Steps to Proving Liability in a Sidewalk Slip and Fall
A slip and fall on a sidewalk may result in serious injury. And in the case that you are affected by the unsafe conditions of a sidewalk, you may wonder if someone is at fault. If negligence led to your fall, there are a few things to keep in mind while proving liability.
Who is responsible for a public sidewalk:
On a public sidewalk, it can be challenging to determine ownership and liability. It depends on state law and which group has been deemed responsible for the upkeep of public sidewalks. While some jurisdiction assigns this responsibility to the municipality, others make matters less clear. For these, the city, an adjacent property owner, or both could be held liable.
First and foremost, you’ll need to be able to prove that whoever is responsible for the sidewalk acted negligently. And as such, the sidewalk on which you fell was deemed unreasonably unsafe. This might be a challenging task, so it is helpful to document everything that takes place. Take pictures, save documents, and seek records of past complaints:
- Photos, in these cases, are your most valuable asset in convincing a jury of the owner’s negligence. Snap a shot of the scene, your clothes, and injuries incurred. This is especially important if the condition of the sidewalk is likely to change in a short period. If there is snow or if you believe that the owner will quickly repair its damages, make sure to document the evidence that led to your fall.
- Save documents that state the nature and extent of your injuries. Use this evidence to demonstrate the danger of the sidewalk on which you fell.
- A history of past complaints about the sidewalk will prove that the owner responded in negligence. Demonstrating that the sidewalk was broken will not suffice in finding liability. You must also prove that the owner was aware of the hazard but neglected to make repairs.
- Timeliness is a significant factor in your chances of winning your case, and most jurisdictions require your adherence to a strict filing procedure. While this will vary by jurisdiction, this process generally involves:
- A short deadline to notify the proper municipal department. By short, we mean less than thirty days.
- A written description of the accident and your claim, including location, circumstances, and your injuries incurred.
- A request for the dollar amount you expect to receive in compensation. This is likely difficult to determine. So make sure to reach out for legal guidance.
Navigating this process and discerning how to take action is no simple task. So be sure to seek legal assistance upon filing a claim. If you or a loved one has taken a fall on a public or private sidewalk, do not hesitate to call on us at Peach Weathers for expert legal counsel and guidance. We are here to assist you with questions regarding liability and taking further action.