Who is responsible for a sidewalk slip and fall?

| Feb 24, 2021 | Premises Liability

Slip and fall accidents in Georgia and around the country make up a large portion of emergency room visits yearly, especially in bad weather. In most cases, the business owner could be held liable under premises law. However, sidewalks are commonly public property, which makes it tricky knowing who to hold responsible.

Premises liability and reasonable care

Premises law holds property owners responsible for keeping their premises reasonably free from known hazards. Some states have a natural accumulation rule, which means property owners are under no obligation to remove naturally occurring precipitation.

Georgia does not apply the natural accumulation law; the state requires property owners to keep sidewalks free of precipitation and hazards. Exercising reasonable care may include warning visitors with signs and ensuring prompt removal or repair of hazards. Property owners who do not follow the law regarding reasonable care commonly face fines.

Proving a claim

To have a successful lawsuit, the injured party must prove several elements. One is establishing who owns the property, which gives them the duty of care. The injured party could pursue a claim against a private property owner, a municipality or landlord.

The town or city commonly owns most of the sidewalks in the area, such as in a strip mall or in front of the post office. If the city failed to fix uneven sidewalks from improper installation or remove tree roots, they could be responsible. Private buildings may be owned by a landlord or private individual.

In addition, it must be proven that a danger existed that the owner had plenty of time to know of and correct, but they acted negligently, failing to remove it. Whether the owner knew about the hazard usually makes a difference in the outcome of the case. For example, the owner may not have known about natural snow accumulation or a liquid substance on the sidewalk that someone walking by spilled.

Premises liability law doesn’t cover all slip and fall injuries. If an injured person is unsure about their case, they should seek an attorney.