If you fall on a sidewalk and suffer an injury, you might assume that you only have yourself to blame. However, if the injury was the result of negligence on the part of the city, you may be entitled to damages for your injuries. The local government is responsible for keeping the sidewalk in good condition and eliminating conditions that could contribute to a slip and fall.
The challenge of suing the city for negligence is that the sidewalk must be unreasonably unsafe. If the sidewalk is slippery after sleet has fallen recently, most judges would not consider these conditions to be unreasonably unsafe.
Some states have specific laws that govern the upkeep of the sidewalks. If the sidewalks are not maintained to the level governed by the laws, this can lead to the city being considered responsible for damages resulting from a fall.
However, there are other states where liability is less clear. If there are laws that clarify city liability for sidewalk falls, there may also be a cap on how much the state can compensate you. Unlike with personal injury cases involving private individuals, you may not be able to sue for punitive damages.
Cracks and Uneven Surfaces
Cracks are very common in sidewalks. However, some cracks can be so large that you could easily trip over it. Also, the crack might be the result of inferior materials used to construct the sidewalk or it may be the result of inferior building methods. Slabs also sometimes buckle and become uneven. Uneven pavement results from the concrete separating and water pooling and freezing, which can heave up portions of the pavement.
Manholes found in sidewalks can deteriorate and create holes. They may also become an uneven surface that can lead to you tripping and falling. Gas caps can also stick out and create a hazard.
Some sidewalks are made using bricks. This building choice can lead to the problem of loose bricks. You could trip over a brick or a missing brick could lead to an uneven surface. Some bricks might deteriorate or may be missing altogether.
Duty of Care
Once you have proven that the conditions were not safe, you must then prove that the city was unaware of the unsafe conditions. Because this might be difficult to prove, you should consider speaking with a personal injury lawyer in your state.