Who is legally responsible for your slip and fall injury on the sidewalk will depend on where the incident occurs. Most cities or municipalities are responsible for the maintenance of public streets and sidewalks, which means that you may need to initiate a lawsuit against the governmental entity if you are injured on a public sidewalk. A personal injury attorney will be able to help you determine when you may have a case against a governmental entity for your slip and fall accident.
When Would the City be Liable for a Slip and Fall on the Sidewalk?
Just because you fell on the sidewalk does not necessarily mean that the municipality is automatically at fault. Instead, you must prove that the entity responsible for maintenance was somehow negligent.
The sidewalk must be considered “unreasonably unsafe” for the municipality to held liable. To show that, you must also demonstrate that the city knew or should have known about the dangerous condition of the sidewalk.
Slipping on Ice or Snow
Many slip and falls occur because of snow, ice, or pooling water. However, the city is rarely responsible for clearing away snow and ice. Instead, if the sidewalk is in front of a private residence, the homeowner must usually take on that duty. The city is often only responsible for clearing away ice and snow on city or other public property.
When you slip and fall due to snow or ice in front of a private residence, you must often initiate a lawsuit against the individual residents, even though the resident does not technically own the sidewalk area.
It is especially important to take pictures of the slip and fall scene when the fall is caused by snow or ice. Conditions change quickly when they are due to the weather, and it may be difficult to fully explain the state of the sidewalk without a visual representation. Without this information, it can be difficult to prove liability at all.
Damaged sidewalks and Streets
Broken sidewalks or uneven surfaces can also be dangerous and cause accidents as well. The city is more likely to be responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk, even when it is in front of a residence. When you are injured because of poor maintenance, you may need to initiate a suit against the city or other government entity.
If possible, you should try to also take photos of the area where you were injured so you can show the city the exact area and how it looked. With broken sidewalks, however, you are more likely to be able to go back to the area after the fact and take photos.
Filing a Claim Against the City
You may need to act quickly if you are injured due to a slip and fall on the sidewalk. In Boston, Massachusetts, for example, you must notify the city of your claim within 30 days of its occurrence. It is important to be able to show the city exactly where the accident occurred.
Getting the right entity involved can be tricky as well. However, a personal injury attorney can help you with these details. Give Jim Glaser Law a call to discuss your legal options after a slip and fall in the Boston area.