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Pittsburgh Premises Liability Law Blog

Property safety responsibilities for Pittsburgh store owners

You probably don't shop at an Allegheny County store expecting to suffer any injury other than a slam to your wallet. That's because you expect – and have a right to expect – Pennsylvania shop owners and operators to plow snow-filled parking lots, treat icy sidewalks and otherwise keep customers' safety in mind.

Premises liability laws help balance the importance between store sales and safety. Adults aren't the only shoppers protected from store owner negligence. Commercial establishments also can be held responsible in civil claims for children's injuries caused by indifference to safety issues.

Burn facts and benefits for injured Pennsylvania workers

Nine percent of 2013 injuries requiring hospital burn unit admissions in Pittsburgh and across the country were related to on-the-job accidents. An American Burn Association report stated 72 percent of serious burns between 2003 and 2012 occurred in homes. Motor vehicle accidents and recreational activities accounted for another 10 percent of burn hospitalizations.

Allegheny County residents may associate burns with skin and tissue injuries caused by flames, but burn injuries happen in several ways. Fires, explosions and related smoke inhalation have been the source of most burn deaths every year including about 2,550 deaths in fires in homes, 150 fatalities in non-residential blazes and 300 vehicle crash-related accidents. Another 400 victims suffer fatal burns caused by scalding or coming in contact with electricity or hot objects.

What are the responsibilities of Pennsylvania property owners?

When you attend a party at a friend's home in Pittsburgh or do business at an Allegheny County retail establishment, the owner or operator of the property is responsible for your safety. If you're injured during a visit, the owner's level of responsibility depends upon what type of visitor you are. The property owner must take reasonable precautions -- not extraordinary ones -- to make sure you aren't injured.

The highest level of owner concern is reserved for visitors classified as invitees. As the name implies, these visitors have been issued direct or indirect invitations by an owner to enter a property. Invitees include business or store customers and individuals asked to come into a home to make repairs.

Gas blast burns 2 men, including Pennsylvania propane worker

Fault-finding doesn't undo a victim's pain and suffering, but it can help establish who is responsible for damages following an Allegheny County accident. Workers' compensation insurance covers losses suffered by victims of occupational accidents. However, investigations sometimes reveal other parties, like negligent property owners or product makers, are to blame for victims' losses.

Firefighters are investigating the cause of a recent explosion in Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, near Allentown. A gas company employee and the resident of an apartment suffered facial burns and other injuries when the worker attempted to relight a propane heater. Authorities aren't sure whether the blast was triggered by something the worker did or another action, possibly the flick of a light switch in a propane-filled environment.

Residential slip and fall accident facts and prevention

Common sense safety precautions could prevent more than one in five emergency room visits every year. More people in Pittsburgh and across the U.S. seek hospital treatment for fall injuries than for any other reason. Slip and fall injuries make up 12 percent of all fall injuries, responsible for more than one million of nearly nine million fall-related emergencies annually.

No one expects to land in the hospital after visiting a neighbor, friend or relative in Allegheny County. But, that's exactly what can happen when a residential property owner fails to consider the safety of visitors.

Is asbestos exposure always dangerous?

You could be inhaling minerals right now that have the potential to cause serious health problems. Asbestos is made of microscopic fibers that when disturbed can be released into the air you breathe. Most Pittsburgh residents will never develop asbestos-related diseases, even after inhaling some fibers, but some people are more prone than others to become ill.

Asbestos fibers are found in natural settings and due to beneficial insulation and heat-resistant properties, in products we use every day. The fibers are combined with a variety of materials to form, among other products, building materials and automotive parts. Certain products and, therefore, structures made before 1981 laws heavily restricted asbestos use, are presumed to contain asbestos.

Why do some Pittsburgh business owners ignore safety concerns?

Pittsburgh families wouldn't leave puddles of water on the floor or risk having a neighbor fall on a slippery walkway. Allegheny County business owners could use the same mindset to prevent slips, trips or falls and other accidents on commercial properties. So, why don't they?

Unfortunately, many business owners simply think of customers as revenue sources. A safety plan requires foresight, teamwork and common sense, an investment a commercial property owner might make for family members. But, for strangers? Maybe not.

Pennsylvania fire facts, burn classifications and first aid

The importance of a safety plan is never more evident than when people fail to respond properly during an emergency. Unfortunately, many families and companies act as if fires only happen to other people and businesses. You aren't as safe as you think – the chances of dying in a fire in Pennsylvania are 1.4 greater than in other states.

The U.S. Fire Administration reported 190 Pennsylvania residents died in fires in 2011. Nationwide, more than 1 million people require medical treatment for fire-related and other burn injuries every year. Fifty thousand burn victims are admitted to hospitals and about 4,500 die.

Environmental quality and Pittsburgh premises liability claims

Despite what many Pittsburgh residents may think or wish to believe, humans mainly dwell indoors. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates people are inside homes, workplaces and other buildings about 90 percent of the time. Indoor environmental quality can play a role in whether inhabitants suffer temporary, chronic or severe illnesses.

Multiple factors determine the quality of an indoor environment. Harmful biological, physical and chemical substances may generated by a defect in the structure, temperatures and humidity and by equipment, furnishings, people, insects or activities inside or outside a building. The first hint environmental quality is a problem is how fast symptoms disappear when victims are not inside a building.

Do recreational agreements bar property owner negligence suits?

The Pennsylvania landscape is well suited to hiking, hunting and fishing. Rural landowners sometimes permit others to enjoy these activities upon their properties. A Pennsylvania law limits liability for landowners, who provide access to their properties for these recreational pleasures.

Under the Pennsylvania Recreation Use of Land and Water Act, most property owners cannot be held responsible for injuries to recreationists, as long as the use of land is fee-free. As with most laws, there are exceptions. Landowners may be accountable for harm caused by failing to warn land users about dangerous conditions, whether the property owner's action was willful or careless.