Public Sidewalk Slips and Falls: Are You Liable?

Injuries received from a slip-and-fall accident can be painful and costly. Who is liable for the associated medical costs, lost wages, and emotional distress? To answer that question, 3 questions need to be asked and answered for the court:

·         Did the property owner have a duty of care to the injured person? Property owners have a legal obligation to avoid acts or omissions that might reasonably cause harm to individuals. This obligation is called duty of care.

·         Did the property owner use reasonable care in maintaining the property?

·         Did the lack of reasonable care on the part of the property owner result directly in an injury?

The Complexities of Slip-and-Fall Law

While these questions on their face seem straightforward, slip-and-fall law is very complicated.

·         First, who is the property owner? The owner of the sidewalk and the party legally responsible for maintaining the sidewalk may not be the same. In Florida, the law requires every responsible party to pay their share of the liability, so if you fail to name all defendants, you may not be able to receive full payment.

·         Second, what is reasonable care? Successful liability cases prove negligence, meaning that the property owner did something wrong that resulted in an injury and that the property owner knew the sidewalk was unsafe. Complicating the negligence issue is the concept of comparative negligence, which holds a careless injured individual responsible for their actions even if the owner is proven to be negligent.

·         Third, many municipalities are protected from liability by local laws. For example, some local laws require claims to be filed within a certain time deadline, some limit the amount injured parties can recover, and some can completely bar your claim if you file it against the wrong party. Knowing the intricacies of local laws is critical to a successful claim.

An experienced personal injury attorney in Bradenton can help you navigate the legal nuances of the 3 questions required to prevail in a sidewalk slip-and-fall claim.