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Can I Sue if I Fall on a Sidewalk?

Most of us have probably seen other individuals slip and fall on a sidewalk and not thought much about the aftermath of the incident. However, if you or somebody you care about is injured in a sidewalk slip and fall, you may wonder if you can obtain compensation for your injuries and other losses. It is important to determine who, if anyone, can actually be held liable in the aftermath of a sidewalk slip and fall incident.

Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case

In order to win a slip and fall case, it is necessary to prove that the property owner was negligent in some way. Just because somebody slipped and fell on another person’s property does not necessarily mean that the property owner was negligent. Even if the sidewalk had some sort of condition that caused the slip and fall does not automatically mean that the property owner was negligent in their duties.

The first thing you and your slip and fall attorney in Irvine will need to determine after a sidewalk slip and fall is whether or not the sidewalk was in an unreasonably unsafe condition. Then, you will need to show that the property owner was negligent by proving that they knew or should reasonably have known the sidewalk was in an unreasonably unsafe condition.

If it can be shown that the sidewalk presented a hazard and that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard and failed to do anything to fix it, you will likely be able to hold the property owner liable for the incident.

Who Is Liable for Slip and Fall on a Public Sidewalk?

Many sidewalks are considered “public” sidewalks, which can complicate securing compensation. To be defined as a public sidewalk, this generally means that the sidewalk is inspected and maintained by a government entity in California. Personal injury cases on property owned by a government entity, whether that be a state, county, or city, are generally harder to pursue. There is usually a layer of confusion about government liability in these cases.

Special Rules for Municipalities That May Be Involved

For slip and fall injuries that occur on government property in California, the injury victims will have a shorter deadline to file their claim and a particular process they need to follow. In order to file a claim against a government entity in this state, the injury victim must give the government entity a notice of their claim. This may include filling out a report or sending a letter to the agency, but various agencies or municipalities also have claim forms that individuals can fill out to provide notice of their injury claim. It is crucial to work with a lawyer to ensure you include the correct information about the incident for your claim to be valid.

Injury victims in these cases need to be aware that they must file a notice of their injury claim with the government entity within six months from the date the injury occurred. This is a much shorter time frame than the California personal injury statute of limitations, which is typically two years from the date the injury occurs.

After a claim is filed against the government entity, they will have 45 days to respond or take action. If a claim is rejected, the injury victim will likely be allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit. There are varying timelines for when this lawsuit has to be filed at this point, depending on whether or not the government entity responded to the claim or failed to respond.

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