It is no surprise that thousands of slip and fall accidents happen every year on city sidewalks, but what may surprise you is that based on the city in which the accident happened, liability can go a couple of different ways. The city's department of sidewalks and streets will often make these rules, and rarely are these ordinances as well publicized as the one by Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, so it is important to know what your rights are in which cities. Here is a brief summary of the different sets of regulations that are common in different cities across the country.
Much like with shoveling snow, it is most common to see cities that pass on liability for their sidewalks to the adjacent landowner. This is due to the fact that it is impossible for a city to constantly patrol and control all of the potholes and issues present in a city's sidewalks. Landowners are often required to report or fix potholes on their adjacent sidewalks in order for their liability to be minimized. However, if the land is rented, then it will be depend on the terms of the lease whether or not this reporting responsibility will fall on the owner or the renter.
There is, however, a minority of cities where the city is to be held responsible for the condition of their sidewalks, including injuries sustained on these sidewalks as a result of poor conditions. One such city is St. Louis, which requires that potholes in any public right-of-way be reported, and then, according to the city, they will be dealt with in 2 to 7 days. If an injury is sustained after it has been reported, then the liability for the injury will fall on the city.
Even more rare than a city holding responsibility for the state of its sidewalks is when a city shares this responsibility with the adjacent property owners. This is the case in San Diego, where the city will be responsible for sidewalk repairs where there was an accident, but the landowner is responsible for upkeep in responding to normal wear-and-tear. In these cases, knowing whether or not there was a single event that contributed greatly to the poor sidewalk conditions is critical to a case.
As you can see, knowing exactly where the blame falls for a sidewalk-related injury can be tricky, but knowing which set of regulations your city abides by is a huge step in the right direction towards getting your fair compensation. For more information, contact a legal office such as Barton Smith & Barton LLP.Share