Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

$910,000 awarded in premises liability facial injury case

Who's to blame when someone is injured on an Allegheny County commercial property? Pennsylvania premises liability laws hold property owners accountable for the safety of visitors, but defendants in liability lawsuits may extend beyond the owner.

A Midwestern construction company was employed to undertake a project at a property belonging to a legal firm. Three months after the work started in 2010, a boy riding his bike was seriously injured as he passed the construction site. The boy's face struck iron beams that had been allowed to jut across a sidewalk.

The middle schooler's cheek was torn from his face and his teeth and mouth were damaged. Over five dozen visits for medical care and surgeries were needed to correct the laceration and mouth problems. The child suffered scarring, disfigurement, facial numbness and interference with speaking and eating.

The boy's parents spent more than $103,000 for medical costs associated with the facial injury. The bills were part of the damages the family sought in a $3.5 million lawsuit against the construction company.

The case went to trial, where the defendant admitted negligence. The company agreed it had allowed the iron beams to extend onto the sidewalk, without any barricade or warning to protect passersby.

The plaintiffs argued the boy should receive $3.3 million for the injury, pain and suffering and emotional distress. The lawsuit sought an additional $150,000 for the parents to cover the medical bills.

The jury agreed the family should be paid but limited the damages to $910,000, The boy was compensated $725,000 and his parents were awarded $185,000.

Property owners may or may not occupy a building they own or may, in cases of an on-site landlord, only occupy a portion. The owner can hire a property manager, who takes responsibility for maintenance. Premises liability can shift again, if someone hired to work on a premises injures a visitor.

Source: The Madison-St. Clair Record, "Madison County jury awards $910K to boy injured at construction site; Plaintiffs sought $3.5 million total" Ann Maher, Jan. 16, 2014

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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