Important Elements of Sidewalk Liability

When you trip and fall on a sidewalk, many thoughts may start racing through your head concerning what you will do about your injuries and questions of how you will be compensated. Because of this, it is always a good idea to have a personal injury attorney on your side. Sidewalk liability becomes apparent when negligence can be proven in a case; however, you may find it to be difficult to prove negligence in one of these cases. You may ask yourself, “Who is actually responsible for a sidewalk accident? Is anybody?”

To understand this question, you must also understand what makes negligence in a case. Ask yourself the following: Was there a duty owed to you? Did somebody breach that duty? Were you injured because of that breach? Did the defendant in your case know that they could cause injury to you and didn’t take proper care to fix the harm? These are things that you must be able to prove if you want to be compensated in a personal injury case. Luckily for you, there is hope – there are certain people who can be found liable in your case.

If you have been injured on a sidewalk, you must know what category that sidewalk falls into. For instance, sidewalks are classified as either public or private in nature. Public sidewalks are the most common and usually consist of pedestrian paths separating private property from adjacent public streets. Private sidewalks, on the other hand, are a bit different. They serve the same purpose but are located on private property. Now that you understand this, you may wonder who can be held responsible for your injury.

Property Owners and the Government

In some cases, the property owner who owned the sidewalk in front of a house or building could be found liable for your injuries. Should they have known that there was a foreseeable danger and did nothing about it? Within reason, this could make your case. However, there are many determinations to be made in regards to a property owner’s “reasonableness.” The law will look at many aspects, such as whether or not the owner makes regular repair and maintenance efforts on their sidewalk and whether or not it is clean and free of debris. If there was an unsafe condition, how many other people walked by without the property owner noticing? Should they have taken proper steps to assure your safety? These are all important questions that go hand in hand with your case.

But what happens in a case where the sidewalk is owned by the government? In these cases, the liability is determined by local statutes and ordinances. In some locations, the sidewalks will still be the responsibility of the adjacent landowners. In other cases, the city is responsible for their full upkeep. In other cases yet, the government may be responsible for maintaining and repairing public sidewalks when they are defective. These are questions you must ask your attorney to move forward with your case, as the laws can become entirely complex. Give us a call today for more information.