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Who Is Liable If I Slip and Fall on the Sidewalk?

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A lot of our culture’s humor is based on physical comedy. Actors and comedians can always get a quick laugh from slipping and falling. However, ordinary people who slip and fall don’t always get up and laugh it off.

Many times, extreme medical problems result from these falls, and this leads to the legal side of it all. Someone has to pay for these injuries and subsequent medical treatments. But who?

If you fall in a building or on a person’s property, it’ll likely be easy to determine that the property owner should be held liable for your injuries. But what if you fall somewhere where the person responsible for keeping the property safe is less easy to identify? What if you fall, for example, on a sidewalk?

Who Is Responsible for Sidewalks?

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There are laws in place to clearly lay out terms of premises liability in regard to sidewalks. Many states claim that the owner of the property that touches any sidewalk will be liable for any injury that is proximately caused by the failure to maintain safe conditions of said sidewalk.

In Indiana, we know all too well that one of the most dangerous conditions that we might see on a sidewalk is the accumulation of snow and ice. If a property owner fails to maintain safe conditions on the sidewalk that runs through his property, he can be held liable for any slip and fall injuries that could occur as a result.

However, the law is not always so easy. While it would be easier to simply state that the property owner is responsible and move on, like most cases, every instance is different, and these differences can directly affect who is liable.

One unique type of case to consider is a case of “out of possession” commercial landowners. In most of these cases, the owners transfer control of the premises to a commercial tenant.

So who should be responsible in the case of someone who slips and falls on an icy sidewalk?

  • Landowner: Surely it would be the landowner still, right? He is the owner, and the law states it is the responsibility of the owner.
  • Property Manager: But wait, the owner entrusted the land to someone else. When that new person took on the management of the property, the sidewalk became her liability.
  • City: Hang on. What if the property manager did clear the sidewalk, but the city didn’t fix its dangerous cracks or height differentials? Is the local government responsible?
  • The Victim: Do we blame the victim? He knew it was snowing and that the sidewalks were likely to be icy, yet he still insisted on going on a walk that day.

As you can see, there is no easy answer. At the end of the day there is a lot of money at stake, and when a lot of money is at stake, a lot of consideration must take place.

These cases will typically require difficult negotiations, and that is why it is important for you to employ an attorney that you trust to fight on your side. Call Hensley Legal Group today to set up a free consultation, or contact us online.