In an instant, your life can change dramatically. Walking along a city sidewalk is not something we would ever consider a dangerous activity. However, if these sidewalks are not maintained, have not been cleared of snow and ice, or contain any other potentially dangerous elements; a person could easily suffer a slip and fall injury.
Unfortunately, even for healthy individuals, slip and fall injuries can result in significant medical bills, time off from work, and a generally frustrating course of events. Don’t let this happen to you. If you’ve ever had a slip and fall accident on a sidewalk, contact a qualified attorney today. These legal experts will make sure you get every penny to which you are entitled and will guide you along your path to recovery from your accident.
Who is Responsible for Maintaining Sidewalks?
Generally, it is the property owner’s responsibility to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice during winter months, when sidewalk slip and fall accidents are very common. These property owners must also maintain the integrity of their sidewalks at all other times of the year, ensuring that they are reasonably safe for the public to walk on.
Of course, when sidewalks develop cracks and become unsafe, property owners might not immediately be aware of the issue. But once they’ve been alerted to the danger, they are required to address the issue within a reasonable timeframe.
Why are Slip and Fall Cases So Tricky to Navigate?
There are two main reasons why slip and fall cases can leave victims in a tough spot:
- Proving Liability. In some slip and fall cases, it’s very clear who was responsible and it’s easy to show whether they demonstrated negligence that led to the victim’s accident. On the other hand, there are many slip and fall accidents which require a thorough investigation to determine whether other factors may have led to the accident besides the property owner’s negligence. For example, if the victim was trespassing when they were injured, they likely have no case.
- Dealing with Insurance Companies. Insurance companies want to open and shut these cases as quickly and for as little money as possible. Immediately after your accident, the insurance company of the property owner will likely approach you with a settlement offer. These offers tend to be much lower than is necessary for recovery of lost wages and medical expenses.
For the above reasons, it is critical to have a lawyer on your team throughout your slip and fall proceedings. The law surrounding these cases is complicated, and slip and fall attorneys have dealt with all kinds of cases, so they know what to expect.
Any accident can be devastating to a victim. But slip and fall cases are particularly difficult and the damage can potentially last for the rest of a victim’s life. Don’t let a slip and fall case put you in debt! Call an experienced slip and fall attorney today to receive a consultation about your accident.
The most common types of slips or trips on public streets and sidewalks are due to ice and snow or poorly-maintained streets or sidewalks. Keep in mind that municipalities are rarely responsible for clearing away ice and snow on sidewalks in front of private residences and commercial buildings; they are generally only responsible for clearing away ice or snow on sidewalks in front of public buildings or areas. So, if you slip on ice or snow on a public sidewalk in a residential area, the city or town will not generally be liable; your claim will usually be against the owner of the property that the sidewalk runs in front of. But if you slip on ice or snow on a sidewalk in a commercial area, your claim could be against either the municipality or the premises owner, depending on your state’s laws. As in any slip and fall case, you should take pictures of the accident scene, your clothes, and any visible injuries you might have received as soon as possible (if you are able to do so). The condition of ice and snow can change within minutes. Ice can melt, or it can be cleared away. It can be difficult to impossible to win an ice and snow case without pictures showing the ice and snow as it was at the moment of your injury. Learn more about the evidence you’ll need in your slip and fall case.
Moreover, you have to make sure that you make your claim against the proper governmental entity in the first place. Let’s say, for example, that you trip over the remains of a sign for a bus stop, and you give notice to the city, and only the city. But if state law holds the public transportation agency, and not the local municipality, responsible for maintaining bus stops, the city might not be liable, or your claim could be barred. If your claim is properly filed, but the city denies it or fails to take any action within a certain amount of time, you’re typically free to file a personal injury lawsuit over your slip and fall. To make sure you follow the right procedure, and that all your legal options stay in play after a slip and fall, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.