Is it possible to make a claim for compensation for a sidewalk fall, or is this only possible for trips and falls in the street?
It should be possible to make a claim for compensation for a sidewalk fall, although it is likely to be more complicated than making a claim for a fall in the street. The main problem with claims for a trip and fall on a sidewalk is determining who was responsible for the accident.
In order to determine if a claim for a fall on a sidewalk is possible, you must be able to establish that a duty of care was owed to you, that this duty of care was breached and whether your injury was directly caused by third party negligence.
The local authority owes the public a duty of care to ensure that all public sidewalks are properly maintained and are safe to use. If it has failed to keep the sidewalk in a good state of repair, and by doing so it could have prevented your trip and fall, you should entitled to make a claim for compensation.
However, the local authority cannot be expected to identify and address all hazards immediately, and it must be allowed a reasonable amount of time to make routine inspections and organise repairs. If a pothole had formed after a spell of particularly bad weather, it may be unreasonable to expect the local authority to have been able to conduct an inspection and schedule repairs in time to prevent the accident. A claim for a fall on a sidewalk must establish that a hazard had existed for an unacceptable length of time if it is to be successful.
A trip and fall on a sidewalk on private land could potentially be made against the land owner. The same criteria would apply in this case as for a local authority claim. The accident must have been caused by negligence, there must have been a duty of care owed and the duty of care must have been breached. The success of a claim in this instance is likely to depend on whether you had a right to be on the property, and whether an insurance policy was in place or the land owner has the financial means to pay your compensation personally.
Provided that you sustained an injury in the fall which was severe enough for you to have sought medical treatment, and negligence can be established and proven, it should be possible to claim injury compensation for a fall on a sidewalk.
You should however seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will check the land registry to determine the third party responsible for the maintenance of the foot path, your right to claim will be assessed and you will be advised about the steps you must take next in order to initiate a claim for injury compensation for a fall on a sidewalk.