Injuries from slips and/or falls may be the result of an individual's negligence, but they may also result from unfavorable conditions for which the owner of the property is liable. This is why you must follow some simple steps that will protect you should you need compensation for medical care and other expenses.
It may be difficult to keep your wits about you after a hard fall, or you may be temporarily incapacitated, so you may need to ask for help from passersby to protect your rights in the event of future litigation.
Slips and falls on public sidewalks
Public sidewalks must be maintained in a safe condition by the homeowner or business to which they provide access. Cracked or broken concrete, uneven surfaces, broken or loose steps, and accumulation of trash or debris are all unlawful and expose the owner to liability in the event of an accident.
There are special exemptions for weather events such as snow and ice accumulation. Deadlines for snow and ice removal vary by local jurisdiction, but all municipalities have some sort of time deadlines for sidewalks to be cleared.
What should you do if you are injured in a fall on a public sidewalk?
You should first attempt to obtain contact information from any witnesses to the event, noting the time and location of the incident. A picture is worth a thousand words, and multiple pictures are even better.
Take at least one cell phone picture of the area of the fall as soon as possible to have a timed verification of the condition of the sidewalk when the incident occurred. Have a witness take a picture if you don't have your phone or if it is damaged in the fall.
Note the specific condition that caused this incident, and take multiple pictures from various angles. You should also take a picture of your shoes, to disprove any allegations that the shoe style was a major factor in your fall instead of a possible contributing factor.
Take pictures of any damage to your clothes or personal property, as well as injuries that are visible without undressing, such as cuts or scrapes to your extremities.
If ice is the problem, and the sidewalk has been previously cleared of snow and ice, look upward to the roof gutters. If they have large icicles hanging from them that are melting then refreezing on the sidewalk, they are likely filled with dirt and debris that prevents water from draining properly. Take pictures of the icicles hanging from the gutters and the ice beneath them.
This causes the water to flow over the edge of the gutter and freeze, only to melt in the midday sun and refreeze on the frigid concrete sidewalk. Although the homeowner or business may not be able to clean their gutters in the inclement weather, they should spread additional ice melt to compensate for the extra ice accumulation.
Talk to the owner of the property. They may be more than willing to compensate you for any medical care or damages you received from the fall. If they refuse, you have all of the evidence you need to receive just compensation in civil court. For more information and advice, contact a personal injury attorney in your area.Share