Out of all places where a slip and fall injury could occur, sidewalks are the most common. Yet, when it comes to pursuing one of these claims, the location proves to be a challenging aspect. Particularly, an attorney and plaintiff need to determine who is responsible for the sidewalk’s upkeep and if that individual or organization was negligent.

While slips and falls on sidewalks occur frequently in winter as a result of ice and snow accumulation, they’re a year-round danger. When the weather warms up, cracked pavement, potholes and uneven surfaces can cause an individual to lose his or her balance, fall and sustain a serious injury.

So, as you begin to pursue a slip and fall case, what should you know?

Yellow slippery when wet sign Who Could Be Responsible?

Responsibility tends to be convoluted with slip and fall cases. Who oversees the upkeep of sidewalks varies on a municipal or state level. What should you consider?

  1. If you slip and fall on a public road – for instance, by a highway or along a state road – the state or local government may be responsible. Yet, within a town or state, you may have to track down the specific department behind the upkeep of these roads.
  2. Within residential neighborhoods, the municipality may be liable or the property owner could bear some responsibility. If the former oversees residential neighborhoods, be aware that you may have a deadline to file your claim – no more than 30 days, typically – and the town may set a limit on what you can recover. Generally, this amount seldom exceeds $100,000.
  3. Complicating things even further, municipalities may check out the state of roads and sidewalks, but could hold the property owners responsible. In doing so, the city or town will issue tickets to property or business owners concerning snow buildup, cracked pavement or potholes. As the owner may have ignored these warnings, your case may involve tracking down the property owner’s history of tickets from the city.

Establishing Negligence

In all slip and fall cases, negligence needs to be proven. Concerning public sidewalks, you need to show:

  1. The sidewalk was in an unreasonably unsafe condition. For instance, because a city could repair a cracked sidewalk or pothole the next day or clear away ice and snow, it’s advised that you take pictures right there at the scene.
  2. Did the property owner cause the damage, either through direct actions or poor maintenance?
  3. The property owner was aware the sidewalk was unsafe and took no action to fix it.
  4. This condition had been present for a while.

In the process of proving your claim, you may need to research the history of complaints this property owner, business owner or municipality received over its sidewalks. Others may have tripped on, driven over or had to take unreasonable precautions to avoid an accident in the area.

Yet, as is the case with all slip and fall complaints, comparative negligence plays a factor. When establishing the property owner’s negligence, your behavior will also be called into question: Particularly, was it possible to avoid walking through the damaged or slippery area, but you were distracted?

However, Trantolo & Trantolo’s slip and fall lawyers have handled all the factors and complications involved with these types of claims. To have one of our attorneys review your case, start by contacting us today.