You and your children walk down them to get to your neighborhood park or school. You may enjoy riding on them with your bike on a beautiful day; either way, sidewalks are everywhere and play a very important role in transportation. They are meant to provide a safe path for people to travel along separate from the roadway, but unfortunately, they’re not always reliable or safe as much as we want to assume. Uneven pavement or a minor crack in concrete can send you tumbling face-first onto the concrete, leaving injuries.
Sidewalk injuries can range from minor to severe trauma to the face, neck, head, hands, hips or knees. Most sidewalk injuries are caused by:
- Ice and snow: Southwest Florida doesn’t see too much of either of these, unless we look in the freezer, but in states that do produce ice and snow, sidewalks can become dangerous. Ice is difficult to see and easy to slip on, and your shoes can sink into snow, tripping you.
- Potholes: These are developed when concrete or asphalt separates; roots of shrubs and trees can break through concreate.
- Debris: Garbage, tree branches, toys and wagons are just some items that can cause you to trip and fall.
- Cracks: Uneven or raised elevations in concrete are common causes of sidewalk injuries. Cracks can be created over time by weather conditions, seasons, tree roots, etc.
Property owners are responsible for repairing cracks, potholes and uneven pieces of pavement, along with keeping their sidewalks clear of snow, ice and debris. If you trip and fall on a skateboard your neighbors’ child left on the sidewalk in front of his home, the parents may be held responsible for your injuries. Storeowners may be liable if you slip and fall on ice or snow in front of their shop.
Although property owners can be held responsible for your slip and fall, there is wiggle room for them to discover and repair their sidewalk’s defect. For instance, if ice collects in front of a store a few hours before it opens, and someone falls, there may not be enough time for the store manager to remove the dangerous ice that had collected because the store was still closed. A property owner who is aware of the defect in the sidewalk and does not repair it can be held liable for your injuries; including store owners who open their shops without removing the danger.
To hold a party responsible for your injury, you need evidence; the more credible, the better. Here are some examples of evidence you can compile to support your claim:
- Damages: If you can not provide proof of damages, you can’t obtain a settlement. Damages include medical or chiropractic bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses related to your injury and pain and suffering.
- Photographs: Take photos of the sidewalk and its defect. Use a measuring tape or ruler to show the height of the elevated sidewalk or size of the crack.
- Surveys: If a private property owner denies the defective sidewalk is on their property, you can visit your local property tax department for a copy of the property’s exact boundaries to support your claim.
- Witness statements: Ask anyone who was with you when you fell to write a statement of what they saw; signed and dated. You can ask residents of the neighborhood if they were aware of the sidewalk’s dangerous condition; take down their name and contact information.
Parvey & Cavenago’s attorneys want to help you receive the compensation you need to get your life back on track. If you or a loved one have been injured by an unmaintained or defective sidewalk, please stop into our office for a free, no-risk consultation. Let’s hold the appropriate party responsible for their negligence and your injury.