Personal Injury Liability for Accidents on Sidewalks

Premises Liability | July 30, 2021

Accidents that cause injuries can happen anywhere. Often, the careless or negligent actions of property owners lead directly to individuals sustaining injuries. However, what about injuries that occur on sidewalks?

Who is responsible for paying a victim’s expenses if they are injured due to a hazardous situation that arises on a sidewalk? Here, our premises liability attorneys want to discuss personal injury and premises liability when it comes to sidewalk injuries.

Personal Injury Liability for Accidents on Sidewalks

Was the Sidewalk Unreasonably Safe?

Not every slip and fall injury on a sidewalk is going to result in a personal injury lawsuit, at least not a viable one. For a proper slip and fall accident lawsuit to be viable, it needs to be shown that the conditions of a sidewalk were unreasonably safe and that the property owner knew about the unreasonably safe conditions and failed to remedy them.

This can be very difficult to prove. Even if a sidewalk is unsafe and causes a slip and fall injury, showing that the person in control of the sidewalk knew of the condition can be tough unless there had previously been incidents in the same location or if there is a written report about the unsafe condition.

Who is in Control of the Sidewalk?

Another major problem when it comes to slip and fall accident liability on sidewalks is determining who is in control of a sidewalk. This can be confusing. Usually, sidewalks are outside of an actual establishment, home, apartment complex, etc. Do the business owners, homeowners, or tenants maintain liability in the event something happens on these sidewalks?

This all depends on what a lease or deed says. Often, homeowners are not in charge of sidewalks around their own homes. In some cases, a municipality or homeowners association is in control of sidewalks.

For businesses, there are times when the owner of the property and not the owners of the businesses are in charge of sidewalk maintenance. Again, it could also be the case that a municipality is in charge of the sidewalks around the business.

If there is an unreasonably safe condition on a sidewalk and this condition leads to injuries, it needs to be determined who had direct responsibility for maintaining the sidewalk.

Did the Property Owner Know About the Sidewalk’s Condition?

We have to circle back to whether or not the property owner or operator knew about the unsafe condition on the sidewalk. For example, if there is loose pavement on a section of sidewalk outside of a grocery store, and this loose pavement led to a trip and fall injury that caused a person to break their hip, will that person be able to recover compensation?

If the property owner knew about the loose pavement, they may certainly hold responsibility for the incident. However, what if the pavement was only loose due to a vehicle slamming into the sidewalk an hour before the trip and fall accident occurred? In this situation, there may be no way for the property could have known about the incident or had time to fix the problem.

When an injury occurs on a sidewalk, it is important to work with a skilled personal injury lawyer who can examine every aspect of these cases. Attorney can work to determine who is in control of the property, whether or not they owed a duty of care to the injury victim, and whether or not they knew about the hazardous condition. An attorney will work diligently on behalf of their client in order to help them recover the compensation they need.