly Commercial Properties Have a High Standard

Any strictly commercial entity assumes a measure of safety for its employees. There are times, however, when a slip and fall can happen even if compliant with the Duty of Care. 

Unseen snowstorms that erupt without warning and other unforeseen factors, such as an employee carrying a cup of coffee on a slippery slope while walking, would be examples. 

Companies, however, that ignore icy and snow-covered entryways or have insufficient zoning applications, such as the slope of docks and placement of handrails, can be held accountable. The state of PA does ensure building and zoning compliance for purely commercial property usage. 

The DCED (Department of Community and Economic Development) in PA does regulate all zoning requirements, and although municipalities/counties enforce them generally, the state requirements must be met. 

Real-Life Application of Slip and Fall Standard of Care

These are difficult negligence cases to pursue, and only an attorney with much experience should be chosen. The reasons for the difficulty are simple: 

  • The Duty of Care applies to both the property owner and the injured party. Both must prove that a Duty of Care was carried out, and this can be difficult for a plaintiff who is an employee or a visitor to a commercial property. 
  • It can be difficult even for an individual who is a renter or visitor to a rental property. 
  • The insurance company of a commercial property or rental property will seek to place the blame for lack of Duty of Care onto the injured party. 

Summary-Winter Slips and Falls Negligence Claims

As explained before, only a seasoned attorney such as Christian J. Hoey, ESQ, and the team of experts at HoeyLegal should be consulted if in the Paoli, PA, area and surrounding areas. 

Great care in the documentation must be taken, and a victim of a slip and fall should never leave the scene but rather call for an ambulance so that injuries are documented. 

All witnesses should be queried if possible, and even a police report can assist, especially in severe injury cases. 

There will be much investigative work that follows to win these types of negligence claims, and accident investigation skills must be a top priority when choosing an attorney for negligent Duty of Care cases.  

Financial recovery and medical expenses will only be covered if a case is won, and Christian J. Hoey, ESQ, has the skills and knowledge to effectively plead or arbitrate and negotiate these cases. 

For more information on all our law services, visit us at HoeyLegal.com or call us at (610) 647-5151.

Distracted Driving

Pennsylvania defines distracted driving as “an activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Drivers have to focus on driving, so they can react to the information on the road, such as road conditions, hazards and other drivers. Distracted drivers do not react appropriately and thus put others at risk for severe injury or death. Examples of distractions, besides using cell phones and texting, include drinking, eating, adjusting the radio, adjusting climate controls, adjusting seats, combing hair, putting on make-up, daydreaming, reaching for dropped items, engaging in heavy conversations, and focusing on events outside of the car.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence typically refers to alcohol use, but drug use can also impair drivers and cause severe car accidents.  In either situation, enjoying cocktails at happy hour, celebrating with drugs or alcohol, drinking too much wine for dinner and unwinding after a long week at work results in too many motorists driving under the influence.  Controlled substances impact each person differently, making it common for someone to misjudge his or her level of impairment.  These poor judgments can lead to severe and sometimes fatal car accidents.

Driver Fatigue

Driving without enough sleep is commonplace for many in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and across the nation. Truck drivers, shift workers, and those with sleep disorders are most vulnerable to causing an accident because they are drowsy or fatigued. Not having enough rest slows down reaction time and impairs the senses. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claims that eighteen (18) hours without sleep impairs a driver to the same extent as someone who has a 0.08 blood or breath alcohol concentration after consuming alcohol.

Speeding

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that one-third of all car accidents involve speeding. Drivers who rush, run late, or simply lack patience may choose to speed when they get behind the wheel. Speeding makes it more likely that a driver will lose control of his or her vehicle and makes it more difficult to react to road hazards and other vehicles. Speeding also increases the impact of a car accident and makes it far less likely that a negligent driver may maintain control of his vehicle sufficient to prevent a collision. High speed car accidents make it far more likely that those involved will suffer severe injuries or death.

OBTAIN NECESSARY COURT ORDERS TO PRESERVE EVIDENCE

At HoeyLegal, we know from our litigation experience that tractor-trailer drivers often operate at least one cellular phone which is in use at, during, or immediately prior to a tractor-trailer accident. Additionally, most tractor-trailers are equipped with data recorders which capture, in real-time, important vehicle operation events including speed, hard braking and other evasive maneuvers taken by the operator and the tractor-trailer.  It is imperative that this evidence be obtained before it is destroyed.  At HoeyLegal, our trial attorneys will obtain any necessary court order to preserve this evidence for trial.

IDENTIFY ALL AT-FAULT DEFENDANTS

Oftentimes, there are several defendants responsible for the tractor-trailer accident. In most cases, at least two defendants are responsible for the ownership and operation of the tractor-trailer.  There may be additional defendants responsible for the hiring and retention of the tractor-trailer driver.  At HoeyLegal, our investigators will promptly identify the responsible defendants and immediately request the preservation of all evidence related to the hiring and retention of the driver, inspection of the vehicles and the supervision and drug/alcohol testing of the vehicle operator.

LOCATE, EXAMINE AND INSPECT THE TRACTOR-TRAILER

Our accident investigators include mechanics who will immediately respond to the accident site and the location where the truck has been impounded in order to photograph the truck and conduct necessary mechanical inspections of the vehicle. In the event that a court order is necessary to examine and inspect the trucks, HoeyLegal Attorneys will promptly file the necessary motions to enable the HoeyLegal mechanics and inspectors to conduct a prompt evaluation of the mechanical function of the at-fault tractor-trailer

ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION

Our expert accident investigators include former Pennsylvania State Police accident investigators and nationally recognized engineers who will carefully photograph the accident scene and conduct all necessary measurements of skid marks, yaw marks, displacement of debris and thoroughly examine the accident site to preserve all evidence for the time of trial.

INTERVIEW ALL WITNESS

Our investigators will promptly interview and record all witnesses that observed the accident and collect all biographical information from the witnesses so they will available to testify on your behalf at trial.

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