Can I Sue If I Trip on a Sidewalk in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia isn’t known for its perfectly manicured landscaping and sidewalks. In fact, you’re likely to trip over a crack in the sidewalk at some point in your life. If you sustain an injury for a trip and fall accident within the city limits of Philadelphia, you may be wondering whether can you sue the city to pay for your medical bills. The simple answer is that it depends. For a more in-depth answer, consider speaking with a knowledgeable Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer.


A trip and fall accident is a common scenario under premises liability law. Premises liability refers to the idea that property owners have a duty to make their premises reasonably safe for those who use it. When a defect or unsafe condition exists on someone’s property, it doesn’t automatically make him or her liable for your injuries. Property owners must be negligent. This means they knew or should have known about a defective or unsafe condition but did nothing to fix it.

To collect damages from a municipality, you must prove:

  • It knew or should have known about an unsafe condition.
  • That unsafe condition led to your injuries.
  • You incurred damages as a result.

The city of Philadelphia has an obligation to keep its sidewalks and streets in a reasonably safe state for pedestrians. If you fall into a hole or trip over a broken sidewalk, you might have grounds for a premises liability claim. The most important thing you can do is take pictures immediately, both of the unsafe condition and your injuries. These could prove invaluable should you choose to pursue a personal injury claim.


It’s important to note that claims against the government function differently than claims against private individuals or companies. The most marked differences include:

  • A shorter statute of limitations. In some instances, the statute of limitations against a government entity can be as little as a few months.
  • A very short deadline for notifying the proper municipal department of your accident. This can be as short as 30 days.
  • Limits on damages. The government also has caps on the amount of damages they pay. In some instances, the caps can be as little as $100,000.

It’s also important to make sure you file your claim against the proper municipal body. If you tripped over the remains of a bus stop sign and served a notice to the city, but the city holds that the transportation company is responsible for maintaining the signage, you may lose your window to file a claim. Claims against the government are just as much about discovering who and when to serve a lawsuit as the process that follows.

For these reasons, it’s essential to find an attorney with specific experience filing claims against public entities. If you trip and fall on a municipal property, you may be able to collect damages from the appropriate governmental body. Doing this requires an extensive knowledge of the city government and applicable filing deadlines. For more information on this process, talk to a qualified Philadelphia injury attorney experienced in slip and fall cases.