When you have an accident in public, especially one that results in an injury, it’s a traumatic time. You’re scared, hurt, angry and you wonder how you’re going to pay the medical bills as they mount higher. Certainly, if the circumstances indicated someone else was responsible, that party should pay for the injuries you’ve suffered, but who can you hold responsible?
Is it the building owner, the tenant, even the city itself? Learn about liability issues for slip and fall accidents that occur on public sidewalks, who is responsible, and when you need a personal injury attorney.
Determining Liability for an Accident
The first step in pursuing your accident claim is to determine that someone else was, in fact, at fault for the accident. In order to prove fault and liability, you’ll need to demonstrate negligence on the part of someone else. This requires three factors:
- The party in question (the defendant) had a duty of care towards you to ensure you a relatively safe environment.
- The defendant failed in some way to uphold this duty.
- This failure resulted directly or proximately in the accident you suffered, which led directly to you getting hurt.
This means that you have to first understand whether liability was present.
When Is Liability Present?
Let’s examine the idea of ice and snow since this is the most common form of slip and fall accident by far. A party has not failed in their duty of care by failing to clean up a sidewalk if the snowfall or ice incident has just occurred within the last hour or two. They can’t be reasonably expected to react that quickly.
If, on the other hand, the incident happened yesterday or three days ago, and it’s never been addressed, liability and negligence can attach. In this case, there’s been plenty of time to make the walkway safe, and they failed to act to do so.
The same thing occurs with a crack or pothole in the pavement. If another incident just caused the pothole, there might be no negligence, but if the pothole has been there for days (even a day or so) and there’s not even a warning sign, then liability could attach.
Who Is Responsible?
Finally, you need to consider who is responsible. If the sidewalk is in front of a business, apartment building or office complex, the building owner or tenants are probably responsible for maintaining the premises. If there’s serious damage to the pavement, this could fall upon the municipality or the building owner, depending on individual local ordinances.
Calling a Personal Injury Attorney
Because these kinds of cases involve many complexities, it’s usually in your best interest to work with a personal injury attorney on your case. The right lawyer will know who to hold responsible, how to gather evidence, and the best road forward to get the best compensation for your injury.