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If I’m Injured Because I Tripped On A Sidewalk In Front Of A Store, Can I Sue?

Louisiana Law allows a resident to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a New Orleans storeowner for failure to repair a defective walkway. Doing so, however, requires the victim to establish the store’s awareness of the condition that led to the injury.

In this type of case, it is not enough to prove that the walkway was in disrepair and that the condition of the walkway resulted in an injury. The victim also must be able to prove that the property owner responsible for the walkway had notice of its dangerous condition prior to the injury occurring. Notice of the defective condition may be established in two different ways: actual notice or constructive notice.

Proof of actual notice requires the plaintiff to establish that the store’s employees had knowledge of the specific dangerous condition that caused the injury. Evidence of actual notice includes proof of the store having received prior complaints regarding the condition, or evidence that an employee of the store had inspected the area shortly before the accident. In many cases, actual notice is very difficult to establish.

Constructive notice is usually easier for the plaintiff to establish. It does not require direct proof that the store knew about the dangerous condition. Instead, constructive notice may be established if it can be shown that the defective condition had existed for a considerable amount of time and that reasonable diligence would have resulted in its discovery. Evidence supporting constructive notice may include witnesses who can attest to the prior existence of the defect and its visibility. Proof that employees were in the area and should have noticed the defect may also help in establishing constructive notice.

Obviously, the specific condition of the sidewalk that led to the fall can prove critical in such a case. It is much easier to prove constructive notice of, for example, uneven sidewalk pavement than it is to prove that store employees were aware that someone had recently spilled a slippery substance on the walkway.

If you or a loved one has fallen on a poorly maintained walkway and suffered injury, we would be pleased to answer your questions. Please call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.