You were in a real hurry. There were one thousand things on your mind. The next thing you know – you are lying on the pavement with your ankle twisted. You just didn’t see the huge gap in the sidewalk. Was it all own your fault or can someone else be held responsible

The term “Slip and fall” is used when someone is injured by slipping or tripping on the property of someone else. Should this happen to you, you could have a civil law case against the property owner. You could be awarded compensation. There are, however, questions that need to be answered

Could the property owner have done something to avoid the accident-in-the-making from happening

In some cases, it is clear-cut: A client’s foot is caught in a piece of torn carpeting that employees have been complaining about for months. The lighting on the narrow staircase is so poor that the elderly resident could not see where she was putting her feet. The oil spill in the restaurant near the restrooms was not attended to immediately

In the case where slipping or tripping was unlikely to happen or where the injured party acted in an irresponsible way, the property owner can be absolved of all responsibility

To win a slip and fall case, you must be able to prove that the property owner or the responsible party knew about the dangerous situation, acted negligently, and failed to correct the problem in a timely manner

Is anyone liable for my sidewalk fall?

Be real honest: was the fall your own fault? Negligence must be proved in any personal injury case. There can be no liability if there were no negligence.

Use this short checklist:

Any reasonable person should concur that the sidewalk was actually unsafe.
Did the property owner know about this and choose not to do anything?

Who owns a public sidewalk?

In Philadelphia, the issue is up in the air. Private property owners can be held liable for sidewalk falls adjacent to his/her property. They are required by law to report sidewalk-problems so that the local city government can come and do repairs. Private property owners should also clear snow within six hours of its fall and salt any slippery surfaces.

If a local government or the municipality do not act in a timely manner to repair reported sidewalk problems, they can also be held legally responsible.

Take a picture!

A picture is worth a thousand words. Try and keep a level head and take one immediately after your (or someone else’s) fall. It can be next to impossible to prove your case without pictures. Snow can melt or the sidewalk can be repaired the next day. Take photos of the scene, of your clothes and the bruises as quickly as you are able to do so.

How long do I have?

If you think you’ve suffered due to the negligence of a property owner or the city of Philadelphia, you should waste no time in filing your slip and fall claim. Some cases can be complex. You and your lawyer will need time to get all the evidence together and interview bystanders.

You do have 2 years from the time of your accident to file a claim in Philadelphia but rather do it as soon as possible to be sure to get compensation for your injuries.

What compensation can I get?

You can be compensated for your medical expenses or any loss of income. You can also be awarded damages for pain and suffering, the humiliation you have suffered or for any disfigurement.

In Philadelphia, a lawsuit against the state has a maximum reward of $250,000. Should you sue the local government, you can recover up to $500,000.