Riding a bike should be an enjoyable and safe experience, but sometimes, obstacles like cracked sidewalks can turn a leisurely ride into a serious accident. If you’ve ever wondered what your legal options are in such a situation, this blog post aims to answer that pressing question.
If you’ve been injured due to a poorly maintained sidewalk or road, seeking legal guidance is crucial. At Great West Injury Law, we specialize in personal injury cases and can provide you with the advice you need to understand your options and rights.
Who is Liable if I Fall on a Sidewalk and Injure Myself?
When it comes to sidewalk accidents, the question of liability can be a complicated matter. It generally depends on the ownership of the property where the sidewalk is located.
For public property, like most sidewalks along city streets, the city or municipality is typically responsible for maintaining them in a safe condition. In Utah law, for example, cities have the duty to take “reasonable care” to maintain sidewalks, meaning they should be free from hazardous conditions like cracks, potholes, or ice. Failure to do so can result in the city being liable for any injuries that occur due to their negligence.
If the sidewalk is part of private property, such as in front of a residential home or commercial building, the property owner is generally liable for its maintenance. For example, if a private property owner fails to remove snow or ice from the sidewalk, or if the sidewalk is poorly constructed, causing a hazard, then that property owner may be held responsible for any resulting injuries. In Utah, property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises safe for anyone who enters, and failing to maintain a safe sidewalk could be considered a breach of that duty.
Can I Sue the City if a Poorly Maintained Sidewalk Caused My Injuries?
Suing a city or any governmental entity for injuries sustained on a poorly maintained sidewalk is a challenging endeavor that comes with its own set of rules and limitations. In Utah, as in many states, cities are generally protected by governmental immunity, meaning they can’t be sued for performing their standard governmental functions. However, there are exceptions for cases involving “gross negligence,” or the willful or reckless failure to perform these functions.
Before you can proceed with a lawsuit, you typically need to file a formal notice of claim with the city. This notice should outline the specifics of the accident, your injuries, and why you believe the city is at fault. This administrative step is crucial and usually has a strict time limit. Failing to comply can result in the dismissal of your case.
Additionally, it’s crucial to collect evidence to substantiate your claim. Photographs of the hazardous condition, witness statements, and medical records are all essential in proving the city’s negligence. You may also need an expert witness, such as an engineer, who can attest to the unsafe condition of the sidewalk.
Lastly, be prepared for a lengthy legal process. Suing a city involves numerous complexities, such as potential caps on damages and dealing with aggressive defense tactics. Moreover, cities often have the resources to prolong legal battles, which can make the entire ordeal arduous and time-consuming.
Common Causes of Sidewalk Accidents
Sidewalk accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. Understanding these can help both pedestrians and property owners take preventive steps. Common causes of injuries on sidewalks include:
- Uneven or cracked pavement: Changes in elevation can cause tripping.
- Loose debris: Items like rocks or sticks can be slip hazards.
- Snow and ice: Inadequate removal of winter precipitation can make sidewalks slippery.
- Poor lighting: Inadequate lighting can hide obstacles and make it difficult to navigate safely.
- Overgrown vegetation: Plants that spill onto the walkway can obscure hazards and create a tripping risk.
What to Do After a Nasty Sidewalk Fall
If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of a sidewalk fall, it’s crucial to take specific steps to protect your rights:
- Seek Medical Attention: The first priority is your health. Even if injuries seem minor, get them checked.
- Document the Scene: Take photos of the accident site and any contributing factors.
- Gather Witnesses: If possible, collect the contact details of anyone who witnessed the accident.
- File a Report: If it’s a public space, file an accident report with the respective city department.
- Consult an Attorney: Consult a personal injury lawyer to understand your legal options and the right course of action.
Great West Injury Law Can Help You
Dealing with the aftermath of a bike accident due to a poorly maintained sidewalk can be challenging and draining, both emotionally and financially. Trying to determine who is liable for your injury, how to gather the proper evidence, and what to do at each step can leave you feeling lost and confused. Thankfully you don’t have to navigate this difficult time alone.
At Great West Injury Law, we are committed to helping you through the complexities of personal injury law. Our team of experienced attorneys will guide you in making informed decisions to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.