Three Things You Need To Know If You Injure Yourself On A Public Sidewalk

Uneven, broken sidewalks are the norm in many neighborhoods and cities. Not only are these unattractive, they also pose a real hazard to pedestrians and cyclists that make use of these thoroughfares. If you've fallen and hurt yourself on a sidewalk, this guide can help you decide whether you have a personal injury case and who should be held responsible.

#1: Look for Negligence

Simply falling isn't cause for a lawsuit, unless there are obvious signs of negligence. Broken or cracked sidewalks, uneven slabs, pot holes, or pitted concrete are all signs of negligence, especially if the hazards aren't clearly marked, such as with yellow paint. In some cases, even obstructions, such as a garden hose stretched across a public sidewalk, can be considered negligence.

Keep in mind that the city or property owner may be cleared of all liability, even if there is damage to the sidewalk, if you were intoxicated at the time of the accident.

#2: Determining Liability

The next issue is determining who is liable for the accident. This can depend on local laws and home or business owner deeds. In some municipalities, only the city or county can be held responsible for any injuries on the sidewalk. In other areas, it may be the owner of the property that skirts the sidewalk. Sometimes the city or county is responsible if the cause of negligence is the condition of the sidewalk, but the property owner is responsible if an outside obstruction that can be traced to their property, like a garden hose, caused the accident. A local lawyer can help you understand the local laws and determine accurate liability.

#3: Act Quickly

You will likely find yourself on a deadline if the city or county is considered responsible. This is because many municipalities only allow a short window for filing any claims. This is to prevent frivolous lawsuits, but it can hurt those with legitimate injuries since it can sometimes take weeks for the full extent of the damage to appear. If you fall on a sidewalk, it's a good idea to call a lawyer right away, even if you don't think the injury is severe. This way, they can get the ball rolling on your claim before the filing window closes.

If you fall, document everything. Take photographs of the sidewalk where the accident occurred, and take photos of any injuries you sustain. Also, keep records of all medical visits or loss of work incurred due to the accident. Your lawyer will need this information to build a case.

For more information, contact The Law Offices of Gregg Durlofsky or a similar firm.