Every year, millions of people are injured in slip and fall accidents. The National Floor Safety Institute, or NFSI, reported that such accidents result in more than one million visits to the emergency room, the equivalent of 12% of all yearly visits.
Slip and fall accidents that occur in homes or commercial establishments tend to be slightly more straightforward in their resolution due to the clarity of ownership and responsibility. However, those that happen in public spaces like sidewalks are a bit more challenging to navigate. When you have sustained a serious injury after tripping in a poorly maintained sidewalk, who is liable for such an accident?
Determining Liability for a Sidewalk Slip and Fall Case
As the victim of a slip and fall accident, it is your responsibility to prove liability. You can do so by collecting evidence that demonstrates that the following was true of the individual responsible for the sidewalk:
- They had a duty of care to pedestrians using the sidewalk. (This means that they are responsible for ensuring that the area remains free of preventable hazards.)
- That duty of care was not upheld, directly resulting in your fall, and therefore, your injuries.
Of course, to prove liability, you will need to know who exactly is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk, or who owns the property. Possible ownership and management depend on where your fall took place. If the sidewalk is located in front of a private home, for example, the homeowner may be responsible for compensating your injuries. The same might be true of a business; however, the owner must have been directly responsible for the hazard in both cases. If they left a bike or a sign out on the sidewalk, thereby introducing a tripping hazard, you may be able to hold them accountable for your injury.
However, there are exceptions to this standard. Issues such as those listed below may signal that the responsibility lies with the municipality instead:
- The sidewalk is cracked and broken due to tree roots growing up through the ground.
- The sidewalk was laid unevenly.
- There may have been loose components in a cobblestone or brick path.
Take note of the environmental conditions surrounding the area in which you fell. If you tripped due to a trench or an unmarked hole in the ground, this may not be the fault of the property owner or the municipality at all, but a local construction company. Record every detail of the events and conditions that led to your fall and consult with your personal injury lawyer to determine who should be held liable for your injuries.
Filing Your Claim for Your Sidewalk Slip and Fall Injury
Your lawyer will assist you in filing your claim against the negligent party once you have completed the steps below:
- Report the accident to the appropriate authority and save a copy.
- Write down the details of your accident, and support your documentation with photos and videos.
- Visit a medical professional and obtain a copy of your medical records.
With experienced legal representation, you can be sure that these documents will be used to demonstrate the full liability of the negligent party and successfully secure the funds you need to treat your injuries and restore normalcy to your life. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to get started.