If my husband fell and was injureddue to a bump in the sidewalk in front of a store, can he sue?

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If my husband fell and was injureddue to a bump in the sidewalk in front of a store, can he sue?

If my husband fell in front of a department store entrance. The sidewalk there is a little high; it has like a bump. I was behind him and heard the thump and he was on the floor. He couldn’t get up because of the intense pain on his left leg. The ambulance was called and the doctor said he had a fracture on his left knee. The specialist said that he needed surgery right away, so he was operated on. He was in the hospital for 2 days. The store called later to ask about his fall.  However, when my husband called a person who works for a lawyer, he was told that he had no case because there is a yellow line there and he was supposed to be careful. But are we supposed to walk looking down all the time?

Asked on January 1, 2011 under Personal Injury, Florida

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A yellow line for what?  A warning of some sort?  Whether or not that line is considered reasonable is what needs to be determined along with control of the sidewalk.  Generally speaking the City is responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalks and whether it is a "little"defect or a "big" defect does not matter if it causes injury (there is a saying that you take your Plaintiff as you find them.  So your husband slipped and maybe someone else would not have). Now, there are other issues besides the general rule: whether the City has allocated the risk to the land owner (store owner and landlownermay not be the same party) to maintain the sidewalk which is probably has.  Next, has the land owner allocated the risk to the store owner via a lease.  Seek help from an attorney and not someone who works for a lawyer.  Consultations are generally free.  Good luck.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This is one of the cases that does not havea  clear right and wrong. The principal is as follows: whomever had control and actual responsibility over the sidewalk--which is not necessarily the store; it could be the municipality--might be liable, or legally responsible to pay for costs and damages--IF they were unreasonably careless. What is "unreasonably careless" depends on the exact facts. Small bump in sidewalk, prominent warning to pedestrians of some kind--probably not liable (though, if sued, may still choose to settle for some sum rather than fight). Big or very uneven bump, hard-to-see warning, may very well be liable. You should consult with a personal injury attorney; describe the situation in detail, bring photos (if you can) of the sidewalk, and let him/her evaluate the strength and value of your case on the facts. Good luck.


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