At the Kennywood amusement park in Pittsburgh, a man contracted a serious eye infection after riding the park’s Raging Rapids simulated white-water rafting ride. In the days that followed, the man’s eye became irritated and sensitive to light. He sought medical treatment. After initially being misdiagnosed with conjunctivitis, he was later correctly diagnosed with an eye-eating parasite known as microsporidia. He ultimately underwent a painful surgery—which was ineffective at removing the parasite. His vision remains inhibited, and his eye continues to cause him pain.
The man is suing the park, seeking $35,000 in restitution. According to the lawsuit, the water in the Raging Rapids was “dirty, stagnant and sludge-like,” and the plaintiff asserts that the park was negligent at maintaining the park in healthy, safe conditions. A spokesperson for the park refrained from commenting on the lawsuit.
The above story is an example of an important aspect of personal injury law known as premises liability. The foundation of this area of law is that a property owner has the responsibility to maintain safe conditions for others who enter it. If you trip over a broken floorboard at a hotel and break your tooth, you could hold the hotel responsible for your injury. If the postman slips and falls on your icy front stoop while delivering your mail, you could be on the hook.
Whether or not you have a solid claim for premises liability depends in large part on your role in the scenario:
- Invitee: An invited visitor may hold the property owner liable for harm if:
- The property owner knows or should have known of a condition that risks harm to the invitee,
- The invitee should not be expected to discover the risk on their own or to protect themselves against it and
- The property owner neglects to take steps to protect the invitee from harm.
- Licensee: A licensee may have a claim for restitution if:
- The property owner is aware of a potentially dangerous condition on the property,
- The property owner neglects to take steps to warn the licensee about the risk or to take steps to make the area safe and
- The licensee should not be expected to know about the risk on their own.
- Trespasser: It may be a surprise to learn that under Pennsylvania law, a trespasser may actually be able to claim compensation for injuries incurred on another person’s property, but only if it can be demonstrated that the property owner committed deliberate negligence or misconduct.
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, an experienced premises liability attorney can help you understand your right to compensation.