Picture this — you're walking across the street, and suddenly, you step into a pothole, trip, and fall to the ground, suffering a deep cut. In that case, what do you do next?
Most people would write it off as another bad day and do nothing about it. The truth is, someone must bear responsibility for your injuries if they knew about the pothole but failed to fix it.
Types of Public Accident Claims
Accidents can occur in public places such as transit stations, leisure, recreational centers, schools, etc. If you get injured in public, you may be eligible for compensation for losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, etc.
Often, public accidents occur when individuals in charge fail to maintain property within their administrative area, creating dangerous conditions in the process.
Examples of dangerous conditions include:
- Uneven flooring.
- Inadequate lighting.
- Poor roadway maintenance.
- Broken staircases.
- Curled up rags or flooring.
- Wet floors.
Types of Personal Injuries Caused by Dangerous Conditions
Personal injuries caused by dangerous conditions vary depending on the exact condition. Generally, most victims suffer from:
Seek medical attention immediately if you hit your head during an accident. Head injuries can be serious, even if they appear minor. You may suffer a concussion or internal bleeding, which may not be noticeable without scanning.
Cuts and Abrasions
Cuts and abrasions often require wound cleaning to prevent infection and possibly stitches on the affected body part.
This type of injury may not be physically visible but can cause severe pain and complications if not checked by a physician.
Broken bones take longer to heal and may prevent you from conducting normal physical activities such as walking, running, etc. This could also mean spending days, weeks, or even months away from work.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are life-threatening and can result in full or partial paralysis. They occur when the spinal cord is stretched or compressed due to an accident.
Who Should Be Held Responsible if You Get Hurt in Public?
When you get injured in public, the injury falls under public liability claims. For this reason, the local authority or property owner is liable for the injury because it's their responsibility to maintain the property, ensuring it's safe for visitors.
However, to present a valid public accident claim before the court, the injury must have been sustained within the property.
For instance, the city government could be held responsible if you get injured while walking along the street. However, to successfully sue the city government, you must prove that their negligence contributed to the accident.
And that's not all. Personal injury lawsuits must meet the following elements to prove liability:
If the accident resulted in injury, the party responsible should compensate you for lost wages, medical treatment, pain, suffering, etc.
Duty of Care
The party responsible for that particular public area or building must keep it safe, preventing any issue that may cause harm to members of the public.
You can sue the government for failing to maintain its duty of care. For instance, if the property owner or government officials received multiple complaints about an uneven sidewalk or pothole but didn't fix it.
This element of negligence determines if the dangerous condition caused the injury. For instance, had the responsible party carried out an inspection and fixed the dangerous condition early enough, you wouldn't have suffered injuries.
I Got Hurt in Public: What to Do Now?
Understandably, you may not know what to do after getting hurt in public. In that case, you're not alone; here's what you can do:
Report the Incident
As with all accidents, you need to report the details of your accident to the party responsible. By doing so, you'll prove that the injury occurred at that particular location.
The person you report the incident to should have a particular authority at the location of the injury. This individual should note down the following:
- Date, time, and location where the accident occurred.
- Cause of the accident, e.g., wet floor, pothole, defective pavement, etc.
- Type of injury sustained.
After noting every detail, remember to request a copy of the report and keep it in your records.
For instance, a location opened to the public, such as a park, should have an accident book or a way to report incidents happening in the area. If they don't have an accident book or won't let you access it:
- Look for a witness and record their contact information.
- Report the incident to the property owner/administration.
Take Witness Details
We get it - it might be a little bit embarrassing to get hurt in public. However, some 'good Samaritans' would want to help you get back on your feet. Take their contact details as this will significantly help your case if witnesses are called to testify.
Taking photos might not always be possible if you're in severe pain or discomfort. But if you get a chance, don't hesitate; it provides additional evidence to support your claim.
Seek Medical Attention
Seeking immediate medical attention gives your case the best chance of success, given that medical evidence is required to support your claim. So even if you've sustained what seems like a minor injury, be sure to seek prompt medical attention.
After that, you can request medical reports from the medical facility or doctor you visited. The medical report will prove that you were actually hurt and also provide valuable information on the extent of your injuries and prognosis.
Record all expenses incurred due to the injuries sustained. If you have receipts of how much you spent, you might be able to secure compensation from the defendant.
