A slip and fall accident on a public sidewalk can leave you with devastating injuries and a long road to recovery. In many cases, you may find yourself wondering what comes next. Who bears liability? Can you file a claim if you fell on a public sidewalk?
When Can You File a Claim for a Slip and Fall in a Public Place?
In order to file a slip and fall claim due to an accident on public property, you will need to establish that the sidewalk or property where the accident occurred was unreasonably dangerous for some reason. That could include:
Dangerously broken pavement
A dangerous oil slick or spill
Poor sidewalk repair can lead to serious fall risk, and the owner of that stretch of property may bear liability for any damages.
The Property Owner Knew About the Problem
In order to establish that the property owner bears liability for your fall, you will need to show that the property owner reasonably knew about the problem and had the chance to do something about it.
Suppose, for example, that an incident just hours before tore up the pavement in front of the store. The property owner has not yet had a chance to get out and take care of the problem or schedule repairs. As a result, the property owner may not bear liability for the incident. Likewise, suppose that someone spilled a dangerous amount of oil on the sidewalk just before you walked across it. Because the property owner could not reasonably have known about the problem or taken steps to fix it, the property owner may not bear liability for the incident.
On the other hand, if the property owner could reasonably have known about the incident, and had reason to assume that it would pose a danger, the property owner may bear liability. If, for example, the damage to the pavement occurred several days ago, and the property owner has neither taken any steps to fix it nor put up signs warning potential visitors about the problem, the property owner might bear liability for your injuries.
The Damage or Issue Caused Your Accident
In order to establish that the property owner bears liability for a slip and fall accident, you may need to show that the property owner’s negligence, and the damage to the sidewalk or public property, caused your accident. Suppose, for example, that you had your attention on the road instead of on the sidewalk, or even on your phone, and tripped over a curb right in front of a dangerous stretch of sidewalk. In that case, the dangerous sidewalk did not cause your accident, and the property owner might not bear liability for the incident.
You Suffered Injuries in Your Slip and Fall
In order to establish that you have grounds for a slip and fall claim, you will need to show that you suffered injuries because of the fall. People can suffer slip and fall incidents without suffering injury. Your claim will rely on showcasing the injuries you sustained in your slip and fall accident and proving that they resulted from the fall. If you did not suffer a dangerous fall, even if you encountered serious risk due to the negligence of a property owner, you may not have grounds for a claim. On the other hand, if you did suffer injuries in a fall, you may have the right to file a claim for compensation.
Who Bears Liability for a Slip and Fall Accident in a Public Place?
According to Georgia law, property owners are usually legally responsible for taking care of sidewalk upkeep. That means that if an accident occurs on a sidewalk or other public property, the property owner who owns the property adjacent to that stretch of sidewalk may bear liability for failing to take care of upkeep and repair.
In order to determine who bears liability for a slip and fall on public property, you may need to talk to a lawyer. A lawyer can help you determine who owns that particular stretch of property or who bears liability for maintaining it.
Sometimes, private homeowners may bear liability for accidents that occur in front of their property. Generally, if you need to file a slip and fall accident claim against a private homeowner in Georgia, you will end up dealing with that homeowner’s insurance company. Homeowner’s insurance can help protect the victims of accidents due to homeowner negligence, including accidents involving damaged sidewalks.
Business owners, or landlords who own business property, may bear liability for upkeep outside their property. In the case of a slip and fall on that property, you will usually deal with the business or with the property owner’s insurance company. A lawyer can help determine whether the business owner bears direct liability or if a third party owns the site and bears responsibility for upkeep on that stretch of sidewalk.
Sometimes, a slip and fall accident in Georgia may occur on government-owned property. Working with a lawyer can help you determine what government entity bears responsibility for a specific stretch of property and whether you have grounds for a claim. Keep in mind that if you did suffer a fall on government property, you may have a more limited amount of time to move forward with your injury claim. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible can make it easier to navigate those challenges.
Contact a Lawyer After Your Slip and Fall Accident
If you suffer injuries in a slip and fall accident in a public place, working with a lawyer can make it easier to determine who bears liability for your accident and what right you may have to compensation. Contact Cambre & Associates to schedule a free consultation.