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Pittsburgh Premises Liability Law Blog

When is a Pennsylvania landlord responsible for injuries?

Maintenance of a property is generally the owner's responsibility. This is a fairly straightforward rule for Allegheny County homeowners. However, maintenance duties aren't so clear cut when you start talking about leased property.

Many Pennsylvania properties are rented for residential or commercial purposes. Owners are often off-site with upkeep assigned to property managers or operators. Some chores, like snow removal or groundskeeping services, may be outsourced to third parties.

Responsibility for Pennsylvania slip-and-fall accidents

A desire for personal comfort and safety gives Allegheny County homeowners a vested interest in caring for a property. Owners of commercial property and some residential properties – apartments, rented homes and condominiums – often share maintenance duties with tenants, operators or property managers.

Owners take care of properties for aesthetic reasons and to add value to an asset. Parties responsible for maintenance also must take precautions to keep visitors safe from harm. Under Pennsylvania premises liability laws, negligent property owners can be held accountable for on-site injuries like slip-and-fall accidents.

Tenant protections under Pennsylvania premises liability laws

Whether you live in your own Allegheny County home or have a rental property, you are responsible for maintaining the premises to prevent injuries to visitors or tenants. Pennsylvania landlords are required to remove or repair hazards and inform tenants about possible dangerous conditions.

For instance, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website outlines conditions under which property owners must disclose information about lead-based hazards. Generally, lead problems pertain to structures built before 1978. Landlords may be liable for failing to warn tenants about lead paint.

Do injured Pennsylvania workers receive sufficient benefits?

Workers' compensation laws in every state compel employers to provide coverage for job-related injuries. States, including Pennsylvania, determine the appropriate benefits work accident victims receive, according to injury severity and effects upon the ability to work. A comprehensive ProPublica study concluded benefits arising from the same types of injury can and do vary widely.

Two-thirds of states have passed reform laws since 2003 restricting injured workers' benefits. Most states also give employers and insurers full control over the health care providers and services injured victims receive. Consequently, many injured workers are forced to turn to taxpayer-funded programs, like Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance, to cover unpaid medical bills and lost wages.

Premises liability claims against careless Pittsburgh landlords

Rental agreements spell out the terms between a landlord and tenant. Renting a property may or may not require a tenant to maintain it or maintain a portion of the property, depending on the agreement. For instance, a rental contract may state the landlord is responsible for plowing parking areas after snowstorms, while tenants must clear walkways to their own apartments.

Allegheny County apartment owners and operators must take reasonable safety measures to prevent tenant and guest accidents. In premises liability cases, courts consider whether a landlord was aware of dangerous conditions, like unlit parking lots – inviting a slip or trip-and-fall accident or security risk -- or damaged stairs. How the property owner responded helps determine fault.

Asbestos exposure in unconventional places

Health risks are minimized, if not eliminated, as long as toxic substances are stored, contained, used and deposed of safely. Asbestos becomes dangerous only when the mineral's fibers are disturbed. Inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers can cause severe medical problems like mesothelioma and other cancers.

The majority of asbestos cases you've probably heard or read about, in or outside Pennsylvania, have probably involved direct and repeated exposure to asbestos fibers. Many of us associate that with workplaces, where asbestos was once used in large quantities to manufacture products. However, industrial settings aren't the only places where you'll find victims with asbestos-related diseases.

Polished floor blamed for Pittsburgh slip-and-fall accident

The smooth, shiny look of a newly-waxed floor is appealing to the eye. But, floor polish also reduces traction between a walking surface and the sole of a shoe, creating a safety hazard. A slip and fall in someone else's home or on a commercial property may cause broken bones and back and head injuries, adding up to significant medical expenses and lost wages.

A recently-filed lawsuit blames the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a venue, where the Block Communications-owned newspaper held an event in August 2013, for a woman's injuries. The alleged victim and her husband claim the wife was seriously injured, after falling at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh.

Diseases related to asbestos exposure

Some naturally-occurring mineral fibers become health risks when they are disturbed. Airborne asbestos fibers can attach to skin, clothing and hair. The miniature fibers also can be inhaled and become lodged in a person's lungs, where they later cause chronic and deadly health problems.

Allegheny County workers in many industries were exposed to asbestos before laws in the 1970s restricted the use of asbestos throughout the country. Curbing asbestos use reduced asbestos exposure from new products, but didn't eliminate dangers among products already available. Many construction materials, including drywall and insulation, contained asbestos.

Work-related injuries for exposure to dangerous chemicals

Work-related injuries happen to all sorts of employees at all types of jobs in all types of industries. The medical field is probably the most dangerous industry out there, with approximately 45% of all workplace injuries in the U.S. occurring in the healthcare sector, according to Medical News Today. Most of the accidents that occur affect nurses, nurses' aides, and orderlies; however, there is another very dangerous position employed by hospitals: housekeeping.

A recent article by Pittsburgh City Paper's Rebecca Nuttall digs deep into the strife of being a housekeeping employee at UPMC-operated facilities here in Pittsburgh. One worker says that the cleaning product, OxyCide, provides a sensation in the eyes similar to that of cutting onions, and that it also burns his throat and causes headaches, telling the reporter that there really is no course of action to combat the unpleasantness other than taking a break somewhere with available fresh air. 

Pittsburgh snow removal rules and premises liability claims

You may be among those people who agree one of the greatest things about Allegheny County winters is when they're over. Clearing icy sidewalks and shoveling snow can take a lot of time and energy, especially when nature decides to send successive winter storms to the area. The added seasonal work is unwelcome, but necessary to keep others from getting hurt.

Slippery sidewalks and snowy parking lots require the attention of property owners, operators and, in some cases, tenants. Local ordinances and state premises liability laws direct property owners to make reasonable efforts to safeguard visitors. Dangerous conditions may result in a slip-and-fall victims' unnecessary pain and suffering and, for the property owner, fines and a possible lawsuit.