Aug 122013

In a recent case out of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, a judge ruled in favor of a business where an individual slipped and fell down stairs. In Hill v. Cedar Fair (March, 2013), the plaintiff (injured individual) was at an amusement park and slipped on stairs which were wet from a recent rainstorm. The plaintiff argued that the amusement park was liable for the fall accident.

In siding with the amusement park, the court found that the plaintiff failed to establish that the park failed to exercise reasonable care. The court indicated that the plaintiff failed to prove other facts, such as a defect in the design of the stairs. In other words, a business in Pennsylvania will not be liable when a patron slips on rain water on a stairway, unless there is some other fact to support liability.

Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Law – A Business Owner’s Duty to a Patron/Customer

Under Pennsylvania slip and fall law, businesses must act reasonably to protect customers from known or reasonably knowable risks, i.e., risks that could be uncovered with reasonable inquiry or inspection.

This most recent case out of Lehigh County accurately indicates that in and of itself, a wet stairway due to recent rainfall, is not evidence of negligence. The plaintiff in the case may have succeeded with additional evidence of negligence, such as: defective design which resulted in excessive water accumulation, or the park’s use of an improper cleaning solution which made the stairs more slippery. However, without such evidence, the court ruled in the park’s favor.

When analyzing a slip or trip and fall case, courts in Pennsylvania often have a hard time finding liability when the solution (or what would have prevented the accident) is unfair when applied to all businesses. In the Hill case, a roof covering the stairs, drains and/or warning signs could have prevented the accident. So, is it reasonable to require all businesses to construct roofs or install drains to keep rain water away from the stairs, or to put up warning signs each time it rains? Probably not, it simply isn’t reasonable or feasible. It is a natural fact of life that stairways will sometimes be wet from rain water.

Suggested Reading: Pennsylvania Stair Fall Accidents – What You Need to Know

However, in cases where an actual defect led to the accident, the solution or what would have prevented the accident, is usually adequate maintenance/inspection. Therefore, in these cases, courts are much more willing to find liability because it is reasonable to require all businesses to conduct adequate maintenance/inspections to uncover defects.

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Pennsylvania Fall Accident Lawyers

Schwartz & Blackman has been representing the injured and their families for over thirty years in fall accident cases. Our firm offers a free consultation for all Pennsylvania and New Jersey injury and accident victims. Call now and ask for your free consultation. 215.925.4451

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