Prevailing in a Pennsylvania trip and fall lawsuit against a local government entity can be difficult due to the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (Tort Claims Act). Pennsylvania local government agencies and municipalities are generally immune from civil liability under the Tort Claims Act. However, pursuant to section 8542 of the Tort Claims Act, injured individuals may recover tort claims from a local agency if an exception of the Tort Claims Act is met.
Section 8542 of the Tort Claims Act imposes liability on a local government entity if:
If a pedestrian tripped and fell on a sidewalk that is maintained and controlled by a local agency, he/she may bring a claim for his/her injuries under the sidewalk exception under section 8542 (b)(7), which states:
Sidewalks.--A dangerous condition of sidewalks within the rights-of-way of streets owned by the local agency, except that the claimant to recover must establish that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred and that the local agency had actual notice or could reasonably be charged with notice under the circumstances of the dangerous condition at a sufficient time prior to the event to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition. When a local agency is liable for damages under this paragraph by reason of its power and authority to require installation and repair of sidewalks under the care, custody and control of other persons, the local agency shall be secondarily liable only and such other persons shall be primarily liable.
In order to have a viable claim, liability can only be imposed where the pedestrian’s injury is caused by a defect or dangerous condition which originates from the sidewalk itself.
Consider the following situation. A pedestrian slips and falls because of ice accumulation on a sidewalk maintained by the City of Philadelphia and files a claim against the City of Philadelphia for her injuries. The only way she can prevail is if her fall was caused by a dangerous condition that originated from the sidewalk itself. For example, if the sidewalk was defectively designed and caused an accumulation of water which turned into black ice, the city may be liable for the pedestrian’s injuries. On the other hand, if the fall was caused solely by the accumulation of ice, the local agency is not liable.
Trip and fall lawsuits against a local agency can be very tricky. Careful evaluation of the facts and an inspection of the sidewalk or tripping hazard need to be conducted by an experienced PA trip, slip and fall accident injury lawyer. For a free consultation on your trip, slip and fall accident case, call 877.944.8396.