If you slipped or tripped and fell due to an uneven sidewalk on public or private property, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the losses you suffered. If the entity that is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk was negligent in their duty, you can pursue payment for your resulting medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages related to your injuries.
However, filing a personal injury lawsuit isn’t the first step toward seeking compensation. Your attorney will typically start by negotiating with the responsible insurance company in pursuit of a fair settlement that covers the amount of compensation you need.
Homeowners and business owners are responsible for keeping their property safe, so their guests aren’t at risk of injury. Any property owner that neglects to maintain a safe environment that is free from hazards such as uneven sidewalks should bear the responsibility of paying damages when someone gets injured as a result.
At Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC, our dedicated personal injury lawyers have more than 50 years of combined experience handling complex premises liability cases. We know that seeking compensation from an aggressive insurance company or deep-pocketed property owner for your injuries can be overwhelming without legal experience. Let us focus on pursuing the money you’re owed, so you can focus on what is most important: your recovery.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Who Is Responsible for Sidewalk Accidents?
The person or entity that may be held liable for your sidewalk injury depends on the type of property where the accident occurred.
Both businesses and private property owners in Florida are required to carry insurance with general liability limits. This coverage is used to provide compensation to someone who is injured on that particular property.
If you were injured on an uneven sidewalk, your first step is to determine the correct person or entity responsible for maintaining that walkway. That’s where hiring an attorney from Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC, can benefit you right from the start.
We know how to locate the responsible party and obtain their insurance information so we can begin the process of filing an injury claim on your behalf. We will also collect extensive evidence from the scene of the accident and ensure your losses are properly documented.
If your injuries occurred on a sidewalk that is maintained by the city or another type of government entity, you would need to follow multiple steps before the negotiation of a settlement can even occur. There are strict deadlines you will need to adhere to, as well. When you’re injured on a government-maintained sidewalk in Florida, you first must notify that entity of the accident itself, including the address where it occurred and date it happened. In the notice, you must also include a brief description of the accident, how the entity was negligent, and a report describing your injuries and listing your medical bills to date.
If your injuries occurred on public property (such as in a parking lot or in front of a store at a shopping plaza), you need to determine who is responsible for maintaining that portion of the sidewalk. Many businesses are responsible for maintaining their exterior property. However, in shopping plazas and strip malls, the owner of the entire property could be responsible for maintenance. Thorough research of property records can help determine who notice of claim should be sent to in order to seek compensation.
Residential Property Owners
If the sidewalk was on someone’s private property, the homeowner could be held liable for your injury. Every homeowner has a section in their homeowner’s insurance policy that describes liability. If someone is injured on their property, they have a certain amount of coverage that can be paid to the injured party for damages. A claim will need to be filed with the homeowner’s insurance company to begin the settlement process.
How Are Claims Against the Government Different?
Pursuing personal injury compensation from government entities in Florida can be difficult. There is a strict process and deadlines that must be followed that are different from those involved with typical personal injury claims. For example, in claims against state agencies:
- You must give the agency notice of the claim in writing.
- You must wait 180 days for the entity to investigate the accident.
- You cannot file a lawsuit until after the 180-day investigation period, unless the claim is denied before then.
The statute of limitations for filing a premises liability claim against government entities is three years from the date of the accident. This is a shorter time limit than the four years allowed in cases against non-government defendants.
Common Causes of Sidewalk Accidents
Falls account for the leading cause of injury-related hospital admissions every year in the Sunshine State. Despite rules and regulations designed to ensure sidewalks are safe and properly maintained, injuries can and do happen.
Some of the most common causes of sidewalk accidents include:
- Uneven pavement
- Damaged grates and utility holes
- Loose materials
- Landscaping negligence
Companies, government entities, or homeowners responsible for maintaining sidewalks should make sure they are safe for pedestrians. This includes repairing dangers in a timely manner and posting warnings of hazards when necessary.
Injuries Caused by Falls on Sidewalks
Whatever the cause of your fall was, there is a range of injuries that can result. From broken bones and fractures to concussions and traumatic brain injuries, anything is possible when you trip or slip unexpectedly and fall on the hard concrete of a sidewalk.
The most common injuries that occur when someone falls on a sidewalk are:
- Back injuries
- Head or traumatic brain injuries
- Broken or sprained ankles
- Wrist and elbow injuries
- Knee injuries
- Pulled muscles
- Hip injuries
- Cuts and bruises
No matter the type of injuries you suffered, you should not be left to pay medical expenses and other related damages that were ultimately the result of someone else’s negligence. You deserve full and fair compensation.
At Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC, our lawyers will fight for the maximum payment you need to cover all the losses you are facing related to your fall. From your initial call to the resolution of your personal injury case, we will treat you with compassion and professionalism. To learn about your legal rights after a fall on an uneven sidewalk, please contact us now for a free consultation.
Tips for Protecting Your Rights After a Fall on a Sidewalk
There are some critical steps you should take after sustaining a sidewalk injury. Even if you’re unsure of whether you want to file a personal injury claim, you should still gather some necessary evidence.
Some victims of an accident like this will think it’s not worth it to pursue any legal action, but down the road, they change their minds. By then, the hazardous sidewalk may have been fixed, and there are no photos or records of it ever being broken, making it harder to prove your case.
That’s why obtaining key pieces of evidence is crucial in the beginning. Some of the evidence you’ll need to collect includes:
- Photos of the sidewalk. Take pictures of the sidewalk from various angles and include the crack, obstruction, etc., that caused your fall.
- Witness information. If anyone saw you fall, get their name and phone number so they can be contacted if necessary.
- Incident report. File a written report with the property owner with the basic details of what happened. Get a signed copy of this report.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible after the fall. Even if you think your injuries are minor, it’s prudent to have a medical professional do a checkup. Some injuries don’t have immediate symptoms but the pain and complications come on later.
- Don’t sign any sort of documentation regarding monetary compensation until you speak with a lawyer. If you’re unfamiliar with legal terms and contracts, you might not understand what you’re signing. You possibly could be signing away the right to file a lawsuit in the future or seek compensation from the liability insurance.
You should also refrain from saying anything that could come back to harm you in the future, such as “I’m ok” or “I don’t need to go to the doctor.” Any witness to your fall can remember this and use your words against you if your case should ever go to trial.
Our Firm is Here For You When You Need Us
The injury attorneys at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC, will provide you with a free consultation to discuss your case, so there’s absolutely no risk to speak with us. We can meet with you in person to discuss the details of your slip and fall accident to determine whether you have a solid personal injury claim.
If you know that someone’s uneven sidewalk directly caused your fall and resulting injuries, please contact us right now to learn about your legal rights.