Who’s Responsible for Slip & Falls on Sidewalks?
Everybody, at some point in their life, is a pedestrian. Some people walk for exercise, others walk out of necessity, but sooner or later, everybody inevitably finds themselves trying to walk from Point A to Point B. But if a person doesn’t see something like a patch of ice or trips over an uneven or damaged piece of sidewalk, it’s not always easy to get right back up again. Every year, it’s estimated that 20%-30% of people who experience a slip/trip and fall accident suffer moderate to severe injuries as a result.
In many cases, liability for slip and fall accidents either falls on property owners, or in the case of rental properties, possibly tenants. But when you slip and fall on a sidewalk, liability depends on who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in question.
It’s important to note that for anyone to be liable for an injury caused in a slip and fall accident, they need to have been negligent in allowing the hazard to exist. This means that the hazard needs to have existed long enough for the person in charge of maintaining it had time to become aware of it, that it was something the owner should have reasonably understood to be dangerous, and that they had a reasonable amount of time to fix the issue. Many places also have “open and obvious” laws which protect property owners if the issue was something that a person could have reasonably seen, known to be dangerous, and taken steps to avoid.
If you’re injured while walking on a sidewalk, it’s best to contact a slip and fall lawyer as soon as you’re able to so liability can be determined as quickly as possible. If the accident occurred on private property, the property owner or their tenant would most likely be liable. However, if a city, town, or municipality was responsible for maintaining the sidewalk where the accident occurred, filing a lawsuit can be more complex. There may be extremely strict rules and/or a short statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit and sometimes, it can be more difficult to figure out exactly who the case needs to be brought against. Having a lawyer on your side to fight for you will be extremely helpful in that kind of situation.
Whether a government entity or an individual is liable for your injuries, the help of an experienced lawyer can be priceless. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have attorneys who have spent years working with the victims of slip and fall accidents. Contact us today to see how we can help you.