Slipping and falling on a public sidewalk can lead to serious injuries, including:
- Head injuries
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Ankle and foot injuries
- Wrist and hand injuries
These injuries can be painful, debilitating, and expensive. For this reason, it is imperative that you understand how your sidewalk slip and fall accident took place, who was at fault for your injuries, and who is responsible for damages, which could include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
In this post, we will take a closer look at how sidewalk injuries happen, who may be responsible for the sidewalk, and who might be at fault for the accident.
How Sidewalk Slip & Fall Accidents Happen
Many people, especially those who live in towns and cities, use sidewalks every day as they commute to work, visit friends and family, run errands, or simply get some exercise. Under the law, sidewalks should be maintained so that they are reasonable safe for the general public to use.
The most common causes of sidewalk slip and fall accidents are:
- Rain, snow, and ice. One of the most common causes of sidewalk slip and falls is weather-related hazards, which can include snow, ice, and rain. Those who own the sidewalks are responsible under the law to keep sidewalks reasonable clear during all weather conditions. If they do not, they could be liable for any accidents that take place due to weather-related hazards.
- Cracks and bulges. Old sidewalks can have cracks, dips, and missing concrete. In addition, tree roots or water damage can cause bulges. All of these maintenance issues can create uneven surfaces and dangerous conditions that lead to trips, slips, and falls. The owner of the sidewalk is responsible for repairs.
- Spills and other hazards. Someone may have spilled a slippery substance on the sidewalk, such as oil, or someone may have left a hazard on a sidewalk, such as an electrical cord. In these cases, the party that created the hazard, or the party who owns the sidewalk could be at fault.
- Human error. It’s important to note that some sidewalk slips and falls may simply be due to clumsiness, distraction, or not paying attention to your surroundings. In these cases, the person who fell may be at fault for their accident – to be sure, speak to a West Virginia slip and fall lawyer about your case.
Determining Negligence in a Sidewalk Slip & Fall Accident
When you slip and fall on a sidewalk, and the slip and fall was due to the negligence of the person or party maintaining the sidewalk, it is important to determine who owns and maintains the area. In some towns and cities, the homeowner of business that owns the property that the sidewalk crosses is in charge of clearing snow and ice as well as repairing cracks and bulges. In other municipalities, the town or city itself owns and maintains the sidewalks. Ultimately, the party who is responsible for the safety of the sidewalk may also be responsible for damages.
What to Do After a Sidewalk Slip & Fall Accident
Even if you are not at fault for your sidewalk slip and fall accident, it may be difficult to prove the at-fault party’s negligence without the proper evidence. For this reason, it is vital that you take the following steps after a sidewalk injury:
- See medical attention for your injuries and follow your doctor’s orders.
- Document your fall by writing down everything you remember about the incident.
- Take pictures if possible.
- Collect witness statements if possible.
- Keep track of medical information and medical bills.
- Keep track of lost wages and other damages.
- Do not give a recorded statement about your fall to an insurance company.
- Speak to a West Virginia injury attorney about your case.
A slip and fall on a sidewalk can be painful, stressful, embarrassing, and expensive. Make sure that you secure the justice and compensation that you need so that you can move forward from your accident and live your life.