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Premise liability and poorly maintained sidewalks

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Premises Liability

Poorly maintained sidewalks can pose serious hazards, leading to unexpected accidents and injuries.

Property owners and pedestrians must understand premise liability when involved in a fall caused by a damaged sidewalk.

Premise liability

Premise liability refers to the legal responsibility that property owners have to maintain safe conditions on their premises. This includes sidewalks adjacent to their property. If a sidewalk is poorly maintained and someone trips and sustains an injury, the law may hold the property owner liable for the damages.

Common hazards on sidewalks

The National Library of Medicine reports that in 2019, more than 129,000 people suffered injuries in trip and fall accidents across the nation. Several factors can contribute to sidewalk hazards.

Uneven surfaces: Cracks, holes or uneven pavement can easily trip pedestrians, leading to falls and injuries.

Obstacles: Debris, tree roots or poorly placed signs can obstruct the path, increasing the risk of accidents.

Inadequate lighting: Poor lighting makes it difficult for pedestrians to see potential hazards, especially at night.

Business owners should periodically inspect their sidewalks and repair any damage.

Consequences of poorly maintained sidewalks

Injuries that result from poorly maintained sidewalks can vary from minor bruises to serious fractures or head injuries. These accidents can lead to medical expenses, loss of income due to missed work and even long-term disability. They can also impact the quality of life of the injured individuals and their families.

Responsibility of municipalities

Along with property owners, municipalities share responsibility for sidewalk maintenance. They must promptly address complaints and reports of sidewalk hazards to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

Seeking recourse

If someone sustains injuries due to a poorly maintained sidewalk, they may seek recourse through legal channels. This typically involves filing a claim against the property owner or municipality responsible for the sidewalk’s upkeep. Compensation may cover medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Failure of property owners and municipalities to ensure safe premises can lead to serious injuries.