3 Important Elements of Sidewalk Liability: Who is Responsible When You Trip?
Most people never think about being involved in an injury lawsuit. But, what if you trip and fall on a dangerous sidewalk and have high hospital bills? There are cases where the sidewalk is in bad repair and the business responsible for its care is liable for injuries caused by this hazard. Sidewalks can be uneven with cracks or potholes that make tripping a possibility. Over 80,000 people are hospitalized each year with accidents caused by falls.
Who Is Liable for Trip and Fall Accidents?
When a person falls on a badly maintained stretch of sidewalk, who is at fault and who is liable for damages or compensation to cover the hospital costs of the injured party? This is a question that is not always easy to answer. The process of being compensated for tripping or falling because of a defect on a sidewalk is not easy or fast. People who get legal help from lawyers such as PapaInjuryLawyer.com often have better outcomes than those trying to get help on their own. Liability laws can be complicated and difficult for everyday people to understand.
Some trip and fall accidents on sidewalks will be considered just part of life without liability assigned to any party. These injuries will probably be covered by a person’s personal health insurance. People who trip and fall while texting or talking on a cellphone will be considered the ones at fault. People who are walking while impaired by alcohol or drugs will not be collecting damages. Then, there are sidewalk conditions that may be a hazard but are not due to an owner’s negligence. Always keep an eye on the surface you are walking on to assure your own safety.
But, there are those instances that are someone’s fault. To be liable legally for an injury, the property owner or renter has to have caused the hazard, known about it, and did not correct it, or should have known about a hazard and failed to fix it.
Who is Responsible?
1. Sidewalks on government-owned property are a sticky issue. Public sidewalks may be the responsibility of the city or adjacent owners of properties. It may come down to a complicated set of city ordinances or local statutes.
2. In most slip and fall cases, the injured party was at least partly responsible because they were not paying attention to where they were going, were distracted, or for other reasons. In many states, the blame will be assigned to both parties before compensation is decided. This is determined by rules of “comparative negligence.”
3. Property owners are responsible for the upkeep of their property and for repairing cracks, uneven pavement, and other hazards in the sidewalks adjoining their property. Apartment or condominium owners must also keep walkways safe. Homeowners may also be responsible for sidewalks in front of their homes. The property owner must have been aware of the hazard and done nothing to fix it to be liable. The rules about this liability are different in different cities or states, so they must be checked out before a liability suit is filed.
What Causes These Accidents?
The main causes of slip and fall accidents on sidewalks include:
· Sidewalk buckling
· Cracks in sidewalks
· Uneven pavement
· Gas caps, grates, or manholes improperly installed and sticking up
· Loose bricks, stones, concrete blocks, or ones that are broken, missing or crumbling
· Snow and ice that has not been removed in a reasonable time
· Construction flaws leading to walkways that are not safe
· Walkways and sidewalks that have accumulated debris that has not been removed and forms a hazard
Everyone should be careful when walking, but accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. When owner negligence caused a person to fall and sustain injuries, calling a personal injury lawyer for advice should be the first move after getting medical attention.