As the leaves change and the nights grow longer and cooler in Berks County, residents are beginning to prepare for the winter months. While many look forward to the holidays and winter sports, shoveling snow is something grudgingly accepted as a responsibility. But make no mistake, a responsibility it is -- especially for commercial property owners who need to keep their sidewalks and parking lots safe for their customers and other passersby.
Just a few years ago, a premises liability suit in a neighboring state arose after a man in his mid-fifties and his wife left a restaurant and were walking down an icy sidewalk that had not been cleared properly. The man slipped and fell, hitting his head. He suffered brain injuries in the accident and has experienced symptoms ranging from loss of memory and mood swings to a partial loss of his sense of taste and his entire sense of smell.
Recently, the insurance companies for the restaurant and the company that owns the building reached a settlement with the victim. He will collect $750,000 in compensation, with $5,000 paid by the restaurant's insurance carrier and the rest paid by the building owner's insurance.
Of course, any number of hazardous conditions can give rise to a premises liability suit. It could be a wet floor at a shopping mall, inadequate lighting in a retail store, or some other issue. As in the example above, victims will likely be faced with the prospect of dealing not with the property owner directly, but with their insurance company. The dynamic in this situation all too often tilts the scales against the victim him or herself. We'll look at how this happens -- and what can be done -- in a follow up post.
Source: NJ.com, "Man gets $750K settlement after cracking skull in icy sidewalk fall," Jeff Goldman, Oct. 3, 2017