Can I Sue the City? Slip and Fall Claims

If you slip and fall in a city, you may be wondering, “Can I sue the city?”  Generally, it depends on the specific circumstances of your case and the specific laws of the city where the accident took place.  In some states, you need to file your intent of filing a lawsuit before actually filing the lawsuit.  Different states have different statutes of limitations that you must be aware of as well. 

What Is the City Liable For?

This depends on which city your slip and fall took place in.  Some jurisdictions will only allow you to sue for actual damages, which include medical bills and lost wages.  Suing for compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other similar claims will not be successful.

Proving Your Case

In order to win your case against the city in a slip and fall case, you need to prove that the city breached a legal duty to you.  A critical aspect of determining what the city’s legal duty is to you is how the eyes of the law classify you. 

You can be classified as an “invitee,” a “licensee,” or a “trespasser.”  An “invitee” is either a public visitor or a business visitor.  The owner of the land must use reasonable care to maintain his/her land and protect the invitee from foreseeable harm.  Additionally, the owner of the land must inspect for dangerous conditions.

A “licensee” is where you are invited somewhere, but no formal business is conducted.  The owner of the land must use reasonable care to make his/her property safe and to disclose any risks, but is not required to inspect for dangerous conditions. 

A “trespasser” is a person who is not invited to a specific location.  In that case, the owner of the land only needs to avoid acting willfully and recklessly in causing an injury in order to not be liable for an injury sustained by someone on his/her land.

In most cases, you will be considered an “invitee” to the city.  With that classification, the city has a duty to ensure that the public streets and surrounding areas are safe for you and/or to announce any possible dangers.  If the city does not do this, the city can be held liable for your injuries if you can prove that that failure caused your injuries.

To prove that the failure caused your injuries, you must show the following conditions:

  • The city created the hazard.
  • The city knew or should have known about the hazard.
  • The city failed to meet its responsibility by either removing or repairing the hazard.

Attaining Legal Help

Knowing when and how to sue a city for a slip and fall case can be a complicated matter.  An established, experienced attorney who practices in the city where you sustained injuries from a slip and fall event can provide sound legal advice on whether the city is responsible for your injuries and present the strongest possible case in order for you to receive the maximum amount of compensation possible.

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