Why Do Sidewalks Break?Sidewalks break or become defective for a number of reasons. Some can be attributed to the negligence of property owners, while others can be due to the environment. The cause can be the foundation for a lawsuit. Some of the reasons sidewalks break include:
- Tree roots, which are the most common cause. Trees that have been planted tend to spread their roots underneath the concrete and push the sections up, making them uneven and cracked. The city is primarily responsible in these instances, as they likely planted the trees in the first place and are responsible for maintaining them.
- Earthquakes, which can shift whole sidewalks and cause them to break in half. There is no way to prevent damage from earthquakes except to have more stability, but because of the age of sidewalks, it is not reasonable to expect them to stay intact after such a disaster.
- Weather, like rain, high heats, cold winters, winds, and more. The different points of the climate can wreak havoc on a sidewalk, causing it to expand and shatter.
- Wear and tear from foot traffic, vehicles, bicycles, and more can accumulate damage on the sidewalk over the years.
- Improper placement, which likely happened when the city did not compact the soil below the concrete, leading to shifting sections. It could also have been laid with gaps.
- Damage from the city, which could happen when they were repairing the street, fixing water lines, installing new telephone poles, and more. The vehicles and materials could cause damage to the sidewalks, which may not get fixed for years.
What Are The Laws For Liability Of Broken Sidewalks?Laws dictate that sidewalks must be maintained by those who are directly adjacent to the sidewalk. Property owners must make sure the sidewalks are kept clean and free from hazards, but if there are any breaks or cracks, they must repair them. This is especially true if they caused the cracks to appear in the first place or if they contributed to an event that made the sidewalk defective. A city may be held responsible if tree roots caused a defective sidewalk or if the sidewalk were in front of a municipal building. However, there are some laws in place that dictate that a crack must be of a certain size before it can be deemed hazardous; further, there can be small structural issues with sidewalks that are dangerous enough to cause injuries but are not listed as hazards. These laws allow the city to get away with not fixing the sidewalks, and in some cases, even frees the city from liability. For example, if a crack is only one inch wide, the city can claim that it was inconsequential and you could have avoided an injury by paying closer attention. However, if the accident happened in front of a city building, it would be harder for them to deny liability.
What Are Common Injuries From Sidewalk Accidents?Slip and falls are the leading cause of most injuries. The different angles and surfaces can alter the damage you suffer, and generally, older individuals suffer more serious injuries than younger individuals. This is primarily due to decreased reaction time and weaker or more fragile bodies. Sidewalk injuries are also common with those who are disabled and cannot adequately maneuver around defects; there are numerous cases every year of those in wheelchairs falling out of the seats because of cracked, raised, or broken sidewalks. Some of the injuries that you can sustain from falling on the sidewalk include:
- Broken hips
- Tailbone injuries
- Disc injuries
- Neck and spinal cord damage
- Nerve damage
- Broken arms and legs
- Wrist and finger injuries
- Sprains and fractures
- Bruises, cuts, lacerations, and abrasions
- Facial damage and teeth damage
- Traumatic brain injury
- Torn muscles
- Knee trouble
- Aggravation of pre-existing injuries
- CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome)
Can You Sue For Sidewalk Injuries?Yes, you can sue for sidewalk injuries. Your lawsuit will be based on negligence. The property owned had a duty to protect you by keeping the sidewalk well-maintained, and he violated it by not doing so. Premises liability cases can be filed for one of the following reasons:
- The property owner knew there was a defect with the sidewalk and chose not to do anything about it
- The property owner caused the defect to appear in the first place
- The property owner did not know about the defect but reasonably should have known if he had paid careful enough attention or diligently inspected the area
Learn more about your options for compensation by calling (213) 389-3765.
What Should I Do After I Get Hurt In A Sidewalk Accident?After you slip and fall on a sidewalk, you should follow these steps to ensure that you stay safe and protected. It is important that you adhere to them to have the highest chance of success with your lawsuit as well.
- Go to the hospital if your injuries are serious or go to the doctor if you can wait a day. Regardless, even if you feel you weren’t hurt, you should get treated. You won’t be able to file a personal injury claim if you weren’t physically hurt. If you wait too long to visit the doctor, the insurance agent can claim that you were not as badly hurt as you stated or that you likely got injured at a time between the initial accident and the doctor’s visit.
- Take photos of your injuries.
- Take pictures of the scene of the accident, the defect in the sidewalk, the property, and more.
- Record the statements of any eyewitnesses or neighbors who can attest to the damage on the sidewalk.
- If the incident happened in front of a business, you can file an incident report with the company.
- Lastly, contact a skilled sidewalk accident injury lawyer who can handle your case for you. You may find it extremely difficult to file a lawsuit and follow through with it if you have been hurt, or if you do not have the legal experience and knowledge required to represent yourself.
How Long Do I Have To File A Sidewalk Injury Claim?You only have 2 years from the date o the injury to file a lawsuit against a property owner for damages stemming from a broken sidewalk. If you do not file a lawsuit within the two-year window, you will not be allowed to pursue compensation and will be barred from filing a claim. It is important that you take action quickly; some evidence may get lost or become corrupted, and witnesses may not remember the events as clearly as they could have. There are situations in which the statute of limitations is not two years, however. If you were underage at the time of the incident, you will not have to adhere to this limit, and instead, the deadline would begin when you turned 18 years old. You may also not have to adhere to the time limit if you were physically or mentally unable to file a claim in the wake of the incident. Additionally, there is a different statute of limitations if you plan on filing a claim against the city for the injuries. Instead of 2 years, you only have 6 months from the injury to take action. This is a large reason why so many cases go without litigation; victims do not know that there is a different length of time. To determine how much time you have left to file a claim against a property owner for a sidewalk injury, contact our law firm today.
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What Can I Receive From A Sidewalk Injury Claim?Victims of sidewalk injury claims are able to receive various types of restitution for their damages. You should be given the maximum coverage available if you were hurt because of another party’s negligence. We will do our best to bring you the following:
- Coverage of medical expenses from the past and the future
- Property damage if any personal items were lost or damaged
- Lost income from work from the past and future
- Pain and suffering damages if your mental and emotional states were harmed
- Wrongful death expenses if a family member or loved one passed away in the incident