How to Sue After an Ice-Related Injury:
Every winter, ice-coated sidewalks can potentially become a great threat to those of us who must brave the weather and leave the comfort of our houses. It isn’t uncommon for a particularly slippery area of ice to cause serious injury if you don’t see it in time. These injuries could land you in the hospital and possibly rack up a pretty significant hospital bill. It is unfair that you would be solely responsible for these fees, and you are probably left wondering if there is any legal action you can take in this situation. After all, isn’t it somebody’s responsibility to make sure ice and snow are cleared off of walkways or to put rock salt on the ground?
Who is Responsible?
You probably think of the sidewalks in your neighborhood and town as government property, but this isn’t always the case. Surprisingly, not all sidewalks are your local government’s responsibility. In many instances, owners of private property could be the ones liable for your fall. Both the owners of residential property and the owners of commercial property are responsible for the sidewalks in front of their businesses and houses. It is their expected duty to tend to these sidewalks in inclement weather conditions so they don’t pose a threat to people like you. But can you sue?
Several of your town’s sidewalks are expected to be maintained by your local government. It is their sole responsibility to manage rock salt and sand amounts or clear snow and ice-covered sidewalks completely and in a timely fashion. Their failure to do so could possibly be considered negligence, and if you fall as a result of that then you may have a claim against them in court. Below are the steps you would need to take in order to sue your government for injury damages.
Identify and seek out the proper government agency and file a notice of your claim with them. Be sure to submit all of their required paperwork and any additional documents they may need.
Wait the three to six months that the government is given before they have to reply. If you don’t hear from them and it has been over six months, proceed with the next step.
If your local government never gets back to you or is refusing to settle your claim for whatever reason, then you may file a lawsuit for damages relating to your injury. At this point, you should consider hiring an attorney and moving forward with the case.
Additionally, it is possible to file a claim against a private property owner, either commercial or residential. Both types of property owners are expected by law to tend to their sidewalks’ safety in a timely and reasonable manner. If you wish to sue a private property owner, you may follow the same steps that were outlined above. However, you may face the following difficulties.
The owner of the property may accuse you of being on their property illegally and without their permission. This would be considered trespassing and free them of liability.
Additionally, the property owner may accuse you of acting in a reckless fashion on their property, making you liable for your own injury.
While both of these situations are likely and can cause difficulties in filing your injury claim, it is still possible to work around them. Hiring a personal injury attorney could be beneficial to your case. If you hire one, they can further investigate your claim and evaluate the circumstances of the injury.