The Notice Requirement in Premises Liability (Slip and Fall) Cases

From a plaintiff’s perspective, one of the most difficult parts of a premises liability case is proving that the defendant had notice of the dangerous condition that caused her injuries. Generally, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. Below, I provide portions of my response brief to a motion for summary judgment in a trip and fall case. The defendant argued that it was entitled to judgment in its favor because we couldn’t prove that it had notice of the dangerous condition. I have omitted identifying information, facts, analysis, and conclusions, so that all that remains is the law.

  1. Because Plaintiff was a business invitee, Defendant owed her the highest standard of care owed to any entrant upon its land.

The standard of care Defendant owes to Plaintiff depends on whether Plaintiff was a trespassor, licensee, or invitee when she entered and remained on Defendant’s property. Carrender v. Fitterer, 469 A.2d 120, 123 (Pa. 1983). Because Plaintiff was on Defendant’s property for a business-related purpose, she is a business invitee. Emge v. Hogosky, 712 A.2d 315, 317 (Pa. 1998). Defendant concedes that Plaintiff was a business invitee. (Defendant’s Brief at pg. 9).

The duty of protection that the landowner owes to a business invitee is the highest duty owed to any entrant upon land. Treadway v. Ebert Motor Company, 436 A.2d 994, 999 (Pa.Super. 1981). “[T]he landowner is under an affirmative duty to protect the business visitor not only against dangers which he knows, but also against those which with reasonable care he might discover. The business visitor enters landowner’s premises with implied assurance of preparation and reasonable care for his protection and safety while he is there.” Id.

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