Who is Responsible After a Sidewalk Slip and Fall Injury?

As the weather gets warmer, more people are out and about. Whether you’re walking in your neighborhood for exercise, in town and on your way to a restaurant or shop, or heading to your place of work, your stroll can easily become a significant medical issue if you slip and fall on a sidewalk that has been poorly maintained. Cracks and uneven spots caused by tree roots, weather and age can easily trip you up, and though the term “slip and fall” sounds like no big deal, the truth is that slip and fall accidents can lead to significant injury, and even to death. If you’ve been injured in a sidewalk slip and fall, you may be able to seek compensation for your damages. To determine who is responsible and what your rights are, the first thing you need to know is to whom the sidewalk belongs.

Every state and municipality has its own laws regarding who is responsible for maintaining their sidewalks and what rights an injured person has to pursue compensation. Sidewalks can be either public or private, with public sidewalks being the ones that separate private property from the street and private sidewalks being those within the boundaries of a property, such as the walkway from a driveway to a front door or that leads to a back yard. If you have been injured on the latter then the responsibility clearly lies with the property owner, but if you’ve suffered a slip and fall accident on a public sidewalk you will need to investigate the rules for the particular town where the incident occurred.

Knowing the locale’s sidewalk rules will determine what your rights are. If your injury occurred in an area where homeowners or business owners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks in front of their property (even if the sidewalks are public), then the liability lies with them. In other cases the municipality may be responsible, and in still others maintenance and liability may fall to a neighborhood or development’s homeowner’s association.

For such a simple thing, the answers can be extremely opaque, and the issue of liability can be complicated further by questions of your own culpability. Many locales have created a liability loophole that claims that the injured party has to shoulder the blame for their own injury, especially in cases where the defect that led to the injury was “open and obvious.” For knowledgeable assistance in determining where the blame lies for your injury, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today.