Slip, trip, and fall accidents happen more frequently than most people realize. According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), slipping and falling causes more than 8 million emergency room visits per year. These accidents might occur at work, in a parking garage, at a personal stall or shop, or on a sidewalk used by the general public. 

In this article, we will answer the question, “can I sue if I fall on a sidewalk in Houston,” and we’ll also examine the legal rights of people who fall on a sidewalk, including who is responsible for an uneven sidewalk that results in a “slip and fall” case. 

Understanding Premises Liability

Before we answer the age-old question of whether you can sue for a trip and fall on an uneven sidewalk, it’s essential to understand premises liability. Premises liability is a division of personal injury law that covers trips and falls. It is frequently used when someone trips and falls on someone else’s property. Property, in this context, could be a sidewalk or a private building. 

Property owners generally have a duty of care to those who visit their property, but it varies depending on the status of the visitor. There are three types of status for the purposes of premises liability law: licensees, invitees, and trespassers.

You’re considered a licensee when you are invited to a property for a non-business purpose, an invitee when you visit a property for a business purpose, and a trespasser when you visit a property without the owner’s permission. Property owners have the highest duty of care toward invitees, a lower duty of care to licensees, and little-to-no duty of care toward trespassers.

When You May Be Able to Sue the City

Now, you may be wondering, can you sue the city for uneven sidewalks that cause an injury? The answer is a “maybe.” You may be able to sue the city if you slip and fall on a public sidewalk if the accident is caused by the city’s negligence.

Government entities such as the city are supposed to ensure the sidewalk is not dangerous. The amount a pedestrian can recover depends on the city where the incident occurred and whether there were any mitigating factors or defenses. For instance, one popular defense is contributory negligence.

To prove this, however, the city would have to prove that you were partly or fully at fault for your own injuries.

If you’re an individual who plans to seek a premises liability claim for your accident, you must first determine whether the sidewalk is private or public before submitting a claim for injuries. 

Determining Liability in Houston Slip and Fall Cases

The City of Houston is typically responsible for slip and fall accidents that happen on walkways and sidewalks owned by the city. Previously, the theory of sovereign immunity made it difficult to recover damages for injuries sustained. However, the  Texas Tort Claims Act Section 101.022 provides that the city may be held accountable for a premise liability claim. 

As such, pedestrians who are injured on public sidewalks in Houston may file a lawsuit against the city, county, town, or state government agency. To win a lawsuit after an injury, you must prove that the city:

  • has a duty to care for the property
  • breached that duty by not properly caring for the property
  • that breach that caused your injury
  • you suffered harm as a result of the breach

Although public sidewalks are city-owned, the city must treat you similarly to how a private property owner treats someone who is invited onto their property.

How To File A Sidewalk Lawsuit Against the Private Owner

The individual who is most likely to be at fault for a sidewalk injury is frequently the property owner. Property owners must keep visitors to their premises safe from harm, assuming you aren’t a trespasser. 

So, you could file a lawsuit against them if they neglected to perform their legal obligations. In the suit, you must prove that they were to blame for the spill, crack, or other hazardous circumstances that led to your fall, using the same elements of negligence discussed above. 

Slip, Trip, and Fall Claims Can Be Complicated

Trip and fall claims are unique because it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint who is at fault. During a sidewalk lawsuit, you have to prove negligence.

If someone slips on your sidewalk, they have to prove you were negligent in maintaining the property. If you fall in a public setting, you have to prove that the city is at fault and should have better maintained the property. 

In essence, you must demonstrate that the property owner did not take reasonable precautions to avoid the incident. If you can prove that the city was in charge of correcting the uneven sidewalk and failed to do so, and if you can prove that this failure caused the ‘trip and fall” mishap that led to your injuries, you may in fact have a case and be able to recoup damages. 

Contact the Houston Slip and Fall Accident Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help

For more information, contact the Houston slip and fall accident law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.

Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098
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