Premises Liability in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, as in all states, the owner of residential or commercial property has a legal obligation to monitor and maintain the premises so as to minimize the risk of injury to anyone legally on the property. It’s important to understand that the duty is not absolute—it does not require that the owner prevent all injuries on the property. The owner must take reasonable steps to monitor conditions on the property, and may respond in a number of ways:
- The dangerous condition may be remedied
- The owner may prevent access to the part of the property that poses the danger
- The owner may post reasonable warnings advising visitors of the potential danger
Liability, though, is not limited to the owner. It can extend to anyone who exercises control over the premises, including a property manager or tenant.
The duty owed by the owner (or person in control) is different, based on the status of the visitor to the property:
- Trespassers—A trespasser is a person who enters the property without permission or legal right. An owner generally has no duty to a trespasser, except in limited situations involving children and what are referred to as "attractive nuisances."
- Invitees—An invitee is anyone who comes on property primarily or exclusively for the benefit of the property owner, typically for business or social reasons. In Pennsylvania, the property owner owes the highest duty to an invitee—all known and unknown dangers must be corrected.
- Licensees—A licensee is someone who is invited on property for reasons that don’t necessarily benefit the owner. It can also include individuals who enter under authority of law, such as police officers, first responders and firefighters. For a licensee, a property owner must address only known dangers.
Contact Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie & Seelaus
At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie & Seelaus, we have protected the rights of individuals throughout Delaware County since 1980, including individuals with wrongful death claims. We offer a free initial consultation. To schedule an appointment, call us at 610-565-4055 or contact us online.
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