Hire a Lawyer
No matter the circumstances surrounding the injury, you should call an experienced personal injury attorney to help you with your case if you get hurt in public. You may recover compensation for lost wages, emotional trauma, medical bills, and more by calling a personal injury lawyer.
Suppose you fail to document the incident immediately. In that case, the dangerous condition that caused your injury may be cleaned up, removed, or fixed, and you'll have no evidence to support your claim.
How Can You Tell if Your Public Accident Claim Is Valid?
Other than the main elements of negligence, here are a few other factors that could prove the validity of your public accident claim.
Nature and Extent of Injuries
The nature and severity of your injuries determine the validity of your public accident claim. Also, the claim must pass the quantum test – a test ascertaining if your injury value is sufficient. For instance, you'd easily pass the test if you've suffered from the injury for at least a few weeks.
If you haven't received any medical treatment for injuries sustained, likely, your injuries wouldn't be seen as serious enough to warrant a public accident claim. This is because medical evidence is essential in building a strong case against the defendant in a personal injury claim.
Can You Sue the City for Getting Hurt in Public?
Yes, you can! You can take legal action if you suffer injuries due to someone else's negligence, regardless of their position in society. However, filing a lawsuit against the city or any government body has a set of challenges, such as:
The statute of limitation prescribes a time limit for filing legal actions. For instance, in a personal injury claim, the claimant has one to 10 years from when the incident occurred to file a claim, depending on their state of residence.
However, in most states, the statute of limitation for legal actions brought against a state municipality has an expiration period of only 1 to 3 months.
Certain procedures need to be followed when filing a lawsuit against the city, state, or government. Otherwise, if you don't follow the correct procedure, your claim may be barred. For instance, if you send a notice to the wrong municipal department, they will ignore the complaint, or by the time they take note of the claim, the statute of limitations would have expired.
The limit for recovery from claims against cities or municipalities in most states is set at $10,000. Some states also restrict the amount an attorney can receive as a contingency fee from claims against municipalities. This is just a way to discourage claimants and attorneys from filing a claim against the city, state, or municipalities.
Regardless of the circumstances in play, the government, city, or state can be plainly immune from liability in certain personal injury claims. However, the regulations for sovereign immunity vary from one state to another.
If you've been injured in public due to negligence of some sort by government or state agencies, get in touch with Morgan & Morgan attorneys right away. Our dedicated attorneys have helped hundreds of clients seek compensation against local municipalities, even in the most complex situations.
What Happens After Making a Public Accident Claim?
When you hire Morgan & Morgan public accident attorneys to represent you, we'll take the following actions:
Contacting the Defendant
We'll notify the defendant about the claim and confirm whether they accept responsibility. If they do, our personal injury attorneys will try to negotiate a fair compensation upfront that covers your medical expenses while the claim is ongoing.
Our legal experts examine your case in detail and gather evidence from various sources, which helps strengthen your claim.
We'll first try to negotiate claims out of court with the defendant if they accept responsibility. However, we'll initiate court proceedings if the defendant won't admit guilt, and we have every reason to believe that they're legally responsible for your injury.
What Can You Claim Compensation for After a Public Injury?
The type of compensation to expect varies from one case to another. Depending on the nature of your case, our experienced personal injury lawyers will fight to ensure you're compensated for the following:
- Pain and distress caused by the injuries sustained.
- Special damages such as lost income.
- Damage to your personal items.
- Reduced quality of life.
- Post-accident care.
Morgan & Morgan Lawyers Are Ready to Help
Personal injury laws are complex and vary from state to state. Don't risk filing a claim without a lawyer; with one wrong move, the defendant won't have a case to answer.
At Morgan & Morgan, we boast over 30 years of experience and 800+ lawyers who've represented thousands of personal injury victims all over the United States, helping them get the compensation they deserved. That aside, we've recovered over 10 billion US dollars in compensation for our clients over the years and earned over 28,000 5-star reviews on Google alone!
If you've been injured in public due to someone else's negligence, get in touch with Morgan & Morgan attorneys at 877-667-4265 to schedule a free case evaluation. Alternatively, you can send us a quick message online any day and any time; our representatives will get in touch with you within 24 hours!