Who Is Liable If I Trip on the Sidewalk?
Pratfalls are funny in the movies, but if you’ve been injured in a fall on a sidewalk, it is likely that you don’t find anything funny about the situation. In many circumstances, it can be difficult to determine who exactly may be responsible, in order to get compensation for your injury. Here are some guidelines for determining who is liable if you trip on the sidewalk. If you have any further questions, reach out to a qualified Austin premises liability lawyer to discuss the specifics of your case.
Negligence by the Property Owner
In order to prove that someone else is liable for your injury, it is necessary to establish negligence on the part of the property owner. A fall that was caused by a damaged sidewalk or a sidewalk that was in poor repair may indicate negligence. Ice or other slippery conditions on the sidewalk may also point to negligence on the part of the property owner. In order to completely establish that the fall was the result of negligence, it must be shown that the property owner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous conditions and failed to remedy the situation or to warn those who use the sidewalk of the dangers.
Government Liability Is a Complex Subject
Who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk that caused your accident? That can often be difficult to determine. Local municipalities often set the responsibility for maintaining sidewalks. This means that the government of the property owner may be liable for your accident, and this will depend on the locality where your accident occurred. A city council member or other local government official may be able to provide information about local laws regarding sidewalk maintenance.
If it is determined that the government is responsible for maintaining the sidewalks, keep in mind that there are usually much stricter time periods for filing a claim against municipalities and the compensation that you may collect is often limited.
Who Is the Property Owner?
If the property owner is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk, you may still have some work ahead to determine who the responsible party is. A business owner or home resident may only be leasing the property and not be the property owner. Depending on their lease, they may have responsibility for the sidewalk or the property owner may retain that responsibility. For vacant properties, a real estate agent may be able to help you discover the property owner. The local assessor’s office can help you find that information based on the address. These offices are usually located in or near the courthouse.
Get Help From an Attorney
Should you still have difficulty in ascertaining who is liable for your accident, a personal injury attorney can provide valuable assistance. During your free consultation, the attorney can advise you on the strengths or weaknesses of your case, and they will be aware of property laws for your locale. An attorney can also provide invaluable aid in determining who the property owner is, and who is ultimately liable for your accident. Given the strict time limits for filing personal injury claims, especially against municipalities, it is generally advisable to seek counsel right away to begin the claims process.