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Icy sidewalks routinely become an increasing threat as winter closes its icy grip on the fading days of fall. And while it may be possible for some to stay inside their homes until the thaw, the average person is likely to slip and fall on an icy patch on a sidewalk, possibly causing serious injury.
While you may think of sidewalks as a part of a city or local government's responsibility, private property owners may actually be the ones responsible for your frozen misstep.
So can you sue over slip-and-fall injuries on icy sidewalks?
Suing Local Governments
Many of the sidewalks in your town or municipality will be the property of the local government, which will be held responsible for maintaining these sidewalks in a reasonable manner. The government can be brought to task on injuries that are caused by its negligence (e.g., failure to salt and/or plow the sidewalks), but there are some extra steps required.
In order to pursue any claim against the government (local, state, or federal), you'll need to first file a notice of claim with the appropriate government agency. In many cases, filing this notice will give the government anywhere from three to six months to respond to your icy-sidewalk injury claim.
If the government fails to respond, settle, or take responsibility for your injury, you may then file a lawsuit against that government entity for your injury damages.
Suing Private Property Owners
Both residential and commercial property owners can be sued for the icy sidewalks which are under their control. Although the law treats business visitors slightly differently than house guests, both residential and commercial property owners owe their invitees the duty to take reasonable steps to keep the sidewalks safe. And depending on the circumstances, it may be completely reasonable to inspect and/or clear the sidewalks of dangerous ice.
Of course, the property owner (government or otherwise) may try to claim that you were trespassing or had no consent to be on that icy path. Further still, the land owner may try to assert that you were acting negligently when you injured yourself on the icy patch.
Not to worry; an experienced personal injury attorney can help evaluate your icy sidewalk case no matter what the circumstances.