purchase, george & murphey.
purchase, george & murphey.
Snowstorms, frigid weather and fluctuating temperatures during Western Pennsylvania winters can create hazardous conditions for pedestrians who are going about their daily routines. Snow and ice can be dangerous, and property owners have a legal duty to keep their property reasonably safe for those who are legitimately on the premises. When Erie property owners fail to keep sidewalks, parking lots and areas surrounding the premises reasonably free from dangerous snow and ice, they can be held financially accountable when that failure causes slip and fall accident injuries.
At Purchase, George & Murphey, we have been helping clients recover compensation for injuries sustained in snow and ice-related slip and fall accidents in Western Pennsylvania for decades, and have been recognized both at the state and national level for our dedication to providing exceptional legal representation to all of our clients. Call our offices today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case if you have sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident caused by snowy or icy conditions.
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The key to understanding property owners’ duty to keep their property safe from the dangers presented by snow and ice is the “reasonableness” factor of the equation. Pennsylvania law does not require a property owner to surpass the abilities of mother nature and keep property 100% clear of snow and ice during hazardous conditions—for example, in the middle of an active blizzard or hail storm. This would be impossible, and would likely present an additional opportunity for injury. Instead, Pennsylvania has developed a set of rules known as the “hill and ridge doctrine,” which imposes legal responsibility on the property owner for slip and fall injuries when:
This hill and ridge doctrine is the basic legal theory for recovering compensation after slip and fall accidents caused by snow and ice in Erie, PA, although local ordinances often provide more concrete timelines for snow and ice removal. For example, some local municipalities require that the property owner clear sidewalks or parking lots of snow and ice within the 24-hour period after a snowstorm ends.
A general negligence theory of liability can also apply to allow you to recover compensation if the property owner breached his or her duty of care by not removing the snow and ice, or warning of the dangerous conditions, within a reasonable time frame.
In many cases, slip and fall accident victims may feel that they are not entitled to file a claim for compensation after a fall that was caused by snow and ice, blaming their own general clumsiness or mother nature for the accident. Despite this, when a property owner fails to keep their property reasonably safe for visitors and customers, they breach a duty of care that can result in significant injuries. Victims of snow and ice-related slip and fall accidents can suffer from a variety of serious injuries, including:
Like any other injuries, these slip and fall injuries can require extensive medical treatment and the costs of this treatment can quickly add up. Our slip and fall accident lawyers at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. do not back down when it comes to negotiating with insurance adjusters and defense attorneys who may employ aggressive tactics to avoid paying full and fair compensation to accident victims.
Call our offices or fill out this online form, to schedule a free consultation with our Erie, PA slip and fall accident lawyers today. For your convenience, we have three office locations located at 2525 W.26th St., Erie, PA 16506, 310 Chestnut St., Suite 111, Meadville, PA 16335 (in the Masonic Building) and 68 East Main Street, North East, PA 16428.
What if the store owner is saying that it was my fault for not avoiding the snow and ice that caused my slip and fall accident? +
Under Pennsylvania law, a rule known as the “assumption of risk doctrine” can prevent you from recovering compensation if you knowingly and voluntarily walked onto the snow or ice, and were injured as a result. Despite the availability of this defense, you cannot assume a risk that you do not know is present—for example, if the ice was “black ice” that was not visible while you were walking, you did not assume the risk of that danger. Instead, it would be the property owner’s duty to inspect the area surrounding the store to discover the ice and place appropriate warnings until the icy conditions could be neutralized. Our lawyers can investigate and gather evidence to refute the property owner’s assertion if possible in your case.
Does the Pennsylvania “hills and ridges doctrine” require that I show there was some sort of hill or elevation in order to recover compensation? +
No, not in all cases. The hills and ridges doctrine generally applies to limit the property owner’s duty to what is reasonable. However, courts have ruled in various cases that the doctrine does not apply. For example, if there is a patch of ice on the sidewalk outside of a store, and the property owner takes no action to warn of the ice or salt the area, that property owner can be held responsible even if the sidewalk was a flat surface. Our lawyers can provide a more detailed explanation of how the hills and ridges doctrine might apply in your specific case.
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