Recently, New Jersey has taken steps in many small towns and cities to raise the issue of safety regarding sidewalks. Highland Park was one of the New Jersey towns that was hit with ordinances that compelled homeowners to repair sidewalks in front of their properties. The costs of these sidewalks? Between $200 and $300 for a 4-foot by 4-foot slab of concrete. The problem involved is liability itself – who will pay for injuries if somebody falls and hurts himself or herself on a broken or cracked sidewalk? Many homeowners have a duty to keep their sidewalks free of debris and ice or snow, but is repairing part of this duty? You may have many questions regarding sidewalk accidents and who will be liable, which you can find the answers to now.
So, you may ask yourself, who is responsible for sidewalk maintenance? Premises liability is a legal theory that proposes that property owners are responsible for maintaining a reasonably safe environment. This also means that these same owners can be held liable for accidents and injuries that occur on the property. Some entities who may be responsible for maintaining a sidewalk include private citizens, businesses, and the government. To avoid a sidewalk accident, residential property owners must take reasonable steps to keep a property safe. Businesses are fully responsible for caring for customers and clients, also known as invitees, which means maintaining the property to the best of their ability to keep it safe from accidents and injuries.
Am I Responsible For Snow and Ice Removal?
It depends on the state or county. Some jurisdictions have ordinances that require property owners to take care of snow and ice, and others do not. An example of this is Downtown Chicago, where the city government shovels the snow. They also pick up litter and repair broken sidewalks, which is their duty. In residential areas of other states, however, the citizens are fully responsible for all of this. This means they must clear the sidewalks of snow and debris in a reasonable amount of time and they are also fully financially responsible for replacing the sidewalk if broken.
What Are Some Defenses to Sidewalk Injuries?
Governmental Immunity works somewhat as a defense. This is when municipal bodies are shielded from liability and cannot be sued. This means that, if you are injured on governmental property, you will not be able to file a lawsuit right away. However, you can file a notice of claim, which protects your right to eventually get compensation for your injuries.
A second defense is something known as open and obvious. This pins a certain amount of liability onto the injured person if the sidewalk hazard was open, obvious, and could have been easily avoided. However, these laws change from state to state.
Who Can I Sue For My Sidewalk Injury?
If the entity was a business or property owner, then they will typically be sued under premises liability claims and theories. The government claims will be most difficult to prove. Only when your injury meets certain conditions will it qualify for an injury claim against the government.
If you have questions regarding your sidewalk injury, you should contact a law firm that you can trust today. At Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, we have the skill and experience necessary to handle your case. Call us today to find out where you stand!