Who Is Liable for a Slip and Fall Injury Resulting From a Broken Sidewalk?

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Who Is Liable for a Slip and Fall Injury Resulting From a Broken Sidewalk?

Author: Jay Howard

Simply tripping or falling because of a broken sidewalk does not mean there is automatically a liable party. Personal injury cases or claims are built on the theory of negligence. Therefore, an individual or entity must have been negligent, and that negligence must be the direct or proximate cause for you tripping or falling and injuring yourself. Property owners or municipalities (towns, cities, or governmental bodies) can only be held liable for slip-and-fall accidents on a street or sidewalk if there was negligence. Negligence is when a party’s action or inaction fails to adhere to the legal standard of reasonable care they were responsible for under the law. Proving negligence, especially as it pertains to a municipality, can be challenging because the fact that the sidewalk was broken, slippery, or otherwise unsafe does not make the city or town automatically negligent. 

Questions to Ask Yourself After a Slip-And-Fall Injury Caused by a Sidewalk

Before pursuing a personal injury claim, it’s important to know the validity of your claim. An experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer can help assess your case and provide guidance on who the liable party could be if you have a case. However, if you are unsure if it’s time to contact an attorney, consider the following questions and your answers to them. 

Was Your Fall Caused by a Foreign Object or a Static Defect?

Georgia law separates slip-and-fall accidents into foreign object cases and static defect cases. 

A static defect is a permanent or structural defect that includes things such as:

  • Stairs
  • Ramps
  • Doorways
  • Curb cuts
  • Potholes 
  • Uneven or broken sidewalks
  • Drain grates

Without a static defect, you often don’t have a case. Building a slip-and-fall case often requires proving that the existence of the static defect is a safety code violation. 

A foreign object case refers to slips-and-falls caused by things such as slipped liquids or misplaced rugs. 

Were You Aware of the Static Defect or Foreign Object?

In Georgia, if you were aware of the existence of the foreign object or static defect when you slipped and injured yourself—it’s unlikely you will have a case. Georgia law refers to this as “equal knowledge,” meaning that your knowledge of the potential hazard is equal to the municipality or property owner. One exception to this rule is if you were coming in or out of your home or apartment. 

Have You Walked Through the Area Before? 

If you’ve walked through the area before, the “prior traverse” rule will likely apply. This rule means that you had equal knowledge of the hazard and diminishes your chances of having a valid case. An exception may be made if you did not see the foreign object or static defect due to an emergency. 

Did You File an Incident Report? 

In evaluating the validity of your case, an attorney will likely advise you to file an incident report if you haven’t already. Having an incident report plays a significant role in the success and validity of your case. 

Were There Any Witnesses?

Witnesses can provide support and help validate your story. If there was anyone present at the time of your accident, it’s essential to obtain their name and contact information.

Consult an Atlanta Slip-And-Fall Attorney Today 

Knowing what steps to take after a slip-and-fall accident caused by a sidewalk can be challenging. Tabbaa Law is dedicated to assisting our clients and will do everything possible to ensure they understand their legal options. We have the extensive experience to provide you with robust legal representation and tirelessly pursue a favorable outcome. 

Schedule a consultation today, call (770) 370-7881 or fill out our contact form

Personal Injury