FALLS AND OTHER INJURIES ON PUBLIC OR PRIVATE PROPERTY
When you are injured due to a condition on someone’s property, whether private property, commercial property, or public property, you may have a claim. However, these cases are very dependent on their facts, and an attorney should be consulted to determine if you have a case.
Generally, you have a claim if a person fails to exercise ordinary care to see that the property was reasonably safe for the use of persons lawfully on the property. Thus owners of restaurants and stores may be held liable for items that fall or spill onto their floors. Landowners or municipal governments may be liable for cracked sidewalks. They may be liable for broken gutters that cause ice to form on a sidewalk.
The law also states that landowners are not responsible for natural accumulations of ice and snow. A great number of cases have discussed what is and what is not a natural accumulation. Is snow and ice a natural accumulation when it is tracked into a store by customers? Is it a natural accumulation when it is has become rutted by pedestrians or vehicles? Usually it is easier to prove that snow and ice are unnatural accumulations when the landowner has done something to alter the accumulations.
It is especially important to immediately obtain photographs of the scene. If the injury was caused by a defective condition the landowner may quickly take corrective action, precluding the obtaining of photographs of the condition. If unnatural accumulations of snow or ice caused the injury, photographs need to be taken as quickly as possible since the conditions may change in a matter of hours.