Who Is Responsible When You Fall On The Sidewalk?

woman who’s fallen on a snowy sidewalk

Accidents can happen anywhere, but it can be particularly frustrating when a preventable injury occurs. Figuring out who may be responsible when you fall on the sidewalk can be challenging — just because you’re injured, it doesn’t mean that someone else was negligent. Our premises liability lawyers at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad understand how to determine fault in these types of cases and help clients hold liable parties accountable when they fail to keep their premises safe.

What Is Premises Liability?

A personal injury claim for a sidewalk fall is typically considered a premises liability case. Business and property owners have a legal obligation to make sure their premises are safe for others. When they fail to uphold this duty and someone gets hurt, they may be responsible for damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Falls On Public Sidewalks

It can be tricky to determine who is liable when you slip, trip, or fall on a public sidewalk. Each state and municipality have its own rules. In some jurisdictions, the property owner that abuts a sidewalk is responsible for its upkeep, which includes clearing and salting snow and ice in the winter. In other cases, a municipality and a private owner may both be responsible for damages.

Discerning who may be at fault for your injuries can be virtually impossible if you’re unfamiliar with the law. In these cases, having an experienced premises liability lawyer evaluate your claim is critical.

Special Rules Apply When A Municipality May Be Liable

There are strict rules for bringing a personal injury claim against a municipality in Pennsylvania. Depending on where the sidewalk fall happened, you may be required to submit a Notice of Claim before you can even take action against a municipality. In some states, municipalities and other government agencies are shielded from liability altogether, or there are limits on how much an injured victim can recover. There are often tight deadlines that don’t give injured victims much time to file a Notice of Claim.

A seasoned personal injury lawyer can help to ensure important deadlines are met and all paperwork is filled out and submitted, as required. Recovering compensation from a municipality or state is challenging. Attempting to do it on your own can result in no recovery at all.

Sidewalks And Walkways On Private Property

If you fall on a sidewalk owned by a private entity, such as a business or individual, figuring out who may be responsible may be more straightforward. For example, if you slip and fall outside a grocery store in a suburban area because ice and snow wasn’t cleared away, you may be entitled to bring a claim against the owner of the store and/or shopping center because they were negligent in keeping the sidewalk free of hazards.

Proving Liability In Sidewalk Fall Cases

In any personal injury claim, you must prove liability. After a slip and fall sidewalk accident, it’s important to collect as much evidence as you can at the scene. Taking photos of the area where the accident occurred, your injuries, clothes, and any other evidence are crucial. For example, if you tripped and fell because a chunk of concrete came loose on a sidewalk, it can easily be fixed the same day or the next. Without photos, you’ll be hard-pressed to prove the dangerous condition of the sidewalk when your injury occurred.

Part of assigning liability is proving that a party was negligent. Another factor that can bolster a sidewalk fall claim is if a business, individual, or municipality received complaints about the damaged sidewalk. If they knew the sidewalk was defective and didn’t take steps to repair it, your attorney might be able to build a strong premises liability case against them. These types of cases are complex, but if you have an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side, your chances of recovering compensation are definitely better than if you go it alone.

Contact An Attorney To Learn More About Responsibility For Sidewalk Falls

For more than 30 years, our premises liability lawyers at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad have helped victims throughout Eastern Pennsylvania recover maximum compensation for their injuries. For a free evaluation of your sidewalk fall claim, contact us online or call our Bethlehem office at 610-867-2900. We have additional locations in Northampton, Lehigh, Berks, and Monroe Counties.


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