What To Do When Injured Falling On An Uneven Sidewalk Or Street

Personal Injury | July 26, 2021

The last thing anyone expects when they are walking down the street or the sidewalk is that they will sustain an injury caused by an uneven surface area. Unfortunately, trip and fall accidents caused by uneven sidewalks or streets occur regularly.

But who will be responsible for paying compensation to injury victims in these situations?

In most situations, government entities are responsible for the maintenance and repair of sidewalks and streets. However, holding these entities responsible for a trip and fall accident can be challenging, as state and local government entities have fairly strict procedural rules (and special laws) when making injury claims.

When Will a Municipality be Responsible for a Trip and Fall Accident?

To be clear, state and municipal governments will not be responsible for every slip and fall or trip and fall accident that occurs on a sidewalk or street. 

A municipality will typically only be liable for trip and fall accidents on a street or sidewalk if it was negligent and the negligence was the cause of the actual accident. In these situations, the condition on the sidewalk or street would need to have been unreasonably safe. In order for a person to prove that a municipality was negligent, they will have to show that the municipality knew or should have reasonably known about the unsafe condition before the incident occurred.

When we are talking about uneven sidewalks and pavement, it can be challenging to prove that a municipality knew about the hazard beforehand. Unless there had been a prior injury or documented inspection of the actual site, these cases can become challenging.

Filing a Claim Against a Local Government in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, there is a law specifically for handling claims against municipalities called the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (ILCS Chapter 745 Section 10). 

This law strictly limits the types of claims that are allowed to be brought against local governments in Illinois. Specifically, the law says that any claim against a local government needs to be based on “willful and wanton” misconduct. 

A claim for simple carelessness or negligence will typically not be accepted. This means that filing a lawsuit against the government for an uneven pavement trip and fall will be incredibly challenging unless there are extenuating circumstances involved.

What is the Time Limit for Filing Claims Against a Government Entity in Illinois?

If you do find that you have a viable claim against a local government for a slip and fall or trip in fall accident, you need to know that there is a limited amount of time to file these claims. Any claim filed for the willful and wanton misconduct of a local or municipal government or their employees must be filed within one year from the day the injury occurred. Failing to file a claim within this time frame will result in the victim being unable to recover any compensation at all.

If you think that you have a claim against a state or local government entity in Illinois, we strongly suggest that you work with a skilled attorney who has experience handling these issues. Claims against the government are much more challenging, and they can become a procedural nightmare for the injury victim. A skilled Chicago personal injury attorney can use their resources to properly guide entry victims towards the correct path in these situations.