Similar to any other kind of personal injury case, there must be an act of negligence when trying to determine fault for a public property injury. The statute of limitation determines how long a person has to file a personal injury claim. The time frame varies per state, so it is in your best interest to consult a personal injury attorney to discover what the law is for your particular state. The states also regulate the maximum amount of money that a person can recover after their accident.
For example, if you slipped and fell on a sidewalk it does not necessarily mean that the city was negligent. The sidewalk had to have been unreasonable unsafe. The most common types of slip and fall cases are due to ice and snow or broken sidewalks.
Municipalities in most states are held liable for their negligence in maintaining public streets, but are rarely ever responsible for clearing away ice and snow that is in front of private residences. They are responsible for snow or ice that is in front of public buildings.
So in order to prove negligence, you must be able to show that the city knew or should have known about the unsafe condition. If you slip on snow or ice on a sidewalk by a residential area then your claim will most likely be against the owner of resident.
Regardless of who you pursue legal action against it is vital to take pictures of the scene of the accident, your injuries and clothes. It can be very difficult to prove a slip and fall case without pictures.