What Happens if I Fell on a Public Sidewalk?
If you slip and fall on a municipal sidewalk or some other walkway maintained by the government, then there are unique issues that must be addressed. The first thing to know is that your time to file an action is much shorter than in other slip and fall cases, so you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
A city, town, or other municipality only is liable for the harm that you suffered in a slip and fall accident if the municipality negligently maintained the property and that negligence was the direct cause of your injury. What this means is that just because you fell does not make it the responsibility of the government agency that has responsibility over that patch of real estate. In addition, conditions may exist that contribute to or outright cause the accident that you suffered, but if the municipality did not know about the condition, and had a reasonable justification for not knowing about the unsafe surface, then it may be difficult to hold them liable.
What all of this means is that it is difficult, but not impossible, to hold a government responsible for the harm that you suffered. The most common slip and fall case against a municipality is from a slip and fall accident on a patch of ice or snow on a public sidewalk or street. Typically, the municipality only is responsible for clearing the snow and ice from in front of government buildings or public areas. If you slip and fall in front of a business or private residence, then your case usually would have to be brought against the private entity or individuals, although there are exceptions depending on state law.
It is tough to know what to do in hindsight, but as with any accident, you should take pictures at the scene if you are able to do so, get the contact information of any witnesses who may have seen the accident, and preserve any clothing or other items that were damaged in the accident. In addition, you should go get immediate medical attention and document any injuries. Even if you do not feel too badly after the accident, many injuries develop slowly and getting treatment as early as possible is critical to limiting long-term harm. If the accident occurred because of icy or snowy conditions, the site of the fall could be very different within a matter of minutes under extreme conditions.
Bringing a legal action against a municipality requires notification of the specifics of the accident, including the exact details of the accident, and often involves a shorter time period in which to commence the legal action (statute of limitations). Particular care must be paid to these details as the action can be barred completely if there is the slightest deviation. Some courts have dismissed cases because the notice of the accident was sent to the wrong department. Often, notice must be provided to more than one department or agency.
One final thing to consider is that there may be a limitation on the amount of damages that you can recover.
Although bringing a legal action against a municipality is more difficult than litigating against a private individual or business, the fact is that you deserve compensation for your injuries and the skilled attorneys at Lundy Law can help you recover to the extent allowed by law. We immediately will take the necessary steps to preserve your legal rights, while compiling the evidence that you need to bring a successful case. In order to ensure that you get the legal help that you deserve, we offer a No Fee Assurance, where you pay nothing unless we win your case. We are ready to discuss your case at your convenience. Please call us at 1-800-LundyLaw or fill out our free online consultation form.