Who Can Be Held Liable for a Fall on an Uneven Sidewalk or Street?

Posted On December 1, 2021 Pedestrian Safety

If you trip and fall while walking in Glendale, Arizona, you could suffer a serious injury such as a sprain or broken bone. If the sidewalk or street has a defect, such as an uneven surface or crack, you may be able to hold the owner or controller of the premises accountable for your accident. Learn who might be responsible for your fall on a public or private piece of land in Arizona.

When Can You File a Premises Liability Lawsuit?

A premises liability lawsuit holds a property owner accountable for hazards or defects on a property that injure visitors. Premises liability law in Arizona states that landowners and those who occupy properties have a legal responsibility to maintain the safety of the premises. This means that the property owner must take steps and do things that a reasonable and prudent property owner would under the same circumstances to prevent foreseeable injuries.

In general, you need five elements to file a premises liability claim in Arizona:

  1. You were lawfully on the property.
  2. The defendant was in charge of property maintenance or care.
  3. The defendant had reason to know about the uneven sidewalk or street.
  4. The property hazard was the direct cause of your trip and fall accident and injury.
  5. You suffered compensable damages in the accident, such as injuries or medical bills.

If you trip and fall on a property hazard, including an uneven sidewalk or street, you may have grounds to file a claim against the person or party responsible for property maintenance if these five elements are more likely to be true than not true. If the property owner knew or reasonably should have known about the uneven surface or hazard but failed to make prompt repairs, the owner is liable (financially responsible) for your related losses.

Government Liability for a Fall on Public Property

One of the main differences between a fall accident on a sidewalk or street and one inside of a business or home is the owner of the premises. If you trip and fall on private property, you can file a claim with the individual’s homeowners insurance company to recover compensation. If you fall on public property, however, your claim will be against the state, city or local municipality that owns the piece of land.

If you trip and fall on an uneven public sidewalk in Glendale, Arizona, for example, you may have grounds to bring a claim against the City of Glendale for failing to keep its public streets and sidewalks reasonably safe for pedestrians. Filing a lawsuit against a government entity comes with different rules and requirements than a case against a private party, however, as they fall under the Arizona Tort Claims Act.

According to Arizona Revised Statutes Section 12-821.01, claims against a public entity must be brought within 180 days of the accident or discovery of the injury. This is significantly shorter than the typical statute of limitations (deadline) on a personal injury case in Arizona of two years. If you miss your deadline or make any other mistakes when filing your claim, you could risk losing the right to recover financial compensation for your trip and fall accident. This is why it is important to work with an attorney who can assist you.

How to Prove Liability in a Sidewalk Fall Lawsuit

As the filing party or plaintiff in a premises liability lawsuit in Arizona, it is up to you or your attorney to prove your case. Take pictures while you are still at the scene of the accident, being sure to capture the uneven curb or sidewalk. Go to a hospital right away for medical treatment and follow your doctor’s orders. Documenting your accident and injuries is critical. Then, bring the documents and information you have about your case to a personal injury lawyer in Glendale for a free consultation. A lawyer can tell you if you have grounds for a lawsuit and can represent you during the legal process.