Anyone who lives in a snowy climate will know how easy it can be to slip on a patch of ice while walking down the street. While this might be a very common reason for people to fall on a sidewalk, it is only one of the many things that can cause people can injure themselves while walking down the street – others include cracks, potholes, uneven surfaces, or items like slippery leaves, toys or branches.
The CDC reports that almost 20,000 slip and fall accidents occur every year, and about half of these are caused by the sorts of things mentioned above. Thankfully, in the majority of these cases, the result is little more than a loss of dignity and perhaps a skinned knee or bruise. However, in some cases serious and even life-changing injuries can occur leading to long-term or permanent disability and even death.
Sometimes these falls are genuine accidents, but in other cases they are the result of negligence on the part of a third party. Such injuries may be considered “personal injuries” and if you have been injured in this way you may be entitled to compensation.
What is a personal injury?
Not all injuries are considered to be “personal injuries” under the law. In order to qualify for compensation, there must be a finding of liability on the part of a third party. This means that the injury was caused by another person’s actions or inactions. In order to qualify for compensation, you must have suffered from damages as a result. This means that if you fell but injured yourself only slightly and had no medical bills or out of pocket expenses, then there is no basis for a claim. It is important to note that damages are related only the injury itself. If you fell and broke your phone as a result, you are not considered to have suffered a personal injury.
Who is liable for my fall?
The determination of liability is not always a straight-forward thing, especially when it comes to slip and fall accidents. This is because there is some leeway given to property owners to have a reasonable amount of time to discover and repair a problem with their sidewalk. The most obvious case in which this would be relevant is with snow and ice. If you fall on a snowy sidewalk at 5am after a snowstorm, it may not be reasonable to expect that the owner would have had time to clear the snow, or perhaps even to know about it. However, if you slip and fall mid-day, it becomes easier to argue that the owner is liable for his or her failure to clear the sidewalk. In the case of city sidewalks, there is also some leeway. Because it is not considered reasonable for cities to continually inspect every sidewalk in the jurisdiction, it is possible that they may not be considered liable for an injury unless they have ignored a reported sidewalk problem.
Because of this space for interpretation, it is very important to seek legal advice when you have experienced and injury in a slip and fall, whether it was New York sidewalk injury caused by a pothole, a trip over a child’s toy left on the sidewalk, or a slip on a snowy sidewalk in front of a private home. Be sure that you don’t miss the opportunity to receive the compensation to which you may be entitled.