Jan 272013

Snow & Ice Accidents at Apartment Complexes

In the winter, snow and ice slip accidents are very common, and apartment complexes can be especially dangerous if snow and ice maintenance is not performed adequately. Parking lots, sidewalks and uncovered ramps and stairways can become serious slipping hazards.

Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Law – Can a Tenant Make a Claim Against the Landlord?

Under Pennsylvania law, tenants or apartment complex residents and their guests may be able to make negligence claims against the landlord, apartment complex owner and/or property maintenance company. In addition to tenants and guests, others who are lawfully on the property may be able to make claims for negligent maintenance leading to a snow/ice accident. For example, delivery persons, postal workers, maintenance company workers, cable company workers, etc. will usually be allowed to make such negligence claims.

Duty to Keep Common Areas in a Reasonably Safe Condition

Landlords have a duty to keep common areas reasonably safe for tenants, guests and those lawfully on the property. Common areas are generally defined as those areas which are open for the public. Parking lots, sidewalks, etc. must be kept in a reasonably safe condition. This applies during inclement weather conditions. Learn more about sidewalk snow and ice fall accident law in Pennsylvania. In snow/ice fall accident situations, a landlord will be held liable for failing to correct or warn of a dangerous condition if the landlord had prior notice of the condition.

For example, if snow and ice accumulates to such a degree that a sidewalk becomes impassable or a parking lot becomes inherently dangerous, the landlord may be held liable. Failing to salt or shovel immediately after a snowstorm generally will not be enough to hold the landlord liable. There must be evidence of negligence, like failing to salt or shovel for days, despite complaints from tenants.

One common situation which may result in liability in a snow/ice fall situation is when a landlord  has notice of a dangerous condition that causes areas of ice to form. For instance, slope or gradient issues that create pools of water which freeze can result in liability. A small hill or dip near a sidewalk may create dangerous pools of ice on or near the sidewalk. Another example involves a situation where a downed gutter creates a large area of ice. The landlord may face liability if it had notice of these kinds of conditions, and a tenant, guest or other person slips and sustains injury.

Snow and ice fall accidents can result in very serious injuries, and under Pennsylvania law, a landlord can be held liable and have to pay for the injured person’s medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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