Whenever anyone, such as a store owner, opens their property to the public, there is a possibility that someone may be injured on the property. Pennsylvania store owners and brick-and-mortar retailers have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe for the public. If they breach this duty, and a customer is injured as a result, the store owner or operator may be liable to the injured customer.
These legal claims are called premises liability claims; the person in charge of the premises is the one who has the duty. The duty means preventing dangerous conditions from developing on the property. Dangerous conditions often mean things such as slippery floors, torn carpeting or narrow stairs. These conditions could cause a customer to slip and fall, injuring themselves. When this happens, there is a possibility of premises liability for the store owner.
Despite these apparently clear rules, there sometimes is a dispute whether the person in control of property is liable. This is because there are a number of factors that are considered before liability can be determined. These factors include whether the property owner was acting carefully to prevent slip-and-fall accidents and whether the customer was careless in not avoiding the condition that caused the accident. When factors such as these are present, the store owner may avoid liability.
Proving liability can be complicated because of the complexity of many premises liability situations. During an investigation of a possible premises liability claim, a plaintiff and their attorney may need to thoroughly investigate issues such as how the accident happened and how the property owner's behavior may have contributed to the accident.