If a neighbor falls and gets injured in your backyard in Pennsylvania, you may be wondering if you can be held legally responsible. The short answer is – it depends on the specific circumstances. Pennsylvania follows premises liability laws that determine liability based on the injured person’s legal status on the property. Speak to our Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer to learn more about liability in your unique situation.
The Key Factor is Legal Status
There are three categories that define a visitor’s legal status:
- Trespasser – Someone who enters property without permission. Property owners owe trespassers no duty of care other than refraining from willful or wanton conduct.
- Licensee – Someone who has permission to be on the property for their own benefit. Property owners must warn licensees of dangerous conditions but there is no general duty of reasonable care.
- Invitee – Someone invited onto the property for the property owner’s benefit. Property owners owe invitees a duty of reasonable care to protect them from dangerous conditions.
So, if a neighbor is considered a trespasser or licensee, the property owner is unlikely to be liable unless they intentionally caused harm. But for invitees, the owner must take reasonable precautions against dangers.
Typical Scenarios with Neighbors
If a neighbor takes a shortcut through your backyard without permission and gets injured, they would likely be considered a trespasser. No liability would exist unless you deliberately harmed them.
If a neighbor asks to pick fruit from your tree and falls off a ladder, they are a licensee. You would not be obligated to warn them of dangers, so no liability would exist.
But if you invite a neighbor over for a barbecue and they slip and fall due to a wet, slippery deck, liability becomes possible. As an invitee, you owe them a basic level of care.
What Precautions Are Reasonable?
For invitees, courts determine if the property owner exercised reasonable care based on:
- Known dangers – You must address hazards you know about or should be aware of.
- Obvious dangers – There is no duty to warn invitees about clearly apparent hazards.
- Unforeseeable dangers – You aren’t expected to predict every possible accident.
- Children – Higher precautions are needed if children are expected.
So, if a danger is obvious, like a slippery deck, warn invitees and take sensible measures to reduce the risk. That shows reasonable care. But you aren’t liable for dangers nobody could expect.
If you have suffered an injury from a slip and fall accident in Pennsylvania, the experienced attorneys at Monge & Associates can help protect your rights. With offices in 32 locations across 19 states, including Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee, Florida, and right here in Pennsylvania, our team has decades of experience handling premises liability claims.
We have an in-depth understanding of Pennsylvania’s premises liability laws and how to build a strong case for full and fair compensation. Our Pennsylvania offices in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and other cities across the state are standing by to provide skilled legal representation for injury victims statewide.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to unsafe property conditions in Pennsylvania, call Monge & Associates now for a free consultation at (888) 477-0597. Our attorneys will review your case at no cost and help determine the best path forward. Don’t wait – call our Pennsylvania offices today to get the personalized support you deserve.