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Who is at fault if you slip and fall on the sidewalk?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Premises Liability |

Accidents can happen anywhere, and a slip and fall on the sidewalk can be quite a common occurrence. When it comes to determining fault, though, things can get a bit tricky.

Understanding the factors that contribute to sidewalk slips and falls can help you determine who is liable for your damages.

Property Owner Responsibility

The primary responsibility for preventing sidewalk slips and falls lies with the property owner. Property owners have a duty to maintain their sidewalks in a safe condition. This means regularly inspecting the sidewalk for potential hazards and promptly addressing any issues. If a property owner neglects their responsibility and fails to address hazardous conditions in a reasonable amount of time, they may be accountable for injuries resulting from a slip and fall.

Municipal Responsibility

In some cases, the responsibility for sidewalk maintenance falls on the municipality. City and town governments must ensure that public spaces, including sidewalks, are safe for use. If a slip-and-fall occurs due to a hazardous condition on a public sidewalk, the municipality may be at fault. Keep in mind that municipalities have some level of immunity, and pursuing a claim against them can be challenging.

Contributory Negligence

Determining fault is not always a straightforward process. The injured party’s actions may contribute to the slip and fall. For instance, wearing inappropriate footwear or engaging in risky behavior could impact the outcome of a liability claim. The concept of contributory negligence suggests that if the injured party shares some responsibility for the accident, it may affect their ability to recover damages.

Slip-and-fall accidents account for over 1 million emergency room visits each year. While many of these falls occur indoors, sidewalk accidents are no less grievous and can be even more strenuous due to the ambiguity of who might be responsible.