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September 16th, 2014

Fall Accidents at the Philadelphia Airport – What You Need to Know

Did you fall at the Philadelphia Airport? Here are some basic questions and answers about Philadelphia Airport fall accident cases.

1. Who is liable for an accident at the airport?

In the vast majority of Philly airport fall accident cases, the City of Philadelphia will be the sole party liable for the injury and accident. Under a city charter, the City of Philadelphia assumes responsibility for maintenance and care of the airport. This applies to all major areas, such as:

  • hallways/walkways,
  • bathrooms,
  • elevators, and
  • parking garages.

For instance, the City of Philadelphia would probably be liable in a case where an individual trips and falls over broken concrete in the parking garage affixed to the airport. In addition, it is important to note that other parties may also be liable. Private businesses which operate in the airport may also be liable for a fall accident. Retail stores, restaurants and other contractors may be liable. Proper investigation is necessary in order to determine all parties who may be held liable.

Related: Philadelphia Airport Injury Accident Law

2. What are the chances of success?

Lawsuits against the City of Philadelphia must comply with a special law known as the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (Act). This law details specific prerequisites to filing a lawsuit for injuries. One of the most important prerequisites is the 180 day notice requirement. The Act requires injured individuals who plan on bringing lawsuits against the City to provide written notice of the incident and provide additional details, such as nature of the injuries and list of medical providers to date. The notice requirement is mandatory.

Succeeding in an airport fall accident case requires having sufficient evidence of negligence, and this means being able to prove that airport employees actually knew about the defective condition prior to the accident. Alternatively, the evidence must show that the defective condition existed for such a period of time that the City should have known about it. Read more about evidence of defective conditions in fall accident lawsuits in Pennsylvania.

3. What financial compensation can you recover?

Under Section 8553(b) of the Act (see below), injured individuals may only make specific claims for financial compensation, such as past lost wages (and future lost wages if permanent disability results) and medical bills. In addition, claims for pain and suffering may only be made where the injuries resulted in death or where there is a serious permanent injury (i.e., loss of a bodily function, disfigurement or dismemberment). Section (b) also puts a maximum cap of $500,000 on the financial compensation payable in a lawsuit against the City for injuries.

More: Philadelphia Airport Fall Accidents – What Can You Recover?

4. What is the timeline for resolving the case?

Philadelphia airport accident cases will almost always be filed in the Philadelphia County court, as opposed to federal court. Philadelphia’s court system imposes strict timelines on resolving accident and injury cases. Most fall accident cases will be put on an expedited or standard track/schedule. This means that most cases will be resolved within 12-18 months, from the time they are filed. There are some exceptions. Cases with complex factual or legal issues will require additional time.

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Section 8553(b) Amounts recoverable. (Current as of September 2014)

Damages arising from the same cause of action or transaction or occurrence or series of causes of action or transactions or occurrences shall not exceed $500,000 in the aggregate.
(c)  Types of losses recognized.–Damages shall be recoverable only for:
(1)  Past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity.
(2)  Pain and suffering in the following instances:
(i)  death; or
(ii)  only in cases of permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement or permanent dismemberment where the medical and dental expenses referred to in paragraph (3) are in excess of $1,500.
(3)  Medical and dental expenses including the reasonable value of reasonable and necessary medical and dental services, prosthetic devices and necessary ambulance, hospital, professional nursing, and physical therapy expenses accrued and anticipated in the diagnosis, care and recovery of the claimant.
(4)  Loss of consortium.
(5)  Loss of support.
(6)  Property losses.