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

Postal Service on defense in Pennsylvania slip and fall case

The winter of 2013-2014 was not the snowiest in Pittsburgh history, but it was in the top 10, according to the National Weather Service. The city received 63.3 inches of snow during the official winter season, far above the average of 41.9 inches per year. There were plenty of icy sidewalks in Allegheny County and opportunities for slip and fall accidents.

The removal of snow and ice is a property owner's responsibility, according to conditions dictated by municipal ordinances. The job can be delegated to a property manager or leaseholder, but the owner remains liable when someone gets hurt. Homeowners have often been reminded to clear sidewalks for mail carriers but has the U.S. Postal Service been ignoring its own advice?

USPS is a defendant in a liability lawsuit that alleges a customer was injured at a Philadelphia post office. The lawsuit claims the victim was knocked out in February last year, after slipping on ice-covered steps near an outdoor mailbox. The plaintiff's fall backward apparently caused him to black out for about a minute.

The federal complaint stated the man was hospitalized and diagnosed with chest fractures. The plaintiff requested $150,000 in damage to cover medical costs and mental and physical suffering. The Postal Service is accused of a breach of duty, the same obligation other Pennsylvania property owners have to maintain a safe premises for visitors.

Allegheny County residents aren't really thinking about snow now that spring has arrived. The exceptions are people injured in snow or ice-related accidents and property owners facing liability claims over untended slippery substances. Fall victims still may be recovering from last winter's accidents and trying to cope with therapy, pain, disability and unpaid medical bills.

Injuries that occur on someone else's property are covered by the landowner's insurance. Sometimes, proceeds don't cover a victim's full losses. Premises liability claims can help plaintiffs receive rightful compensation.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Phila. man left unconscious after icy fall at mailbox sues U.S. Postal Service" Jon Campisi, Apr. 01, 2014

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