Often, Florida cities and municipalities are held responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of sidewalks and could, therefore, be liable for injuries and losses suffered by a victim in a slip and fall accident on a public sidewalk. If the public sidewalk is owned by a condo or homeowner association, then they would have the duty to maintain the sidewalk in a safe condition—and you may be able to file a claim against those entities for negligence.
In some cases, an individual homeowner may be responsible and liable if the defective or dangerous sidewalk falls under a city ordinance that imparts partial or full liability to homeowners.
Government Entities Could Be Responsible for Your Injuries
Many local government entities or municipalities are charged with maintaining sidewalks in a safe condition and therefore are also considered responsible and liable for any injuries suffered on sidewalks. Filing a claim or lawsuit against any government entity can be legally complex and involve very specific rules—unlike typical civil cases. First, the statute of limitations (deadline) to file a lawsuit against a government entity for a slip and fall case on a public sidewalk in Fort Lauderdale is much shorter than that of a typical personal injury case. A victim only has three years under Florida Statute § 768.28(6)(a) (as opposed to two years in personal injury cases against a private entity under Florida Statute § 95.11) to file a claim against a government entity in the state of Florida.
Additionally, a victim may not simply file a claim or lawsuit against a local government entity or municipality, but rather they must first file a “notice of claim” regarding their slip and fall injury with the Florida Department of Financial Services. The process to file a claim against a government entity is quite different from a civil case. The failure to fill out the proper paperwork under strict deadlines can prevent a victim from receiving the compensation they deserve for their injuries and losses once it’s determined who is liable if you slip and fall on a public sidewalk in Fort Lauderdale.
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You May Pursue Homeowner Associations for Damages
In some cases, a public sidewalk will be owned by a condominium association or a homeowner association. If one of these associations has the legal liability and duty to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition for lawful visitors and guests, then it may be possible for a victim of a slip and fall accident to file a claim against the condo or homeowner associations directly.
A 2008 Florida Attorney General’s Office Advisory Opinion stated that the responsibility for sidewalk maintenance (and likely liability for any slip and fall injuries suffered on the sidewalk) will ultimately rest with whatever jurisdiction in which the sidewalk is located—absent some sort of legal and official transfer done by a mutually acceptable agreement. Ultimately, the determination regarding liability in slip and fall accidents on sidewalks on or near condo and homeowner association properties can be legally complex.
Private Property Owners Could Be Responsible for the Accident
In some cases, if a local government or municipality owns a sidewalk, the sidewalk may also be partially located on private property. In some cases, this may make the private property owners liable for any maintenance and repair, but whether a private property owner is legally responsible for any injuries suffered from a slip and fall accident is up in the air.
Schupbach v. City of Sarasota institutes a precedent that a private property owner is not liable for accidents. However, the facts and circumstances of every case are different and can be legally complex regarding liability and responsibility. Conversely, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal held in Del Rio v. City of Hialeah
that even if a government entity has the responsibility for sidewalk maintenance, a private property owner may still be responsible for resulting injuries for any dangerous conditions they contribute to or create on the sidewalk.
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The entire point and purpose of sidewalks is to create an environment of safety for pedestrians. Many sidewalks throughout Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are uneven, slippery, cracked, poorly lit, or eroding. Serious injuries may occur if a pedestrian slips and falls on a sidewalk. If you slipped and fell on a public sidewalk, you may be able to file a claim against either a government entity, a condo or homeowner association, or a private property owner—depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Oftentimes, these cases can prove to be legally complex, and the determination of who is liable if you slip and fall on a public sidewalk in Fort Lauderdale can be challenging. Contact a slip and fall injury lawyer today at Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers at (954) 476-1000. We can provide a free consultation regarding your slip and fall case and help you determine which parties remain liable for your injuries and losses.
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