You don’t typically expect to fall and injure yourself as a pedestrian in public areas. Still, there may be a time where you’re strolling along the sidewalk, only to find that there were hazards present that directly threatened your safety while walking. After tripping on one of these hazards, you sustain an injury that requires medical attention. Now what? It’s challenging to determine who is liable for your fall in this scenario since sidewalks are typically considered public spaces. With the help of experienced and aggressive slip and fall lawyers,especially those at Salamati Law, you can confidently determine liability to secure your deserved compensation.
Determining Liability in a Sidewalk Slip-and-Fall Accident
Depending on the localein which your fall took place, there may be two distinct parties that can be held liable for your incident. In New York, for example, some areas have declared that property owners are responsible for pedestrian safety on sidewalks outside of their business under the premises liability law. However, other regions hold that the city is accountable for ensuring safety standards in these areas. Which of these parties is liable depends on the following factors:
- Liability on the city’s behalf: If the area in which you were walking is considered to be public property, the fall will be legally recognized as the city’s fault. This is especially the case if the site is under municipal care, and it has not been maintained to the city’s usual safety standards. Further, if you were injured in an unmarked construction area, you have the legal grounds to sue the city for negligence.
- Liability on the property owner’s behalf: If you fell in front of a property that is not a one-, two-, or three-family home, the property owner will be liable for your sustained injuries. This means that the owners of restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses will be held legally responsible for the hazards that threatened your safety. Why is this? They have a lawful duty of care to ensure that their grounds are safe for visitors and patrons at all times.
After your fall, you must collect all evidence of the scene. This includes photo and video evidence depicting the environmental hazards that caused the incident, and any medical documentation that reflects your sustained injuries.
Caveats to Liability in a Slip-and-Fall Sidewalk Incident
Many factors can influence liability, and some may even disqualify you from being able to hold either of the above parties accountable for the incident. For example, if a “trivial defect” was found to be the cause of your fall, you will, unfortunately, not have the grounds to pursue legal action. (A trivial defect is a flaw so small, such as a one-inch crack in the sidewalk, that the court declares the municipality justified in not repairing it.)
The liable party may even attempt to blame your fall on the shoes you were wearing at the time, so it is critical that you keep the shoes you wore and avoid wearing them again until the hearing. There are numerous tricky factors to circumnavigate in a case such as this, so you should consult a lawyer when filing your claim. When you’re ready, get in touch with a lawyer to discuss your options for legal action after a slip-and-fall accident on a sidewalk.