Slip and Fall on a Public Sidewalk — Who is Liable?
When incidents occur in the public domain, deciphering who is at fault can be difficult.
Slip and fall incidents happen regularly — a wet surface poolside, a debris-ridden sidewalk by a construction site, or an uneven staircase — and they can have lasting health effects, depending on the severity of your injuries.
When it comes to a public sidewalk, though, the question morphs from, “Who is liable?” to, “Is anyone liable?”
In any personal injury case, negligence must be present to make the case actionable by way of an insurance claim or lawsuit. Negligence in Florida is present when an individual or entity who is responsible for your safety and well-being fails to ensure your safety through either inaction or improper action. If that inaction results in an injury suffered by you, the individual or entity may be considered to be negligent.
Slip and Fall Cases and Negligence
To win a slip and fall case, you have to prove that the property owner or entity that owns the property was negligent, causing you to sustain injuries. Merely falling and hurting yourself does not constitute negligence on the part of the property owner. What does constitute negligence in this case would be a scenario in which the sidewalk has become “unreasonably” unsafe for anyone who encounters it, meaning the property owner or municipality could be considered liable for your injuries. To win, you have to prove that the property owner was aware or it’s reasonable that they should have been aware of the poor conditions present in the sidewalk, creating a dangerous situation.
Liability for Public Sidewalks
In general in Florida, cities and municipalities are tasked with the upkeep of sidewalks, and could thus be held liable in an injury case related to a slip and fall incident. This is not a hard and fast rule in the state, however, as some municipal or local ordinances may add different elements to the rules governing a slip and fall in your neighborhood. In some areas, homeowners are tasked with upkeep of sidewalks, depending on the specifics of their deed and rules in their municipality. So, in general, a municipality, a property owner or both could be considered liable in a slip and fall case, depending on the specific local ordinances.
Filing a claim or lawsuit against a municipality or state often has special rules, as well. In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a claim against the state is shorter than in other cases. A plaintiff has three years, as opposed to four in cases against private defendants, to file a claim or suit against the state of Florida.
What’s more, you can’t simply file a lawsuit in court against a state or city government, like you might in another circumstance. You must first file a “notice of claim” with the government entity. In Florida, all notice of claim documents must be sent to the Florida Department of Financial Services.
Winning Your Case
After you’ve documented the unsafe conditions with photographs and contacted any witnesses to the incident, you should contact an experienced attorney to help you file your claim or lawsuit. If you’re in Broward County, Florida, contact the lawyers at Boone & Davis today. We are prepared to assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve.