How Is Fault Determined in a Sidewalk Slip and Fall Accident?

You may be strolling down the sidewalk and the unexpected—an accident—occurs; who is liable for the unpleasant happening? Apportioning legal responsibility to a person or entity for an accident or injury is a complex process. It takes various considerations involving proper review of the circumstances leading to the slip and fall case.

Many a time, the blame lies on the victim for either being careless or negligent. But, on the other hand, someone else or the business situated by the sidewalk would have to pay for your injuries. It takes certain steps to conclude who pays, so how do you determine who is at fault—by law?

Proving a Liability in a Slip and Fall Case

Evidence helps a lot in pursuing a slip and fall case. As soon as the accident occurs, take pictures of the scene. Do well to also capture your bruises and your clothes and have this information handy for your Ladera Ranch personal injury lawyer if you are situated in California. All of this documentation will count, and so it must be gotten with great urgency.

The conditions that lead to the fall might be fixed quickly. For example, the council may fix the defective portion of the sidewalk by the next day. A snow pile that caused the slip may defrost in minutes. The disappearance of these conditions weakens your case and reduces your chances of filing a solid lawsuit—or even winning. 

A versatile lawyer is of immense assistance. Once your evidence is in place, he/she will further prove that the cause of the slip must have come to the notice of the property owner or municipality earlier. Citing negligence is key. A lawyer can help find out past complaints similar to yours and build an undeniable, strong case.

Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case

To come out victorious in a slip and fall case, you must be able to prove that there was negligence on the part of the property owner. Falling in front of somebody’s building does not mean he gets to bear the brunt, automatically. The conditions, as well, may be caused by happenstance. For example, a sidewalk tends to be slippery on wet days. Perhaps, some materials displaced during a downpour can cause a bad landing.

There are criteria for nailing the accident on the property owner. First, the landlord must have left the sidewalk in unsafe conditions. Also, it is important to make it known—beyond doubts—that the property owner could have made amends( there must have been prior knowledge of the trap). Still, he intentionally left the sidewalk in a state that was dangerous to the public.

Who Is Responsible for a Slip and Fall Occurrence on a Public Sidewalk?

Naming the person who bears the liability of a slip and falls on a public sidewalk is dependent on state laws and probably the documents of the property owner(they are involved sometimes).

In some states, the care and maintenance of public walks lie solely on the government’s shoulders. This involves whatever happens while using them. Some other states have the affairs of their sidewalks vaguely arranged. In such states, the responsibility may belong to the government, the property owner, or a liability shared by both parties. Knowing the appropriate quarters to confront makes the process a tad easier. Make it lighter on yourself by consulting the law.

Special Rules May Apply…

The government makes up the ruling body, and as much as they look after the well-being of the people in their jurisdiction, it always finds a partial victory. Many municipalities have two common limitations as regards a slip and fall case. The first one concerns the deadline. There is a strict time gap allowed for victims to file a personal complaint. A report, after that window, would fall on deaf ears. The second limitation is reduced compensation. Some municipalities are found to beat down the compensation payment made to a victim.

Time and Notice Deadlines for Making Claims Against a City or Town

The requirements for making complaints about a slip and fall case vary from state to state; however, here is what to expect from most municipalities, at the very least.

  • A pretty short period(say 30 days) to alert the concerned department about your accident. This notification is usually demanded in writing which must include the exact location where the slip and fall occurred and the circumstance surrounding you at the time of the accident (pictures can do most of the talking).
  • A deadline for filing a lawsuit against a city or state.

Dealing with the government can be very tricky. Politics come to play, and certain departments have their backs against each other. Take care not to send your notice to the wrong department. It could nullify your complaint, regardless of the proximity of the appropriate quarters to it. At best, hand it in yourself.

Also, confirm whether a road belongs to a city or a state. A report made to a state which should have gone to a city can get barred and left unattended.