Schemery Zicolello

Who is held responsible for injuries incurred on public property?

Now that winter has arrived, Pennsylvania residents may be more aware of icy sidewalks - and most homeowners are aware that they must keep sidewalks clean, especially in the winter. Someone who slips on a sidewalk managed by a homeowner may have the option to sue the homeowner for damages. But, can a Pennsylvania resident also hold a local government agency responsible for an accident? If someone is injured due to an obstruction of the roadway, traffic light malfunction, or any other defect on public property - who can be held responsible for damages?

Under some circumstances, a member of the public who is injured due to the actions of a government employee, or due to dangerous conditions on a public sidewalk or roadway, may be able to hold a government entity liable for his or her injuries. However, an individual seeking to bring a premises liability claim against a municipal government or state entity, must adhere to local laws.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly states that no local agency is responsible for damages caused by injuries to a person or damage to property - caused by the actions of a local agency - unless otherwise stated. For example, a person who suffered injuries on a sidewalk owned by a local agency must prove that the unsafe condition formed a legitimate foreseeable risk, and that the local agency had adequate notice to take measures to prevent an accident. Furthermore, if the sidewalk is managed by another entity, for example - a homeowner, the homeowner may be held primarily liable.

Laws regarding premises liability vary from state to state. Local personal injury lawyers can help explain the specific laws that may apply to a victim's case, and advise the victim on the next steps.

Source: FindLaw, "Premises Liability Claims Against the Government," accessed on Dec. 18, 2014

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