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What conditions lead to outdoor slip and fall accidents?

Throughout the year, residents in Pennsylvania need to walk outside to get inside of an establishment such as a supermarket, shopping center, office building, gym, school and various other types of building. Even if it is just a short walk in the parking lot from a vehicle to a building, individuals could face various dangers and risks that could lead to a fall and serious injuries.

What conditions can lead to outdoor slip and fall accidents? Year-round, weather often plays a role in dangerous conditions outside of a premise. Whether it is snow, ice, sleet, rain or fog, these conditions not only make it difficult for visitors to see but also travel by foot in a parking lot or a sidewalk. With regards to snow and ice, property owners are not required to remove snow or ice that accumulates outside of the person's building; however, if the owner elects to do so, they must not do so negligently.

Moreover, if there is an unnatural accumulation of snow, ice or rain, a property owner might be liable if the accumulation is caused by the person's acts or failure to act. For example, if a drain is clogged, runoff is not diverted or drained or there are several potholes that could be filled with rain or ice, the property owner could be liable for failing to correct these conditions.

Inadequate lighting could also be the cause of an outdoor slip-and-fall. Poor lighting could cause an individual to trip on a curb, sidewalk crack, pothole in a parking lot or on a step on a stairway. If it is determined that a property owner or possessor knew or should have known about these dangerous conditions caused by poor lighting and failed to remedy the situation, the person could be liable for any injuries or accident arising from the condition.

Lastly, unmaintained parking lots and sidewalks could lead to serious injuries. A parking lot accident could occur if potholes and cracks are not filled in. In addition, failing to include safety features such as crosswalks or walkways, stop or yield signs and other safety measures in parking lots for pedestrians could impose liability on a business or property owner for any injuries resulting from an accident in a parking lot or sidewalk.

When an individual is injured in a slip-and-fall accident outside the property of another, it might be possible to file a civil action such as a premises liability claim. This could help the injured party establish cause, assign liability and help the victim recover compensation for the person's losses and damages arising form the incident.

Source: Findlaw, "Conditions Leading to Outdoor Slip and Fall Accidents," accessed July 13, 2015

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