Pursuant to Pennsylvania slip and fall and trip and fall accident law, public establishments such as restaurants, museums and other types of businesses that hold themselves open to the public for business purposes have a duty to maintain the business in a reasonably safe condition for its intended purposes.
This duty applies to dangerous conditions on the premises, as well as activities of other people in the businesses.
The duty owed to customers or business invitees is outlined in Restatement (Second) of Torts Section 343, which provides:
A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm caused to his invitees by a condition on the land if, but only if, he
(a) knows or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover the condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such invitees;
(b) should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it; and
(c) fails to exercise reasonable care to protect them against the danger.
There are different types of dangerous conditions that cause customers to trip and fall or slip and fall. One type of dangerous condition is the condition of the premises itself, such as a flight of stairs. The stairway or steps in a restaurant or store could be dangerous because the treads on the steps are missing or are not put in properly, causing a customer’s heel to get caught. As a result, the customer could trip, fall down several steps and sustain serious injuries.
The store, restaurant, etc. can be liable for the customer’s injuries if the customer can prove that the public establishment had notice of the dangerous steps. There are 2 types of notice, actual and constructive. If other patrons had similar accidents on the steps due to the missing treads, then the public establishment would have had actual notice of the dangerous condition but failed to fix it.
The public establishment would have constructive notice if it should have known about the dangerous defect. See Proving Notice In A Pennsylvania Slip-Trip-Fall Accident Case
Click here to read part 2 of this article which discusses a public establishment’s duty to protect customers from negligent acts of other parties at the business or on the premises.