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What to Do When Injured Falling on An Uneven Sidewalk or Street
We often assume that our streets and sidewalks are safe to walk on — but a crack in the pavement, a sudden change in elevation, or chipped concrete can place pedestrians in danger. Slip and fall accidents are often very severe, leading to serious injuries such as traumatic brain damage, damaged hips, and broken bones.
If you are the victim of a slip and fall due to uneven pavement, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your injuries through a lawsuit. However, these cases can be difficult to prove. It is important to understand what to expect following the accident so you can best prepare for litigation.
Who Is Liable for an Uneven Street or Sidewalk in Washington?
Before you can file a claim for your slip and fall injuries, you will first need to identify who could be liable for the accident. Liability depends on several factors, including property ownership and your actions leading up to the fall.
To prove liability in Washington, you will need to establish the four elements of negligence.
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care.
- The at-fault party breached this duty of care.
- You suffered injuries as a direct result of the breach of care.
- You suffered damages you can collect compensation for.
All Washington property owners have a responsibility to keep their premises in safe condition; if you slip and fall on a private sidewalk or street, the owner of that property may be liable for your damages. However, if you suffer injuries on a public sidewalk, the city will generally be responsible for its upkeep and you could launch a complaint against the responsible agency.
In some cases, your accident may involve private property that goes over a public sidewalk. If you suffer an injury due to the conditions of the sidewalk itself, such as chipped concrete, you could hold the city agency responsible.
However, property owners adjacent to public sidewalks have a responsibility to ensure that their properties do not create hazards on the sidewalk. For example, if an overgrown tree root from a private property extends onto the sidewalk and you trip over it, you could hold the property owner liable because he or she failed to prevent the situation.
Steps to Take After Your Slip and Fall Accident in Seattle
After a fall on an uneven street or sidewalk, it can be difficult to know what to do next. However, it is important that you take steps to protect yourself and preserve your case.
- Seek medical attention and save every record you receive from your visits. You should always go to the doctor even if you feel unharmed; you may have underlying or internal injuries you are unaware of, and your medical records will be crucial pieces of evidence.
- Take photographs and document the scene. Take as many pictures as possible of your injuries, the area around the fall, and any hazards that could have contributed to your accident.
- Speak to a Washington slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible after your case. Do not speak to any insurance adjusters before talking to your lawyer; these individuals do not always share your best interests, and often focus on protecting the insurance company’s bottom line.
It is important to act quickly after a slip and fall, especially if you suffer an injury on a public sidewalk. Claims against the government often have shorter filing time limits than civil lawsuits, and if you fail to file by the appropriate deadline, you could lose your chance at collecting compensation. Contact a Seattle slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible following the accident to discuss your options and initiate your claim.