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Sidewalk Injuries – Who Can Be Held Liable?

Sidewalk Injuries – Who Can Be Held Liable?

Sidewalks are a pathway used daily by most people, whether for jogging, walking to work or other destinations, or simply walking for exercise. Generally, sidewalks tend to protect pedestrians from vehicles.

But sidewalks, depending on conditions, can also be dangerous. Slip and fall (or tripping) accidents sometimes happen, caused by either weather or defects in the sidewalk. But can anyone be held liable for these injuries sustained from the accident?

Causes of sidewalk-related injuries

Any of the following injuries may happen if you’ve had an accident caused by a poorly maintained sidewalk:

The people at risk of injuries caused by sidewalks and possible injuries

The following types of people are susceptible to sidewalk-related injuries:

As for the type of injuries caused by issues relating to the sidewalk, they are:

Who can be held liable for sidewalk injuries?

When it comes to injuries from a slip and fall accident, the short answer is that the liability may fall on the property owner of the sidewalk.

Home, rental, and business property owners

Private property owners, even those who own apartment complexes, are considered responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk(s) that adjoins the property. Maintenance responsibilities include cleaning the sidewalks, removing any debris, draining any water, and repairing cracks, raised slabs, and uneven pavement.

If private property owners neglect their sidewalk, they may receive a warning from the city to repair the sidewalk. Failure to adhere to the notice will typically lead to a fine.

Government entities

The local government may be held responsible for any injuries incurred from a sidewalk-related accident if the sidewalk is adjoining the roads and public property that the government owns. Like private property owners, government entities are responsible for keeping the sidewalks clean and safe for walking. If you’ve been injured in a sidewalk-related accident, you must prove that the government is responsible for your injuries, which is a difficult task.

No sovereign immunity

In Florida, all government entities in the state are held liable for any negligent actions caused by public employees, following the same laws a private citizen would face under similar circumstances.

Florida Statute 268.28 waives sovereign immunity “for liability for torts, but only to the extent specified in this act.” Furthermore, section 5 of this same statute further clarifies the law: “The state and its agencies and subdivisions shall be liable for tort claims in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances, but liability shall not include punitive damages or interest for the period before judgment.”

Liability can also be pursued underneath the tort law known as Duty of Care. This law imposes that everyone, including the government, has a duty to exhibit care that is expected or is considered reasonable. For instance, the government should maintain roads and public sidewalks, as it is expected of them by the general public. However, acts of care are also expected of the general public. For instance, if the sidewalks are slippery after a heavy rainstorm, pedestrians need to exercise caution when walking.

If you can pursue the government for damages caused by your injuries, you’ll only be able recover up to $200,000 or $300,000, depending on the case.

Proving liability

Proving liability can be considered difficult if you’re not being proactive. To prove that any property owner neglected the repair and maintenance of their sidewalk:

Evidence gathering

You’ll need evidence to prove that the sidewalk owner was negligent. You should consider the following:

Consult a personal injury attorney

Proving liability for injuries sustained on a sidewalk, public or private, is a difficult, if not daunting, task. It is advised for you to consult a personal injury attorney to see if you have a case. If so, the attorney will work with you by gathering the required evidence you’ll need to support your claim or lawsuit. They will do all they can to see that you receive the compensation needed to cover lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.