I Slipped and Fell on Public Property: Do I Have a Case?

If you slipped and fell on public property, such as a sidewalk, who is at fault? Negligence can occur anywhere, so it is important to know your rights.

Are Sidewalks Considered Public Property?

The short answer: yes. Sidewalks are considered public property in the state of Missouri. However, Missouri state law requires that owners and occupiers of any property with a sidewalk in front are responsible for keeping sidewalks clean and orderly. This includes the removal of ice and snow.

Since Missouri state law is rather muddy on this section of the law, the liability for injuries on sidewalks could land on the municipality, the property owner, or it could be both.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for bringing claims against government agencies differs from that of property owners.

If you plan to bring a claim against a property owner for a slip and fall accident, you have five years to do so.

In Missouri, injury claims against the state government are filed with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division within 90 days of the accident.

Sovereign Immunity

The most complex part about bringing lawsuits against government institutions is sovereign immunity. This rule states that Missouri public entities are exempt from liability. However, there are certain exceptions to the rule which allow people to pursue lawsuits against government entities who act negligently:

  1. Injuries that result from negligent acts (or omissions) that are conducted by public employees and are caused by motor vehicle operation.

  2. Injuries brought about by unsafe conditions of a public entity as long as the plaintiff can prove that the property was unsafe when the injury occurred. It must be established that the unsafe conditions directly caused the injury, created a reasonably foreseeable risk, and that either negligence, wrongful acts, or omission of an employee created the unsafe conditions. It must also be confirmed that the public entity was provided with a notice of the poor conditions with adequate time before the injury so that the public entity could have taken action in order to alleviate the danger.

For example, if a firetruck who’s rushing to put out a fire strikes a pedestrian who is texting while jaywalking across the street, the firefighter driving the truck may be granted immunity. However, if the plaintiff can prove that fire personnel acted negligently by speeding without having sirens or emergency notification lights turned on, then the city may not be guarded by the immunity defense.

If you’ve been injured on public property, don’t wait to start your case.

Let us help you get through this complicated situation. Call our firm at (314) 684-8285 today.

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