It’s always funny when people fall but don’t hurt themselves. At least, it is funny for a few people who tend to laugh even in serious situations.
But, when someone falls and breaks a leg, kneecap, hip or arm, it tends to be less amusing.
It also gets significantly less funny the older you get, whether you hurt yourself or not. Watching your gran slip and fall on a puddle of oil in the kitchen and seeing her with a broken hip, is sad, not funny.
A slip and fall due to bad lighting are one of the situations where a fall can occur. It is easy to misjudge a step or not see a piece of ice when the lightning is bad.
But what is a slip and fall accident exactly’?
In Pennsylvania, the term ‘slip and fall’ in law terms describes a personal injury case in which an individual trips or slips and is injured on another party’s property. (It won’t be a law term if there are no damages to be had. When you trip and fall on your own property due to bad lighting, no one is to blame but yourself.)
These cases fit into the broader category of ‘premises liability’ claims. Should a slip and fall misfortune happen on property maintained or owned by someone else, such a party may be held liable for your injuries. In order to claim, however, you must be able to prove that there was carelessness on the part of the property owner and that it contributed to your fall. Poor lighting can be a very real facilitating factor to slipping and falling.
Where do slip and fall injuries occur due to bad lighting?
Slip and fall accident can happen anywhere. Typically, an incident due to bad lighting will occur on residential, commercial or government property.
Where is the light switch?
Any property where the public has to operate has to have adequate lighting. It is such an obvious statement, but businesses or properties are often poorly lit.
In a poorly lit place, it is easy to slip, trip or fall by obscure conditions that are not risky all by themselves, and that could be securely negotiated easily under suitable lighting conditions.
It can be outright dangerous to move around in poorly lit walkways and stairwells. For example, bad lighting can cause a person not to see a step up along a walkway. In the darkness, missing floorboards can be difficult to see. Snags in a carpet can cause you to roll an ankle. Losing your balance on a dark stairway can lead to a very serious injury. Head trauma is common.
Bad lighting can cover a hazardous condition that already exists
Poor lighting may prove especially dangerous when it facilitates concealing of hazardous defects on a property. Say someone came home from the store and broke a bottle of tomato sauce in the parking garage of an apartment building. Should the puddle be obscured by darkness, it cannot be seen easily and can prove to be very hazardous.
It is not always that broken lights cause slip and fall accidents. Deficient lighting conditions can also arise due to design imperfections in how a property was organized or set out.
A common area in an apartment complex or a parking structure, for instance, may fail to have any light poles or floodlights or may have been set up with an insufficient number of light fixtures.
More slipping hazards due to poor lighting
Liquids on linoleum and hardwood can use someone to slip and fall. Rubbish lying around can cause someone to lose footing. Negotiating a gravel patch in daylight can be hazardous for an elderly person, but being unable to see it in the dark, makes an accident just that much more likely.
What type of injuries are we talking about?
At the very least, a slip and fall due to bad lighting can lead to torn ligaments. A natural reaction to a fall is to try and stop it by using your hands. A ligament can be torn this way. Some of these injuries may never heal completely.
A slip and fall injury due to inadequate lighting can lead to a broken bone. Although this type of injury is not fatal, it can lead to costly treatment and a long recuperation period.
An elderly victim might suffer a broken hip or pelvic bone. These injuries are tremendously painful and might need invasive surgery.
Head trauma can be suffered if the fall is sustained from a great height, such as from a stairwell. A victim can suffer a concussion or more serious head trauma. Such a fall can even result in death.
Who is liable for my accident?
It is often difficult to determine who is liable in any slip and fall accident. In the case of an accident due to bad lighting, there are three possible ‘culprits’.
The accident could have happened due to your own fault, due to someone else’s negligence or the court can find that both of you are in a way responsible.
It is common sense!
Some accidents could have been prevented. If the person suffering the fall “should have known” that his or her actions could lead to a fall, nobody can be blamed. Liability is, in fact in these cases, decided by common sense.
A Pennsylvania slip and fall attorney for the defense can argue that the person should have known about the condition that caused him to fall.
Say, for instance, the stairway in an apartment building has been broken for months. In fact, residents avoid using it due to it being so hazardous.
Now the lighting goes out that stairwell. It is dark and gloomy. The lawyer for the defense can argue that everybody knew about the staircase and was, in fact, avoiding it. Common sense should have prevailed when the lighting condition developed and the victim should never have been on that stairs in the first place.
However, the defendant is not always absolved of liability. There are other factors that can influence the outcome, such as how long the owner knew about the conditions and why did he not do anything about it.
It would be in your best interest to contact your Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible after such an incident. We can give you the best advice. Such cases are never easy to prove.
Someone else’s negligence
If you were injured on another individual’s property due to the bad lighting, you must be able to prove that the ‘lighting condition’ caused the accident and that the property owner was negligent.
You (and your attorney) must be able to show that the owner was acutely aware that the lighting was out or bad where you fell and that he failed to correct the condition in a timely manner.
“I did not see it coming”
The dangerous condition must be something that the injured person did not see coming. He or she could not have anticipated it under any circumstances.
To prove negligence the injured party much have proof that the owner of the building or the property owner did not do anything about the condition in a timely manner. He should have known the lights were out and that a serious injury from not fixing the condition was a foreseeable consequence.
Sometimes the court can find that both of the parties in a lawsuit were negligent in a way.
The faulty motel stairs
Say a motel guest rents a room on the second floor at a motel where the staircases are located on only one end of the building. The light on the stairwell is not working, but the guest uses the stairwell in any way. He knew there was some risk, but were willing to take it. He suffers a fall.
The proprietor of the motel should have fixed the lighting condition, but the motel guest regardlessly used the stairs. The proprietor would not be absolved totally of the commitment he had, but one can argue that the motel guest should have used common sense.
What damages can I receive for my slip and fall due to bad lighting?
You may be able to receive compensation if your slip and fall accident was caused by a business’ or property owner’s careless actions.
What type of compensation you will receive will depend on who the ultimate liable party is as discussed in the previous section. The court will ask if the property owner contributed to the accident in any way and if the injured person had any involvement that could lessen the negligence of the owner.
Do not just settle
In most cases, settlements are initially too low to cover the true cost of injuries suffered due to a bad lighting slip and fall.
Consider contacting an experienced Pennsylvanian lawyer before agreeing to settle. You may be entitled to much more!
In the end, damages awarded will have the ultimate goal to make the plaintiff ‘whole’ and restore his financial situation to what it was before the accident happened.
Should you be successful in a jury case, you may be compensated for all of your medical bills, lawyer fees, loss of income, household bills and more.
However, the plaintiff may only qualify for such compensation if entirely free of blame. It might not be easy to prove and the lawyers for the defense will be out to discredit you at every corner. Contact us today for a free consultation on what you should do.
Good, adequate lighting is non-negotiable and should be a given on any property or parking lot. In areas with high foot traffic, this is especially important. It is negligent of any owner to not design a business or building with good lighting in mind or not to repair lighting fixtures.
What owners should do
Owners should provide alternate lighting in an area if the fixture cannot be done immediately. If this is not possible, the dark area should be blocked off to prevent accidents.
You might be entitled to much more than you think. Speak to us today. Our aggressive lawyers will help you to get some compensation for your loss.