A Personal Injury Lawyer Explains Slip & Fall Accidents – Part 2
Part 2: Icy Sidewalks
You don’t need a personal injury lawyer to tell you that the risk of having a slip and fall accident increases significantly during the winter due to weather conditions that cause ice to form on roads, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots. But, if you are injured as the result of a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk, you do need a personal injury lawyer in order to find out if you have a viable claim for compensation. In order to make that determination there are several questions that must be answered.
Who is liable for personal injury?
Who, if anyone, can be held liable for your damages is not always obvious or easy to determine. Local laws vary from place to place. Also, different rules apply depending on whether the accident occurred on private or public property and who is responsible for maintaining the particular area where you fell. Sidewalks are almost always public property, but in urban areas the local government is responsible for maintaining them, while in suburbia, homeowners are usually responsible for clearing the sidewalks adjacent to their properties of snow and ice. If the accident occurred on a sidewalk for which the local municipality is responsible, you might be prevented from suing the city or township due to the legal doctrine of governmental (or sovereign) immunity. In many places you are permitted to bring a claim against a municipality, but the amount of damages that can be recovered is limited by law. In addition, most states impose very short deadlines for giving the municipality notice of a claim and starting a lawsuit.
Can you show negligence?
This is another area where the rules differ depending on a number of factors, such as the legal status of the injured party and type of property involved. The extent of the responsible property owner’s duty of reasonable care owed to a trespasser is different from the duty of care owed to an “invitee” (someone who is on the property for the owner’s benefit) or a “licensee” (a social guest). The type of property (e.g., residential, commercial, governmental) involved will also play a role in determining what is reasonable under the circumstances. For example: There is a difference between whether it is reasonable for a private homeowner to have cleared the sidewalk of an overnight accumulation of snow and ice by 6:30 a.m. as compared to whether it is reasonable for the owner of a local coffee shop that opens for business at 6:00 a.m. to have cleared the sidewalk by 6:30.
Other considerations involve potential defenses such as the “open and obvious” doctrine which place some of the fault on the injured party if the slippery condition of the sidewalk was apparent and could have been safely avoided.
What are your damages?
Damages in a slip and fall accident case typically include medical expenses and lost wages as well as pain and suffering, but there are other potential damages (such as a spouse’s claim for loss of support and companionship, loss of life’s pleasures, reimbursement for home help, and travel expenses, among others) that can be claimed if circumstances permit.
Get Experienced Help from a Personal Injury Lawyer at Alfred Abel Law Offices
An experienced personal injury lawyer can answer all of these questions and evaluate the relevant facts to determine how to achieve the best possible outcome under the particular circumstances of your case. Call today to set up a consultation.
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