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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Understanding Fault: Who Is Liable in a Sidewalk Slip and Fall Accident?

Accidents happen on sidewalks regularly, and they can lead to serious injuries and expensive medical treatment. If a person falls and hurts themselves on a sidewalk, they may be able to seek compensation in slip and fall accidents proving fault.

That said, there are many variables to consider, and not every injury or incident qualifies as a sidewalk slip and fall case. The following guide explains who can be at fault in a sidewalk accident slip and fall personal injury claim, how to prove negligence and fault, and what steps to take toward recovering damages.

What Causes Sidewalk Slip and Fall Accidents?

What Causes Sidewalk Slip and Fall Accidents?

The most common cause of sidewalk slips and falls is weather. A wet or icy condition makes surfaces slippery and dangerous. They can also be caused by worn surfaces, spills, or debris lying around. Sometimes, a broken sidewalk can also pose a threat.

Can an Injured Person Claim Compensation if They Slip and Fall on a Sidewalk?

Whether or not an injury victim can claim compensation for their sidewalk slip and fall accident depends on a few things. The most important factor is whether or not their own carelessness played a part in the incident, but there are other things to consider.

In Texas, comparative negligence laws state that anyone deemed more than 51% responsible for an accident cannot claim compensation for their injuries. Even if someone else was responsible for the condition of the sidewalk, a person wearing improper footwear, running, or not paying proper attention may share the blame for the accident.

Part of the complicated nature of sidewalk slip and fall claims comes with the debate regarding what is and is not an avoidable danger and how much of the fault lies with the person operationally responsible for the sidewalk's condition.

Who Is Liable in Sidewalk Slip and Fall Claims?

Various parties could be liable for a sidewalk slip and fall claim. The most likely at-fault parties are property or land owners and government entities.

If a sidewalk is on private property, the person who owns the land or premises is most likely at fault. Public sidewalks are usually the responsibility of local government or municipal authorities, so it may fall to them if an accident occurs.

Here are a few more details.

A Property Owner

Sometimes, a sidewalk is part of a person's property- a business, commercial building, or someone's house. If an injury occurred on a privately owned sidewalk, the person who owns the land could be liable.

Say that a hotel has sidewalks on its grounds next to driveways and parking zones. If they are not properly cared for and someone slips or falls, the hotel owner or management could be liable for damages. The same may apply to businesses or retail stores that own the land where the sidewalk is and are in charge of maintaining its condition.

A Government Entity

If the accident scene is on a public sidewalk, the local government entity responsible for maintaining the area could be at fault. City sidewalks are usually under the care of councils or the governing municipality, but it depends on the state's laws.

In Houston, many sidewalks are included in a landowner's deed, but some are not. It is important to find the correct department to find out whether or not a city sidewalk is, in fact, the responsibility of the city or if a private owner holds the liability for injuries caused by dangerous conditions.

How to Determine Fault and Liability in a Sidewalk Slip and Fall Accident

How to Determine Fault and Liability in a Sidewalk Slip and Fall Accident

There are four stages when determining who- if anyone- is liable in a slip-and-fall case on a sidewalk.

1: Prove the Sidewalk in an Unreasonably Unsafe Condition

Before looking into who is responsible, it must be determined that the sidewalk's condition was unreasonably unsafe. This means that it was beyond the acceptable limit for weather conditions and other things that were beyond the control of the owner.

A sidewalk that has suddenly become icy or wet during a heavy storm may be unsafe, but it is also unreasonable to expect the owner to have had time to do anything about it.

2: Establish Who Had Operational Responsibility for the Sidewalk

Next, it must be established who is legally responsible for maintaining the sidewalk's condition. Under premises liability laws, the person who owns the deed to the land where the accident happened is usually the liable party.

Most Nashville sidewalks are the responsibility of the land property owner, even if they are technically for public use. If the sidewalk is public property belonging to the government, the local governing entity could be to blame.

It is important to establish whether property owners or the government are responsible before pursuing a claim.

3: Find Evidence That the Responsible Party Knew About the Danger

Victims must show that the responsible party (government or property owner) knew about the danger or should have been aware. In cases relating to poor weather conditions, the time between the sidewalk becoming dangerous and the accident happening plays a significant role in deciding whether or not a claim can be made.

If it is not reasonable to expect the responsible party to have noticed the issue and taken action by the time the incident happens, it may not be possible. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also help with questions like How do you defend a dog bite case?

4: Show That a Dangerous Condition Was the Cause of the Accident

Sometimes, an injury occurs because of the victim's actions, not the negligence of the property owner. To make a claim, a person must provide substantial evidence that the lack of care on the part of the sidewalk's responsible was the cause- or leading cause- of the accident.


It is an injured person's right to seek compensation if their sidewalk slip and fall accident was caused by someone else's negligence. Determining and proving who is liable after a fall on a sidewalk can be complicated, but an expert slip and fall lawyer in Nashville TN can help with a slip and fall case.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is a leading expert in Houston personal injury cases and will go to war to recover the compensation rightfully owed to injury victims. They help make sure the right person is held liable, and a fair settlement is reached.

Contact the team today to arrange a free case evaluation for your slip and fall personal injury case.


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