Fall in a public restaurant...

by Heidi
(Williamstown, PA)

My 73 year old mother and I were at a moderately upscale restaurant for dinner. We were seated on an elevated platform (one 4-5" step). When my mother got up to use the restroom, she did not see the step down and fell. Fortunately she was not seriously injured.

The hostess stated that she was not the first person to fall because of this step. There is no lighting or signs to watch one's step.

Is this a building code violation? What, if any course of action do I have to ensure the restaurant corrects this issue? Is there anything else we can do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Fall in a public restaurant...":

Heidi (Williamstown, PA):

Fortunately your mother wasn't seriously injured. Pennsylvania restaurant owners have a legal duty to do everything within reason to make their premises safe for patrons. This includes making sure there is sufficient lighting around steps. When owners fail in their duty, and a patron is injured, the restaurant owner becomes liable for the injured patron's medical bills and related costs.

The city of Williamstown is located in Dauphin County. Whether the lighting, or lack thereof, constituted a Code Violation will have to be determined by a Dauphin County Code Enforcement Officer. To find the Restaurant Code Enforcement Department go to the Dauphin County Website.

While Dauphin County may create its own Restaurant Code, it cannot be in conflict with Pennsylvania State Code Enforcement Rules and regulations. Under Section 10 of Dauphin County Code, the responsibility for Code of Ordinances shall be the responsibility of the Borough of Dauphin Secretary.

If you aren't satisfied, you can go to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Food Safety website and report the restaurant.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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