Every day a number of people are injured in the State of Florida from tripping, slipping, or falling on the cracks, potholes, and other obstructions on city sidewalks. This can even happen to careful people. Sometimes these incidents result in a stubbed toe or bruised knee, but in other instances, a person is seriously injured. This can lead to expenses for medical attention or property damages and losses due to inability to work, pain and suffering, and even emotional distress.
Individuals, who suffer these more serious injuries due to a fall on city sidewalk, could be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. However, just because you fell on a crack, ice, or hole in the sidewalk, does not mean the city was negligent and these claims can be complicated because the defending party in these situations is the local government.
Need to Prove Liability
One similarity between a slip and fall injury on city or public property and on privately owned property is the requirement to show liability. First, to have a valid personal injury claim arising from a Florida slip and fall injury, the plaintiff must prove the owner (or lessee) was somehow negligent, grossly negligent, or reckless in maintenance of the property. Identifying the correct owner of the property, whether the city, municipality, or county, is essential. Second, the plaintiff must show this negligence caused his or her injury.
When a person falls due to an unsafe condition, such as a crack or hole in the sidewalk, it is necessary to prove that the city had reason to know that crack or hole existed. This means the city had actual knowledge of the unsafe condition or was negligent in monitoring for such situations. When dealing with the city, instead of a private property owner, this can be more difficult. While every city in Florida is required to make reasonable repairs to public streets and sidewalks, a single crack or hole is unlikely to rise to negligent behavior.
Gather Your Evidence
When bringing a personal injury claim because of a Florida slip or fall on city property, evidence is essential. An individual needs to document the unsafe condition, preferably at the time of the accident. If there is proof that an unsafe condition existed in the days and weeks before your fall, it is substantially in the plaintiff’s favor. Without evidence of the size and location of the unsafe condition, showing liability is impossible.
You also need evidence that the unsafe condition was the direct cause of your fall. This requires evidence of your medical expenses and the actual injury. Photographs of the injury and proof that the injury was likely to occur from a slip, trip, or fall will vastly improve your claim. It is best to start collecting this evidence immediately.
Unique Aspects of Public Property
There are a few unique differences between a personal injury suit against a local government, compared to a private property owner. For one, the plaintiff must provide the city, county, or municipality with a pre-suit notice. This notice must be in writing and delivered to the appropriate individual or office within the local government.
Another difference is the amount you can recover from a claim. The State of Florida limits personal injury compensation from a local government to actual damages. This means costs for medical expenses, and excludes any amount for pain and suffering or emotional distress. As well, the limit on actual damages is capped at $200,000. These restrictions are in the interest of protecting public money from litigious individuals.
Hiring a Florida Injury Lawyer
If you were injured on city property and think it was due to the negligence of the city or city official, it is important to contact a Florida injury lawyer familiar with claims against local governments. Our Miami personal injury law firm has handled a number of cases in the city of Miami and other municipalities. Call our 24-hour phone line at (305)-441-0440 or toll free at 1-866-597-4529 or send us an email describing your case to [email protected].