Who is Liable for a Sidewalk Slip and Fall Injury?

An injury as a result of a sidewalk slip and fall may occur due to a variety of hazardous conditions, including wet or icy surfaces, debris, uneven pavement, defective drainage systems, and inadequate maintenance. In most cases, the person or entity who owns and controls the sidewalk (such as an individual homeowner, a business owner, or a government entity) is responsible for the maintenance and repair. However, it is not always clear-cut who owes a duty of care, as there may be several factors involved.

Determining Liability

Like other premises liability cases, the injured person must prove that the sidewalk owner had a duty to maintain it in a safe condition; and that this duty was breached, which led to the plaintiff’s fall. A successful claim may be affected by whether it was on private or public property, and whether there is enough evidence showing the owner(s) failure to maintain it properly. This means the injured person must also be able to prove that the sidewalk slips-and-fall was a result of an unsafe condition at the time, as well as show that they had no way of knowing or avoiding the hazard. Additionally, if it’s private property and the victim was not rightfully on the property, the owner is likely to argue that the plaintiff was trespassing and therefore not owed a duty of care.

Filing a Lawsuit

When it comes to proving liability, the burden of proof is on the injured individual. It is important to obtain medical attention immediately and to document any evidence related to the incident, as this will be needed if a lawsuit is to be filed. You also must show the state of the sidewalk at the time of your fall and demonstrate that it was unreasonably dangerous. This could include photos and any witnesses’ contacts who saw the incident.

When it’s a public sidewalk, simply falling is not enough to prove the city or county was negligent. The street or sidewalk must have been unsafe in an unreasonable way to give you grounds to file a claim. Additionally, if the injury occurred on public property, the victim must be aware of any notice requirements and statutes of limitations that may apply to the claim. Most states require individuals to complete an exhaustive claim-filing procedure (sometimes in as little as 30 days) to alert the relevant local government authority of the specific location and accurate circumstances about your accident. With private properties, most states give victims up to two years deadline to file a personal injury claim. In either of the two, sufficient evidence must be presented to prove that the owner or occupier of the property was negligent in maintaining safe conditions on their premises.


Determining liability in a sidewalk accident can be complex, as it involves an examination of the particular facts and circumstances that led to the injury. It can be hard to keep track of all the details but that shouldn’t deter you from seeking legal action. Generally, people have a legal right to pursue compensation for their injuries if they can prove negligence. It is important to work with an experienced premises liability attorney to ensure that all legal requirements are met and to better understand your rights.

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