Private vs. Public Slip and Fall Liability

March 31, 2020

Slip and fall accident victims can face serious injuries and overwhelming medical expenses. If the injuries are very significant, it can prevent the individual from returning to work, and lost wages can complicate matters even further. The question of who is liable for these expenses presents itself after an accident occurs, especially if another party’s negligence may have caused the accident.

Location and Property Condition

After the accident happens, it may not be clear if it was on public or private property. It could be a private sidewalk, street, or lawn. Most likely, it will occur on a public property owned by a business or government entity. The location of the slip and fall accident will make a difference as to how the claim proceeds.

In these cases, the property owner may only be liable for the injuries if the property was poorly maintained and if negligent actions directly caused the injury. Also, if they were not aware of the property’s poor condition, it could be hard to hold them accountable for the slip and fall accident.

Sidewalks and Walkways

Private property owners may be held accountable for maintaining sidewalks for visitors, although laws vary in localities. Some towns and cities maintain that certain sidewalks are public, and the maintenance falls in the hands of local authorities. Therefore, sidewalks can either be private or public property.

Generally, private sidewalks are located only on private property, this can also include walkways on private lawns or sidewalks within private housing developments. Public sidewalks and walkways may be considered separate private property from public streets.

Government Property

Pedestrians who slip and fall on government sidewalks face a set of different circumstances. It is important to keep in mind that municipalities are usually only responsible to remove ice and snow from public areas and the fronts of government buildings. Otherwise, the charges would likely have to be made against an individual property owner or private business.

If the accident did happen on a government-owned property, the victim should find out if there are any statutes of limitations for filing a claim. There may also be limits on the amount of damages one can receive.

Immediate Actions

After a slip and fall accident occurs, the victim should seek medical help as soon as possible. Even if there are no apparent injuries, they can show up afterwards. It is also helpful to take pictures at the scene when possible to establish a link between the cause of the slip and fall and the injuries. Anyone who witnessed the fall should be questioned, and their contact information recorded. If the victim’s clothing or property was damaged, this should also be documented with photos.

Property owners should also be contacted. To ensure that the correct party is held responsible for the slip and fall injuries, it is often recommended to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Media Personal Injury Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Provide Trusted Legal Guidance to Slip and Fall Accident Victims

Slip and fall accidents can occur when properties are not well maintained, resulting in serious injuries. Our skilled Media personal injury lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. will evaluate your case and help determine if you are eligible for compensation. Contact us online or call us at 610-565-3701 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we also serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.