You’ve slipped. Who is Responsible?

You’re walking down the street in your city, chatting with a friend, when you unexpectedly step on an icy patch, fall down and injure yourself. Where does the liability fall in a public pedestrian accident? 


The most common types of slips or trips on public streets and sidewalks are due to ice and snow or broken streets or sidewalks. However, municipalities are rarely responsible for clearing away ice and snow on sidewalks in front of private residences and commercial buildings; they are generally only responsible for clearing away ice or snow on sidewalks in front of public buildings or areas. Thus, if you slip on ice or snow on a public sidewalk in a residential area, the city or town will not generally be liable; your claim will usually be against the owner of the premises that the sidewalk is in front of. But if you slip on ice or snow on a sidewalk in a commercial area, your claim could be against either the municipality or the premises owner, depending on your state’s laws.

Liability for Tripping On A Broken Street Or Sidewalk

A municipality certainly has the obligation to keep its streets and sidewalks in a reasonable state of repair. Falling into a hole or tripping over a broken piece of sidewalk or street can give rise to a negligence claim, depending on the size of the hole or the break in the sidewalk or street. You should take pictures immediately.

What Are The Time And Notice Deadlines For Filing A Claim Or A Lawsuit Against The City Or Town?

These deadlines differ from state to state, but can include the following:

These requirements are applied more strictly in some states than in others. In some states, your claim will be barred if you send your notice to the wrong municipal department, even though it might just be down the hall from the correct department.

To make sure that you satisfy all of your state’s notification requirements, if you injured yourself on a public street or sidewalk, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact The Law Offices of Dussault & Zatir for assistance and representation.