When we’re enjoying public spaces, like parks and shopping centers, we trust that the people who maintain these areas do their best to keep the spaces safe and free of hazards. And in many cases, property managers, business owners, and government agencies do. But an accident in a public place can still happen.
If you or a loved one have suffered an accident while enjoying a communal space, you can make a claim. Read on to learn how to make a claim if you’re injured in a public place.
Injuries on Private Property vs. Public Property
A “public place” includes private properties run by private citizens, companies, and organizations, but also includes public property owned and managed by a municipality or government body.
The claims processes differ when you’re injured in a public place that’s technically private property versus being injured on public property.
You may simply think of private property as home residences. But many of the “public” places you visit are actually considered private property, including:
These locations are more or less open to “the public” or a specific community that’s permitted to visit. But these places have private owners and managers who are responsible for incidents that occur there. If you are injured while at one of these or another privately-owned public place, you would file your claim with the property owner, business owner, or another party that manages the destination.
Public property, on the other hand, includes locations that are fully open to the general public, including:
- Local, regional, state, and national parks
- Hiking trails
- Streets, sidewalks, and crosswalks
- Government buildings and other government property
In general, these spaces are owned and managed by a municipal agency. If you’re injured while visiting one of these destinations, you would file your claim with the relevant agency.
Examples of Injuries in Public Places
Let’s go over a few examples of injuries in public places, what types of injury claims commonly occur in these spaces, and how the claims process differs for each.
Injured on a Sidewalk
Sidewalks are, in general, owned by the local government. However, homeowners and property owners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks connected to their property. Some common hazards include cracks, holes, uneven slabs, debris, and weather-related perils. For instance, property owners in colder climates must shovel snow and put down salt for ice to keep their sidewalks safe for anyone walking on them.
If you fell on an ice-covered sidewalk and broke a bone, you could bring a claim against the property owner who neglected to safely maintain that area of their property. You may also bring a claim against a property owner if they failed to repair a broken or hazardous sidewalk attached to their property, such as here in Las Vegas, where local laws make it a property owner’s responsibility to address these issues.
Injured in a Parking Lot or Parking Structure
Parking lots are usually private property because they are owned, built, and maintained by a private company, even though they’re public spaces. The premises owner may be the owner of just the parking lot or garage, or they may own both the parking lot and the building or plaza attached.
However, parking lots connected to government buildings and property (like parks) are often considered government property.
Some of the most common parking lot hazards that cause injuries include:
- Inadequate lighting
- Inadequate security
While potholes and cracks can cause you to trip as you walk to and from your vehicle, a lack of lighting can make it harder to see those hazards. Lack of lighting also makes it harder for drivers to see you as you navigate the lot or garage. Lighting is also a security issue, as it and a lack of surveillance can increase the risk of someone being attacked.
Injured in a Park or on a Trail
Local, state, regional, and national parks are public property owned and managed by the government. You would likely file a claim with the government body that manages that specific park.
For instance, if you suffered an injury while hiking on a badly maintained trail, you may have a claim against the government agency in charge of keeping the trails clear. But claims for injuries in national and regional parks are notoriously complex, and federal and local governments have very strict guidelines on how to file a claim. That’s why we recommend getting help from a Nevada personal injury lawyer.
Injured in a Shopping Area
Whom you might file your claim against depends on a few factors:
- Whether you suffered an injury inside or outside the building
- Who owns or is responsible for that area
- How the accident occurred
For example, if you trip and fall on uneven flooring in a shopping mall corridor, you’d likely have a claim against the mall owner. The same would go for shopping in an outdoor shopping plaza. But if you have that same fall inside a specific store, you may have a claim with the store owner and potentially the mall, too.
If you’re injured in a store that owns the building it does business in, then you would likely file your claim with that business.
If you suffer an injury while outside the shopping mall, you would likely file your claim with that property owner. If you suffer a fall outside a store entrance, you may have a claim against both the mall owner and the store, depending on what kind of hazard caused your accident.
As you can see, these types of claims can become complex very quickly. A Las Vegas personal injury lawyer can determine exactly who to bring a claim against, depending on your specific accident.
What Evidence You Need to Make a Claim After Being Injured in a Public Place
Here are some key pieces of evidence you need to make a claim if you’re injured in a public place:
- Proof of the hazard. This could include witness testimony and photos of the scene.
- Proof of negligence. This must demonstrate that the liable party or parties owed you a duty of care, their negligent action or inaction breached that duty, their negligence caused your accident, and your accident led to injuries and damages.
- Proof of knowledge. This must show that the liable party knew about the hazard but didn’t adequately address it or did nothing, or that they should have known about the hazard with the due diligence expected of them.
- Proof that your accident occurred. This includes the police report, video footage of the accident, witness statements, or any accident-related medical records.
Let Us Help You File Your Premises Liability Claim
The team at De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers can help you gather evidence, identify liable parties, and file your claim so that you can simply focus on healing from your accident. We handle many areas of premises liability, including:
- Slip, trip, and fall accidents
- Sidewalk accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Injuries at nightclubs and bars
Contact our office today to start working with a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer on your premises liability claim.