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Who is Liable for a Trip and Fall on a Sidewalk?

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), over 8 million injured individuals were treated in emergency rooms across the country for injuries related to falls in 2019. Trips and falls can cause broken bones, usually in the wrists, hips, ankles, and arms. However, they can also result in head injuries, which could be particularly serious in older individuals or those who take blood-thinners.

Various factors can cause injuries after you slipped or tripped and fell on a sidewalk. These usually include uneven sidewalk surfaces due to breaks or cracks in the sidewalk and conditions that can make sidewalks slippery. To determine whom you should hold liable for a trip and fall sidewalk accident in Tampa, you should know about Florida’s premises liability statutes.

Basic Premises Liability Rules in Florida

Property owners have a legal duty to keep their properties reasonably safe, warn visitors of any hazards, and fix dangerous conditions in their properties. This means that if a property owner failed to act reasonably, the court could consider their actions negligent. Also, the court will evaluate the owner’s reasonableness by considering these factors:

  • Why the injured individual was on the property
  • How the owner uses the property, whether for commercial or private purposes
  • Whether the incident was foreseeable
  • Whether the property owner adequately warned the injured person about the dangerous condition

Premises Liability for Business Owners

The injured individual should prove that the business owner had constructive or actual knowledge of the unsafe condition prior to the injury’s occurrence and did not remedy it. In particular, this applies to transitory foreign substances, which are objects that shouldn’t be on the sidewalk because they may cause harm. For a trip and fall sidewalk accident, for instance, these could be glass shards and spilled liquor from a collapsed crate containing bottled liquor that the owner failed to clean up, resulting in the trip and fall.

Public Property and Premises Liability

A lot of sidewalks are not owned by specific businesses or people, making them public property. This means that, similar to highways, the responsibility to maintain these areas falls on the local governments or municipalities. While some cities require owners of adjacent properties to repair and maintain sidewalks, the city may ultimately be held liable in a trip and fall claim. But if a property owner makes the following modifications on a sidewalk, the owner’s liability may increase since these modifications create a legal obligation to ensure the safety of the pedestrians:

  • Planting trees or large plants
  • Installing sidewalk ramps
  • Repairing holes resulting from the city removing a fallen tree
  • Watering or mowing a berm or strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk

Seek Legal Help from an Experienced Tampa Trip and Fall Attorney Today

Liability rules for trip and fall sidewalk accidents can be confusing. If you’ve suffered injuries when you fell on a sidewalk, consult an experienced Tampa trip and fall attorney to learn about your legal rights and from whom you can pursue compensation. Call Tragos, Sartes, & Tragos at 813-223-6405 or schedule your free consultation online.