Who is Liable if You’re Injured in a Public Place in Salt Lake City?
Slippery sidewalks, spills, uneven surfaces, and inattentive people in public spaces may lead to slip and fall or trip and fall injuries. If you are injured on someone else’s property, that person is often responsible for your injures. However, what happens if you are hurt in a public place? Sidewalks, town squares, and other places open to the public may lead to confusing questions of who to hold responsible.
If you were injured in any sort of trip or slip and fall accident in Salt Lake City, call Overson Law, PLLC. Attorney Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC represents accident victims throughout the Salt Lake City area. He fights to get them compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Who Pays for Injuries in Public Places?
When you suffer an injury from an unstable staircase, uneven pavement, hazardous debris, or other problems, you may be entitled to sue the property owner. In order to get compensation for your injuries, your lawyer must prove that the other party was “negligent” in allowing you to get injured. Negligence means that their actions fell below expected standards and caused your injuries. In order to prove a negligence case for an injury like this, you must prove four elements:
- Duty – The at-fault party owed you a duty to keep their property safe;
- Breach – The at-fault party breached that duty by failing to fix or warn about a danger;
- Causation – Because they did not fix the danger or warn you about it, you were injured; and
- Damages – You suffered some injuries or other harms that the court can compensate you for.
One of the most important aspects of proving who is at fault is deciding who owned the property, and who was responsible for keeping it safe. Many places open to the public are still owned by private owners. We consider places like stores, restaurants, and churches/temples to be “public places,” because they are open to the public. However, they are still owned by private individuals, companies, or organizations. For instance, if you are injured from slipping on a spill in the grocery store, you may be able to sue the grocery store for the injuries. Because these places are open to the public, the property owners have a duty to keep the premises safe.
Some places are public property, but some private individual or company is responsible for keeping it safe. Sidewalks are the prime example of this. If you were injured because of uneven sidewalk pavers, snow, or ice, you may be able to sue the owner of the property next to the sidewalk. The house, store, office building, or other property owner may be responsible for keeping the sidewalks safe. Those people would be the target of a lawsuit for these kinds of injuries.
Other places are purely public property. This means that the local government or office that runs that location may be responsible for your injuries. For instance, you may want to sue a public school, a local courthouse, or a local library if you are injured on their property. The same may be true for crosswalks, public parks, town squares, and other public areas owned by the government. However, your ability to sue the government is often limited.
Suing the Government for Accidental Injuries in Utah
In the past, all governments had something called “governmental immunity,” which said they could not be sued for problems they cause. In the modern United States, the federal and state governments have opened themselves up to lawsuits for particular things. The “Governmental Immunity Act of Utah” lays out the rules for when you can and can’t sue the government itself in Utah.
The government cannot usually be sued because of decisions they make. This means that the decision to implement or not implement something like an emergency shelter, taxes, or research. The Act also has specific rules that prevent the government from being sued for injuries from:
- Defects in roadways, sidewalks, crosswalks, etc.;
- Natural features on public land (e.g. rocks, tree roots, drop-offs, etc.);
- Failure to make an inspection;
- Bad or negligent inspections;
- Abandoned mines; or
- Many public walkways or trails.
However, this does not shut down every case. You may still be entitled to sue for injuries in cases where employees were negligent in doing their duties. If a road was repaired by intoxicated workers, a teacher failed to supervise young children who were injured at school, or because of a government employee’s bad driving, you may still be entitled to sue. The process may require filing paperwork with the government rather than straight through a court, but your attorney can help with that process.
Salt Lake City Premises Liability Attorneys
Hiring an experienced Utah personal injury attorney like Darwin Overson can help you put forth a strong case. Whether suing the government or a private party, our attorneys can investigate the accident, find the responsible parties, and file the papers to start your case. For a free consultation on your personal injury case, call (801) 895-3143 today.