Slips and Falls on Municipal Property
Municipal property carries expectations of care and general upkeep. When it is the site of a slip and fall injury, an individual should rightly be concerned about whether the municipality fulfilled its duties in keeping the property safe. There might be issues of disrepair or the failure to clear ice and snow. Even if the injured person is unsure of who was at fault, they should seek out a free no-obligation legal consultation with Futerman Partners LLP to explore their options and protect their rights.
Sidewalks are common sites of slips and falls and thus, injuries. However, it is not well known that an injured person, who is injured by ice and snow on a municipal sidewalk, must notify the municipality within a very short time frame, to preserve their right to seek compensation. In many cases, the injured person has only a matter of days from the time of the slip and fall to give written notice to municipal authorities; that differs from injuries occurring on private and commercial property and forms an integral part of any successful claim.
The law exists to protect municipalities from frivolous lawsuits and unscrupulous individuals who would see compensation awarded through fraud as a victimless crime. In cases of a catastrophic injury or other extenuating circumstances, the brief window for notification could be deemed unreasonable in certain cases and extended.
However, what defines a reasonable excuse for failing to meet the deadline can be a source of much scrutiny from the municipality. An injured person will need the help of a legal team that specializes in such claims, to monitor the medical condition and examinations and to garner evidence that might be a valid reason for missing the deadline.
Beyond the strict timeline, an injured person may also have to establish “gross negligence” on the part of the municipality, which is a higher standard than for similar accidents on private property. Safety inspections and maintenance standards can differ among the different types of properties; this is the case because the municipality’s staff generally have to cover a large territory and might not be liable for damages, if they fail to respond immediately to a potential problem. The test for “gross negligence”, in a case involving snow and ice on a municipal sidewalk, is determined on a case by case basis and courts have declared that the standard must be viewed through a lens of common sense.
If you’ve suffered an injury as a result of a slip and fall on municipal sidewalk due to ice and snow or an issue of disrepair, it is important to contact a legal representative right away. In municipal-property cases timing and an experienced personal injury lawyer are critical to a successful claim.