In our blog we will try to provide you with general information regarding car accidents, motorcycle crashes, and personal injury cases, as well as updates in important cases and statutes dealing with family law in New Hampshire. This is not to be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and small facts can make a difference.
Accidents Involving Sidewalk Slip and Falls: Can I Sue My City?
In order to legally hold a town or city liable for injuries incurred for slips and falls on public sidewalks and streets, as with the majority of personal injury claims, negligence must be proven. In most states, municipalities are liable for their negligence in maintaining public sidewalks and streets, but there are two primary limitations on an injured party’s legal right to sue a county, city, or other municipality.
First and foremost, each state maintains strict time and notice deadlines for filing a personal injury claim. For example, in the state of New Hampshire, a personal injury claim must be filed within three of the date the incident occurred. Secondly, many states have enacted monetary limits on how much damages can be recovered from a municipality or state should the plaintiff win their case.
When Is a Town or City Legally Responsible for a Slip and Fall Accident on a Public Sidewalk or Street?
A town or city is only considered liable for a slip and fall incident on a sidewalk or street if negligence occurred and the negligence was the direct cause of a victim’s accident. Simply because an individual falls on a sidewalk or street does not mean that the town or city was negligent. Furthermore, simply because there was a slippery surface or similar unsafe condition on the sidewalk or street does not mean that the town or city was negligent. Consequently, in order to prove that a municipality acted in a negligent manner, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the municipality knew of, or should have had reasonable knowledge of, the unsafe conditions.
Liability For Slipping On Snow or Ice
The most frequent form of slip and falls on public sidewalks and streets are caused by snowy or icy conditions or broken sidewalks or streets. However, it is rare for a particular municipality to be responsible for removing snow and ice on sidewalks in front of commercial buildings or private residences. Generally, they are only considered responsible for clearing sidewalks in front of public areas or buildings. Consequently, if an individual slips on snow or ice on a public sidewalk in front of a residential area, the town or city cannot be held legally liable. A personal injury claim should be filed against the owner of the property in which the sidewalk is in front of. If an individual slips and falls on snow or ice on a sidewalk in front of a commercial building or area, then a personal injury claim could potentially be filed against either the premises owner or a municipality, depending upon a state’s laws.
As with any accident involving a slip and fall, pictures should be taken of the scene of an accident, the clothes the plaintiff is wearing, and any injuries or bruises suffered the moment the victim is able to safely stand up. Icy and snowy conditions can alter within moments. Ice can be cleared away or melt. Without having photos to prove snowy and icy conditions at the time the accident occurred, it can be nigh unto impossible to successfully prove a personal injury claim.
Liability For Falling On a Broken Sidewalk or Street
A municipality has a specific obligation to maintain its sidewalks and streets within a reasonable state of repair. Tripping over a poorly maintained section of sidewalk or falling into a hole can create a sound argument for a personal injury claim against a municipality, depending upon the size of the break or the hole. This is another scenario in which pictures should be taken immediately. In a slip and fall accident, we cannot emphasize how much a picture truly is worth a thousand words.
What Is the Time Frame For Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against a Municipality?
As aforementioned, in the state of New Hampshire, a personal injury claim must be filed within three years of the date of the accident. Otherwise, a victim forfeits the legal right to collect compensation for their injuries. Deadlines differ from one state to the next, but can also include the following:
· A deadline may be as short as 30 days in which to notify the appropriate municipal department of the town or city in writing of the specific location of an accident and the precise circumstances surrounding the incident.
· A specific deadline, referred to as the statute of limitations, against the town or city.
Such requirements are more strictly applied in some states over others. It is possible that a plaintiff can be barred from filing a legal claim against a town or city if they send a notice to the wrong municipal department, even though the right department might be just down the hall from the right office.
Furthermore, a plaintiff must ensure that their personal injury claim is made against the right government entity initially. For example, if a plaintiff were to trip over the decaying remains of a bus stop sign and notice is provided to the city alone. However, if state law determines that the public transportation agency, rather than the town or city, is responsible for maintaining the condition of bus stop signs, then the municipality cannot be held legally liable in a lawsuit. If the plaintiff does not provide the public transportation agency with proper notice within the appropriate time frame, then they could be barred altogether from filing a legal claim.
Find Experienced Legal Representation Today
To determine if you have a viable personal injury lawsuit against your municipality in a slip and fall accident, it is imperative for you to retain the services of an experienced NH personal injury lawyer. This is where our attorneys can step in to offer their assistance. Your initial consultation is 100% free, and our personal injury attorneys will provide you with an honest assessment of your case and recommend an appropriate course of action. In personal injury claims, time is of the essence, do don’t delay in contacting us today.
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This site does not constitute legal advice. An attorney client relationship is formed only after an agreement is entered into between an Attorney of Liberty Legal and a client is reached. Past results do not guarantee future results.
Disclaimer: Some cases are referred to other law firms with consent of client.
Liberty Legal Services PLLC. Main office: 250 Commercial St #3020 Manchester NH 03101. (603) 262-3196