Slip and fall injuries are a specific category of injuries that generally involve some sort of negligence on the part of a property owner. With a slip and fall injury, the person typically slips on a wet or slippery surface, or trips on some sort of object or uneven surface. In cases where the hazard could have been remedied and fixed by the property owner, but they didn’t, they may be liable for the person’s injury.

Slip and fall liability often occurs in the context of a business establishment, such as a retail store, department store, shop, or other similar place. They are also common in grocery stores, where there are frequently wet or slippery floor areas. However, slip and fall injuries can occur in other areas, such as on property owned by the government. 

What if a Slip and Fall Happens on Government Property?

If you trip, slip, or fall on property owned or operated by the government, the government may be responsible for your injuries. Generally, you can recover damages for your injuries if the government was negligent, and the government’s negligence caused your injury. 

There are four important elements of proof to consider in cases of slip and fall injuries on government properties:

  1. The government must have been negligent (that is, they knew or should have known about the danger, but failed to fix it); 
  2. You have the burden of proof in slip and fall cases (that is, it is up to you to prove your case);
  3. You must meet all filing deadlines and notice requirements for the suit; and
  4. There may be limitations or caps on the damages you can recover.

Keep in mind that all of the above must be present in order for you to have a successful claim for a slip and fall injury that occurred on government property. 

How is Government Negligence Proven in a Slip and Fall Claim?

In most slip and fall cases against the government, a person trips, slips, or falls on the government’s property because of some sort of hazardous or dangerous condition. Common dangerous conditions include spills, worn or torn spots, uneven flooring, or other slippery or hazardous conditions.

If the government’s negligence caused the dangerous condition, an injured person can recover damages for their injuries from the government. The government may be negligent in three situations:

  • The government entity or a government employee caused the dangerous slip and fall condition;
  • The government entity or a government employee knew of the dangerous condition but did nothing to remedy it or fix it; and
  • The government entity or a government employee should have known of the dangerous condition because a “reasonable” person would have discovered and removed or repaired the dangerous condition.

What Does “Burden of Proof” Mean in Slip and Fall Cases?

As the injured person, you will generally have the burden of proof in slip and fall cases against the government. This means that you are responsible for showing that the government’s negligence caused your injuries. To help your case, you should take pictures of the slip and fall accident scene, your clothes, and any bruises or cuts that you received as soon as possible. 

You should also report the injury incident to the proper government entity immediately and make sure that they fill out a written report. If there are any witnesses, you should obtain their names and contact info such as addresses and phone numbers.

What are Filing Deadlines and Notice Requirements for a Claim Against the Government?

The federal government and most states have special procedural rules that you need to follow in slip and fall cases against the government. You usually must file a “notice of claim” with the proper government entity that you think may be responsible for your injury. If you do not file this notice within the designated time period (the filing deadline), which can be as short as 30 days, you may lose the right to file a lawsuit. 

Are There Any Limitations on the Damages I Can Recover From a Slip and Fall Claim Against the Government?

There are often limitations on the total amount of damages that you can recover from the government. The limits differ depending on which governmental entity you are suing; however, sometimes they can be very low.

Also, there are often specific laws that prevent you from recovering certain types of damages from the government. Generally, you can obtain specific damages, which are costs that can be objectively quantified. 

These typically include medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages. However, the government is typically immune from “general” damages. These are subjective, unquantifiable damages, such as pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Should I Consult a Lawyer for Help with Slip and Fall Injury on Government Property?

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident that happened while on government property, you should consult an experienced slip and fall attorney. An experienced attorney can guide you through the laws in your jurisdiction and file your claim in court. They can also help to determine the value of your loss, and decipher the best course of action for you.