Like other states, Pennsylvania has its own rules for slip and fall accident claims. This article explores some of the main points of Pennsylvania slip and fall law, starting with the time limits for bringing a slip and fall claim to court. We'll also look at how a Pennsylvania slip and fall case is affected if you are found to be partly responsible for the underlying accident, and how Pennsylvania's special rules for government liability apply to some slip and fall accidents or injuries.
Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Lawsuits: Time Limits
In Pennsylvania, you have two years from the date of your slip and fall accident to file a case in court. This two-year time limit (called a "statute of limitations") usually starts running on the date of your slip and fall accident. If you do not bring your case to court within two years, the court will almost certainly refuse to hear the case at all.
Pennsylvania's two-year time limit for slip and fall cases only applies to a lawsuit filed in court. It does not affect how long you have to file a claim with an insurance company after an accident occurs. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to file any insurance claim as soon as you can after you're injured in a slip and fall. If you wait too long, the time on your two-year "window" to file a lawsuit may expire, depriving you of the chance to take the matter to court -- or to make a believable threat to do so -- if settlement negotiations go badly.
Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Injuries: When You're Partly at Fault
In some Pennsylvania slip and fall situations, the injured person may be found partly at fault for the accident. For instance, suppose you are shopping in a mall one day. You're so busy trying to find a restroom that you're not looking at the ground ahead of you, where there is a broken floor tile. You don't see the floor tile and so you trip on it, falling and suffering injuries. The insurance adjuster or jury that examines your case decides that your total damages equal $10,000, but that you are also 10 percent at fault for the accident. What happens to your case?
Pennsylvania uses a "modified comparative fault" rule in cases like these. This rule reduces or even eliminates damages if you're found to be partly at fault for the slip and fall that injured you. In this example, Pennsylvania's modified comparative fault rule means that you can receive $9,000. This equals the $10,000 total damages, minus $1,000 that represents the 10 percent of the fault assigned to you.
As long as your share of the fault is less than 50 percent, you will be able to recover some amount of damages in a Pennsylvania slip and fall case. If your share of the fault is 50 percent or more, however, you can't recover anything at all from other liable parties. Your damages award drops to zero automatically, if the adjuster or jury is sticking to Pennsylvania's shared fault rules.
Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Accidents Involving the Government
Some slip and fall accidents take place on Pennsylvania government property. For instance, if you trip on a pothole in a government parking lot or slip on a wet floor in a government building, your slip and fall case involves the potential liability of a government entity. These cases follow special rules if you're looking to receive compensation from the Pennsylvania government.
To bring a slip and fall claim against the government in Pennsylvania, you must file a Claim Form with the state's Office of Risk Management within six months of the date of your slip and fall accident. If you do not file the form within six months, you may be barred from receiving any compensation for your claim. The Office of Risk Management website has more information on filing slip and fall claims against the Pennsylvania government.