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Slip and Fall Accidents in a Public Environment: Who Can Be Held Liable?

Your life can change in an instant if you suffer a horrendous accident which leaves you with injuries and even a disability that means you require extensive and ongoing medical attention.

This would be the scenario after a brain injury, for instance, and even if you suffer a slip and fall accident that is far less severe than that it could be that you need to get some professional guidance on how to claim for compensation.

If you are involved in an accident that happens in a public space it can be difficult trying to work out who is liable for the injuries you have sustained and who is going to pay for any medical bills and other compensation that you might be entitled to?

Here is a look what your options are when you suffer a slip or fall in a public environment and who might be liable.

What is a slip and fall accident?

A good starting point would be to describe, in broad terms, what is mean by a slip and fall accident.

Although the description is fairly self-explanatory it should be noted that this is basically a generic term to describe a vast amount of different accident scenarios and every case will be treated on its own merit as the circumstances will be slightly different each time.

The fundamental rule to remember is that you must have suffered some sort of injury, even if it is considered to be minor, in order to be in a position to make a claim for compensation.

Someone has to take responsibility

If you are in a building or on a property where it can be easily identified who the owner is that should make it fairly straightforward to determine who is liable.

Sometimes, when you suffer an accident in a public space it is not so easy to establish who is at fault.

There is no specific way to determine liability and it is often the case that every potential case will hinge on whether the property or landowner has not taken reasonable steps to ensure that an accident could have been avoided.

A cracked public sidewalk, for instance, could cause someone to suffer a fall and this could have been avoided if the damage had been repaired.

This would be a typical scenario where it could be argued that the accident was caused by the owner leaving their property in a dangerous condition and where you could not have been expected to avoid the injury occurring.

It is almost always best to leave the arguing about liability and negotiating compensation with someone who has plenty of prior knowledge and experience of these sort of circumstances and getting some professional legal help is probably going to be a smart move.

Different circumstances when it comes to government property

There are some well-established guidelines when it comes to proving liability when the accident has happened on a residential or commercial property where you can easily identify who the landlord or building owner is.

When it comes to suffering an accident on government property a different set of rules tend to apply.

If you suffer a slip and fall injury on a property that is designated as being under public ownership, either a local state or federal government body, there are far stricter liability rules that will apply under these circumstances.

Your lawyer will know that there are some quite demanding notice requirements as well as some expansive immunity guidelines that can occasionally provide a layer of protection from prosecution for various government entities.

What about extreme weather?

The prospect of extreme weather conditions such as snowstorms and blizzards make it tricky to claim in those sort of circumstances.

You would expect efforts to be made to clear pathways from snow and ice and that means there is still the potential to make a claim if it is clear that the government has not taken reasonable steps to make the area safe.

Claiming for an injury in extreme weather is not so easy but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a claim if the circumstances suggest that the accident was caused by a failure to deal with a foreseeable risk situation.

Local codes and regulations

There is no definitive answer to proving liability and that is why each compensation case has to be assessed individually.

As already outlined, suffering a slip or fall on government property changes the situation and it needs to be noted that local codes and regulations will be applicable under these circumstances.

These codes and regulations can vary across different states and localities, which is another reason to use a legal professional who has knowledge of what these different rules are.

Whatever specific codes and regulations apply to your accident scenario will have a strong bearing on who is considered to be liable for the injury you have sustained on government property.

It should not come as a surprise that government bodies are constantly defending compensation claims and because they enjoy a deeper level of immunity compared to a private landlord or property owner you need to be able to have someone on your side who knows how to present a credible argument as to why you deserve recompense for your injuries.

Prior knowledge

What is often required when you are considering filing a claim for a slip and fall injury is to prove that the property owner should have known that there was a chance of an accident happening.

If they could have been expected to take action to avoid an accident happening, but didn’t, this would clearly be a situation where they should have known that an injury could have been caused and could, arguably, be found liable for failing to act.

There are some cases where it can be more challenging to prove that someone like a government body has acted negligently and others where it is really clear that your injury could have been avoided with due diligence.

If you are the victim of a slip and fall accident in a public environment you might need some professional help to get the compensation you deserve and to help you get your life back on track after the incident.


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